We are in the middle of construction on a new wing of the school. There are plans for a "Multimedia/Communication" Center and I have been asked to advise on the technology that will be in that space. It is intended for video conferencing and video publishing in the hopes that we can run a student produced news show with the possibility for live feeds of morning newscasts. Anyone have one in their school?

Tags: videoconferencing, videopublishing

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We have a broadband distribution system at our school to send video out to our own school.

In terms of video conferencing to other schools we use iChat or Skype. AOL Instant Messenger would work too.
Do you do video production? We are looking to stream our own student-made videos to each classroom; a student newscast for example. I'm trying to envision what a room specifically for video production would look like, what equipment would be needed.
I noticed that you mentioned using iChat for video conferencing. I recently came across a collaborative project that is going to be using video conferencing. I would like to participate but have not attempted to set up a video conference yet. I was hoping you might have some advice on getting things set up.

I have used iChat for multiperson chats but have not used it for a larger video conference. If I want to do a video conference that includes a whole classroom, is there a way to hook up our video camera to my MacBook? What equipment will I need to connect? Any help you could give in this regard would be greatly appreciated.
Hello,
I have just started a project in a primary school class in Sweden. I have written a short description on my blog here, but I will develop it tomorrow. I will use kyte.tv for this and the possibilities are sooooo many! I am really excited about this. Check my blog and come back tomorrow evening for full description.
Colleen, I have some questions that may help us be more precise in the ideas we offer:
1. Have you been given a clear educational aim for this project?
2. Does your institution have a clear pedagogical philosophy; if so, what?
3. To what extent is this budget-driven? New-build projects often have a lot of money attached that you can feel under pressure to spend, even if you are unsure that you are really getting value.
Ian,

I have not exactly been given a goal; I am to create the educational aim for the room. A grant was received a few years ago and the space is now being created along with building renovation. With that being said, we have the grant money, but are not necessarily under pressure to spend it all in this particular room.
The principal has expressed his desire to have student created newscasts which would be streamed live to each homeroom. We have a multi-media class which would use the space to create media projects beyond the basic iMovie. I hope to see teachers bringing classes in there to hold video conferences with classes with which they are collaborating. In addition, I would hope teachers might create recordings of some of their classes to be posted online for students to reference.
I spoke with the architect yesterday and we decided on building a wall in the back of the room to create a recording space. I envision 12-15 workstations in the large space and 2-3 workstations within the recording space. I assume we'll need some kind of audio equipment along with, of course video cameras.
The video conferencing piece is relatively straightforward, it's the video production piece that has me a bit stumped.

Thanks!
Hi Colleen, just a two thoughts off the top of my head:
1. The equipment you buy today will already be obsolete by the time classes get going and students are using it. This is great because it relieves you of any pressure to buy the latest and best. Better to look at what might be replaced regularly within your ongoing budget.

2. "Live-streamed newscasts" are modelled on unproxied television - a medium you and I (and your principal) grew up with, but largely alien to the current generation. What if we change the language a bit, and talk about RSS feeds, Twitter feeds, mashup streams, etc? In your shoes, I would be seeking to turn every student into a journalist by encouraging them to submit photo/video stories from their cell phones via MMS. The volunteer editor of the day would then convert these into feeds that could be picked up and used anywhere on the school intranet, or perhaps anywhere at all. I think there are free (or low-cost subscription) services for all of this already, so all you need is web browsers and a fast connection.
I must agree with Ian... Our school has a video production class and a room they use for "live" daily news, fed over 75 ohm coaxial cable to the classroom TVs or VCRs hooked to video projectors. It all sounds so high-tech, but in the age of TiVO and RSS, the idea of non-live, but well-produced "shows" is more appealing to me. There's a certain pressure involved when you try to put together a live show, but when you edit your work it can look very professional, even with just a simple mini-DV camera and a computer with the appropriate software.

I see kids getting all excited about the razzle-dazzle of news production software, but the razzle-dazzle often overshadows the content. If all their efforts were put into production of excellent content, then the razzle-dazzle wouldn't be so important.

Just my 2 cents worth...

Paul
I wish we did. You will want a projector and laptop and screen for videoconferencing. Locks on those so they cannot be taken is great. A news program will want a newsdesk or some sort of set - there are several options. If seating for many, then horseshoe seating would be optimal, with a mic on a stand for the audience asking questions (like they do on Oprah) We use a 2'X3' space accessed by a folddown ladder, two folding chairs, it's really cheap....
Hi Colleen,
You have had some very good advice from many people. I would think your major decision points are to determine exactly the outcomes (goals and values) you are hoping to derive from this activity - teamwork, the critical eye, journalistic techniques (interviewing, fairness, and objectivity), etc. the list goes on. Having decided on a few key goals, you then shape your space according to those goals. For example, teamwork - how many students will work in the space at a single time? Do you have space and equipment to support the workflow of a newscast (news gathering to post production to distribution )? Each activity in this workflow requires space and equipment. You need to specify these. You can simply do an imaginary process and draw on paper (there are actually software for such things) to visualize the flow. It should become very obvious after that what items you are missing, will need to purchase, to build, and so on. To future proof, avoid if you can, proprietary software and locate good open source software that can work with any hardware you decide to purchase. Best of luck and let us know how this ends.
Colleen,

You might want to see what we've done with Adobe's Visual Communicator for our school TV program. We now serve as a nationally recognised school TV program for Adobe, and it didn't take much to get into this new software.

Our school district website:
http://www.AmherstTechTV.org

My site dedicated to teachers using VC:
http://www.SchoolTVmadeEasy.com

Let me know if you have questions!
RobZ@SchoolTVmadeEasy.com
Our local cable company which is Charter installed the equipment we needed to broadcast throughout the school. We normally tape our broadcasts and play them through a DVD player. You might want to check with your local cable company to see what they have to offer.

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