Case Study – University of Cincinnati
Streaming media has become an integral part of the communications toolset at the University of Cincinnati. What started in 1999 as an experiment in streaming technology has transformed the classroom environment and expanded the reach of the school's academic and public service programs.
It was 1999. Tom Streeter was on the Electronic Media faculty at the University of Cincinnati, teaching audio and video recording and production. Internet streaming video was a niche market inhabited by fledgling companies busily inventing technology that made video into what looked like a culinary disaster - beaten with a whisk, popped into the oven, and peeked at too soon. At the time, if you were a technologist you were amazed at how cool it was to have video over the internet – no matter what it looked like. If you were a video producer, on the other hand, you were amazed at how anyone could think this technology was worth a glance.
Still, there were those who saw some future in the idea of delivering video on-demand over the internet. Fred Siff, UC's new Vice President for Information Technology, thought he saw promise in the technology and directed Streeter to form a new group, the "Streaming Media Project" to 'explore'. "We were told, in effect, 'here's a hammer, go out and find anything that looks like a nail'", Streeter recalls. If streaming media technology was a bit too immature to make a huge impact right away, the knowledge gained at UC in those first few years set the stage for streaming to become a core IT capability later on. Fast-forward to today and streaming media has been a transformational influence on parts of teaching and learning at UC.
These days, the College of Engineering has experimented with putting its lectures in selected courses online in their entirety using streaming media technology. It transformed the classroom experience for the chosen courses – having all lecture material delivered online allowed faculty to remake classroom lecture time into an interactive Q&A session where students seek clarification, work out problems, and deepen their understanding of the lecture material they've viewed online.
Streaming at UC goes beyond delivering lectures to a remote audience. For example, students from all over the US enroll in an associates degree program offered through the Early Childhood Learning Community (ECLC), which includes a student-teaching practicum at a local childcare facility. In a turnaround from the usual point-the-camera-at-the-teacher approach to distance learning, students videotape themselves interacting in the classroom and send those tapes back to UC for review. Advised by the streaming media team, ECLC staff encode these videos as files that are published to the streaming servers for an expert panel to observe and provide coaching and feedback to the student.
Working out the logistics of daily production for the classroom prepared the team, now called the Presentation Technologies and Services Group (PTSG), for producing and delivering a wide variety of streaming media content from around the University. From UC football games to a full Associates degree program, from the pomp and circumstance of the University graduation to timely and topical symposia at the Law School - streaming media has become a part of UC's standard communication toolset. Having a streaming capability on-hand has helped the school deliver on many opportunities for getting their message out beyond the classroom. In fact, the work of the group runs about 3:1 in favor of non-academic content over coursework.