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School District Adds Streaming Video System

The Metropolitan School District of Warren Township integrates a cost-effective video capture and distribution system on its fiber optic infrastructure.

For example, district media specialists can now add keyword search information and security settings, so only authorized teachers and students have access to specific video files. This feature provides the district with enhanced content and access control, and enables end-users to save files in multiple locations, such as specific class or project folders. The resulting software update has been so successful that it's now a standard EtherneTV feature.

As part of the rollout, Woods and Polson also held training sessions for MSD media specialists and teachers. In addition, IDSolutions created a companion operating manual that each school could copy and use.

“The school district had a realistic schedule of testing the system over a full semester to work out any hiccups on the network, establish policy and procedures, and digitize the appropriate content,” Cook says. “So to most of the teachers and students, the rollout seemed smooth.”

Woods says that use of the EtherneTV system has already taken off with the teaching staff. He now sees video clips and original presentations on a regular basis.

“I can see use of the system growing to include more use of video content in class,” Polson adds. With 2.44 Terabytes of storage capability in the server, the school district certainly has room to grow. Currently, only 15 to 20 percent of it is being used due to advanced data compression.

Moving forward, Woods says that MSD continually purchases TVs as new rooms are added. The school district also plans to use the EtherneTV system as a professional development tool. By broadcasting new teacher training and professional development training classes, the district will be able to save on travel expenses. The classes can be made available on an on-demand basis, making it easier for teachers to review training material or catch up on any missed training classes.

The high school also recently extended its digital footprint to an outlying building used for the building trade classes. But because the building doesn't have fiber running to it, students were missing the video announcements.

To solve the problem, Woods and Polson set up a Cisco wireless connection and a VBrick set-top box. Now, although students are an eighth of a mile away, they can get these announcements. “This is invaluable in case of an emergency,” Woods says.

Over the long term, the MSD of Warren Township will be able to add decoders onto the fiber network as traffic on the coax network becomes overly congested. In the meantime, additional buildings can come online at a minimal cost to the school district.

“The systems are pretty maintenance-free,” Cook says. “Updates to the control server are pushed out automatically, so there's no worry about staying up to date. K-12 schools have the infrastructure for these kinds of systems. Most distribute content anyway, so once video is on the network, the classroom applications are endless.”

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