Video is growing tremendously in the education system, and for many universities, live streaming has become both an academic asset and a community-building tool. From graduations to recitals to even NCAA sports, live streaming opens up so many opportunities for universities to expand their outreach and create a brand image for their schools.
Just take a look at Wilmington University. A private, nonprofit university in Delaware that’s host to some 20,000 students, Wilmington University has made video integration an essential aspect of their school, offering thousands of recorded lectures for online courses and live videos for special events. In fact, the university even has an entire department dedicated to managing and improving their technology adoption: the Department of Educational Technology & Multimedia.
“Our department handles faculty training and administration for our LMS (Learning Management System) Blackboard and the tools that interact with it, including web conferencing, student authentication, e-portfolios, and video integrations,” says Russell Lichterman, Director of the department.
“Educational Technology and Multimedia offers workshops and webinars, and creates training materials to support faculty in their use of these tools, including Kaltura, the Online Video Platform that integrates directly with Blackboard. Video integration is an enormous part of our online learning experience, and our university community has created over 60,000 videos related to instruction inside our LMS.”
Simple & Professional Live Stream Setup
Check out their commencement live stream:
Aside from academic video, Russell and his multimedia team also participate in live streaming major school events. This includes their biggest live streams of each year, the commencement ceremony, which occurs twice a year, as well as guest speaker, panel discussion and concert events.
Thes commencement streams typically reach over 1,000 views, with friends & family from all over the world tuning in. Since many international students attend Wilmington University, the live streams are the only opportunities for people far away to see their students graduate.
Here’s the university’s multicam streaming setup:
3 Panasonic PX270 cameras are hardwired into the Datavideo SE-1200MU, which is a low-cost professional 4 SDI / 2 HDMI input switcher. After adding basic graphics, the live feed is pushed to the VidiU encoder. This gets streamed to Kaltura, which is the university’s online video portal for shared multimedia learning content & social videos.
So why do they stream to Kaltura instead of Facebook or YouTube? It’s all about maintenance, branding & vetting. Streaming to Kaltura allows the university to develop its own image, as well as keep archived videos organized for their own needs. Also, instead of having to rely on 3rd-party platforms for maintaining the uplink (FB & YT are known to have dropped streams without warning), Kaltura allows them to use their own backend for publishing.
A Budget Friendly Solution
Coming from a broadcast TV background at Comcast & NBC, Russell’s goal was to achieve broadcast-quality video on a university budget. That’s when he stumbled upon the VidiU. It fit perfectly into the entry-level portable studio that he was creating for live streaming special events on campus, and made professional multi-cam productions very affordable for his crew.
“We’re an educational institution so we were very price-conscious. I was looking for a simple standalone hardware H.264 encoder that was affordable and had a web-based interface,” says Russell. “Being able to do an RTMP stream as well as set the resolution & bitrates all through the web interface was phenomenal. We could remote into the encoder and adjust the settings however we wanted.”
Thanks to the VidiU and Russell’s expertise in broadcasting, the department has been able to bring live high-def video of major school events to viewers around the world. This not only helps to build a stronger community around the university, but also highlights Wilmington University’s commitment to the future of online education, an area where the school has seen enormous growth with continued expansion every year..
“We’ve had the VidiU for 3 years now, and have used it for every commencement, panel discussion and guest speaker event with zero issues. There isn’t anything else out there that offers as much functionality as the VidiU at that price point.”
Russ Lichterman is Director of Educational Technology & Multimedia at Wilmington University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit WilmU Online on the web at www.wilmu.edu/online and explore Wilmington University’s public-facing video portal at http://wilmu.edu/wilmutube.