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Distance Learning in the University of Maine System, Part 2

Dec 28, 2010 11:53 AM, 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.

Distance learning and classroom capture offer a powerful balance for the effects of shrinking budgets and growing class size. Senior systems and design engineer John Tiner offers his experience in how the University of Maine System is using Haivision to take learning beyond the campus on a statewide IP network. Next up on the SVC podcast.

John thanks for being back with me for part two on the Haivision network at the University of Maine System. A tour de force and distance learning, and you're obviously no newcomer to that. How long have you been delivering classes for the distance learning network?

We've been delivering live video classes for 20 years, and we've also been delivering live interactive videoconferencing classes for about 14 years, so we've been doing this for quite some time. [Timestamp: 1:17]

So you've got it down by now and you went all-IP with the Haivision system, the basic premise of this new project. What format video and sound are you feeding into the Haivision encoders?

We're still using good old analog NTSC. The core equipment and the infrastructure for the system was based on broadcast NTSC equipment, and it would have been cost-prohibitive to upgrade the entire system in the production facilities to high definition or new digital equipment, so we stayed with the standard-definition analog equipment and purchased the Haivision equipment that would allow us to work with that. [Timestamp: 1:57]

Well when it comes to distance learning, it's all in the content as long as everything is clearly visible and as long as you have def—it doesn't necessarily have to be high-def, at least not in the beginning. How is this thing administered? Is there one central place where you handle all of the codecs, or is it classroom by classroom?

Most of the project is handled with the systems and field engineering groups here at this particular campus of the University of Maine System, and the administration is handled by basically myself and two other engineers and the Video Furnace software basically allows us to look at all the encoders and all the set-top boxes, and look at the intermediate conditional access and hardware authorization, and scheduling and channel line ups all in one place, so it's really pretty easy to administer the entire system. The original deployment and installation was quite involved, but now that the year's in, it's pretty easy to manage. [Timestamp: 3:07]

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