What’s New in the Tech Department: video streaming

ds_smThrough the 2010-2011 school year, Heartland AEA provided all area districts with access to the Discovery Streaming (formerly United Streaming) video streaming service, which allowed teachers and students to access thousands of safe, high-quality educational resources through a simple web interface.  When the AEA discontinued that service in 2011, the cost of continuing to subscribe to Discovery Streaming on our own was out of our budget.

Since then, we’ve had significant and continuous support for some replacement streaming service from teachers, particularly at the PK-5 grade levels.  In order to assess our options, we engaged in a demo of the Safari Montage service during the second half of the 2013-2014 school year, which uses on-campus servers to host educational content and allow teachers to upload their own content.  During this demo, we learned that the streaming media services have made some significant advances since 2011, and the streaming media libraries now include well over 100,000 videos, images, source documents (like the U.S. Constitution), interactive whiteboard lessons, audio files, and more, all available from an easy to use and fully accessible interface.  Further, resources are aligned with the Iowa Core and curricular resources, allowing teachers to very easily drill down to the specific materials that will be of the most benefit to their students.

Unfortunately, the cost of Safari Montage could not be worked into the budget for this year, but we are currently assessing both Safari Montage and Discovery Streaming – the price of which is much more manageable than it was prior – as options for the 2015-2016 school year.  In the coming days, I will be emailing PK-5 teachers with details regarding accessing a 30-day Discovery Streaming demo, which will be available from mid-March to mid-April.  In April or May, as our budget picture becomes clearer for the coming school year, we should be able to make a decision about streaming media services for the coming school year.

I know that this resource has been missed in the classroom for the past few years, and I’m excited to be in a position to potentially restore this valuable resource for the coming school year.

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