From clutter to the cloud: Why Boise State University moved to a unified video platform

A serene view of Boise State University.

When it comes to video platforms, more is not always better.

Officials at Boise State University found themselves in this situation: Throughout years of growing their online initiatives, they had accumulated multiple platforms for video creation, hosting and streaming. Maintaining numerous systems had become unsustainable from an IT and usage perspective.

Leif Nelson, Director of Learning Technology Solutions, Office of Information Technology, explained: “Many of the video platforms were single-purpose or redundant. The hodgepodge of tools and applications was akin to a cluttered kitchen drawer full of awkward and underused doodads.”

In addition to using legacy video tools, Boise State was dividing efforts between two video creation and delivery methods. The university’s College of Business and Economics (COBE) used a self-hosted server solution, for classroom capture with associated classroom appliances, while the rest of campus employed an open-source hosting platform and encoding system. Altogether, the IT department managed 15 on-site servers, plus classroom hardware to record and deliver lectures for 22,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.

 

So many tools, too little time

 

Managing multiple systems required a disproportionate amount of IT support. “You get up every morning, you’d be eating your breakfast, drinking your coffee … then you log in and check all the recording devices, see all problems, and you send the tickets in,” said Jack Vant, Instructional Technologist, Office of Information Technology. “Your morning could be really good or it could be crappy.”

Additionally, the vendors supplying the solutions were not sufficiently responsive to support requests, putting even more burden on in-house IT staff. “We were facing this decision point where continuing the status quo would have been hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention the staff we would need to implement,” explained Nelson. “It adds up.”

In the meantime, there had been a downward trend in classroom-capture usage. Faculty found the existing lecture-capture systems too difficult to operate and inconsistent. As a result, few were using it. In the prior four academic years, the number of classrooms recording lectures decreased from 50 to about 20.

By all indications, the videos that were created had minimal student engagement. Analytics statistics reported very little student viewership of the class-period-length lecture recordings.

 

A need for change

 

Administrators at the Office of Information Technology recognized that the existing configuration of video tools was not serving their needs. By way of formal proposal, they set out to thoroughly understand and define the needs of faculty, staff and students, and identify a unified, cloud-hosted solution.

After a thorough committee evaluation and armed with hands-on experience from pilots, Boise State rolled out TechSmith Relay, a secure cloud-based video platform based on Microsoft Azure. TechSmith chose Azure because its uptime is solid, its platform is secure and its infrastructure is scalable. Boise State saw six times greater adoption rate of the new lecture-capture system, reducing its cost per user by more than 99 percent. “Moving toward a unified, flexible and user-friendly solution has helped get the technology ‘out of the way,’ so to speak,” explained Nelson.

“A unified platform has increased not only adoption of video as an instructional medium, but also good practices such as short, specific videos that are engaging, mobile-friendly, and can be assessed with things like grade-center integration and viewership analytics,” said Nelson.

Read details of how Boise State officials assessed the needs of their faculty, staff and students, and then evaluated different systems to find the right lecture capture platform. Learn more and get the full case study here.

Founded in 1987, TechSmith provides screen capture and recording solutions for lecture capture, online, and blended learning. TechSmith’s intuitive recording and sharing tools help instructors create interactive, measurable e-learning to maximize student engagement on and off campus. Learn more at www.techsmith.com.