New technologies like AV over IT benefit academia in a variety of ways. Distance learning, webcasting and podcasting, streaming, interactive classrooms, eLearning management systems, social media, mobile technology, gamifications, cloud computing, virtual/augmented reality, and video are changing the way people are being taught and trained.
Recognizing and understanding these trends is critical to capturing the true value of the AV/IT convergence because the integration of such technology is foundational to most of these technology trends.
Enabling Technologies Enabling Curriculum
Media integration enables a variety of educational benefits from local schools up to the largest universities. This occurs not only on the infrastructure side, but institutionally as well.
For example: students can interact with guest speakers or lectures from remote locations. Live lecture or training sessions can be distributed to multiple locations. Content can be shared through hosting and social media platforms. These are prime examples of live video enabling educational infrastructure.
But aside from the delivery and distribution of media content, there is the related aspect of content creation and production.
There are systems for producing creative content without technological hurdles and costly components that students and instructors can use to deliver compelling productions and teaching materials with a polished, engaging and consistent appearance in any size facility.
This practice teaches tangible, real-world skills that are in-demand today. It is a true learning component enabled by the integration.
Media production also contributes to the livelihood of educational institutions by producing student news, community outreach information, events, distance learning, television shows, educational programming sports, and other activities.
The Enabling Merger of AV and IT
The technological shift that is impacting media production and distribution is the same one that is affecting all aspects of daily life: IT. Virtually any field of human activity reveals that modern IT technologies are not just augmenting traditional methods, but actually replacing them. Producing and delivering media is no exception.
The most common IT elements evolving for media include software processing, standard networking, common computing hardware, and Internet Protocol (IP) transport. IP is the established standard for connecting devices – and it is now being applied more pervasively to media.
IP is a mature, existing technology, ubiquitous on a global basis, and is in operation already every day for connecting the systems used in daily life, every minute of the day. Enormous prior development has gone into ensuring that IP handles all relevant data types, and does this very, very well.
By its very nature, IP technology efficiently handles any and all of the data types that are of interest to media production and distribution.
Media production has long been linear in nature. Cameras and devices have traditionally been connected via one-way, point-to-point cabling. Systems and studios have been isolated from each other.
To link them up, a specialized video router is typically used, which while increasing capacity, significantly increases cabling requirements and complexity.
Compare this past approach to using IT with IP connectivity, which simply requires systems and devices to be plugged into the same network and permits them to be connected to each other through software.
Now every device, their inputs, and outputs, are available for use with production and distribution, without having to directly connect them to, or even be near one another.
This approach provides more options for producing media, and makes the process simpler, which leads to substantial enhancement of the quality and creativity of productions and to the delivery of them whenever, wherever, and however they are watched.
Video’s Role in the AV/IT Stack
This shift to viewing video in new ways not tied to any fixed schedule fits in nicely to the transition to IP as well. With entire productions being created and output over IP, it is a simple extension to stream the content out to other destinations.
Streaming can be used for bi-directional, real-time multi-site connectivity to enable possibilities such as including a remote guest speaker or performer from various locations.
Streaming also bonds together educators, parents, and students who are not able to attend events in person by being able to view live from computers and mobile devices.
These same IP streams can also be recorded and saved as a file that can be put on a local server or on to a cloud-based video hosting platform for later use including on-demand video viewing.
Events, messaging, and communications can be streamed out and delivered to social media platforms, and to specific websites used by educational institutions.
The impact of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, and Periscope for streaming is significant to students as well as video hosting sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia, Panopto, and others.
There are IP-based live production systems that include built-in streaming encoders for streaming to such destinations. Streaming is seeing increased use for training, communications, connecting with off-site personnel, technical assistance, monitoring, lectures, webcasts, and multi-site conferencing.
Of course, at the other end of the streaming pipeline – especially for students – are mobile devices which are increasingly working as both senders and receivers of media, including video.
5G is not that long off and has the potential to raise media usage across mobile networks to an unprecedented level. With the dramatic improvement of camera quality in mobile devices, their use for acquisition of media content is being seen on a daily basis.
Mobile connectivity and transmission infrastructures are inherently IP-based. IP is already the dominant methodology as seen with the rapid ascendance of various streaming infrastructures and streaming services around the world.
As media creation and production continues to migrate to IP as well, the synergy becomes ever more obvious.
First Steps to Leveraging IP
There is an AV over IT standard that ties all these aspects together: NDI, a free-to-use, IP-based media transport that enables applications and devices from all types of suppliers to work together. NDI is a software-based standard that requires no special hardware of any kind.
It works with existing software applications, computer platforms, and network infrastructures to acquire, store and deliver video, audio, and data streams. NDI enables companies providing applications, converters, cameras, monitors, and other systems to deliver IP-based media products quickly and easily.
Because of this, there are now hundreds of companies using NDI in their devices and solutions. Millions of users have access to it in their environments. And it is becoming an increasingly common enabler in education.
There is a wide choice to find everything needed for educational environments.
The transition to using IT and IP methodologies for acquiring, processing, storing, and delivering media is making it easier and less costly to include video, audio, and graphic elements into educational courses and courseware.
Many educational and training institutions are already adapting to this new reality. Media integration into the learning process is increasingly necessary for students and learners.