Case Study : Heworth Grange Comprehensive and Arts College
From: Stuart Davidson
Please provide a brief background on your organisation
We are a large comprehensive with over 1200 students in an urban area of Gateshead, Tyne and Wear. We are a Visual Arts College and recently underwent a combination of refurbishment and rebuild under the Building Schools for the Future scheme.
What is your/your department's role within your organisation?
Myself and the technical team manage and maintain all the technical equipment and online services throughout the school. We provide advice and training as well as proactively developing our facilities and capabilities.
How did you manage your media prior to purchasing Planet eStream and can you provide a brief background on how and when the original concept for the need for a digital media streaming, archiving and off-air recording solution arose?
Before the BSF process we had no media management within the school and no facilities for digital signage. With the refurbished classrooms and learning spaces all containing new displays and projection, there arose the opportunity to implement a system of video storage to enhance the teaching and learning across the school as well as take the emphasis away from relying on and managing access to external video sites such as YouTube.
Please can you explain how Planet eStream is used to support both students and staff within your organisation.
We use Planet eStream in a way that is simple for users to go in and find their relevant videos. We use large, colourful subject icons that make the subject areas easy to find and memorable for both staff and students. We also provide external access for students to log in from home, meaning that the staff can include media material in homework assignments. We use the broadcast facility to provide backstage and foyer relays for our school performances, as well as archiving our concerts and exam performances. The Freeview service has proved very popular with staff, and the ability to "set and forget" a complete series is convenient and well-used.
What are the key benefits that you have experienced since implementation?
The system is intuitive and straightforward. It only takes a small amount of training for staff to be able to upload and manage their own videos. We have experienced no downtime and the system playback has never faltered. The freeview service has proved more popular than expected, staff appreciate the ability to download cached programmes from the night before and add them to the system.
Can you explain how the adoption of Planet eStream has evolved since roll out?
From being a basic repository, staff now build estream into their lesson and homework plans. It has also become a key part of archiving in-school activities (video and photo).
What features of Planet eStream have you found most useful for your applications?
The ability to determine user rights through the easy to use schemas has been extremely important, it has allowed us to separate staff and students while allowing us to grant certain groups such as sixth form extra rights. We use the embed feature in our school website as well as in eSign. Several subject areas have made good use of the chapter function within the video, and find it useful to be able to add descriptions as well as titles to each chapter so the student can find it easily and quickly.
Please explain how our most recently implemented features will assist you. i.e. subtitles, streaming to mobile devices and digital signage functionality. Please also include detail on what further ongoing development you would like to see at some stage.
We are huge fans of eSign. Our refurbishment included large digital signage displays in our communal areas, and eSign has fulfilled our needs. It is simple to create content, easy to schedule signage for lunchtimes etc and is constantly being developed and supported. We use the Freeview service to schedule live BBC news (with subtitles in our noisier areas!) via eSign to our students daily, as well as keeping them up to date with the latest happenings in-school via content created in-house. It is easy to override the content to show urgent signage which has proved to be a useful feature more than once! We know that eSign is being constantly developed with new features being added regularly, and that in itself makes it an exciting and innovative experience for admins and students.
Finally, please comment on your experience overall of both the product and your dealings with Planet PC?
Both eStream and eSign are now integral to our daily life in school, they have both proved to be excellent, reliable and innovative products that have allowed us to extend our capabilities. The software is always intuitive and attractive to use, and has never let us down. Planet eStream has always been and continues to be an excellent company to deal with. Every query is met with experience, courtesy and a solution – often going beyond expectations. For instance, a query as to the capability of eSign to produce a display in a very particular way led to the feature being designed and implemented that very same day. I would have no hesitation in recommending Planet eStream to any organisation.