Last week I had the privilege of moderating a panel at Vidcon titled “Transforming Education with Online Video”. The panel was a stunning array of thought leaders in educational online video, and included Noel Waghorn, Lead Producer/Writer for the Reactions channel at the American Chemical Society, Malik Ducard, Global Head of Family and Learning at YouTube, John Green, Co-Founder of Vidcon and Vlogbrothers, Logan Smalley, Director of TED-Ed, TED Conferences, and James Tynan, VP Strategy and Operations, Khan Academy.

When I first proposed the idea, I had hoped we could get a handful of YouTube creators on the panel. But as the panel grew, it was clear we were going to approach this much more from the “big idea” perspective. As anxious as I was about the whole thing, I was most concerned that I wouldn’t have enough questions to fill a whole hour on the main stage. This was further exacerbated by the news that we were one of the panels that had been selected to be live streamed. But Jim Louderback, editorial director for the Industry Track at Vidcon, was very encouraging, and gave me the best advice: Just wind them up and let them go. These were truly thought leaders in the industry, and I absolutely knew my stuff. Back stage, as I met the panelists, and we got to talking, it was clear we would have no shortage of things to discuss. And once we were on stage, one hour flew by quickly. I didn’t get to ask half my questions and already I have new questions and ideas I want to expand upon should I get an opportunity to do this again in the future.

As I mentioned, the entire panel was live streamed and therefore a recording exists. I’ve tracked it down and made it available below.

— Raul Burriel

Lecture capture is an important part of any higher education institutions media infrastructure. It can also mean a lot of things. In the context of this report, we’re talking about recording lectures in the classroom and making them available online after the fact. We’ve seen no shortage of inquiries over the years from our colleagues in higher education as to “what’s the best lecture capture system?” or “what lecture capture system are you using?” Usually, the feedback we saw was generally very subjective: “this works for us,” or “this is what we’re using,” without any substantive reasoning given as to why these might be the right systems for anyone.

Ultimately, it made sense that we should reach out to the top manufacturers in the industry and invite them to submit their equipment for testing. For the better part of half a year, Chris Dechter and I have been working to assemble a report on lecture capture devices. Throughout early 2016, we received equipment from these manufacturers based on specifications we provided them, and ran the machines through their paces. I say “we”, although I’ll be honest. My job generally involved opening boxes and then closing them up again when we were done. Chris did most of the heavy lifting, mounting the equipment in our testing rack, connecting everything, setting up the machines, and running the recordings and streams. I did additional recording and stream testing, explored options in the web interfaces for the devices, and reviewed the recordings after the fact.

We took notes throughout our testing, and those notes eventually became our report. We parsed every detail and discussed the results both internally and externally. We weren’t shy about communicating with the manufacturers and seeking clarification on specific elements that may have left us scratching our heads. We wanted to be sure we left no stone unturned.

I’ve been frustrated by the closed and proprietary nature of lecture capture platforms for quite some time. For years it felt that if you wanted to deploy lecture capture on your campus, you had to go “all in” not only with the hardware – and associated licensing and maintenance costs – but also the delivery platform, whether it be servers on campus or in the cloud. But my optimism was piqued at the Educause conference in 2013 when Sonic Foundry’s Sean Brown spoke of a more modular approach to lecture capture, where you could use anyone’s hardware to upload to any server or service. During our evaluation process, we also had the opportunity to speak to Matt McCurdy of Sonic Foundry, who reiterated this platform agnostic approach. It is therefore ironic that Sonic Foundry is the one manufacturer we evaluated who produces hardware which does not yet adhere to this concept. Other manufacturers, such as Crestron and Extron, make equipment that are oblivious to the delivery platform. But beyond that, we’re starting to see manufacturers of production equipment crossing over into the capture realm. By that logic, a NewTek TriCaster can be considered a lecture capture device since it can record what’s passed through it, but it’s overly complex for that purpose, so for these manufacturers, simplification is key, boiling it down to the key essentials.

It was a long process and we know that the industry does not remain static. Already we know that firmware updates are due imminently for some of these devices which may impact their scoring. The report is a window in time, and we’re likely to revisit it in the future and revise our results. In addition to updates to some devices, there are newer versions sure to come out at some point, as well as a spate of devices due from competitors not evaluated here. A couple of things we know for sure: equipment is getting smaller and more affordable. You can wait forever to purchase your lecture capture solution, but if you’re looking for something right now, here’s what we have to say about it.

Please feel free to download this report and share it with your colleagues. And should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

— Raul Burriel

Download the report here.

2016-03-16 17.34.36We’ve been cleaning out the old studio in Kidder Hall as we prepare to turn over the space to New Media Communications. As materials are shipped away to Surplus, we unearth some ancient artifacts, some much older than this one artifact pictured here. But few are more relevant to my current occupation. This is an Anystream Apreso Coursecaster, a lecture capture device, and the appliance that Echo360 was using probably about a decade ago. We got this as part of an evaluation as we were testing lecture capture systems at OSU. We ultimately went with Apple Podcast Producer instead, a fateful decision. As Apple did what they often do, and discontinued the product almost immediately after we adopted it. We carried on for some time with Podcast Producer but ultimately retired it and replaced it with our current generation of lecture capture technology. We’ve become quite knowledgeable in regards to lecture capture over these many years, largely due to adversity and hardship. We’re now in a much better place, and much better informed. And I can’t say we’d be where we are now if we’d gone with this little box, instead.

P.S. The Canopus TwinPact 100, which was part of our Apple Podcast Producer deployment, is also sitting on my desk. But unlike the Anystream, which doesn’t seem to serve a purpose any more, the Canopus can still be leveraged as a type of Swiss Army knife for ingesting legacy standard definition sources into our workflow. You’ve got a VHS tape of your wedding that you’d like to convert into a digital file? I can do that… well, except now I need a VCR.

I did a webinar with Kaltura yesterday where I spoke about lessons learned from our (“successful”) deployment of Kaltura at OSU. I put “successful” in quotes only because it took some time to get to the point where we are today. We’ve been with Kaltura for 6 years and we’re very satisfied with the product today, but in the earliest days, it was certainly a difficult implementation. Both Kaltura and OSU grew in those intervening years, though, and Kaltura today is not what Kaltura was 6 years ago. The product’s implementation is turn-key and simple. I keep coming back to the words “integral”, “transparent”, and “ubiquitous” when I talk about Kaltura. Oftentimes, Kaltura is going exist invisibly behind the scenes. If it does its job, your interaction with Kaltura should be minimal. It’s job is to gobble up video and spit out video, and it does both those things wonderfully.

Recently when meeting with faculty and staff at OSU, and with people outside of OSU, I’ve refrained from going into the weeds when talking about Kaltura. If I try to touch on all the functionality, I’ll be talking for hours and I’ll surely lose my audience. Someone who wants to know about lecture capture doesn’t want to know about live streaming, for instance. Instead, what I often do when I walk into a room is go immediately to the whiteboard and draw a big cloud (“Kaltura”) and put a bunch of arrows going into that cloud on one side, and a bunch of arrows coming out of that cloud on the other side. That’s translated more recently into this Prezi I’ve made that I shared during yesterday’s webinar and you can see here.

ecosystem

Last Friday Oregon State University’s Media Services facilitated a Skype call between FoxNews.com and OSU’s professor Chris Goldfinger of the College of Earth, Oceanic & Atmospheric Sciences. While OSU can provide satellite, microwave or fiber optic connections to national and international broadcasters – and frequently does – sometimes, we’re asked to do it the “cheap and easy” way. Well, this is what a Skype call looks like when we do it:

skype

Cheap, maybe. But easy? Our goal is to make a Skype call look like anything but a Skype call. And that means proper networking, staging, lighting, cameras and microphones. When the FoxNews.com producer told us “It doesn’t look like Skype,” we knew we’d accomplished our goal. The end result was this segment on FoxNews.com.

It’s somewhat disappointing to see that FoxNews.com doesn’t stream at a higher resolution or bitrate as you’d have a better opportunity to see the quality and clarity of our connection. But we have done this with other news outlets in the past.

If you’re ever called upon to do an interview with a broadcast network, Media Services will be happy to assist. Don’t hesitate to contact us at 541-737-2121.

The team from Academic Technology at Oregon State University will be making TWO presentations at the CCUMC Annual Conference this year. (It helps that the conference is in Portland this year!) CCUMC is the Consortium of College and University Media Centers. This year’s conference, dubbed “Techlandia”, will be held at the Hilton Portland and Executive Tower from October 15 to 19.

I’ll be representing the Media Services team and my presentation on “Media Distribution in Higher Education” will be presented on Thursday, October 16 from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. My presentation will focus on our Kaltura media delivery platform at OSU and the many benefits we’ve reaped from its deployment as the core of our media eco-system.

I’ll also be joining my colleague, Marc Cholewczynski, from Classroom Technology Services, for “Large Scale Lecture Capture and Delivery for BYOD” on Friday, October 17 from 2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. We’ll focus on our lecture capture solution, its integration into our larger media eco-system, and our goal of bringing bring-your-own-device solutions into the classroom for both instructors and students for teaching purposes.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Lois Brooks, OSU’s Vice Provost for Information Services, and I have just returned from Kaltura’s annual conference. Kaltura, the market leader in online video platforms for education and the provider of our MediaSpace system, invited us both to speak at their conference. I’m a frequent attendee of this conference and it was astounding to see just how much Kaltura has grown – and how many education clients have adopted their platform – in just the last year. When it comes to video delivery for education, it’s clear at this point that there’s Kaltura, and then there’s everybody else.

Kaltura has a number of promising new innovations coming out in the education realm in the next few months, including some very exciting things related to lecture capture and live streaming. We expect to see some of those features to find their way into MediaSpace and our Learning Management Systems sooner rather than later.

Below are the recordings of both my presentation in conjunction from my colleagues from Houston Community College and the University of Michigan and Ms. Brooks’s round table discussion with fellow CIOs from other educational institutions.

Lois Brooks: Education Thought Leaders

Raul Burriel: Lessons Learned From Cross-Campus Deployment

ReelSEO.com is reporting on how YouTube has started testing a responsive video player. In the world of web, “responsive” means components of a web page that resize with your browser. So a bigger browser would have a bigger video window and a smaller browser would resize accordingly. I just wanted to point out that the wizards at Central Web Services implemented this same functionality into OSU Live a year ago. MediaSpace 5, which we rolled out two weeks ago, also has a responsive video player. It’s nice to be ahead of the curve on this.