Thursday, March 09, 2006

A New Teaching Tool

Imagine being able to watch a class lecture from the comfort of your own home. With Sonic Foundry's Mediasite software, it allows you to record a video and during playback, the video clip is side-by-side with another form of electronic communication (such as a Powerpoint slide).

The technology was demonstrated during the March 1st RCade workshop by Fairfield University's Media Center technician Peter Sarawit. He was recording his own workshop presentation while displaying a Powerpoint slide on the other side of the computer monitor for the audience to see.

Another cool feature of Mediasite is being able to videoconference with another location that has the software installed. More specifically, a meeting held in one office can "call" another office that has a meeting going on, and have the two meeting groups communicate together. Think of it the same way as using a telephone but with crisp, fluid video. This ability to videoconference with people anywhere around the world is done so by using the H.323 protocol, known to many as Voice over IP.

The focus of the workshop was not solely concentrated on Mediasite, as the intent of the workshop was to expose the audience to new types of technology that has yet to catch the mainstream’s attention. Mr. Sarawit also touched upon Podcasting, a new ability from Apple that lets anyone record video and/or audio and publically release it through Apple's iTunes software.

This allows for a media consumer to download the video/audio clip onto his or her iPod and listen to it at anytime they wish. Podcasting is rapidly becoming popular as many people are using it to voice their opinions on hot-button issues such as the Iraqi war. One can think of it as a poor man's radio transmission.

These new forms of communication will help the educational environment as instructors are able to teach students even if they are not on the same continent.

Mediasite can allow a student to watch a class lecture if he/she is studying abroad in another country. It will also let the instructor and student communicate and see each other's faces through the digital spectrum. Podcasting would allow for students to listen to class lectures right from their iPods while walking to class, or grabbing a bite to eat.

These types of technology can also help to serve as an archive of past lectures, perhaps one day building a database similar to that of Wikipedia. A database site called already exists as it lets you view every public presentation created through the Mediasite software.


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