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Ryerson U Builds Global Campus Network

GCN will deliver student-produced programs over the Internet.
GCN will deliver student-produced programs over the Internet.

A team at Ryerson University in Toronto is working on a broadcast network that will use high-speed Internet and video-streaming technology to connect institutions around the world to deliver student-produced news and programs. The initiative, the Global Campus Network, or GCN, is the brainchild of Richard Grunberg, a professor in Ryerson's School of Radio and Television Arts program. He calls his effort the "CNN of the university world."

"Students should have a voice. They work hard on the content they produce, and it's important for them to see productions from around the world, show their creations, and share in the production of collaborative projects," said Grunberg, who recently pitched GCN to prospective member schools during the Broadcast Education Association (BEA) and National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conventions in Las Vegas.

The university worked with Haivision, a Montreal- and Chicago-based company, to adapt its IP video distribution equipment for the project, enabling students to produce live newscasts with hosts in multiple locations, similar to network and cable news shows. Communication with the system is bi-directional, allowing operators in different countries to send and receive full HD video, intercom, interrupted feedback, and audio all from the one customized Haivision box.

GCN relies on standard high-speed Internet or can connect through the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION), an ultra-high-speed fibre optic network that links Ontario research and education institutions to each other and to institutional and research partners.

Programming on GCN will include student-produced current affairs shows, newscasts, entertainment programs, and research material. Ryerson students will not only contribute to the network as producers but also as on-air talent and major network administrators.

Recently, Grunberg conducted an international test of the technology between Ryerson and the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, in which 1080 high-def content was transmitted both ways, and operators were able to cue on-air talent via intercom and earpiece communication. There was no perceptible delay in the transmission, nor any degradation or interruption of the sound or images.

"It really highlighted the capabilities of the technology," said Grunberg, who added that other networks have expressed interest in this type of technology.

The video focuses on one of the programs being developed, "The Global City," in which students from around the world will be able to submit video, audio, photojournalism, and written articles. Global City is being produced by Radio and Television Arts professor Marion Coomey.

"I have a long-term goal with this project, which is to have what the chairman of my department calls "SNN"--student news network--in which we'd have 24-hour news bulletins. Whenever you're awake, that's when your location would be running it, and we'd all feed our stories into a big repository of stories and get to work with each other," she said in a video posted to YouTube. SNN will "allow the students to meet each other face on and work together on stories. For me, 'The Global City' is all about finding out how the same story looks differently or the same depending on where you are in the world."

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