Cloud Computing | Feature
Lecture Capture Takes to the Cloud
Columbus State Community College has formed an alliance with Kaltura and TechSmith to create a turnkey lecture capture solution that can be deployed via the cloud.
Camtasia Relay system and Kaltura’s open source
video platform, Columbus State Community
College (OH) has developed a process to move captured Relay content
directly from on-campus classrooms to the Kaltura cloud. The goal is to ensure
high-quality streaming video for all CSCC students, regardless of where they
The school's focus is hardly surprising. CSCC is a widely
dispersed institution, with two campuses and nine off-campus centers serving
more than 30,000 students. Of that number, nearly a quarter are enrolled in
distance-learning programs. Add in another 22,000 students in CSCC's Community
Education and Workforce Development program--many of whom participate in
training from their workplace--and you begin to see why the high-quality
delivery of online instruction is so critical.
To learn more about CSCC's cloud-based lecture capture
program, Campus Technology spoke with
Jason LaMar and Joel Nelson, multimedia web developers with the college's
Instructional Technologies and Distance Learning division and project
coordinators for the CSCC/TechSmith/Kaltura alliance.
Campus Technology: How did the project--and the
Joel Nelson: CSCC
was part of the initial beta for Camtasia Relay, so we've been working with
TechSmith from the beginning.
We have a lot of instructors at CSCC who want to record
their lecture in class and deliver it to the business learning courses or as
supplemental material in the traditional courses. Relay was an ideal product,
but it only recorded and produced the lecture capture. Our faculty needed
delivery methods as well, and they wanted a solution they could grow into. We
began to do research, we looked into a few different solutions, but we quickly
settled on Kaltura.
Kaltura had a willingness to configure a solution specific
to what we wanted to do: tie into Relay and use it with Blackboard. Pretty much
all of our courses offer supplemental material using Blackboard.
LaMar: We were
interested in finding a better outlet for storage and delivery of content--and
that interested Kaltura. I think both companies immediately saw how the
marriage of their products could benefit all of their clients.
CT: How does Kaltura help CSCC make the transition from a
locally based solution to the cloud?
Nelson: The lure of
Kaltura is the cloud element. You could use the product right out of the box to
put your media onto iTunesU
or YouTube. But in education there's
always a need to find a solution over which you have some sort of ownership.
Even if you're planning on making it freely available, you still want that
ownership. From YouTube, you can deliver to everybody, but you don't have
ownership; with iTunesU, you have ownership, but you can't deliver to
Now the piece is inside your LMS--that's another step
Kaltura has taken. It's integrated so you can deploy right into the heart of a
course, so instructors feel that ownership as well.
CT: What kind of cloud system does Kaltura offer?
Nelson: The back end
of Kaltura is Akamai. When you put your
content on Kaltura, the video can be delivered quickly because it's coming from
the server closest to you or the one with the least traffic. It automatically
chooses the best option.
Kaltura also has the capability to do adaptive bit-rate
streaming. It can instantly change the quality of the stream depending on your
network connection. If there's a bottleneck, you're going to continue to get
the stream but at a lower quality. And they have the capability to deliver to a
mobile device as well. It's able to detect whether you're watching on an iPad
or an Android, and deliver the best quality or type of video for that device,
so you don't have to do that on the front end.
LaMar: The other
advantage of the cloud over a locally based solution is the server system.
Previously, we had a single server on campus, which was great but it was also a
single point of failure. No matter how big the university, you can't beat the
internet. Storage, availability, and redundancy aren't on our mind now, because
we're relying on the internet.
It really makes sense to move from a local solution to a
cloud solution for something like this. It provides the best experience for
everybody, no matter where they are.
CT: Does the system support real-time delivery of
Nelson: There's an
add-on to Kaltura for live-streaming, and they already do some of that through
their hosted services.
LaMar: At CSCC,
though, our focus is on-demand asynchronous streaming. You record it, vet it,
and then upload it (either through the web or your LMS). Then, whenever
somebody wants it, the content is available for use. The Relay-Kaltura mesh
CT: Have you piloted this new project yet?
Nelson: So far we've
just been testing it. This fall is the large-scale pilot, when we expect to get
it across to more faculty members. It'll be our widespread testing phase.
Working with both companies, we've gotten it to a point where a few things need
to be ironed out. We're still doing that, and we've also upgraded to a new
version of Blackboard at the same time.
LaMar: We have a lot
of lectures available in the Relay system, and this summer we created content
for Kaltura. We've deployed both pieces independently of each other, but this
fall will give us the chance to make the link end-to-end for the faculty. Now
it's just about merging everything together. That's the focus for the fall.
CT: What are your goals for this project?
Nelson: A system we
can grow into is the important piece of it. We're hoping to stay ahead of the
game so that a year or two down the line, we're in a position to do more with
video and media because we're not still trying to figure out how best to
deliver it. We've already taken care of that. The goal, too, is to add video
objects to learning content as easily as adding any other document. That's
really the thing. If you can't have the student and instructor in the same room
at the same time, the next best experience would be one using media and video.
The remote student gets to hear the instructor's voice and see how and what
reason we wanted to make this happen is so other institutions could benefit
from it. We hope they can tap into this TechSmith/Kaltura partnership. We
consider ourselves evangelists in terms of integrating multimedia with online
learning--a critical piece to humanize what may otherwise be a cold medium on
the web. At the end of the day, it's about helping students learn.