Institute for Advanced Learning and Research

Institute for Advanced Learning and Research uses Mediasite to attract high tech interest and investments in south central Virginia.

Institute for Advanced Learning and Research uses Mediasite to attract high tech interest and investments in south central Virginia. The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) wanted a comprehensive webcasting solution that would enhance its reputation and mission as an economic catalyst and a leader in technology. The small IALR staff did not have the capacity to take on time-consuming post-production and publishing. Rather, IALR collaboration among government leaders, citizens, students and educators required quick and easy content delivery. The institute looked to Mediasite as a standard-setting webcasting solution.

IALR has recorded internal presentations such as employee insurance benefits. External presentations recorded include on-going faculty research lectures and special events such as a “State of the Institute” address. Students around the state are able to view classroom content and have benefited from the integration of podcasting and Smart Whiteboard© graphics. IALR was honored for a Governor’s Technology Award for its use of Mediasite and has immediate plans to expand that use. With Mediasite, IALR has set a standard for participation in a high-tech, innovation-based economy.

At a glance

  • Institute needed standard-setting yet easy-to-use technology solution to complement its forward-thinking mission
  • Mediasite easily records and archives expert content created throughout the organization with less drain on staff resources
  • Institute attracts high-tech investments and wins Governor's Award
  • Southside Virginia united with far-removed places through the ubiquitous exchange of and access to information


For generations, manufacturing, textiles and tobacco farming defined the economic livelihood of Southside Virginia. Recent shifts in the economy led factories to downsize or close and send jobs overseas. The region faced rising unemployment and an uncertain future. Despite a pessimistic economic outlook, regional leaders worked to address the problem by investing in technology, research and higher education through the creation of the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.

The IALR’s main building is a 93,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility which houses classrooms, laboratories, conference space and offices. It was conceived as a “statement building” to send a clear message that Southside Virginia is prepared to participate in a high tech, innovation-based economy.

“As part of the mission to attract new industry through technology and talent, the IALR facility needed to serve as one of the finest presentation and communication environments in the country,” said Maurice Ferrell, director of advanced networking and technology for the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research. “We wanted a way to effortlessly facilitate the cutting-edge delivery of presentations and lectures to students, corporate leaders, government officials, citizens and educators. People from far-flung places coming to our facility need to know that we are serious about being leading edge, and people who are local need to understand the possibilities of technology.”


The integration of various technologies was essential to the overall success of the IALR project. Ferrell and his team reviewed other web communication solutions, but selected Sonic Foundry’s Mediasite because of its ability to seamlessly integrate with other systems already in place at the Institute.

“Part of the reason we chose Mediasite was because it had capabilities beyond what other technologies offered,” said Ferrell. “Plus, we wanted a solution that would allow us to capture and share content quickly and easily.”

IALR took less than two weeks to review, purchase and implement Mediasite – and once installed, Ferrell and his colleagues immediately were recording and sharing information with individuals located hours away. Mediasite’s ease of use allowed the small staff to capture content without any post-production work.

“With such a small staff, we needed a technologically advanced solution which would help us save time not only recording the content, but also publishing it on the back-end,” he said. “Mediasite allows our staff of five to easily capture a presentation and have it ready to send to a business or student in a matter of minutes. It gives our team more time to focus their energies on other activities.”


Danville, Virginia quickly is becoming a place for companies to relocate, build cutting edge products and deliver exceptional technology-related services. IALR’s expanded its use of Mediasite to several departments within the Institute, realizing it could be used for a wide variety of communication applications. IALR mediasited its “State of the Institute” address by its executive director, recorded lectures by Virginia Tech faculty who conduct research at the Institute and captured internal presentations on employees’ insurance benefits.

Professors are able to capture their lectures at the Institute and disseminate content in real-time to students at remote campuses located in other parts of the Commonwealth of Virginia. John Ferris, associate professor of mechanical engineering for Virginia Tech, recently captured a lecture at the IALR on the union of random variables, which was later disseminated and shared with students registered for the course at the main campus in Blacksburg. During this lecture, Ferris used a smart whiteboard to easily draw images in response to questions being submitted by students. His drawings were automatically embedded as graphical content in the Mediasite recorded presentation. Meanwhile, associate professor of mechanical engineering Steve Southward is extending the use of Mediasite through podcasting pre-class assignments to students in his classes.

The Institute has immediate plans for further expansion of its Mediasite system. Currently, the Institute captures an average of 15 events per week. As word spreads regarding Mediasite’s capabilities, the demand to capture presentations, conferences and lectures has increased exponentially.

Recently the Institute was recognized during the seventh Annual Governor’s Technology Awards during the Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium (COVITS) for their use of Mediasite. The awards program honors outstanding achievements and recognizes innovative technology initiatives in the public sector throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“The next step will be to capture in-service training sessions conducted by various administrative departments, from human resources to purchasing to information technology,” said Ferrell. “We also envision that clients using meeting space through the Institute Conference Center will be interested in capturing their conferences, meetings, special programs and weddings through Mediasite for distribution to those unable to attend as well as those who want a memento or recording of the event. We now have a technology solution not only for internal external use but one that also can be leveraged externally.”

About the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research is playing a major role in helping Southside Virginia enter the information economy. By introducing advanced technology and recruiting first-class talent to the region, the IALR is a catalyst for economic and community transformation. Top-notch faculty associated with Virginia Tech and other public universities are locating to the IALR in Southside Virginia to conduct research and teach in science, engineering and math disciplines. Research in the fields of polymers, unmanned systems, motorsports engineering and highvalue horticulture and forestry are designed not only to fuel major advancements in their specialty fields, but also attract small- and mid-sized companies seeking access to IALR’s advanced infrastructure and expertise. Undergraduate and graduate education programs afford citizens of the region with opportunities to prepare themselves for high tech careers, as well as serve the needs of graduate students who come to the IALR to participate in the cutting edge applied research.