Top tips for ed-tech video streaming | Nov18 Newsletter
One handy way to stop students from watching YouTube and other videos in class is to provide high-quality educational video streams. Not only can this help improve class attention but the ability to stream video to display instructors' workstations and students' workstations, tablets, and smartphones has become a critical component of education.
How can you ensure your institution can offer a fast, easy-to-use and cost-effective video streaming capability in the classroom? Here are our top 5 tips.
1. It starts with infrastructure
Importantly, bandwidth isn't the only thing that matters. Factors like latency and fragmentation are important, and the infrastructure must have sufficient bandwidth to handle the video stream (or streams) required for instructional videos. But optimising overall network performance (e.g. by minimising latency and fragmentation) is the key.
2. Configure it right
Intelligent network configuration will improve performance. For example, most networks will benefit from careful network segmentation. This will help maintain frequent streaming workstations on sub-nets that are not shared with other media types and activities. Other steps will require a hardware investment; a dedicated video streaming network can be a huge improvement, but will require purchasing separate Wi-Fi access points and a supporting infrastructure.
3. Which protocol? 802.11ac, of course
Make sure all your access points and workstations are 802.11ac devices, at minimum. And look for cabled network interfaces where possible, to take advantage of their stability and reduce load on your wireless network.
4. Add some graphics power
Video streaming workstations should have plenty of graphics power. Graphics processing units (GPUs) have traditionally been used in gaming devices or technical workstations, but they give streaming performance a considerable boost. While video streaming isn’t as computationally demanding as rendering graphics in real time, you don't want students and staff burdened with machines that can't render a high-quality video stream.
5. Get the students involved
Finally, if you are in a post-secondary environment, or a secondary school with a permissive personal device policy, you might explore the ramifications of off-loading some of the streaming load to student devices and the cellular data network. If your institution has embraced the 'flipped classroom' model of independent study followed by classroom assignments, asking students to watch videos individually rather than together in class can be an appropriate fit for the lesson plan.
Increasing reliance on streamed video content in classrooms can be the perfect opportunity for IT professionals and classroom educators to discuss the practices and the technology to support them. Attend those meetings with preliminary plans in mind, and the outcome could be happy teachers and a budget that keeps the administration even happier.