Cal State San Marcos

California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) uses Mediasite to power online education and instruction for today’s media-savvy student.

California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) uses Mediasite to power online education and instruction for today's media-savvy student. As a brand new institution, California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) needed to put lectures online without extensive user training or post-production effort. Due to budget constraints, the instructional support team had inadequate time and staff to support a complex system. CSUSM looked to Mediasite for a webcasting solution that could also provide a personal connection.

CSUSM purchased both portable and permanent recorders to enhance academic coursework and constructed a mini-recording studio to facilitate presentations. Staff members instantly embraced the easy-to-use technology. Professors appreciate the interactive features and the ability to add a personal touch, even in large or fully-online classes. Mediasite modules including library research tutorials, software training and anatomy and physiology instruction boost faculty efficiency and student success. Additionally, students are creating capstone projects and building online portfolios with Mediasite. CSUSM has reached an extraordinary level of technological capability with Mediasite, allowing it to push forward in its mission to provide high-quality, individualized instruction.

At a glance

  • Limited by staff resources, facilities and budget but needed easy-to-use tool to put courses online
  • Mini-recording studio allows for easy Mediasite presentation creation, and professors appreciate interactive, personal elements
  • University receives national attention for applications of Mediasite
  • Individualized instruction enhances student success


As a new institution, CSUSM had the ability to design their campus information technology without taking previous outdated systems into account. Nonetheless, they struggled to find technology that could put instructional content and demonstrations online without extensive post-production.

"When extensive post-production is required, we as an academic technology staff can become the bottleneck for distribution for the whole system," said Chuck Allen, eMedia integration and support lead. "We saw that the number of successes you have is proportionate to the staff you have at the time, and like all state institutions, we watch our budget closely."

When construction began on the Kellogg Library, Instructional and Information Technology Services (IITS) began to look for technology solutions to put multimedia content online. "The move to online courses was faculty-driven. They wanted to make a human connection on fully online courses," said Linda Scott, director of academic technology.

With limited technology staff resources, CSUSM needed a completely web-based solution that required zero post-production. The university was familiar with Mediasite as a previous software customer of Sonic Foundry. "We spent a couple of intensive days on the phone with Sonic Foundry and Mediasite seemed to fit the bill," said Allen.


CSUSM first purchased a portable Mediasite recorder to capture guest speakers and student presentations. They created a Mediasite recording studio complete with wireless microphones, three-point lighting, a draped background and capture devices including a video camera, laptop computer and document camera. Faculty and staff simply walk into the room, turn on the device and create online instructional content.

As Markstein Hall, the new business building, was planned for construction, the campus decided to build Mediasite into two distance learning classrooms. "Our centralized IT system supports all colleges," said Allen. "It is one of the reasons for our success: our ability to leverage Mediasite as a campus service."

Mediasite is now enhancing both traditional and fully online courses, allowing professors to concentrate on higher-quality student interaction.

  • Human Development students lined up at Professor Elizabeth Bingham's office every semester with the same basic questions about SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) software. Many of the students had not used SPSS since their prerequisite freshman statistics course and needed a refresher for their applied research projects years later. Academic Technology Services received a grant that allowed Bingham to create Mediasite modules clarifying the six areas of SPSS where most students struggled. Now students in any class requiring SPSS can learn the basics at their own pace and spend class time on more complex concepts.
  • Professor Mary Jo Poole was flooded with email questions from her fully-online students regarding syllabus details. She also learned that students thought she was more fun in person - her online persona was uncharacteristically formal. Poole created a Mediasite introduction to her online class, describing herself and her interest in sociology and walking students through the syllabus as she would in a normal class. Students responded positively; one student said, "I like the added dimension of virtual human contact that the Mediasite provides."

While the university purchased Mediasite for academic applications, CSUSM has expanded the use to include staff training.

  • Pam Bell, assistant director of undergraduate advising, said Mediasite allows her to accommodate everyone's busy schedules and keep a personal touch. "I could always send the information through email but Mediasite gives the recipient or participant a feeling that they are actually in the room with the presenter," she said.
  • Candie Halstead, coordinator of user support services, frequently answers staff questions about technology training. Instead of meeting individually with staff members or talking through the problem with them on the phone, she created Mediasite presentations to answer the questions she received most often. Now she simply emails staff a link to the appropriate presentation, providing the answer they need at their convenience.
  • Chuck Allen is using Mediasite to deliver mandatory copyright training to all faculty and staff.


California State University San Marcos has utilized Mediasite to enhance its mission to provide each student a high-quality education through individualized instruction. "Mediasite fits very well with today's students," said Scott. "Student response has been very positive. They appreciate being able to view sections of a Mediasite presentation as many times as necessary wherever they can get online."

In addition to putting course content online, CSUSM is exploring a multitude of innovative uses on campus. Business students now record Mediasite presentations as part of their undergraduate capstone projects, enhancing their resumes and building impressive portfolios for their future use. Incoming CSUSM students frequently access Mediasite presentations on new student orientations and the captioning functionality helps the university comply with Section 508, providing access to online lectures for people with disabilities.

CSUSM recognizes Mediasite's ability to provide a connection across the entire campus - something hard to achieve with only one lecture hall capable of seating more than 200 people. Instructors have built a collection of instructional content for future use. Important guests can now be part of every class when their presentations are archived. One professor invited a jazz poet to guest lecture and with Mediasite recording she can provide that experience to future students. "Mediasite can also be used to create a huge, virtual lecture hall across multiple rooms for special events," said Allen.

Faculty and staff members at CSUSM quickly became comfortable using Mediasite. "It usually takes time for a new technology to be widely adopted but Mediasite took off immediately due to tremendous word-of-mouth endorsements," said Allen. "Our studio combined with the final product sells itself." Professors appreciate the option of substituting Mediasite content for traditional lecturing when they want to attend a conference but do not want to cancel class.

About California State University San Marcos

California State University San Marcos opened its doors to students in 1990, the first totally new U.S. campus in more than two decades. Its creation resulted from more than 20 years of work by business and civic leaders who understood how important a university campus could be to the region. In 1993, three years ahead of schedule, the campus received full accreditation. With an enrollment of more than 9,159 students, the university prides itself in small class sizes and student access to faculty. The campus is infused with boundless optimism as it prepares to meet the higher education needs of a growing region.