GSB offers video of lectures online

By Hassan S. Ali

The University’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) will soon equip 12 classrooms in its downtown Gleacher Center with technology that students can use to watch video of lectures and special events online.

The two-year project calls for installing integrated cameras and networking capabilities in every Gleacher Center classroom, in an effort to connect the downtown campus and the GSB’s Hyde Park Center under the same information-sharing network.

“The Gleacher Center is being renovated to match the Hyde Park Center,” said David Gulbransen, associate director of audiovisual services at the GSB. “The service allows professors to make content available to people who might not be able to attend make-up classes and would make video of guest speakers available to all students in a course, even if they are in different sections.”

Gulbransen added that the newly wired Gleacher Center classrooms would be “absolutely compatible” with the current video services offered by the Hyde Park Center.

Videobank, a New Jersey–based software development company that was hired for the project, recently installed the new hardware in the Gleacher Center that will make the video recording process entirely automatic and remotely controlled from any location via an administrative website.

According to Gulbransen, a digital camera in every classroom would record a lecture to a hard drive, where the video would be converted to a low-resolution movie suitable for online viewing.

The new technology would provide remote access to GSB administrators, enabling them to schedule recording times of lectures via a single web page. With the recording and uploading process occurring nearly in real time, business students could instantly view videos using Videobank’s Web-Express service on a GSB student website.

According to Thomas Nagy, project manager at Videobank, students using the Web-Express software do more than just watch videos.

“Students can use Web-Express to search for video records based on the professor, lecture topic, and course,” Nagy said, adding that similar technologies have been installed at the Wharton School of Business and Cornell University.

“Instructors are allowed to put metadata [keyword descriptions] next to each lecture, and through the metadata, it allows students to search,” Nagy added.

Nagy added that the technology accommodates all levels of computer-savvy users, despite its advanced design.

“The system requires very low training and is very intuitive,” Nagy said. “The process all happens behind the scenes automatically, and with the push of a couple of buttons, the University saves a lot of manpower.”

Nagy added that clients such as the GSB could save a considerable amount on operating expenses and hiring new employees, since the automated system requires minimal maintenance other than annual updates as newer technologies emerge.

While some students at the Hyde Park Center have already used the video system, Gulbransen said that the prospect of searchable video of lectures and special events provides an added draw to business school students with tight schedules.

“It provides convenience to access the system from lab on campus or from home,” Gulbransen said. “Everyone seems to respond fairly favorably.”