The next version of the Echo360 lecture capture system, EchoSystem 3.0, offers the ability to ingest and then play a wide range of externally produced media. According to the Echo360 press release, the EchoSystem 3.0 “will be generally available in December 2010”.
This is both a great enhancements, and I think a significant marker in the evolution of lecture capture platforms. Echo360 is smart to realize that the hardware necessary to run lecture capture can solve a number of other curricular media needs emerging on campus.
This new feature also begs the question, will lecture capture and curricular media management systems begin to merge? Given that both systems rely on media transcoders, databases, streaming systems, web editors, directory/authentication integration, and web-based management front-ends, and much else - it seems somewhat inevitable that these heretofore separate product categories will begin to blend.
No doubt that a lecture capture based media management solution will not be as full-featured or powerful as a dedicated media management platform, such as Kaltura, ShareStream or Ensemble. But for many campuses, a “good enough” solution - one that involves little extra costs above an installed lecture capture base - may be good enough. (Will the media management providers move into the lecture capture space for the same reasons?).
As an Echo360 customer, I’m excited by this new feature - and look forward to upgrading our systems to take advantage of the ability to “Capture Everywhere with External Media Ingest”.
Some of the demands that adding external media capture to a lecture capture platform may solve include the ability to:
- Upload (ingest) media created by faculty and students from a number of devices - including cameras, screen capture / screen casting applications, webcams, iMovie type applications etc.
- Transcode this media into file formats appropriate for both streaming and download to mobile devices.
- Serve the media via a streaming server and via a link to allow the media to be downloaded.
- Integrate with course management systems such as Blackboard for publishing, as well as the option to seamlessly publish to iTunes.
- Put permissions on the media content, to control access to the media.
- Manage your own media via a web-based front-end.
- Engage in lightweight editing tasks.
I have not yet seen first-hand how well the EchoSystem 3.0 implements these features. These are early days in the introduction of this new feature, so I expect that the early iterations will leave some desired features unmet. However, I’m certain that the usability and feature set related to media management will undergo continuous improvement, an evolution that will dramatically increase the value proposition of the lecture capture platform.