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Wharton Financial Crisis Course Reaches 50,000 with Streaming Media

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania recently used Sonic Foundry's Mediasite to deliver an online course on the global financial crisis, which has been viewed by 50,000 students, alumni, and members of the public worldwide.

The 16-week online course, Economic and Financial Crisis: Causes, Consequences, and Policy Options, was designed in late 2008 by Professor Mauro Guillen, to examine the many facets of the downturned economy. It featured experts in finance and economics who offered their insights on a weekly basis.

"The instructors were so deeply immersed in their areas of expertise that it was just a stunning reaction, in near real-time, to one of the most incredible financial events of the last 100 years. Mediasite was very valuable in delivering that information," said Alex Milne, senior director of public technologies at the Wharton School. "The professor was happy to open the content up to students in other areas. We adjusted quickly because we knew the information would lend itself nicely to the rich media format."

The Wharton School had just deployed its Mediasite program at its Pennsylvania location but went into full production when it received a request from a student in the Executive MBA program at the Wharton San Francisco campus asking for access to the lectures. Milne's team viewed this as the opportunity to initiate a multimedia course, originally streaming to about 1,000 students between the Pennsylvania and California campuses. When word about the course spread to alumni, the school opened it to a worldwide audience.

"People were just clamoring for any insight into the financial crisis. Once they heard about this course, and then especially when they looked at it and they found this really compelling format, they were intrigued," said Milne. "We can present lectures in a way that didn't exist before, in a way that allows the end-user to interact with compelling information. No technology can save a bad presentation, but combining this content with Mediasite's technology produced results we never expected."

The Wharton School has installed Mediasite permanently in 12 rooms and plans to be in full production in the fall. Mediasite automates the capture, management, delivery, and search of rich media presentations that combine audio, video, and accompanying graphics for live or on-demand viewing.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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