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2011 Campus Technology Innovators | IT Infrastructure and Systems

Penn State University

Penn State's ELIMedia Server provides an end-to-end solution for managing digital media assets, starting with the submission of a media request and ending with a simple embed code--facilitating the integration of digital media into online courses.

Project: ELIMedia Server

Project lead: Bryan Ollendyke, manager of instructional technology

Vendors/technologies used:
3Play Media
LongTail Video

The floodgates are open, and digital media are literally streaming into today's learning systems. With that deluge come two critical challenges to the management of digital assets: copyright and accessibility compliance. What will ensure that media assets are created in ways that keep institutions compliant? And how can this be achieved without overburdening instructional designers, developers, and faculty?

For the College of Arts and Architecture at Penn State, the answer lies in ELIMedia Server, an application developed by the college's e-Learning Institute to handle the integration of digital media into its online courses. The system was envisioned in 2010 by Bryan Ollendyke, manager of instructional technology at the e-Learning Institute, after he watched instructional media developers struggle with various integration issues. Ollendyke wanted to make the process easier and more efficient.

"I originally took this on as a way of lowering the cost of entry, if you will," explains Ollendyke. "Before, our learning design team was having to troubleshoot HTML and Flash object code. My goal was to alleviate that, so that they could simply upload their media to the system, which would return a clean code that they could use without having to spend so much time on technical issues. It's making their lives a lot easier. And it especially makes ADA and copyright compliance much more straightforward."

Now, course developers can upload any type of asset using an open source Drupal-based interface. The system guides them to provide the metadata necessary to operate under fair use, Creative Commons, or TEACH Act provisions. Files requiring transcription can be sent to 3PlayMedia for ADA-compliant closed captioning. ELIMedia Server then automatically transfers uploaded files to an Adobe Flash Media Interactive Server, where all media assets are indexed and become searchable by any developer or faculty member. Any asset can be incorporated into a course by simply copying and pasting a short code generated by the ELIMedia Server application. LongTail Video's JW Player is used to play any of the file formats used in the system. All in all, ELIMedia Server has provided an end-to-end solution for managing digital media assets, starting with the submission of a media request and ending with a simple embed code.

Keith Bailey, director of the e-Learning Institute, sums up the impact of ELIMedia Server for his organization: "We want to manage [accessibility and copyright compliance] globally, so that every one of our online courses meets current standards. This system encompasses all of that for us: As designers put materials or media elements into the system, they include all the information that ensures compliance."

ELIMedia Server represents a "store once, use many times" strategy that improves efficiency by centralizing all media in a single location. To date, more than 2,000 media assets have been processed through the system and used in online courses. As digital media continue to proliferate, Bailey says, "Our hope is that this solution will become more widely adopted at Penn State and beyond, serving as a best practice for other e-learning initiatives across the country."

About the Author

Meg Lloyd is a Northern California-based freelance writer.

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