2.02.2009

Education and Streaming Video

There are vendors who want schools to transport vast archives of video files over their networks for educational purposes. The idea is that a teacher can have her choice of appropriate material constantly available for curriculum needs. Some Districts have already spent money on it.

I believe that the majority of educational video content should continue to be provided by cable distribution.

Mark Cuban posted a thoughtful rant (possible oxymoron here)about getting video files (1)hosted and (2) transported across the limited bandwidth available to large numbers of folks.

The Broward District School Board in South Florida has about 250,000 students on any given day. There are 134 teachers at my modestly sized high school which gives you an idea of how many classrooms might be viewing something. It has *one* network with equivalent capacity of one or two T1 connections to each location where there may be from 400 elementary to 2000 high school students.

Granted, there are display devices that serve up to 25 students at once. But assuming modest use, this is going to strain the dickens out of the network of people actually use it.

Let's look at an alternative. Each school district has a broadcasting license for television which allows them to become a mini cable provider.

The bandwidth of commercial cable providers is so immense that the content available is pitifully inadequate to fill it. Think of the 490 channels you don't actually watch. The average teenager regularly views from 7 to 12 networks at home. That's from my freshman class survey done annually in the Fall for the last seven years. Yes they're self-selected, but *for* geekiness, not against. The mode is around 9.

Video files can still be delivered on the Internet, but most of the time teachers and students should be able to tune into the content they need with a cable-like service.

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