How Bloomsburg University Achieved Campus-Wide Video Capture
Faculty and students at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania have been using Mediasite technology for six years to record lectures for flipped instruction, classroom projects and special guests. The events are recorded and automatically fed into a video management and creation platform, My Mediasite. Some classrooms are equipped with multiple cameras to capture a fully immersive, multi-angle video experience to deepen engagement, whether the video is live or on-demand. This web seminar, originally broadcast on March 18, 2014, featured Asa Kelley, who discussed how several Mediasite classrooms are arranged, the varied purposes for which Bloomsburg faculty and students use the technology, and an innovative project whereby VHS footage is being modernized through Mediasite.
Senior Vice President
Asa Kelley has been in the instructional media field for nearly 10 years working as a media production assistant, integrating classroom presentation equipment, operating media equipment storage and loan facilities, engineering an HDTV production studio, and administering several network media systems, including Mediasite. He has helped innovate digital media in several ways, including a streamlined classroom recording system, using My Mediasite.
Bloomsburg University has about 10,000 students, 550 faculty, 500 staff and four colleges. Our single sign-on is based in Active Directory. The primary systems the students use most often are Office 365 Web mail and Desire2Learn, our learning management system. One of the big benefits of this is that links to Mediasite recordings are shared through the learning management system, or through email. If we require authentication, the student doesn’t have to sign in again. We don’t have to deal with the student signing onto a different system, or using LDAP directly. It’s very streamlined for the end user. All of the cameras in our classrooms are flash-memory based, so we don’t really deal with tape anymore. But for projects that do require tape, we do have the tape machines. We have JVC professional VHS and DV Cam combo decks that were used in our media labs about 10 years ago. They’re often used for faculty that have VHS tapes that they still need to use for academic teaching.
This last fiscal year, we stopped putting VHS decks in classrooms, which was met with faculty concern. Our solution was to capture VHS content into a computer using Mediasite stations. The workflow for capturing from tape uses QuickTime Pro, and with Active Directory, everybody logs in to their own profile. When QuickTime Pro is capturing, it can do either full DV quality, which is device native, or HDV quality, depending on the deck. Or it can encode to H.264, which actually puts it to about 2MB per minute, which is very nice and small, and that file can be immediately uploaded into My Mediasite. We use iMovie for the memory cameras. For the standard definition cameras, very often the QuickTime Pro raw file that is brought into iMovie is small enough to publish straight into My Mediasite. However, sometimes, if the quality is higher, or if the students use a high definition camera, the raw file is way too big. So these machines do also have Final Cut Studio. Our most recent room that is connected to Mediasite is our communications studies research lab. It is a multi-purpose room with a conference table and eight computers with research software. There are four Sony cameras on the wall, ceiling mics, and an easy-to-use Mediasite appliance that allow students and faculty to record what goes on in the room. Faculty have used the Mediasite system to record presentations by special guests for future classes.
We have a portable Mediasite cart for recording events that are in rooms that do not have the built-in setup. A 7-inch Extron touch control panel gives full control over the robotic cameras, including a preview of what the camera sees. The panel also controls the Mediasite recorder. There is a “+” button that calls up a Mediasite template on the recorder, and a “record” button to capture what is going on in the classroom. If a faculty member is doing an ad hoc presentation, they need to hit the “new” button to make it show up in My Mediasite for them. For some faculty who plan ahead, or want to record every lecture, we do scheduling. Most of them are uncomfortable with having the machine just start and stop on its own, and want to have control over when it starts recording. So the recorder in the background will load the schedule template, and then the faculty member just hits the record button when ready. Status indicators at the top of the panel tell the user when it’s in standby, recording or busy, so they know what they can and can’t do. When a room has a smart podium, a user can draw on the screen, just like a whiteboard, and it shows up both in the projection, and in the Mediasite recording. We have a faculty member who’s teaching three sections of the same course. Two of them are in person, face-to-face, in a classroom. The third one is distance learning, but it’s all the same content, so what she wanted to do was give the lecture feel to the distance students. So she’s now using a Mediasite room to capture one of her live sessions with the students in the room, and then she’ll share those links with the students that are not able to come to campus, so they still get the feel of everything that’s happening. The cameras capture whatever she might write on the chalkboard. Mediasite obviously captures whatever she does with PowerPoint, or the diagramming with smart notebook programs.
Our developmental instruction department had been doing one-on-one tutoring. To streamline that, the tutor just sets Mediasite to capture her computer as full motion-image. It captures her drawing on the whiteboard in the Smart Notebook app. The microphones in the ceiling mean the tutor does not need to wear a microphone in order for her voice to be captured. All of this ends up in video format for her to share with the students.
Brown: How many people on your staff support your Mediasite rooms?
Kelley: I’m the only one who supports the Mediasite room, but the technology support services department helps to maintain our other smart classrooms.
Brown: How much training does it take to train faculty to use the Mediasite touch panels?
Kelley: I conduct the training. At bloomu.edu/mediasite, there are a lot tutorials that people can reference. There is a tutorial for each specific Mediasite classroom, explaining how to use the touch panel, what needs to be done in My Mediasite to access the recording and to move the recording into our LMS or share it via email. There is also a tutorial for keeping a recording secure so that no one else can access it. I will also visit the communication studies research classroom and quickly walk a class through how to use the recording system. Instructions are also posted there and in all Mediasite classrooms.
Brown: But with the templates built into Mediasite, the faculty are mostly able to support themselves. With the tutorials, briefings, and in-room instructions, Asa has made this supportable as a self-service.
To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please go to: www.universitybusiness.com/ws031814