Alamo Heights ISD
The Alamo Heights Independent School District's network noticed a need for their remaining three campuses to be integrated with live morning announcements. Two of their campuses were already utilizing the technology and the desire to do this on the other campuses was becoming more apparent. Before a move could be made to accommodate this need, improvements to their network had to be made to allow for multicasting. All other schools were still operating with intercom announcements only. The switches were outdated and a multicast system was needed to allow for a variety of channel selection. Alamo Heights ISD distributed a request for proposal and selected Data Projections based on price, company longevity and references demonstrating quality of work.
Data Projections worked with Combs Consulting Group and the director of instructional and information technology to review the school district's anticipated needs and to offer expert advice on all equipment and applications for ease of use for the client. A video distribution cart was specified for each campus so each location could create and distribute its own content. Each cart was equipped with a camera, dual-channel VBrick encoder, wireless microphone and VCR/DVD combo. Data Projections also installed an analog 10-channel video head-end system at the district Main Distribution Frame (MDF), which allowed for controlled access to channels such as CNN, The Learning Channel, Discovery and Animal Planet, along with an Alamo Heights-specific channel. Students can now view the live morning announcements in their classrooms and in campus lobbies.
With VBrick's portal server, teachers can access the custom-designed AHISD Web-based interface at any computer using their own password, and then select from any of the 10 channel options, watch live video that can be recorded, or watch previously recorded programming.
During the design and implementation/planning stage of the project, AHISD also implemented a district-wide rollout of Apple computers. Data Projections worked closely with the school district and VBrick to ensure that the change in computer systems would still be compatible and work seamlessly with the video streaming solution. All issues were resolved and communication with the school district staff was of utmost importance during this period of unexpected transition.
Due to Data Projections' successful integration of the IP encoders, the video on demand and portal servers, and the overall audio/visual project, teachers, staff and students at AHISD have seen significant usage of the equipment, allowing for increased engagement of students.
The middle- and high-school students have really taken to the equipment and utilized it to its full potential, such as creating a green room to film programs. Morning announcements have definitely gone beyond initial expectations. Teachers are requesting more programs be recorded since the implementation of video streaming has seen a significant interest from all areas of the school wanting to access video on demand.
Alamo Heights ISD also incorporated its new equipment during the 2009 inauguration, allowing teachers the opportunity to access CNN or ABC, while it was being recorded for later teaching purposes, or view a live taping of students asking questions about the presidential inauguration. Hundreds of classrooms were connected all at the same time without any service complications.
The integration of the video streaming equipment and audio visual solutions has created an exciting environment for both the students and the teachers, offering a multitude of learning opportunities beyond what was initially expected.