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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Sean Brown, SVP of Education, Sonic Foundry (Part 2)

Posted on Tuesday, Jun 3rd 2014

Sean Brown: But they didn’t expect them to go chop down the trees to make the paper. There was an industry and process in which they could participate in ways that were natural to their teaching and natural to their research. I’m saying that from the Internet explosion, there was a period of time where it was just your individual responsibility to get yourself online. The demand of students in this YouTube generation – to this on-demand generation – to be able to see things in a video format asynchronously is such that the institutions are starting to step up and say that the ability to turn your teaching performance into a digital, distributable, durable, and portable document is a shared responsibility and so we’re going to wire the room for video and audio.

My own company is one of many but I’m very proud of it. My company is a company that recognized and tackled the change to get from where we were to where we are. There needs to be considerable automation in engineering so that a teacher could just teach and not even be aware necessarily that a technology system was recording their voice, their face, and whatever they were projecting to the local class, and turning it into something that looks like somebody designed that course. That’s what we did. That’s what we brought.

Sramana Mitra: Which higher education institution were you part of?

Sean Brown: Carnegie-Melon University. Mediasite is the product line and it was a spin out of Carnegie-Melon University. Sonic Foundry out of Wisconsin bought it and brought it into their public fold. They got rid of all of their product lines in media tools that were being sold to educators and others. We brought this system from the obscurity of a research hall to the world. That’s what’s been so useful in the Mediasite – lecture capture product line.

We also have a product line that’s a central repository for academic video. It functions like YouTube. You can upload from wherever and however you made it. It does it securely inside the confines of the university and it’s integrated with its LMS system. This is not just about us. The broader trend of turning knowledge into video is a massive trend that we think has wealth associated for entrepreneurs. It has democracy associated with it for people trying to change the world – democratization of access to education.

Sramana Mitra: That’s what we do. We’re very much on the same page on that topic. Let me get some details on penetration. After higher education institutions, what percentage has adopted this method of capturing and distributing videos?

Sean Brown: That’s a good, specific question. I’ll try to answer it the best I can. I would say, at this point, anywhere from 60% to 80% of higher education institutions in United States have some sort of academic video content creation. They have made some sort of step in automating the creation of academic video. There’s a difference between piloting of a professor there and a centralized commitment to lecture capture and that I would say is under 30% of institutions are wholly committed.

Sramana Mitra: Are you in a position to name those institutions?

Sean Brown: I’ll give you some real examples. I would say that North Carolina State University is the most pervasive example of a commitment to turning classroom presentations into digital online lectures.

Sramana Mitra: This is not Carolina State University in Charlotte?

Sean Brown: In Raleigh, I believe. The majority of their classrooms have a camera, a microphone, and our digital recording system to web system in them. East Carolina University, University of Michigan, John Hopkins University, Penn State, University of Minnesota, and Texas Tech University – these are universities that I would characterize as having made a central commitment to the creation of academic video through automated systems.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Thought Leaders in Online Education: Sean Brown, SVP of Education, Sonic Foundry
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