Streaming Media Technologies
Can they deliver learning materials?
An overview of synchronized media presentation
Brian Ridgway 12 Feb 2003
Streaming Media Technologies
Can they deliver learning materials?
What’s this all about?
This paper is intended as an introduction for staff within the college to streaming
media presentations and to encourage debate as to how they could be potentially
be used to deliver learning materials via WebCT. Samples of streaming
presentations have been created to illustrate some of the potential of this medium
and are referred to throughout the text.
‘…online learners will come to regard current text based online support as
artificial and unnecessarily restrictive. Streamed/multicast media offer to make
the potential to make the online world of learning more like the real world …’ 1
‘From a learning and teaching perspective, the challenge for academics is how
to use these new technologies in ways that are pedagogically appropriate and
sensitive to their students’ needs and the learning context.’ 2
In particular I have concentrated on what can be produced relatively easily using
commonly used software such as PowerPoint as a basis for content creation.
The intention is to increase awareness of the use of streaming technologies in
delivering learning material by pointing to some examples which hopefully can
encourage academic staff to consider how they might become involved in
producing some content as part of a pilot project.
To make progress it is necessary for academic staff to experiment with
‘streaming’ and to evaluate and communicate their results. 3
This is not intended as a guide to streaming media in general – please see list of
recommended references at the end of the paper.
Throughout this paper there are links to samples of streaming media, so it is best read ‘online’.
The demo site can be found at: www.yorksj.ac.uk/rhep/ksol/.
To view some of these demonstrations you will need to have RealOne Player, Windows Media
Player and Flash plugin installed on your PC.
What is streaming media?
Streaming media enables on-demand access to audio, video and multimedia
content via the Internet or college intranet. It is usually transmitted by a
specialized media server and played back by on the user’s PC often using a
special player application as it is received leaving no residual content on the
What can it deliver?
There is a range of authoring and delivery technologies available to bring
streaming media to the desktop. Streaming technology can deliver material in a
variety of formats including:
• Slides and audio
• Standalone video presentations
• Video and synchronized slides/images
• Video synchronized with slides, images and transcripts
Delivery and bandwidth
When producing streaming presentations, consideration needs to be given to
where the intended user is going to view the content. If material is intended to be
viewed exclusively within the college network, then presentations can be coded
using high bandwidth which means that any video used will be of higher quality
and interactivity will be more responsive. If however it is desirable that students
should be able to access content from home using a dialup internet connection,
then this can place significant restrictions on the nature of the content due to
Skills and resources
Skills required and time to author content vary significantly with simple slide and
audio presentations requiring only knowledge of PowerPoint to more complex
productions involving video content which may require video production
resources. With its School of Film and Television, York St John College is well
placed to be at the forefront in providing resources for the more complex video
From the point of view of the educator who is reasonably IT literate and is
prepared to spend a little extra time in preparing teaching material, there may be
some immediate benefits in creating material in PowerPoint and adding an audio
commentary, where this is relevant. Examples could potentially include linguistics
studies and poetry presentations. It is even practicable for an individual academic
to produce ‘talking head’ video from a desktop or laptop PC using a webcam and
integrate this within a presentation although there needs to be some clarity about
the pedagogical relevance of this type of material.
Beyond the relatively simple presentations which can be created using authoring
tools such as PowerPoint, additional resources in areas such as video production
and editing will be required as well as expertise in coding the material and
Overview of production and delivery technologies
While there are many streaming technologies in the marketplace, the most
popular current video streaming applications are Real Networks Real System,
Microsoft Windows Media Technologies and Apple Quicktime. These all require a
dedicated player to be installed on the user’s PC. It is possible to deliver video
and audio streams using a java applet which requires no special player, just a
standard web browser. Impatica produce authoring and delivery software using
this technology. It is also possible to deliver audio and image files via Flash which
requires a browser plugin. In reviewing these technologies I have placed
emphasis on those applications which produce presentations using slides with a
combination of audio, video, other images and transcripts. These are known as
synchronized media presentations.
The RealOne player experiences rich media content via a customizable 3-pane
interface that allows navigation between:
• A media playback panel
• A contextual information panel (e.g. PowerPoint slides)
• An embedded media browser
Authoring software – Accordent PresenterOne4
PresenterONE Basic provides a flexible way to synchronize Microsoft PowerPoint
slides with on demand RealMedia. With PresenterONE Basic, content creators can
create synchronized multimedia presentations up to fifteen minutes in length and
publish those presentations either to the web or directly to a CD.
Slides and video streaming presentation 1:45
Windows Media is capable of controlling and linking web compatible sources of
media. In this example slides are synchronized with audio and short descriptive
Authoring software – Windows Media Author 5
Slides and audio 1:45
Authoring software - Microsoft Producer 6
Microsoft Producer is a free add-on to PowerPoint which enables authoring of
streaming presentations through an easy-to-use intuitive interface. Delays initially
loading the presentation even via the college network make viewing material
Slides and video 1:45
Impatica presentations do not require the user to have any proprietary viewer
installed, instead they use Java applets to display content. This and the use of
efficient encoding enables presentations to be streamed even over dialup
Authoring software – Impatica for PowerPoint
This software allows the user to create streaming presentations using slides
prepared with Microsoft PowerPoint.
Slides and audio 1:45
Authoring software – Impatica OnCue
Slides made using PowerPoint and subsequently converted using Impatica for
PowerPoint are combined with video and transcript to produce a navigable
presentation. It is automatically created to be available in multiple bandwidths
ranging from dialup, where the video is replaced with a still image, to 256 kb/s
suitable for use within a college network. This scalable approach would be useful
where material needs to be available to students both within college and at home.
Slides, video and transcript 1:45
Boxmind use either Windows Media or RealOne to stream video synchronized with
slides and other images together with transcript text.
Authoring software – Enlighten Professional 8
This does not work directly with PowerPoint but does allow importation of slides,
images and video to construct a streaming presentation.
Video, slides and transcript 0:30
Macromedia Breeze (formerly known as Presedia)
Authoring software – Presedia PowerPoint plug-in
Macromedia Breeze (formerly known as Presedia) is a presentation technology
which uses PowerPoint to author slides and convert them into navigable
presentations containing slides narration and notes. It uses Flash and although
developed for the corporate online training market has recently been acquired by
Macromedia and is being promoted for use in the HE sector and talks about being
SCORM compliant. It requires interaction with the Presedia server to produce the
presentation files. It also features self-test quiz and survey capability. Pricing
structure of the product is by annual licensing fee. One to watch.
Slides, audio and transcripts 1:45
Authoring software – Show and Tell
Show and Tell creates a web page with your PowerPoint slides and synchronized
narration. It has table of contents (navigable when audio is delivered via a
streaming server), displays speaker’s notes and slide thumbnails. It can be
configured to allow users to download the complete presentation for use offline.
It supports both Windows Media and Real Media, is WebCT aware and is modestly
The Tempest – setting the scene 1:48
Stephen Brown, Streaming media in UK higher and further education,
Thornhill, Asensio, Young ,Video Streaming – a guide for educational development, JISC 2002
Kerry Shephard, Streaming Audio and Video for Course Design,
Accordent Technologies, PresenterOne,
Microsoft Windows Media,
Impatica, Impatica for PowerPoint, OnCue
Boxmind Enlighten Professional,
SofTV Show and Tell,
Brian J Ridgway 12 February 2003