April 2007, Volume 8, Number 4
Member Spotlight: Seattle Community Colleges
Partners and Project Teams Foster Innovation
at Seattle Community Colleges Television (SCCtv)
Seattle Community Colleges
Today’s community college students stream and download high-quality video to their desktops, notebooks, pdas, mp3 players, and cell phones. It’s their common and preferred daily experience. How do community colleges satisfy their student’s appetites for technology when they offer their educational content?
Many community colleges are like the Seattle Community Colleges, strapped with tight budgets and very limited funds. Hundreds of these colleges work with Seattle Community Colleges Television, SCCtv, to deliver video, audio, and other rich educational media and training content to their students. They all strive to meet the high-quality web delivery standards to which their students are accustomed.
Technology partnerships have been a major factor fostering SCCtv’s innovative web delivery system. It’s called IRIS, the Internet Resource Instructional System. IRIS was built with major contributions from Microsoft, Hitachi Data Systems, Dell, and Cisco Systems. Perched atop the largest backbone of web bandwidth in the community college world, IRIS can distribute educational, training video, and other rich media with up to 10 gigabits of commodity (public) internet capacity and over 40 gigabits of Internet 2 bandwidth.
IRIS now distributes webstreaming and downloads to over 800 colleges and 77,000 public schools throughout the United States. It delivers telecourse video, live and on demand, for the great educational video course producers, Annenberg Media, Intelecom, Dallas Telelearning, Coast Learning Systems, and Governor’s State University. Some of the most extensive IRIS colleges include Portland Community College, Central Piedmont Community College, St. Louis Community College, Wichita State University, Clark College, and UNC-TV for the North Carolina Community Colleges. Individual college websites have been developed for these and dozens of other colleges at no cost to them. Additionally, video-rich media files have been linked to their college learning management systems, Blackboard, WebCT, Angel, etc. The League for Innovation servers are housed at SCCtv so you’re viewing this file from IRIS in Seattle.
IRIS delivers this rich media to classrooms, offices, and students wherever they are and whenever they want. SCCtv directs and manages IRIS and also webcasts its television channel and college video programs from its site at www.scctv.net. Recently, an equipment contribution from Hewlett-Packard implemented the first high bit rate (1.2 Mb), live, full-screen webcast in educational broadcasting. Another equipment contribution from Princeton Server Group allowed SCCtv to migrate its program files to a single digital-to-air platform, the B 1000. SCCtv also serves as a demonstration site for the Princeton Server Group.
These contributions to SCCtv/IRIS help cut its web delivery costs dramatically, allowing colleges and universities to use IRIS as their own web delivery system and eliminating the construction, management, upgrade, and staff costs of building their own system. These schools can serve their students with web enterprise quality and reliability. Many colleges now house their own class and program content on IRIS and link it to their college and classroom websites.
A new initiative began last year to link SCCtv/IRIS with a similar system at San Bernardino Community College. The linked system will provide even more power and reliability. Rainier Radio, the Seattle Community Colleges’ new internet radio station, will be coming online within weeks at www.rainierradio.org. It, too, was created and developed by SCCtv. And, a new low-cost video closed-captioning service has been completed. It is available now to all colleges and educational organizations.
Project teams foster innovation at SCCtv/IRIS too. Educational and training projects are designed and built by special groups organized for each specific assignment. The teams are lead by SCCtv/IRIS staff, but also include personnel from the college or educational group requesting the project and possibly by contract staff if the assignment calls for more specialized skills. The project teams bring together the specific technical and content knowledge needed to create the educational outcomes requested.
Partnerships and project teams came together in the creation of the first streamed, online streaming media classes offered nationwide. With the support of the streaming media industry, SCCtv created two streaming media classes, Streaming Media Technology: Best Practices, taught by Steve Mack, one of the country’s leading lecturers and trainers in streaming media and author of The Streaming Media Bible, and The Business of Streaming Media, taught by Dan Rayburn, Executive Vice President of Streamingmedia.com and co-author of the book, The Business of Streaming Media. SCCtv has not before produced national educational content, leaving that up to the major national video course producers who do that so well. But, with our expertise in streaming video and rich media, it seemed most appropriate to develop these two courses.
The two streaming media classes are now offered as continuing education courses through Seattle Central Community College in the Blackboard format. The educational content was developed and implemented by Karen Myers of Pierce College, Tacoma, and Michael O’Neill of Seattle Central Community College. SCCtv staff developed the streaming-video interface platform. Our plans are to offer these classes to other colleges shortly. They look like a great candidate for the League’s Project SAIL. Take a look at these classes at www.streamingmediaclasses.com.
For educational and training organizations, colleges, and universities, needing to reach the technology level today’s students and users demand, the SCCtv/IRIS solution offers a cost-effective answer. We’re really just at the beginning of the new digital world. For us in community colleges it’s a whole new world of education, and one in which we can excel.
SCCtv is a self-sustaining division of the Seattle Community College District. Offices, studios, and the technology center are located at North Seattle Community College, 9600 College Way North, Seattle, WA 98103.
This article was written by Ross Davis, General Manager, SCCtv. For more information about SCCtv and its programs, contact Ross Davis.
If your institution would like to submit a story for the Member Spotlight section of League Connections, please contact Wendy Neil, Director, Membership Services, at email@example.com for article requirements.
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