04 Apr Sonic Foundry gains five university clients for Mediasite
Madison-based Sonic Foundry Inc. has added five universities to the growing number of higher education institutions that use its Mediasite rich media system to power their online distance education.
The University of Colorado College of Engineering and Applied Science, Florida State University, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Northwestern University and the University of Houston all have signed on as new customers.
Mediasite is a recording and publishing system that automates the capture, management and delivery of multimedia presentations. With Mediasite, every aspect of a presentation is recorded in real-time. In addition, presentations can be accessed immediately and are ready for distribution instantly. The system records instructors in their natural classroom settings without interfering with their teaching style or the content of their lectures.
For students, Mediasite provides complete audio, video and synchronized instructional materials, as well as polling and Q&A. Course content is available live or on-demand, and a synchronized slide index lets users navigate to and replay any portion of a lecture. In a 2004 report, research firm Eduventures predicted that tuition revenues from these fully online distance education programs currently represents more than $5 billion a year and that traditional institutions will overtake the lead based on brand strength and awareness.
“Higher ed, meaning junior colleges on up, represents about 50 percent of our market,” said Rimas Buinevicius, CEO of Sonic Foundry. “Mostly in the K-12 level, it’s being used for administrative purposes, which is teacher training or district level communications, but we don’t see it typically for classroom education as of yet.”
That’s OK, because with the burgeoning prevalence of broadband Internet and more older students returning to college, some researchers peg the distance learning market’s growth at 40 percent a year in the immediate future, according to Buinevicius. As evidence of the trend, Sonic Foundry is seeing more and more multi-unit purchases at institutions such as Arizona State, the University of Maryland and York University in Canada.
“This is just an obvious trend we’re going to see for years and years to come,” Buinevicius said.
Northwestern University’s School of Communication installed Mediasite in all 2004 to support the school’s first and only distance learning program. Northwestern’s two-year master’s program in communications systems strategy and management brings together in-class students with distant classmates from as far away as California and Tokyo.
Students and professors communicate live via a video conferencing system; Mediasite digitally records the audio and video of professors and students and automatically synchronizes them with instructional material presented in the classroom. The combined product is then sent live and archived for student review.
“Mediasite consistently creates the type of high-quality experience Northwestern requires and expects, without any extra work on the part of faculty or students,” said Dennis Glenn, assistant dean of distributed education, Northwestern University’s School of Communication. “We have one Mediasite unit now and are getting a second one shortly as we expand our distance learning initiative.”