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Indiana University Selects Matrox Monarch LCS and Kaltura for its Classroom Lecture Captures

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Indiana University Selects Matrox Monarch LCS and Kaltura for its Classroom Lecture Captures
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Matrox and Kaltura enhance the learning experience by combining an easy to use schedulable lecture capture appliance with powerful video management system

Lecture capture system upgrade

Founded in 1820, Indiana University is a top public institution with eight campuses statewide, students exceeding 114,000, more than 20,000 faculty and staff members, and over 600 classes. For the last five years, the university has used hardware and PC-based software lecture capture systems to cover these classes. The systems were proprietary, difficult to operate and maintain, expensive (hence not every room was equipped for lecture capture), did not have media management, and lacked the ability to allow other video content to be integrated into their environment. To keep up with the new-era changes in the education field, Indiana University decided to replace their lecture capture systems with a better overall solution that meets these evolving needs.

The university was looking to build a low-cost, end-to-end solution that had a holistic view of the needs of the different users. The administrators wanted easy-to-use, interoperable systems that required least maintenance efforts; the professors wanted to focus on teaching with minimal interaction with the systems; and the students wanted to access lectures to learn anytime, anywhere. The university’s main goal was to have lecture capture in every classroom, while having a centralized video management system that was both flexible and scalable to keep up with future needs.

Surpassing evaluation

First evaluating video management systems, they decided on Kaltura with its Open Capture standard support, better media management, and wide destination options.

With the Kaltura video platform in place for the past three years, the next step was to find a compatible encoder to replace the previous hardware-based lecture capture systems. Typically, the university uses appliances for capturing lectures in large and complex classes (with 70 to 300 students) as well as auditoriums. These classes require multiple-source capture, higher quality of videos, and reliability that only an appliance could provide. Indiana University tested nine different solutions before choosing the Matrox® Monarch LCS H.264 encoder.

Besides being an appliance that is easy to set up and maintain, the dual-channel Monarch LCS with frame synchronization is ideal for multi-stream needs, provides interoperability as it is based on open standard H.264 codec, and delivers pristine quality videos. With a low one-time investment and no annual fees, the Monarch LCS allows the university to expand the number of classrooms that have lecture capture appliances. The University also leverages the seamless integration between the Monarch LCS appliances and the Kaltura Lecture Capture software and video platform.

Course of action

By integrating Monarch LCS’s scheduling feature into the Kaltura video platform, interaction from the professor or operator is eliminated. The Monarch LCS-Kaltura integration ties them together in constant communication. Scheduled events are entered through the Kaltura MediaSpace™ user interface, either before or during a semester. These events can be changed, added, or removed at anytime—and the Monarch LCS picks the updates automatically from its end. At the scheduled event start/stop time, the Monarch LCS units automatically start or stop the operation.

The lectures’ in-room camera and the lecture content (for example, PowerPoint slides) are captured with the Monarch LCS in dual-isolated mode. This enables, through the Kaltura multi-stream player, several dynamic viewing options such as picture-in-picture and side-by-side during the playback of the material while maintaining perfectly synced audio and video. This keeps the students engaged by putting the control in their hands.

After the lectures are recorded (either locally to an SD card or USB attached storage), the Monarch LCS transfers the files over the network to Kaltura, at a later suitable time, eliminating the risk of network congestion. An XML metadata file containing the video file names, length, professor’s name, and other information that is displayed on the web page where the video is hosted is also uploaded. Kaltura transcodes the videos to different formats and resolutions, and automatically publishes them onto the university’s Canvas learning management system (LMS) to be viewed by different devices (Apple®, Android™, PC, Mac® etc.). Students review the lectures from Canvas, which is a familiar and easily-accessible destination for them.

Math, science, and economics courses were among the classrooms that were first equipped with Monarch LCS. The units remained unobtrusive and practically invisible to the professors and students. Each classroom setup is a little different with up to nine video sources—document cameras, auto-tracking PTZ cameras, PowerPoints, Blu Ray player, DVD player, etc.—connected to a video switcher. The switcher provides HDMI input to the Monarch LCS encoder. Supporting material on a laptop is connected directly to the Monarch LCS’s second HDMI input. The professors use a Crestron or other controller on a lectern to select which video source they want, when they need it.

Kaltura Lecture Capture software is installed on computers for software-based lecture capture in other classrooms as well as faculty devices for recording preparatory materials in professors’ offices. Since common PCs can be used to deploy Kaltura Lecture Capture, it is a low-cost software solution for mass deployment in smaller-sized classes, in addition to the integration with the Monarch LCS appliances in the larger classrooms.

Beginning of a long term association

While an old lecture capture solution existed, replacing it with the powerful combination of the Matrox Monarch LCS lecture capture appliance and the Kaltura Lecture Capture software and video platform has comprehensively addressed the users’ pain points. The administrators now have a simple, easy-to-use, schedulable, and fully-integrated solution. The professors are able to put the system out of their minds and concentrate on teaching.

Finally, the students have gained the most as there is not only a clear improvement in the video quality, but they are also able to view the video according to their preference. They can dynamically switch to the lecture content that interests them—whether it is a full view of the professor or the supporting material, or a combination of the two.

James Scott McGookey, manager, collaboration technologies at Indiana University says, “Matrox Monarch LCS gives us the dual-input lecture capture we need in many of our classrooms. The affordable Monarch LCS is small enough to fit in our lecterns with little fuss and records automatically so our faculty don’t have to worry about starting and stopping the process. Matrox’s Kaltura integration has been a key differentiator for Indiana University. Having lecture capture integrated with our institutional video management solution has driven adoption significantly.”

Vendors working together to provide seamless integration between Monarch LCS and Kaltura led to automated operations, which in turn reduced the administrative costs. Most importantly, with the cost-effectiveness of both the solutions, the university was able to achieve its goal of having lecture capture enabled classrooms, that much quicker.