November 9, 2015

Enabling Digital Classrooms and Remote Learning using Video Streaming & Recording

by Puneet Gupta (Senior Manager, System Solutions)

Digital classrooms are becoming a de-facto mode of distance education and learning. On-the-go access to lectures from a non-classroom location (ex: train, dorm room, coffee shop) has significantly eased the dissemination of lecture material to students. Thanks to ubiquitous Wi-Fi connectivity, secure networking and video capable personal electronic devices like tablets and phones, this is no longer a thing of the future. So, what does it take to realize lecture capture – recording classroom lectures in a digital classroom and provide access to the learning resources remotely?

Here is what…

PART ONE: In the classroom or campus (this is what the school/university arranges)

  1. Classroom Digital Video Recorder (DVR) to do the following:
    • Live encoding and streaming of classroom camera feed(s) to students at remote locations
    • Recording of camera feed(s) to a storage (hard disk or SD Card) or content server for offline viewing of classroom lectures at a later time

    And this is what the DVR needs to accomplish the above:

    • Microphone and camera to capture the instructor’s audio and video
    • Another camera to capture the chalk-board or presentation slides being displayed/projected
    • Another camera to capture the chalk-board or presentation slides being displayed/projected
    • Audio speakers to allow the voice from students at remote locations to be heard by those present in the class (one remote student speaks at a time). This allows interactive participation by remotely connected students in the class (ex: responding to questions asked, seeking clarifications, etc.).
    • IP network connectivity for live streaming of classroom lecture
  2. Content server to host the recorded content and support on-demand streaming of recorded lectures for remote viewing by students at a later time. This is optional, and in some DVRs can themselves host the content for distribution.

PART TWO: At the remote location (this is what each student arranges)

  1. A mobile phone or tablet with internet connectivity to stream/download and view the lecture material. Typically, some media player app is required to enable this.
  2. A pair of headsets to listen to the lecture would be good to provide a private listening experience.
  3. If the student wishes to participate in the class (ex: respond to questions or ask clarifications from the instructor), a microphone would be needed.

Set Up Your Own Lecture Capture Solution

  1. Set up a DVR: Ittiam’s limeRecordProcloveRecordPro or magnaRecordPro pre-configured DVR systems are ideal for this purpose.
    • Based on NVIDIA Tegra X1/X2, SitaraTM AM57x (AM5728/AM5718) or DM816x (DM8168/DM8169) processors, these can support 4K/Full-HD live video inputs and high quality audio.
    • Encodes audio and video in high quality using standard formats like AAC and H.264/H.265. The live streams can therefore be decoded by any Media Player App on the student’s mobile phone or tablet.
    • Low latency video streaming thus proving a real-time and interactive classroom-like experience.
    • HTTP streaming formats like Apple HLS and MPEG-DASH that are ideal for streaming over Wi-Fi networks.
    • Acoustic solutions can address requirements for noise reduction and/or echo cancellation for high quality 2-way audio communication.
  2. Set up a Content Server: Any standard content distribution server with support for content distribution would suffice. This is optional, and necessary only if offline viewing of lecture material is to be supported. limeRecordPro, cloveRecordPro, magnaRecordPro have built in storage and can also take care of limited-capacity content hosting and distribution, if required.
  3. Download the Media Player App: Ittiam’s mobile players on Android or iOS is the perfect fit here. It supports decoding of standard audio and video codecs, HTTP streaming formats like Apple HLS and DASH and interoperates with most commercial content distribution networks.

Just these 3 simple steps and you are all set to learning in a whole new way!

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