New developments enhance school video use

Arizona State is using Vidyo’s technology in its School of Life Sciences to connect students with important advancements in biotechnical and biomedical research. The school launched a virtual classroom program that connects students with experts, scientists, and researchers in locations around the world.

ASU students frequently connect with experts at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., as well as the Smithsonian’s Institute for Tropical Research in the jungles of Panama. Users can join these conferences from a PC, Mac, or an Android or iOS device running VidyoMobile software.

A program called VidyoReplay lets instructors record these sessions and archive them for later use, and students and researchers are able to share their desktops during a meeting as well.

“We needed to link … to scientists in remote areas—environments that required something very flexible, very portable … something that actually works,” said Charles Kazilek, director of technology integration and outreach for ASU’s School of Life Sciences. “We wanted to see how far we could penetrate literally into the jungle and bring back that experience to our students. We wanted to see how far we could push Vidyo. Could we run it on 3G? Can we get it in the jungle? Can we get it … in the middle of the Panama Canal? What we found is, yes—we can.”

Kazilek added: “In all of those environments, the quality is exceptional, because Vidyo’s technology automatically adjusts to allow the highest level of audio and video fidelity based on endpoint equipment and internet connection speed. … Another plus is that Vidyo integrates with our existing legacy H.323 room systems.”

With Vidyo, “every personal computer can be, itself, a conferencing center,” said Robert E. Page, dean of the School of Life Sciences. “The other technologies that we’ve invested in have been static, and every place you hold a conference requires an equal investment of time and money; it was very expensive to link multiple video points into a conferencing classroom. Vidyo is universally available on off-the-shelf devices and everyday IP networks. It greatly reduces the costs of video conferencing and collaboration.”

Cisco develops classroom-based solutions

One of the leading suppliers of fixed-room telepresence systems, Cisco Systems, is best known for selling these and other advanced, enterprise-level products. But during the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in June, Cisco said it was focusing on developing more classroom-based video solutions as well, and it highlighted some of these new products.

One of them, TelePresence Synch, turns an interactive whiteboard (IWB) into a telepresence endpoint for virtual field trips. Using the IWB software, teachers can record these sessions and then send them to students for watching or reviewing outside of class, Cisco said.

Another new Cisco product, LectureVision, is a software program for capturing and sharing lectures with little effort. All a teacher has to do is record a lecture, and the software automatically encodes this recording so it can play on any device.

The sharing feature, called Show and Share, is like a “private YouTube” for schools, and teachers can publish lectures and presentations to their school’s Show and Share page. Viewers can comment on the videos, and their comments can be time-coded to a particular point in the lesson, Cisco said—making it easy for teachers to see exactly where students had a question or didn’t understand a concept.

What’s more, Cisco’s video analytics software, called Pulse, automatically tags video content by speaker and by keyword using speech recognition technology, the company said. This helps users find relevant content faster: They can jump to specific parts of a video by choosing a speaker, a keyword, or even a keyword mentioned by a particular speaker.

Cisco’s LectureVision is one of many new developments in lecture-capture technology, which is proving to be quite popular in higher education.

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