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Creating the digital classroom

Creating the digital classroom

As the digital world evolves, a multimedia educational environment will likely become the standard around the globe. Ongoing technological advances, such as the marriage of digital asset management and Software as a Service, appear to be another step toward making such a world possible. As we move further into the 21st century, digital services continue to proliferate. Classrooms that are equipped with the latest digital media have the potential to provide more memorable and stimulating educational experiences. Think of what it will be like, for example, for a student not just to see a static photo of Lee Harvey Oswald in a history book, but be able to go online and immediately access and play a video that has the exact moment in which Oswald was captured. If a student's iPod can instantly play songs from 20 years ago, shouldn't it be able to access moments from history just as easily? Technical, Logistical Challenges Digital asset management is a technology designed to manage the ingestion, encoding, indexing and retrieval of digital assets, such as electronic text documents, images, videos, newspapers, lectures, PowerPoint presentations and abstracts. It has proven to be an overwhelming challenge for many organisations, including those that serve educators and students. For information technology (IT) staff members, this often involves -- in addition to their usual duties -- retrieving, preserving, locating, reusing and editing such assets. The mere time factor involved can be grueling, along with some of the technical challenges. With the current trend of converting pre-existing content -- such as film, for example -- into a digital format have come with even more challenges. The sheer amount of information that must be encoded and indexed is staggering. Add to this the task of regularly updating content and you have a situation that can easily take IT staff away from their main objective: managing the IT network of the school. For the end users of such digital content -- teachers and students -- it might be easy to say that such concerns are not their worry. However, as the demand for digital content in the classroom increases and as pressures on IT staff mount to meet that demand, the sheer backlog of work created can mean that educators and students do not get the content when they need it. In the midst of this, a solution has arisen that is proving beneficial to teachers, students, teacher-librarians and IT staff. The SaaS Solution Software as a Service (SaaS) is a model of software delivery where the software company provides maintenance, daily technical operation and support for the software provided to the client. For school librarians and teachers, this is a low-cost web-hosted system back up your business with HP's ProLiant ML150 Server - just $1,299. that allows for the archival, organisation and reuse of digital assets. It can be quickly deployed and customised for each school in concert with the teacher-librarians, and it does not require ongoing utilisation of a school's IT department. As more and more publications and other teaming objects are created digitally in multimedia, the school library needs a secure system that allows students and teachers to access the library through the Web. The system can provide user authentication and encryption so that information cannot be viewed or downloaded outside of the school community. In the educational field, this is already beginning to take place. A recent example involves Discovery Education and Onstream Media. The agreement calls for Onstream Media's digital media services platform to encode various video programs in long or short formats (30- to 60-minute programs) into both Quicktime and Windows Media formats. These videos will then be shortened into vignettes, video chapters and segments. Onstream Media will provide indexing and search metadata for each of the files so that they can be accurately retrieved through user searches. In the case of Discovery, it is using this content for an online-subscription, homework-helper site. However, in the future, these files can be utilised as digital knowledge objects in which, for example, a piece of content showing Jack Ruby shooting Oswald from the Kennedy assassination can be included inside a PowerPoint presentation or a QuickCast. Content created by the school community can be reused in the same way. Wave of the Future Most teachers currently use PowerPoint presentations or similar formats on projection screens in their classrooms. They often need short video clips to be inserted as an additional learning tool inside the presentation. Long-form video that was used in the last century is not appropriate for this purpose. Having digital videos broken into searchable and reusable clips is the next step forward in making video a more integral part of the classroom. This sort of relationship looks to be a harbinger of the future. With an outside expert devoted to making such content available in the most timely and convenient way possible, educators and students reap the benefits of digital libraries that can be updated in real time and are not hampered by storage restrictions. As the digital world evolves, a multimedia educational environment will likely become the standard around the globe. Ongoing technological advances, such as the marriage of digital asset management and Software as a Service, appear to be another step toward making such a world possible.

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