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University of Ottawa – HaiVision / Video Furnace Digital Asset Management / Streaming




Challenge:

The University approached us to recommend ways in which to acquire in classroom presentations, lecturers and associated content digitally, and then make it available to students at alternate times. Often instructors have their own presentation content which is not centralized or easily distributable. Interactions within the classroom environment often contributes to student comprehension of presented material and adds value to the learning experience, but was not being recorded, archived or re-distributed. Guest lecturers also contribute and often that resource is lost once the class is finished. Class scheduling sometimes creates a challenges for some students plus made learning and access to instructor’s and their content difficult at times.

They needed a way to capture all of this, including unique content (ie. presentation material, student/instructor interactions or guest lecturer’s) archive it for future, as well as make it available on a pre-scheduled basis or on-demand. They also had to be sensitive to copy right guidelines, control student access to appropriate material in an easy manner, reliably, and be as automated as possible. All while not over taxing their computer network resources (bandwidth) – which remains a crucial concern for the university.

A further challenge to them was the fact they knew of NO other Canadian University providing this type or level of unified service to their students at the time.

IAV Provided Solution:

We listened to the challenges provided by the client, defined their operational and performance scope and went to work.

As the technical was evaluated it was evident we needed to acquire several components of information simultaneously … audio, video, computer graphics, then digitize that in a format which is efficient. At times content needed to simultaneously be streamed live while initial encoding was taking place.

Once the content was digitized it had to be logged and archived, as well as indexed based on several metadata factors. For example which course and year it related to, who the instructor was, date and so forth. The definitions of keyword metadata had to be flexible and configurable.

Subsequently, content had to become accessible to authorized students or faculty, but not to others. This related to several issue, of which copyright was one such issue.

Interactive AV had a relationship with HaiVision, a Canadian based streaming media and encoding company. They had recently acquired Video Furnace, a company specializing in digital content asset management and distribution.

The HaiVision and Video Furnace technologies when deployed in tandem enabled the client to acquire all content from within the classroom in a synchronized fashion. This meant that audio, video and even their computer based presentations remained locked together in time while it was being recorded, and could later be viewed in the same manner. Even better, if there was a computer based slide presentation, it could be viewed and scaled at the display (usually a computer) beside the video image making viewing more flexible. Student sees in room video in one scalable/moveable window while simultaneously viewed computer based content in a second adjacent scalable and movable window, and audio remains locked. As content was being encoded, it could simultaneously be streamed and recorded, with pertinent metadata associated, and additional metadata added later as well. Segments of the content could also have tags associated for quick searching.

Upon completion of the recording, simple editing of the file could be done and then published to a centralized server in a variety of electronic formats. Additional legacy content could also be ingested to this system and become an accessible digital asset. If copyright applied to content, new or legacy, that too could be tagged for distribution filtering and usage reporting.

Entry of metadata as part of the publishing to server empowered the client to differentiate “user access rights” of the content. This meant they could now control what an individual student could access and by extension restrict content from unauthorized students. This was achieved by integrating Haivision/Video Furnace content control servers with the universities active directory system. Each students network access credentials now define what on-line content they can access (education stream, year of course, etc etc). This managed the copyright, content access/restrictions and several other issues.

Distribution of audio, video and graphics across their network was a primary concern. In order to alleviate any concerns a pilot project was deployed. Client owned content was encoded and scheduled playback of content was initiated. Additionally, on-demand content was made accessible for this test. A large group of computers retrieved content simultaneously, both multicast and unicast materials. University network administrated monitored and assessed the impact of this content distribution and were extremely pleased with the result. The pilot was very successful and the project moved to a deployment phase.

In so doing, encoded material was made accessible initially to specific courses. Recorded content was scheduled for playback at specific dates and times, empowering students to obtain access to classroom information at a convenient times from any location. Some content would even become available

on-demand. The result is that the university is now almost like an internal broadcaster of classroom originated content. Students retrieve this information on their computers, mobile devices and possibly in future through a university IPTV network.

Metric are also accessible to determine who uses the system, for how long, and a myriad of other statistics useful to the faculty and IT groups. For example, a student may need to view specific content before moving to a subsequent module. In order to ensure student do not simple “play” that content yet not pay attention, the Haivision player has the ability to monitor if that player is “on top” of the students desktop, if they are watching other things at same time, and this player can enable interactivity as well. Many metrics can be definable and become accessible to appropriate university personnel.

One other scalable capability is the fact that this system can drive an IPTV distribution solution as well. This is important in future as campus wide distribution of this content and other content can be leveraged. One consideration might be distribution to student dorm rooms so the student(s) can watch class materials in the comfort of their own room.

The result of this became a Case Study for HaiVision and became yet another “first”. The University of Ottawa is the first in Canada to deploy a working and fully unified solution. Interactive Audio Visual was a key partner in this project !

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