Real-Time Video

By Hollice Fisher — November 10, 2006 1 min read

For a generation of children accustomed to portable DVD players, video has become an almost indispensable learning tool. That’s why a host of “video-on-demand” companies has jumped into the business of offering searchable libraries of classroom programs that can be downloaded from the Web.

In schools with less-than-optimal Internet connections, though, streaming videos can quickly put a chokehold on the network. And the stopgap fix of restricting the hours during which teachers can download programs makes “video on demand” something of a misnomer.

To skirt such frustrations, some administrators are opting instead to store video libraries on servers located in their own schools or district offices. That way, teachers can access videos when they want to show them, and without having to wait for programs to travel through cyberspace.

Unitedstreaming, one of the most widely used educational-video services, can ship hard drives containing its collection of 5,000 Discovery Channel and other videos to schools or districts. Once the contents are stored on servers owned by the school system, new programs are added to the collection through overnight updates.

Two more recent services, CCC! Video on Demand and SAFARI Montage, provide ready-to-use servers that are preloaded with video collections. Once the school or district plugs the server into its network, teachers can play videos without downloading delays. CCC! offers nearly 3,000 educational programs from providers such as Encyclopaedia Britannica and National Geographic. SAFARI Montage has more than 2,000 videos from PBS, Disney Educational Productions, the History Channel, and others.

A version of this article appeared in the December 01, 2006 edition of Teacher