Case Study : Leeds City College
From: Keith Lloyd - Learning Technologies and Support Co-ordinator
Please provide a brief background on your organisation
Leeds City College came into being as a merger in 2009 between Park Lane College, Thomas Danby College and the Leeds College of Technology. Prior to this Keighley College had merged with Park Lane College in 2007. In August 2011 Joseph Priestley College also merged into Leeds City College and the Leeds College of Music became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Leeds City College group, at the same time. We are now the third largest college in the country and the college goes from strength to strength building on this diversity in its origins.
What is your/your department's role within your organisation?
The Learning Resources Department includes the college libraries and ICT centres (10 in all) and also the Multimedia and Assistive Technology Technician team who maintain both the classroom and assistive technology equipment as well as working closely with the libraries in the management of some of the college's mobile technology.
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?
In the old days we used to record TV programmes and in-house videos on VHS tapes and staff had to wind tape backwards and forwards to find the relevant piece of the programme. Many teaching hours must have been lost in this way over the years. When we updated to DVDs things were no better as staff would still have to find the right place in the programme. Videos and DVDs were either given to the member of staff who had requested them, meaning they were lost to others in the organisation, or were placed in the College library so that they could be found in the library catalogue. We had been aware of Planet eStream and other such providers for a couple of years before we finally bought the system. The concept had already been proven and we took advice from colleagues at other colleges who had taken the step to buy earlier. All our enquiries and research led us to buy Planet eStream who we consider to be the market leader.
Please can you explain how Planet eStream is used to support both students and staff within your organisation.
Planet eStream is embedded in our Teaching and Learning with links to the player in both our Student and Staff intranets. We are now able to provide an efficient means to find clips from programmes and to compile these into playlists. Links are then placed in our Moodle courses so tutors can direct learners to specific research.
What are the key benefits that you have experienced since implementation?
The key benefits have come from the software itself as it is so easy to use and also easy for Admins to manage. Our Learning Leaders, Multimedia Technicians and librarians promote the use of Planet eStream to all. There will always be some who need to see it on their own PC before the penny drops. The fact that Planet eStream allows access to a wide variety of resources on every PC is a huge boost to teaching and learning. We are just starting to see the benefits of being able to easily upload our own content to it and can envisage how this use will grow in the future.
Can you explain how the adoption of Planet eStream has evolved since roll out?
We have been concentrating on internal publicity of the system since we commissioned it and have only recently added the Encoder software. As we are a large college with technicians at several sites we have downloaded the software onto each of the technicians' PCs so that they are enabled when they get hold of the uploading USB connector. This greatly simplifies the operation as we do not have to wait for our IT department to do the installs just before use. We take steps to only record in one location at once (as per the licence terms) but having the software ready is a great benefit.
What features of Planet eStream have you found most useful for your applications?
I have to say the standard features are the most useful. It is the day to day reliability of recording accurately and playing back clips and playlists through URLs. I am a great believer in products which do 'what they say on the tin'.
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.
As a college we support many communities across the region and we can now offer a valuable video resource to our students. Subtitles are a great help to the staff who are teaching ESOL as they can set video clips for students to study outside the classroom where they can both hear the words and see the spelling. We do not have need to use the digital signage option at this time but should we consider using it in the future it is reassuring to know that we can do so at no cost as it is already included in our package. It is hard to think of any more new developments which we could wish for because Planet eStream has been meeting our needs from day one.
Finally, please comment on your experience overall of both the product and your dealings with Planet PC?
I spent a lot of time researching media streaming companies so I was convinced of Planet eStream's value to our organisation for a long time before we were able to purchase it. As a streaming solution it does everything we want and the level of support has exceeded my expectations. I look forward to a long association with the company.