Please provide a brief background on your organisation.
The City of Bath College is a medium sized general FE college which has been described as good with outstanding features in a recent Ofsted inspection. Students of all ages choose City of Bath College for its diverse range of courses and student population along with the excellent facilities and supportive learning environment. With a thriving programme for international students and courses ranging from entry level to Higher Education, there is something on offer for everyone. The College was praised by Ofsted for the high quality of its teaching and the harmonious and purposeful environment. The inspectors described how many students make very good use of information and learning technology (ILT) using, for example, tablet computers or mobile phones, to learn independently of their teachers and that the routine use of ILT in many lessons enhances learning.
What is your/your department's role within your organisation?
The Learning Resources team is responsible for running the Library and study rooms, and for supporting students in finding and using a range of print, digital and online resources. We work closely with the Quality Improvement and ICT teams to provide cross-curriculum support in achieving outstanding teaching, learning and assessment practice.
How did you manage your media prior to purchasing Planet eStream and can you provide a brief background on how and when the original concept for the need for a digital media streaming, archiving and off-air recording solution arose?
Having first explored the possibility of a streaming system to deliver video across College in 2006, it took several years before we found a system which would give teaching staff an easy and accessible way of recording and storing TV Programmes and student presentations, which they could use to enhance their teaching and assessment practice, and help students to learn independently outside lessons. We chose Planet eStream after systematically assessing several different solutions which would allow us to host and run our own streaming service. We saw Planet eStream as the only solution which met all our requirements, and had brilliant potential to really enhance the ILT use at College. Before purchasing Planet eStream, staff from Learning Resources, ICT and ILT departments spent increasing amounts of time providing recording equipment, individually recording numerous TV programmes, and storing thousands of VHS tapes and DVDS, which could only be shared with one user at a time. It was important to us that Planet eStream supported the management of the rapidly increasing use of film and TV programmes in class in a way that kept pace with changes in technology, was efficient and secure, and allowed for the delivery of a brilliant end user experience for teachers and students.
Please can you explain how Planet eStream is used to support both students and staff within your organisation?
The main ways we have used eStream are;
What are the key benefits that you have experienced since implementation?
Planet eStream has allowed teaching staff and students to access a large collection of subject relevant TV programmes and student projects, which are now widely available across a variety of platforms and devices and can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection at any time. This is a big step forward from recordings only being accessible through DVD or VHS and only available to one person at a time, and has allowed staff to concentrate on using eStream in innovative ways within class. For example, courses such as ‘Access to Higher Education’ now set a specific TV programme as homework for all the class to watch and complete assignments on. When TV shows were stored on DVDs this was not possible, but Planet eStream has allowed them to be recorded quickly and simply, and they are now available to the whole College within a few minutes of recording. We now have one central database where all student presentation videos can be found, instead of on VHS and DVDs scattered around teaching staff and departments. This increased flexibility and accessibility in using recordings has encouraged and enabled more curriculum areas to make better use of ILT, enhancing the learning experience for all learners. For example, Performing Arts have recorded student performances, attached supporting documents, and sent the links to external verifiers to assess. Teaching and coaching staff also use eStream to display and share videos with examples of good practice, so users can be confident they are getting the correct information from a trusted source. The Sports department have even had their students record each other practicing skills, upload the videos to eStream, and then create chapters describing and analysing each skill they performed.
Can you explain how the adoption of Planet eStream has evolved since roll out?
We’ve been encouraged to see that the use of eStream has only grown since we initially rolled it out, with the 2012/13 Spring Term seeing our highest figures yet for the creation of recordings, views on recordings and views on freeview programmes. The easy way of recording TV shows, storing them centrally and allowing students to watch in their own time proved particularly popular early on. Converting our existing DVD collection of recorded TV Programmes onto Planet eStream before we officially launched it in 2011 allowed teachers and students to find their favourite programmes on eStream already available to them as they became familiar with the system, and these received over 1000 views in the Autumn 2011/12 Term alone. The uploading of student presentations and project videos was slower to take off, but is now the most popular use of eStream with video recordings having being created across all departments, the Business and Sport departments in particular using this on a regular basis. By Spring Term 2012/13 we had seen a 54% increase in the number of recordings being created since the 2011/12 Spring Term. As teaching staff have found innovative ways of using all the features eStream contains, the way we promote the use of eStream around College has evolved to focus on the ways it can be used to enhance teaching and learning. For example, numerous departments now embed TV programmes, photosets and student videos into their Moodle courses as playlists, to enhance the other resources students can find on there. We have recently started promoting the use of the eStream mobile app, and are currently exploring ways of using the app to upload videos as part of our mobile technology pilot projects. We have so far trialed its use with students who create their own videos on their smart phones/tablets and upload them directly to eStream for the teacher to assess.
What features of Planet eStream have you found most useful for your applications?
Being able to capture channels and record in the past has finally allowed us to positively answer the question “I saw a great programme last night can you record it?”, which is something we were regularly asked before we used eStream. The feature of embedding eStream into Moodle has been very useful in allowing teaching staff to put relevant videos straight into the Moodle courses alongside other resources used by students on that course, and making it easy for students to access them. The ability to create comments with a jump point to a specific place in the video, coupled with the ability to create unlimited chapters, has allowed staff and students to pinpoint comments to the relevant parts of student presentations and TV Programmes. This means there’s no need to fast-forward and rewind endlessly looking for the right part to play, students can easily receive guidance and feedback from staff at the same time as reviewing their work, and these comments are available for other staff members and external verifiers to see.
Please explain how our most recently implemented features will assist you. i.e. subtitles, streaming to mobile devices and digital signage functionality. Please also include detail on what further ongoing development you would like to see at some stage.
The recent developments to eStream to make it more user friendly through mobile devices have been well received by staff, particularly the ability to set TV recordings as it can now be easily done without even needing to log onto a computer. This has also made eStream recordings more accessible to students as they increasingly use their own smart devices to access content and materials. Subtitles for TV recordings have made them more accessible to students, including our International students who are learning English and enjoy doing so by watching subtitled English content. The eStream upload app has extended the use of eStream significantly with both students and staff, and we can see many possible uses for it in the future. The new statistics feature is already proving very useful to Library staff as it allows us to identify which departments are using eStream and how often. We can now also present regular reports to management on how staff and students are using eStream, and the deletion of little used videos is easier to manage. This allows for focused staff and student development and training to better enhance the delivery of the curriculum in those targeted areas. Developments we would be interested in seeing in future include the ability to embed eSign screens directly into websites (such as Moodle), the ability to upload multiple files through the web interface, drag and drop upload for videos and photos, and further enhancements to the statistics module to allow statistics by subject and user type.
Finally, please comment on your experience overall of both the product and your dealings with Planet PC.
Overall, the range of useful features and ease of using them within eStream have been well received by staff and students, and it has played an important part in the College’s recent transformation of ILT provision for students and teachers. From our initial trial of Planet eStream, and at every stage since, the Planet PC staff have been friendly, approachable and a pleasure to deal with. The customer service is very responsive, and the rapid development of new and appropriate features has been extremely useful in ensuring the system remains relevant to the needs of the College.