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Distance Learning in the University of Maine System, Part 1

Dec 14, 2010 12:00 PM, With Bennett Liles

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Editor's note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

The University of Maine System has been televising distance learning classes for 20 years, and recently it upgraded to a statewide Haivision IP network to carry signals to students. Senior systems and design engineer John Tiner is here to tell us how the system was set up and how it all works.

John welcome to the SVC podcast; coming to us from the University of Maine System where you've got a statewide AV network for distance learning up and running using Haivision hardware. But first, how about telling me a little bit about yourself? What do you do for the University of Maine System?
Well, I'm a part of the systems engineering group that's part of a larger IT group that services the entire university's system. So our group is responsible for the video classrooms, video conferencing, all of the video networks; a lot of the traditional AV thing, room construction, projection, special events, video streaming—all that kind of thing. [Timestamp 1:34]

Now do you have certain people who specialize in things like help desk and others who concentrate in maintenance and installation or is it just everybody is called on to pretty much do everything?
Well, the field engineering and system engineering breaks up a little bit into specialty areas. We concentrate on the design and the construction of all the facilities and all the equipment integration, network integration. We service a lot of the networks that are particular to the projects we're working on; the original microwave networks, the original video conferencing networks and special optical networks, and RF networks, satellite—that kind of thing. And there's a separate group that's a part of the services group and they run the help desk; they're the front level technicians. They're fielding a lot of these calls at the front line and then they escalate them to field engineering or systems engineering as appropriate. [Timestamp 2:34]

And this looks like a pretty involved project for a statewide distance learning where you brought in Haivision gear; you've been with them for a while now.
I don't know if the folks at Hai really realized … they were very excited because we were one of their first customers way before they were even Haivision. And we bought an awful lot of their gear for the backbone here so we were one of their first biggest customers, and they were very excited when we went back to build this system, but I don't even think that really we had been running the same type of network for almost 20 years. The codecs have changed, technology has changed a little bit, the transport's changed a little bit, but really we've been doing this for a long time and it's been very successful. [Timestamp 3:20]

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