IT: Why Echo360

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Between Fall 2007 and Summer 2009, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Service (LAITS) reviewed a number of lecture capture products. LAITS judged all of these products on five main criteria. These were ease of use, stability and history of the manufacture, ability for the product to integrate with UT’s classroom and IT systems, the ability of the product to easily scale and overall cost of the system.

The last thing a professor wants to do during class is spend time dealing with technology related issues in the classroom. Because of this, LAITS was looking for a system that was as close to “show up and teach” as possible but also had the flexibility to do more if that is what the professor wanted.

LAITS also needed a system that could easily integrate with the pre-existing classroom consoles. A large amount of money and time had been spent over the previous decade developing and deploying the classroom consoles so introducing a lecture capture system that would require a significant change in this system was not acceptable.

The system needed to work with UT’s primary Learning Management System (LMS) Blackboard as well as work with the EID authentication system to allow students to access the materials while maintaining security.

LAITS need a system that not only had a reasonable upfront cost but also was manageable when looking at the full cost of operation. The full cost includes time spent training people on how to use, resolving issues related to and maintaing the system.

The idea was to find a system that would not only work in a small five classroom trial but also in a much larger scale rollout. This system needed to be efficient and dependable.

After conducting the review, LAITS felt Echo360 best fulfilled these criteria. In the classroom all a professor needs to do is “show up, turn on the microphone and teach” and the system will take care of the rest. The Echo360 appliance box fully integrates with the console system and Echo360 can easily link with Blackboard while using EID authentication to allow students to review the recordings. The fact that a professor doesn’t need to do much to make the system work keeps training to a minimum while the centralized nature of the Echo360 system helps with maintenance.

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