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Lecture Capture Part 3: Looking for scalable entry-level options

by Kelly Walsh on March 7, 2010

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A further look at the tech behind some of the big Lecture Capture apps, and their entry-level options and scalability.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been learning a bit about lecture capture systems. This week I take a closer look at a few specific products. I am particularly interested in those vendors whose products and licensing lend themselves to easy entry-level access to this technology, in a form that can easily scale up. 

My approach to today’s post was to search a number of the big Lecture Capture vendor’s websites for info on two things: 1) the technology used to enable the apps (does it require a central server? is it available in a hosted architecture? can you scale it up easily?) and; 2) the scalability of the licensing/pricing model.  

I want to identify a solution that I would be confident bringing into my institution to use in real applications, on a small scale that lets us learn, and that can scale up easily if we decide we’d like to do so. I spent a few hours poking around these web sites, and some seem to indicate that they offer what I am looking for, while others may offer it but it wasn’t evident from the materials I saw. 

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Per their web site, Tegrity (2.0) is totally web based and claims to be fully scalable. The annual subscription price to the Tegrity service is based on either full time enrollment (FTE), number of classrooms, or a combination thereof. “Your subscription may cover the entire campus or individual departments. In either scenario, every student and every professor may use Tegrity at no additional cost. Hosting your recordings with Tegrity is optional.” You can also try the product for free for a limited time with Tegrity Lite.  

Sounds like there may be pretty inexpensive licensing arrangement, with minimal equipment investment, that could let a customer start small and build without having to rework the solution. I’ll be following up with Tegrity.

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Per the Panopto website, “Getting up and running with Panopto CourseCast is easy and cost-effective. Compatible with simple Web cams and wired classroom cameras, no fancy recording equipment is needed to begin creating high quality, rich media recordings. Panopto CourseCast can run off existing infrastructure without proprietary hardware. All you need is one Windows 2003/2008 server to run an entire campus deployment. For small individual deployments, instructors also can subscribe to Panopto’s hosted service with no installation required.” The latter sounds like it may fit what I am looking for.

There is a free trial available for Panopto. They also offers the Socrates program which positions schools to get free lecture capture software and to participate in product design, in exchange for being willing to share “use case-studies” for potential marketing purposes. 

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I get the impression that Elluminate chose to evolve their web based meeting and collaboration tools into something that can work for more traditional lecture capture functionality, but I may be misinterpeting this.

Elluminate offers “Open Access” licensing that provides flexible access to a suite of their products. A single, fixed annual fee for 1 to 3 years, custom priced based on your needs. So it sounds like their pricing may be nicely scalable. I believe the tool set is fully web based. I don’t get the picture fully from poking around their web site, but I am interested enough that I think I will reach out to them and learn some more. 

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The Echo360 website states, “The capture appliance from Echo360 is the premium recording option—providing enterprise robustness through a dedicated plug-and-capture approach. Purpose-built for academic capture, the appliance has inputs for typical A/V sources in a compact design suitable for podiums and equipment racks. With software updates automatically installed, the appliance cuts the time and cost associated with maintaining PC-based recording solutions.” 

Page 9 of this nice PDF Brochure is focused on “Scaling Lecture Capture”, but it still sounds like you need a central server in place to use the system. While you can easily scale up capture stations thanks to the modular capture module, I am assuming that the server requirements makes initial adoption more costly than what is possible with the vendors above. 

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“The room-based version of ACS is ideal for everyday recording of activities in classroom and corporate environments. This appliance provides a cost-effective alternative to expensive satellite communications and telephone services with its use of IP bandwidth for web broadcasting.”  The Room Based Appliance sounds like it may be an interesting way to get started, but if I understand what I’m reading on their products page, a dedicated server is required to stream video, so again, initial adoption of their products may be more cost prohibitive than some of the other vendors choices. 

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 Sonic Foundry makes Media Site, which has been the LC market leader for years. Per their marketing materials, “Mediasite Recorders automate the capture and delivery of multimedia presentations that combine audio, video and high resolution presentation graphics. The result is the industry’s simplest workflow, eliminating time-consuming authoring or post-production work. Plus, seamless integration with your existing audio/video and educational technology means you can confidently scale rich media webcasting throughout your academic or corporate enterprise.” 

Media Site sounds great, but I spent a fair amount of time checking out their web site and found very little information about the licensing model, or whether or not a central server is necessary to get started. I just didn’t feel compelled to look much further until I followed up on the potential solutions I think the other vendors may have to my intro-level requirements.

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Of course, I don’t hesitate to point out that I may simply be misinterpreting, or just not seeing some info on these vendors web sites, but having found 3 that are worth going the next step with is good by me! If some of the others do actually do what I want, I’ll probably stumble across that info soon enough.
  
Conclusions
Tegrity, Panopto, and Elluminate seem pretty likely to provide affordable entry to their products, with technology and licensing models that scale up nicely. I want to pick one of these vendor’s tools to seriously consider bringing into the college where I work, to use in practical applications which will help us truly appreciate what Lecture Capture has to offer. I’m going to contact these vendors and learn a little more, and share the results next week!
 
Network Bandwidth & Other Considerations: I feel compelled to mention that if you think you might ever approach this on a large scale (i.e. getting to the point where you can do lecture capture from many classrooms and have some central control over the processes), network bandwidth may become an impactful consideration. As I learn more about this, I’ll be sure to share. Of course, there are plenty of other considerations to be aware of if you are looking into Lecture Capture. This recent Campus Technology article does a great job of shedding light on some of the important things you should be thinking about and planning for as you head down this road.
 
Do you have anything to add to this dialogue?
If you have experience with these products, especially from the perspective of starting small and scaling up, please comment and share your knowledge! Similarly, if you have any particular questions, go ahead and drop them in a comment as well. I love the reader feedback and insight, so don’t hesitate to weigh in. Thanks!
 
 
 
 

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer and a faculty member at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Yves Marthone May 9, 2011 at 8:38 am

I am working on providing e-learning solutions for the ‘Institut National de la Formation Professionnelle (INFP)’ of Haiti to help resolve the lack of available teachers. INFP has a mandate from the Ministry of Education of Haiti to develop manpower in the construction industry for the reconstruction of the country after the January 12th 2010 earthquake. I realize that Panopto can be of great use. Please let me know how you can help us setting a Panopto e-learning system for this customer. Many Thanks. YM

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