Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Organizations that use on-demand learning are shown to increase achievement and make their students and workers more competitive and productive compared to those who experience only traditional means. MediaCAST is configurable to meet a variety of goals, and make your learning more interactive, more collaborative and more effective.
MediaCAST's core functionality is the digital repository or digital library feature. The digital repository allows a fully cross-referenced library of on-demand resources to be cataloged and managed through the web-interface. The system allows a learner, instructor or other user to search for content by several criteria, including keywords, subject, author, publisher, grade range, ISBN, call number, bar code, Dewey decimal reference and the type of media. Results can be limited to 10, 20, 50 or all results shown on a page; the results can be quickly filtered by keyword or type of resource to find appropriate materials as the library grows. The user can click on found resources and view that material on-demand. The resources are cross-referenced so, for example, if some one searches and locates a video from National Geographic, they can quickly locate all the other resources by the same publisher or about the same subject.
The content for the digital media library can be built in multiple ways. First is the easy-to-use four-step wizard that allows you to upload new media resources directly through the web-interface. You can enter the appropriate metadata like title, description, publisher, etc., as well as set the digital rights settings for copyright and Fair Use compliance. The final step is to select the file by browsing your computer, the network, CD or DVD and upload the file. The naming convention, permissions and other critical items are taken care of behind the scenes to allow nontechnical people to populate the media library.
The second method for populating the library is to use the built-in import function. This allows a tab-delimited file to be imported using standard MARC record identifiers for the metadata and even supports XML formatted import. The import allows the administrator to preview the file, as well as import multiple files. The import routine checks to see if a record already exists for a title and updates the record with current information or creates a new record if one does not exist.
The third method of building an on-demand digital library is to purchase content from third-party content providers. Inventive Technology has relationships with digital content providers and can supply the content you may require. Thousands of titles can be individually selected or chosen in bundles from our Plug&Play Digital Content library. The Plug&Play library eliminates the need to convert VHS tapes or to create database records manually. All of these titles are already in digital format and licensed in various ways to allow for things like multiple simultaneous users. The power of MediaCAST is that all types of 3rd party content in addition to content from our publisher partners can be added and managed within the system. Many companies offer libraries of content which can easily be incorporated with the tools provided within MediaCAST. An important aspect of using third-party content of any sort is to ensure you are complying with the copyright and Fair Use guidelines. As explained earlier, MediaCAST can help you take the necessary steps towards compliance.
Today’s local area networks (LANs) provide the necessary infrastructure for streaming high-quality video on-demand to thousands of concurrent users. Most network switches have multiple GB backbones, allowing each connection on the switch adequate bandwidth to stream VHS, DVD and even HD-quality video simultaneously. To deploy high-quality video between buildings or over the Internet we recommend a bandwidth and network consultation session with our staff.
We can assist in determining the capabilities and design of a system based on network and bandwidth limitations. MediaCAST is designed to offer the same high-quality experience for all users. Whether centralized deployment, network edge storage and streaming, or downloadable protected content is needed, we have the right solution.
MediaCAST uses the latest streaming formats and can deliver a VHS-quality stream at 768 KB/s to 1Mb/s, DVD-quality at 1.5 Mb/s to 2 Mb/s and HD-quality at 5 Mb/s-8 Mb/s. Quality online streaming over the internet can be done over broadband connections from 128 KB/s to 384 KB/s (DSL and Cable modem). Content is viewable from within a browser on PC and Macintosh computers without special client software players or proprietary hardware cards.
MediaCAST is designed around a scalable architecture allowing support for an initial phase of deployment up to a full-scale, enterprise-wide solution to hundreds of thousands of users. The number of on-demand streams that can be delivered depends on how many Media Appliances are deployed for storage and streaming. Multiple units can be load-balanced and strategically located on the network with the integrated Enterprise Management toolset.
A typical Media Appliance supports up to 200 concurrent on-demand streams of DVD-quality video. In a live video broadcast scenario, the system supports multicasting with minimum limitation on concurrent viewers. Each person viewing an on-demand stream can start, stop and pause at their desired pace and sequence. The second thing to consider regarding the question of how many people can view a digital resource is licensing.
The system has built-in digital rights management with copyright Fair Use and The TEACH Act tools to help protect and limit distribution according to your content providers guidelines and audience. This includes digital rights management to protect against unauthorized access and distribution.
No special proprietary wiring or decoder boxes are required. You need an IP-based Ethernet network and PC or Mac computers for client access stations (or MediaCAST Viewer set-tops) and a projector or LCD/TV for display in classrooms. There are power, rack-space and UPS requirements for installing equipment in a data center. These guidelines will be outlined in detail in your specific configuration proposal. Our staff will provide installation, technical training and professional development sessions for your staff as well as ongoing user and technical support.
The system has no specific limit on the number of titles that can be cataloged with support for tens of thousands of records or more. The number of user accounts that can be created in the system is based on the license level purchased. The number of hours of digital content that can be stored is determined by the size and quantity of Media Appliances. Various models of Media Appliances are available to store from 400 hours to 2,000 hours of DVD-quality video (more hours for lower quality). Our Media Monster can be configured to house from 2,400 hours to 4,800 hours of DVD-quality video in a small 3U form-factor. The system also supports utilization of SAN and NAS storage arrays for large back-up archive of digital content libraries.
The digital repository allows for on-demand access of media resources and the built in reservation system allows advance scheduling by date and time. The reservations tie into the licensing of content so a maximum number of reservations can be set for a given resource based on a client's licenses purchased from the publisher. Users can manage their reservations including viewing pending reservations and editing or deleting a reservation. Through the web-based encoder control, authorized personnel can schedule when an encoder records a program to the digital library for later viewing. The scheduling allows a program to be recorded even during off-hours or on weekends and supports recurring scheduled program. Encoders have built-in support for RS-232 and IR to control tuners, demodulators, digital receivers, VHS decks, DVD decks and other A/V equipment for a fully automated turnkey solution.