Datacasting Solutions for Education
Countries all over the world are discovering a valuable and underutilized asset for data delivery – their broadcast television transmissions. This untapped resource can provide a reliable data distribution network for commercial applications, public safety, and distance learning.
As unexpected school closures become the norm rather than the exception, educators need cost-effective technology to reach their students outside of the classroom.
Datacasting, which can deliver educational material to a broad area, is an effective and low cost file delivery transport for delivering files to a nearly infinite number of receivers. In addition, datacasting can also make the delivered files available to select users, such as a classroom, school system, or faculty group. Datacasting is a natural fit for remote learning situations as it can be integrated into the Learning Management System (LMS) such that use of datacasting is invisible to the educators. The datacasting transmission is “behind the scenes,” delivering the assigned materials to the appropriate students. West Pond’s datacasting technology is a cost effective component of any remote education solution.
Datacasting technology is used to transmit computer files over broadcast television transports such as terrestrial, cable, and satellite TV. When integrated into an existing workflow, datacasting can be invisible to most users. Users, such as teachers and students, continue to use the tools they are familiar with while software and specialized transmission equipment move the files through the broadcast airwaves rather than using the internet.
Educators assign resources such as links, photos, pdfs, videos, and multimedia files to students, often using the same LMS tools they currently use. Any remote student, or students with slow internet, are provided a datacasting receiver box. The receiver box becomes a WiFi hotspot that students can access using mobile phones, Chromebooks, Raspberry Pi computers, or other web browser enabled devices. The receiver boxes download files assigned to them by the educator from the datacasting network. The assigned material is presented to the student via web pages on their computing device. The experience is very similar to the students connected directly to the LMS via the internet. The one big difference is that the student cannot submit their work – this must be done using other means.
With datacasting, the educational material can be any content that is supported by a web browser. This includes forms, documents, music, videos, animations, interactive media, and more. The system even supports live audio and video. The datacasting content can be distributed to the entire school, isolated to a particular class, or personalized for private access. In many cases the datacasting solution can be integrated into the school system’s existing workflow. In essence, the students and teachers can focus on their lessons rather than learning new tools.
Benefits of FlexStream Datacasting for Education
- Works with most broadcast TV transports: Our technology has been proven on ATSC 1.0, ATSC 3.0 (“NextGen TV”), DVB-T, DVB-T2, ISDB-T, DVB-S, and DVB-S2 transmissions.
- Works with both terrestrial and satellite transports: We have physical equipment or virtual equipment that will feed datacasting streams to broadcast or uplink facilities. Our on-premise physical equipment supports both fixed data rates and opportunistic data insertions.
- Highly efficient use of bandwidth: Our carousel technology is based upon standards for IP encapsulation and FLUTE data carousels. We have enhanced these standards to allow bandwidth managers to prioritize carousels, signal content, enforce QOS like timing, share bandwidth between providers, encrypt content, and more. Our FEC and data repetition options are very flexible and result in a very efficient utilization of the available bandwidth.
- Manageable transmission technology: Our transmission equipment is fully remote manageable via our FlexDM.net management service.
- Flexible API for content distribution: Our secure REST API for content providers requires an authentication token. This bings the provider to through the API to their portion of the datacasting bandwidth. Not interested in an API? West Pond, and our partner SpectraRep, have developed a service that bridges the API to a collection of LMS solutions. A turn key education solution.
- Third party support: Our platform is supported by SpectraRep EduCast CMS and LMS integration technology. By connecting the datacast network to Google Classroom, Schoology, and other LMS software, educators can focus on teaching rather than learning new technology.
- Flexible receiver support: West Pond has a large arsenal of datacasting receiver solutions including custom West Pond designs, ready to deploy devices, custom solutions, integrations on third party software, and for those that want to do it themselves an SDK. Datacasting receivers for distance learning applications have requirements similar to home media players. As such it is best to utilize a variety of low cost third party hardware.
- Highly Scalable: Can be used in Public Safety, Education, Emergency Alerts.
- Widely deployed: The FlexStream datacasting solution has been deployed in the United States and other points around the world.
Turn Key or Custom Solutions
West Pond has experience with a wide variety of transmission technologies, dozens of receiver designs, and nearly every datacasting application ever tried. We will help guide you to the most cost effective solution with the best technology available. We understand that an off-the-shelf solution does not fit all applications. Let us help you with these decisions.
West Pond has been creating datacast solutions for nearly 20 years. We have deployed thousands of receivers with dozens of applications. We know what works, what doesn’t. Contact us for some honest feedback about your datacasting application.
The MX-400SR Datacasting Gateway uses MPEG encapsulation, content encryption, and data carousels to distribute computer files, and A/V streams over unidirectional transports such as satellite and terrestrial broadcast TV. Installed at the broadcast facility, and remotely managed, this device will provide all the data formatting necessary to target, deliver and protect your data.
Datacasting Technology in Use:
This short video features an introduction to the drag and drop functionality in EduCast that allows teachers to deliver files to students using datacasting over public television signals.
IPBS and its member stations have deployed datacasting to bridge the digital divide, providing instructional content to computers for students without internet access.
While previous NextGenTV conferences spent time discussing new programming opportunities including 4K UHD and mobile TV broadcasts, this year’s event focused heavily on datacasting.
SpectraRep discusses and demonstrates educational datacasting via ATSC 3.0 at the ATSC annual meeting. The demonstration and SpectraRep service shown is powered by West Pond Technology.