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Lecture Capture Technology Helps Universities Prepare for H1N1

Two Washington state universities--Washington State University (WSU) in Spokane and Northwest University in Kirkland--have gone public with deployments of lecture capture technology in preparation for a potential H1N1 flu pandemic. WSU Spokane has expanded use of Mediasite from Sonic Foundry, and Northwest has chosen CourseCast from Panopto.

"Our main campus has had a large number of cases reporting symptoms of swine flu. The health sciences campus is lucky to have not been affected yet. Using Mediasite to capture lectures is a prominent part of our contingency plan, among a number of other things," said Saleh Elgiadi, director of IT services for academics and research. "We are working with faculty to build an archive of rich classroom experiences that we can extend to students that become ill or if we have an outbreak and there is mandated social distancing."

The university also has the technology to facilitate lecture capture from faculty homes, if needed, using a combination of Mediasite and desktop videoconferencing tools.

In November 2008 the school's College of Nursing opened a new $34.6 million, 87,516 square-foot facility that integrated eight Mediasite RL recorders into "smart" classrooms. The lecture capture platform is centrally managed so courses can be captured from up to 30 classrooms. Lectures are streamed to students on campus, as well as the WSU College of Nursing's other sites in Vancouver, Tri-Cities, Walla Walla, and Yakima. The university now records lectures for all of health sciences as well as the programs in medicine, pharmacy, and education.

"The skyrocketing numbers speak for themselves," said Elgiadi. "The first year we had 5,000 on-demand views. We are very close to that number already this fall so there's been a huge growth. Mediasite is very useful for faculty to be able to offer the classroom materials in an interactive media-rich environment. And the viewing by students shows this is something they need and appreciate."

After a competitive evaluation, Northwest chose CourseCast owing to cost and functionality that allows the university to produce recordings that include video, audio, and screen capture components. Its integration to the content management system Moodle was another selling point; faculty can post lectures directly to existing Moodle course Web sites.

"By deploying Panopto CourseCast, we are not only enriching the learning experience on on-campus students, but helping those students who have to miss class for an illness, injury, athletic event or extracurricular activity," said Waldemar Kowalski, professor and CIO. "With CourseCast, faculty can record rich media lectures and post them online with ease, empowering students to access course material whether they are sick at home, studying in the library or traveling on the road."

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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