U Washington Deploys IP-Based 'Coursecasting'

The University of Washington, in an effort to improve access to classroom materials for students, has deployed IP-based audio encoding devices throughout 24 classrooms, standardizing on Barix Instreamers.

The implementation is part of a pilot program through U Washington's Coursecasting initiative, headed up by the university's Classroom Support Services. The 24 classrooms, in 13 campus buildings, have been equipped with one Interstreamer each in the projection booth at the back of each classroom. The Instreamer's line input is connected to the audio output of the PA systems in the classes. Audio is recorded and encoded, at which point the Instreamers connect through the campus network to Classroom Support Services' central capture server, which processes the audio and uploads it to an archive on one of the university's portal pages. The portal provides access to the recordings (encoded at lowest quality to keep file sizes small) via RSS.

"There is simply no other product on the market that is as bulletproof as the Barix Instreamer," said David Aldrich, assistant director of Classroom Support Services and Director of the Coursecasting Pilot Program at University of Washington. "We designed our automated Coursecasting model around the Instreamer after realizing we could stream directly to a capture server using this device. We liked the fact that the Instreamer had no moving parts and was less likely to fail compared to using computers for audio capture and streaming to a central server. Reliability is a big factor when designing a solution to be scalable. It didn't hurt that the price point was considerably lower than a computer and the associated installation costs."

Aldrich said that the Coursecasting program was started to make recordings more accessible to students. Since October 2005, students have been able to access recordings via the Internet, and the university has logged about 110,000 lecture downloads through March 2007. Previously classroom recordings were accessed by students physically from the university's library.

The University of Washington, with campuses in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell, serves about 43,000 students (2005 figures) and employs some 27,600 faculty and staff, including 3,600 instructional faculty. The university also has about 26,000 students enrolled through extension.

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About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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