Sunday, July 15, 2012

Does disruptive streaming technology affect higher education

Higher education is no longer a question of high tuition fees or financial resources. No matter where you are in the world, some of the best universities are offering you courses free of cost. Stanford, Yale, Princeton, Massachusetts have organized courses over video, audio and free pdfs on websites such as Coursera, Udacity, Open Culture and many more. This is a revolution in higher education. Presented to students around the world free of cost, as long as they have an internet connection, it aims to spread knowledge among the many millions. It also encourages community sharing, interaction between various cultures, sociological experiments, and getting people of like minds across borders to interact. A lot of these courses are offered as YouTube videos, audio books or podcasts which can be streamed live on the web. And this begs the question, that despite all these tools available, is disruptive streaming technology affecting higher education?

First of all, what is disruptive technology? Very simply, any technology that changes the trend of current movement of ideas can be termed disruptive. Media technology that supports the streaming of audio and video i.e. enables audio and video files to flow continuously just before they are viewed by the user, constitute streaming technology. Streaming technologies have to do a lot such as capture content, edit and format content, package and compress it for streaming, and deliver content. 

For higher education, this is an important tool because apart from free courses which are purely available on streaming technologies, each university now hands out several resource lectures over its intranet to students. All correspondence is done through email especially between supervisors and students. For E-learning, technologies are transiting from traditional video to digital streams for higher user and learner response. A lot of institutions such as University of Western Australia and Stanford are actively participating in streaming their material, by creating vast streaming management architectures. In fact, at Charles Darwin University, IT decision makers have chosen Quick Time as default player for all audio and video content. A lot of systems such as Real Player were tested, but for efficient and stable delivery of online courses, this was finally chosen since it is compatible with the Mac OSX server.

Staff and students can now upload their own media from their accounts for online delivery. Several other faculties have started to experiment with other platforms as well for online delivery. New offers come all the time for streaming technologies, but higher education needs a specific type. From Charles Darwin University’s experience, it is always best to vet the various options available, create a survey for most optimum use of server and compatibility for students and staff alike, and investment for development and maintenance of whichever applications are chosen. Significant tests should be done to check the streaming media to enhance course delivery online especially through the module of the university.
To overcome doubts of all technologies available, educators must conduct training, infrastructure management courses, and understand the platforms and standards of streaming.

Author's Bio: Robin Mckenzie of, a site that offers savings and  current information on high speed internet deal and  phone services around your area Click Here

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