Streaming Media Continues Market Growth
Jan 3, 2007 11:03 AM,
By Linda Seid Frembes
Streaming media in the classroom is neither a new topic nor a new technology, especially in the AV world. However, the pursuit to enhance the teaching and learning experience and to help students understand difficult concepts using multimedia is still fueling the phenomenal growth in this market segment. According to the Insight Research Corporation in Boonton, N.J., the market for streaming media content will grow from about $1.3 billion in 2005 to more than $7 billion in 2011, which represents a compounded growth rate of 33 percent year over year.
Leading the charge is Discovery Education’s unitedstreaming service, a video-on-demand service that features access to more than 4,500 full-length videos, as well as thousands of images and companion audio files. “K-12 is the core of our business. Students are technology- and media-savvy, and educators are constantly looking to engage the students,” says Eren Koont, marketing manager for unitedstreaming. “Our service works in conjunction with existing tools like DVDs and the Internet. Unlike resources like an AV cart, there is no scheduling of equipment; the service is always available. What is unique is that we have safe and trusted content.”
A powerful search function makes it simple for teachers to find the video files they want to use. Segmented videos cover all core-curricular subject areas and are further broken down into age-appropriate categories. According to Koont, the adoption rate for unitedstreaming is similar across the country with little regional differences—so much so that, according to Koont, the unitedstreaming service is now in more than half of the school buildings in the United States.
In addition to ease of use, the service’s platform and equipment agnostic stance means that schools with the barest AV essentials can still take advantage of the service. Those who are interested in streaming media do not need to purchase expensive bundles of hardware to gain access to the service. “What’s needed is basic AV equipment,” Koont explains. “There is no ‘typical’ AV setup that we recommend, but a classroom would probably have speakers and a way to project the image from the computer screen for the class to see.”
unitedstreaming is sold as a standalone service, but the company has partnered with other hardware vendors in the past. In July 2006, Discovery Education announced it is collaborating with four technology providers speed integration of digital video technology into the classroom and the teacher’s lesson plans. According to the announcement, the new technological collaborations with Smart Technologies, Adobe, eInstruction Corporation, and Inspiration Software, will provide a new dimension for teachers using videos as instructional tools. The collaboration will offer technology solutions that effectively deploy unitedstreaming video with classroom tools such as Smart Board software and the Smart Board interactive whiteboard, which are commonly installed in K-21 classrooms across the country.
Despite its strong market share, Discovery Education’s unitedstreaming service continues to find new users via industry conferences, direct mail, and word-of-mouth referrals. “Things happen in the education market through evolution versus revolution,” Koont says. “Educators are always looking to excite students so we offer professional development opportunities and a support infrastructure to help educators enhance the experience in the classroom.”
Support materials include project plans and materials to help guarantee a swift launch and roll-out of unitedstreaming; customized web- and phone-based orientations for administrators, educators, and support staff; technical advice to get the most out of unitedstreaming and the existing technology infrastructure; technical support for all users, plus support materials for advanced users; and guidance on how to maximize the value of the professional development resources.
Taking the next step in the evolutionary process, Discovery Education also introduced One Place, a digital-media management product that facilitates quick access to online digital media from one integrated access point. One Place, announced in July, is designed to help educators manage their online educational content more effectively, so they spend less time navigating multiple interfaces and more time delivering educational content to the classroom. Available for the 2006 school season, the One Place solution helps educators and administrators take full advantage of a rich array of online educational resources. One Place is integrated with a growing list of leading K-12 online service providers, including Discovery Education unitedstreaming, Discovery Education Health Connection, Discovery Education Science Connection, TekData, MediaNet, WRC Media, World Book, Atomic Learning, and Maps.com. Schools can also add other online services of their own choosing.