York University

York University improves the educational experience using Mediasite.

York University, Canada’s third largest university, wanted to enhance the education it provided to an increasing number of students worldwide. The university sought an elearning solution that required little technical training, offered live and on-demand viewing over the Internet, eliminated post-production and delivered a high ROI. It wanted to provide more opportunities for students to engage with professors. York University looked to Mediasite for a product that combined the audio, video and graphic elements of a traditional classroom in an innovative way.

Without additional preparation time, professors now easily plug in and teach; Mediasite automates the rest. The system captures, streams, archives and can incorporate any teaching tool into a presentation. More students are continuing their education through York’s online programs, and they can now easily review materials before exams. The university plans to add audio and video podcasting and is outfitting additional classrooms with Mediasite technology. York University has created a successful distance learning program with Mediasite.

At a glance

  • University wanted webcasting technology to deliver richer academic learning experience
  • Mediasite allows adult learners balancing career, family and education to view content at their convenience
  • Technology scales easily to meet growing demand, enabling university to gain innovative advantage

Challenge

As one of the premier educational facilities in North America, York attracts an increasing number of students worldwide. This brings with it increased resources that allow York to try new ways of enriching the learning experiences of its students. Since a growing percentage of its students are adults trying to balance career, family and education, an approach to add value to their experience is to provide more options for engaging with the professors and the content of their courses. A few years ago, the university began delivering online lectures through audio players, and later added video, but it was dissatisfied with the two-dimensional experience this provided its students. The school looked for a system that could combine the audio, video and graphic components of a typical classroom lecture. “We sought a solution which would allow us to deliver students a richer academic learning experience” said Kelly Parke, senior multimedia designer at York University. “We also wanted to make the presentation as user-friendly as possible, allowing our adult learners to view the content at their convenience.”

York’s professors and directors believed a multimedia online learning solution could add a significant new dimension to a students’ education, but they needed a system that would not create additional work for the faculty. As a result, York assembled a research team to find an elearning solution that: 1) required little or no technical expertise or training; 2) offered live and on-demand rich media via the Internet; 3) eliminated the need for costly and timeconsuming post production and 4) delivered the highest return on investment in the shortest amount of time.

Solution

The research team evaluated many technologies and found some that met one or more of the criteria, but none that met all four requirements. Finally, after two years of searching, York University found one that did: Sonic Foundry’s Mediasite. Educators instantly began envisioning how the versatile web communication solution could be incorporated into its teaching practices to most effectively reach its student body.

“We uncovered immediately upon our purchase of Mediasite that having the right tools in place allowed faculty to be more effective and enhance student learning experiences, while at the same time adding very little to faculty preparation time” said Parke. Mediasite’s presenter-friendly design meant that educators could continue to focus on teaching, instead of having to learn new multimedia technology or webcasting software. Professors simply plug their notebook PC’s into the system. There was no new software to load. No new skills to learn. No extra time required. No need to submit their slides ahead of time for encoding. Mediasite automates all the necessary processes - capturing, encoding, integration, streaming and archiving of all the audio video and graphic content in real-time. Unlike other web presentation systems that limit users to PowerPoint®, Mediasite gives York professors the ability to use any teaching tool, such as document cameras, graphics tablets or smart boards, and maintain the high-resolution of their original instructional materials.

Result

For York University students, Mediasite means the convenience of easily accessing courses remotely anywhere, anytime using their web browser. Now, more students can continue their education online as their schedules permit, adapting their learning to busy schedules and family needs. Furthermore, Mediasite’s unique navigation capability lets students quickly preview the content of archived lectures by simply selecting a thumbnail.

The University has seen spikes in on-demand usage just before exams, indicating students are using the archives to review course material. Both professors and students are giving rave reviews about their experience with Mediasite, illustrating the important role Mediasite has played in enhancing the educational experience at York.

Given the results to date, York plans to expand its online learning program by offering audio and video podcasting, offering yet another option for busy learners. The University is in the process of outfitting many of its new classrooms with robotically controlled cameras and state-of-the-art computer systems to make them more web-enabled. “We have learned through our experience with Mediasite that a well-designed, content-rich presentation is vital to a successful distance education experience,” said Parke.

About York University

Founded in 1959, York University is now Canada’s third largest university, and world-renowned for attracting students who forge their own unique paths. York’s top-ranked programs set international standards. The faculty expands the horizons of its students, providing them with a broad perspective of the world that opens up new ways of thinking. York offers a full range of programs and degrees and is setting the contemporary standard in academic excellence, pioneering research and innovative thinking.