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The Best of Streaming Media East 2004

With more than two dozen exhibitors and triple the attendance of last year’s event, Streaming Media East 2004 exceeded even our expectations. In the coming weeks, Larry Bouthillier will highlight the show’s more innovative vendor news. Here, in the first of two articles, we offer a sampling of some of the compelling conference sessions from the Content track.

Advances in Elearning
This panel offered advice from the trenches as well as from solution providers. Dan Fogel, dean of Charlotte programs at the Babcock Graduate School of Management of Wake Forest University, uses elearning to supplement classroom learning and brochures. Their most recent move has been to offer engaged marketing materials for prospective students. Fogel has found that while students are willing to embrace elearning, the faculty tends to be reluctant because of the time commitment (estimated at ten hours of development for every hour of course time) and intellectual property rights, not to mention the fact that elearning remains unproven as an effective pedagogical approach.

Laurie Hemmings, elearning manager at OSRAM SYLVANIA, recommends brevity to improve completion rates. If presenters balk at offering only a 15-minute presentation, she suggests having them break a larger lecture down into lessons and also extols the benefits of interspersing content with short tests. Hemmings expects to see better blended learning in the coming months, particularly because she believes that the combination of live Webcasts and instructor-led training is the easiest way to get into elearning from the corporate side.

News Portals on the Web: Evolving Content Models
The primary thrust of Shai Berger's panel was a discussion on whether an advertising- or subscription-based model offers the greatest profit potential. Most panelists endorsed a hybrid model, despite the fact that the companies they represented (MSNBC, Reuters, FOXNews.com) don’t receive traditional subscription revenue. "To have to subscribe to get streaming detracts from the user experience," said FoxNews general manager Bert Solivan

Koray Oncel, director of multimedia services for Bloomberg, offered a slightly different perspective. Oncel said that the Bloomberg Professional Service, which he described as their "bread and butter," is able to charge upwards of $1300 per terminal per month because they provide valuable content to a niche audience. Once the terminal is paid for, however, all subsequent content is free. Bernard Gershon, SVP and GM at ABCNEWS.com, believes all of their patrons follow a hybrid model whether they realize it or not. Most visitors to Web news sites such as ABCNEWS.com, FOXNews.com, or MSN have become fans of the content because they watch the corresponding television program, which more often than not is provided through a cable TV subscription.

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