University of California, Riverside

Multimedia Technologies



Virtual Classroom Research


ec

devices

eLearning & Course Capture

In an effort to identify the best online teaching & learning tools for UCR, C&C has been researching and testing the following products. The first deployment of the eClassroom consisted of connecting two classrooms via videoconferencing codecs with LCD Projectors, involving video, audio and desktop sharing (Mac Labs & PC Labs). Current demands call for additional capabilities. Some of the products detailed below have already been acquired and adopted by UCR and are being used to enhance the teaching & learning, as well as research experiences. This website serves mostly as an information venue, detailing what technologies are available in support of distance learning applications.

Contents

eLearning

Tegrity

Tegrity Campus is a web-based course capture and streaming solution. This software captures audio, video, as well as computer content and makes it available on the web. Tegrity integrates a scheduling system that automates this process. Although a great and effective solution, one issue was the pricing model, which is based on an entire campus student population. Tegrity prices the product at roughly $30 per student annually. At UCR, this would mean annual cost of $500,000.

Adobe Connect

Adobe Connect Professional is an online distance-learning solution. This software displays real-time video, audio, computer files, user specified software, or a user's entire desktop. It allows for live meetings, collaboration, and trainings as well as educational sessions. This software has the ability to archive any event and make it available to a large web audience. This is great for planned and ad-hoc meetings. It has a whiteboard feature that allows for annotations by all meeting participants. The new version includes a distance-learning education component with virtual classrooms. Adobe Presenter is a similar product that allows users to pre-package events and make them available to an unlimited audience. The pricing is based on licenses needed.

UCR Currently owns 100 licenses for Connect-Professional (live events), and 10 for Presenter (packaged events for archive). Access to all archived events is unlimited. Perpetual licenses were $37,000.

  • John Heraty from Entomology is using Connect for online collaboration with graduate students locally, as well as at those at other campuses around the country
  • Distance learning application includes History Professor Dana Simmons, who met individually with each of her students. This session consisted of live audio and video from her home to her classroom
  • Presenter was used to package the 2007 DETCHE conference sessions
  • The Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education used it to present and archive a live seminar on pedagogy
  • Presenter has been used to prepare various IT trainings.
Smart Technologies Bridgit

Bridgit is online conferencing software. This software allows users to share their desktop, or a virtual whiteboard. It includes the ability to share a webcam, enhancing the collaboration experience with audio and video. Users are also able to allow remote control of desktops, but we found a delay in this part of the software. This software does not have the ability to archive sessions. The software requires a server to establish the connection, and a client to be downloaded to the desktop. UCR currently owns 10-user license. We found this software to be very basic, but good enough for small collaborations.

Return to Top

Course Capture

Podcasting

UC Riverside has developed an automated podcast system for general assignment classrooms. At the request of faculty, classroom computers can be configured to capture lecture audio. Faculty need to simply wear the wireless lapel microphone and turn on the classroom computer. Courses in non-General Assignment Classrooms can be captured using a portable recorder. To control access, Podcast subscriptions for courses are posted in iLearn.

Mediasite

Mediasite is a hardware-based solution that support online course-casting and automated archiving of events. In this solution also supports live webcasting of events, including live video, audio, and computer content. The hardware cost roughly $20,000, including licensing for the first year. This solution requires the installation of a media streaming server for web streaming, as well as an administrator server to manage schedules and control the various hardware units.

Accordent

Accordent is also a hardware-based solution that supports live-streaming presentations and automated archiving of events. The hardware costs roughly $15,000, including licensing for the first year. This solution also requires the installation of a media streaming server for web streaming and an administrator server to manage schedules and control the various hardware units.

Echo360 - Apresso Anystream

Echo360 is another hardware-based solution that automatically archives events on a schedule. The hardware costs roughly $12,000, including a perpetual license. This solution also requires the installation of a media streaming server for web streaming, as well as an administrator server to manage schedules and control the various hardware units.

C&C piloted this solution on a Biology course during the Spring 2008 term and it had a couple of weaknesses. Mainly with sync issues of computer content. The known issues have been resolved with newer software versions.

Podcast Producer - Apple based

The Apple solution is based on several components. This is not a pre-packed hardware or software solution, but rather a creative solution that leverages various Apple products. Using an Apple Mac Mini computer, an Epiphan capture box, and access to Podcast Producer software (Apple OS X Server). The objective is to capture computer content, mixed audio (computer & microphone), and package the video with a custom header and trailer. The final product should be a high quality capture of computer content, made available for streaming or podcasting. C&C is in the process of evaluating this solution. Rough cost is $2,500 in gear plus access to a storage or streaming server.

The solution will capture a course, and publish it for streaming or podcasting, using the following steps:

  1. The Epiphan hardware encoder captures any VGA signal being displayed on screen - this can be the classroom computer, document camera, or laptop.
  2. Faculty need only turn on the projector and computer and wear a wireless lapel microphone.
  3. The Epiphan hardware encoder is connected to a Mac Mini. The iCal application, together with an Applescript, will automate the VGA and audio capture.
  4. Podcast Producer will package the capture by adding a header and trailer.
  5. Using Applescript, the file is moved to our Apple streaming server.
  6. The Apple server will be running a script to update the RSS feed for podcasting.
  7. The Apple server will also be running a script to update a webpage with available lectures for streaming.

 

Return to Top

Videoconferencing

Connections

UCR's robust network supports videoconferencing very easily. Using UCOP's Communication Services, UCR can receive calls from ISDN sources. UCR is also a member institution of CENIC's Video Services, which ensures higher quality video connection (QOS) over the CALREN network. Members of this service are able to schedule calls and automate the connection process for both IP and ISDN based calls.

Polycom Video

UCR has several Polycom videoconferencing units. These units establish video calls via standard internet. These units have the ability to establish dual stream calls, consisting of 30 frames per second video (S-Video), stereo audio, and a second stream sharing desktop data images in full resolution. These codecs are small and portable and can be connected to any two display devices such as projectors, TVs' or LCD displays. Typical IP calls connect anywhere from 384K to 1024K, depending on the internet bandwidth available and the desired video quality. UCR's robust network can easily handle higher Polycom IP connections. UCR invested in Polycom to maximize compatibility with other early videoconference users.

Tandberg Video

Tandberg is another leader in videoconferencing units. In addition to videoconferencing, they also specialize in voice-conferencing devices. Their devices work similar to Polycoms, offering high-quality video-over-IP, and ISDN.

Polycom PVX

Polycom PVX

Polycom Videoconferencing Software

Polycom PVX is a Window-based desktop videoconferencing solution. Using a standard webcam, this software allows point-to-point IP calls sharing video, audio, as well as desktop. It is very convenient for ad-hoc videoconferences, especially when using this software on a laptop with built-in webcam. This software is limited to 384K calls.

iChat

iChat is an Instant Messaging application for Apple computers. It can use the AIM protocol to establish point to point as well as multi-point connections (up to 3). The application includes higher quality audio and video capabilities that scale automatically to bandwidth available. The latest version includes full desktop sharing as well as remote control capabilities. This application supports archiving of sessions.

Other Instant Messengers

Most popular instant messengers support audio and video, enhancing the interactive experience. Most do not have desktop sharing or archiving capabilities. Here are the more common instant messengers that support audio and video:

HD Videoconferencing

High Definition Videoconferencing supports higher quality video, using 1280x720 video resolution (720P). These calls require anywhere from 1MB to 2MB IP connections to establish these calls. The following companies are the current leaders in HD Videoconferencing

Telepresence

Polycom Telepresence

Polycom Telepresence

Telepresence is a higher quality videoconference connection that gives the feeling of true presence. Packages mostly consist of multiple cameras and display devices, giving users the true feeling of a virtual presence. The connection establishes a video-over-IP call in high resolution HD video (1080P). With multiple cameras and multiple display devices on both sites, users can see and hear remote visitors in true 1080p HD and high quality directional audio. The following companies are current leaders in Telepresence:

Return to Top

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Computing & Communications

Multimedia Technologies
B221 Sproul Hall

Tel: (951) 827-3041
Fax: (951) 827-7282
E-mail: multimedia@ucr.edu

Footer