At a Glance
- Stream live webcasts from dozens of classrooms
- Created central, online archive of webcasts
- Extended cost-effective learning online
- Met No Child Left Behind mandates
- Enabled at-risk kids to catch up with peers
- Helped English as a second language (ESL) students
California Education Office Effectively Engages Over 500,000 Ethnic and Disadvantaged Students with Live and On-demand Webcasts.
Live and on-demand webcasts effectively reach and engage large ethnically diverse and disadvantaged student body to provide equality in educational opportunity in California.
The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) is one of the largest public agencies in the State of California, serving over 500,000 students from 42 school districts within a 125 square mile region. The SDCOE faces many challenges not only in educating its students, but also in efficiently communicating with faculty, parents and other administrators and increasing staff productivity within tight budget guidelines. Additionally, the SDCOE faces challenges in effectively reaching out and educating the region’s migrant, disadvantaged, and chronically troubled students. Federal mandates such as the No Child Left Behind Act add to the demands placed on the SDCOE to find ways to do more with less.
A Technology Crossroads
The SDCOE Webcast Services team, headed by director Deen Elder and his associate, Simon Grays, holds the charter to provide the latest technology in communications technology to help SDCOE school systems meet growing demand for cost-effective learning solutions. In addition to operating three technical support centers, the team also provides a portable studio that enables them to develop content in the field.
When their previous Webcasting product began having problems, the team realized they were at a technology crossroads. While their old Webcasting station came with a seemingly simple interface, the product created complexity by not working effectively with Apple® Macintosh® computers deployed widely throughout the school system. Additionally, the Webcast station was incompatible with varying versions of RealPlayer and the media streams created network bottlenecks. These factors, and the ensuing lack of technical support, led Elder to find an alternative solution with Polycom.
Webcasting with a Purpose
“Unlike the technology that preceded it, Polycom’s architecture was flexible enough to deal with a wide variety of network environments and media formats,” said Elder. “When we tested and then deployed the Polycom solution, we found it was network-agnostic and supported all RealPlayer variations, eliminating the need for constant upgrades.”
“With a mix of Macs and PCs at our school district locations, we found that Polycom worked well with both,” said Grays. “It also helped that Polycom could provide scalability and a media management and search portal that would enable us to offer on-demand access to all of those presentations after-the-fact.”