Monday, January 31, 2005

GPB Helps Make Streaming Work For You

Georgia Public Broadcasting Education's Video Streaming Portal has been an increasingly popular tool for classroom teachers since we introduced it in August of 2001. GPB Project Managers, trainers, and media specialists across the state have been showing teachers how to integrate our streaming resources into their classroom teaching ever since. Additionally, GPB provides tools to make implementing video streaming into schools and systems easier for network administrators, media specialists, and teachers.

Network Manager and Local Servers

Some school systems have reported issues regarding the access of video streaming content directly from the Georgia Public Broadcasting servers in Atlanta. These problems have been attributed either to the network's inability to accommodate the high level of data transfer or to the high cost of bandwidth.

In order to alleviate such impediments, GPB offers Network Manager, a software application that Georgia schools can use free of charge. The software is installed on a school or system server, and allows you to schedule select programs to be downloaded en masse at off-peak hours. Teachers can choose which programs or segments they'd like to download to the school server. Once the programs have been downloaded, they are available to stream or download directly from the school or system server, without having to use the system's wide network to access the GPB servers. By doing mass downloads at times, like nighttime, when fewer people are accessing the network, schools and school systems will be able to retrieve greater quantities of programming without the concern of slowing down the network for other users.

Schools or systems running Network Manager have a teacher interface nearly identical to the traditional GPB Education Streaming Portal. The only difference is the addition of a "Download Later" column; this icon allows teachers to choose a program or segment to download to the server during off-peak hours. Once Network Manager has downloaded the video, it is immediately available for teachers to stream or save to their computers directly from the school server. The video will remain on the school's server for a predetermined amount of time to be set by your server administrator, after which it will automatically be deleted. If you did not save the video to your computer or to a CD-ROM or flash drive before it was deleted from the school's server, you can always request Network Manager to download it again; there is no limit on the number of times programs can be downloaded using this feature.

Some schools or systems, whose large network makes localized video streaming a necessity, may choose to use Network Manager in combination with local servers. Dan Gillette, Coordinator of Communication Technology for Fulton County Schools, says, "It's a good solution for system [whose technology infrastructure] can't support the streaming." Fulton County has had to delay implementation of video streaming until this year because of the need to make sure its network could handle the volume of data that system-wide access would generate. Because the system has so many employees, it could not allow every Fulton teacher unrestricted access to video streaming using the system network. In order to work around this problem, the county has implemented Network Manager and installed a local server in almost all FCPS elementary schools, and about half of the middle schools. Rollout to the high schools is planned for this spring semester. By installing Network Manager on their schools' servers, Fulton County is avoiding the difficulties that can be caused by simultaneous utilization of video streaming by large numbers of users.

The local servers being utilized in Fulton County represent a further alternative for schools that are interested in hosting video streaming content locally. Rather than access the video streaming content housed at GPB's central server in Atlanta, school systems can have a dedicated server house the content within their system network. This allows teachers and students to stream or download content without having to access it over the Internet. The content is updated regularly from the content on our server, so teachers always have the latest videos to stream in the classroom. This is an excellent alternative for school systems which have a relatively small network, but are paying an internet service provider for access to the internet. The system need only provide the server on which to house the content.

Schools and school systems that are interested in setting up Network Manager or a local server should contact William Goh with Discovery Education at 1 (800) 323-9084.

Lawmakers: Bringing the Capitol into Your Classroom

January 2005 marks the beginning of the Georgia legislative session for the new year and Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) wants to help you and your students stay on top of the latest news. For more than 30 years, GPB has aired Lawmakers over Georgia Public Television, offering all Georgia residents the most up-to-date information about the goings on in the capitol building. Lawmakers serves more than just a general audience, though; in fact, the up-close view of Georgia lawmakers that this program affords is very well suited to students in both the 11th and 12th grades. Advanced Placement students especially might find the information in Lawmakers to be useful.

Presented in a news-style format, Lawmakers weaves live footage from the House and Senate floors, interviews with policy makers, citizen reactions, and newsroom discussion together into a complete hour of current events education. Since Lawmakers airs every evening throughout the legislative session, it offers your students the most up-to-the-minute and in-depth coverage of state legislative activity. This program would prove most beneficial in specialized courses on government and policy as it demands a certain amount of knowledgeability about legislative terminology and current legislation.

In addition to airing weekdays from 7-7:30 on both Channel 400 and Channel 420, Lawmakers is now streamed live online at All shows for the upcoming legislative session will be archived online. This technology will allow students to call the video programs up on demand by date, making detailed information about legislative events available 24 hours a day. You may also watch the entire legislative session each day LIVE online. The Lawmakers website offers several links to other Internet sites that your students will find useful for exploring state government.

Take a moment to watch an episode of Lawmakers and discover how much GPB has to share with your students. Ask your media specialist to record Lawmakers for your class everyday or make special arrangements to record the show on days when key pieces of legislation are being discussed.

Monday, January 3, 2005

Pipeline To Cross the Digital Divide

Pipeline has been a resource that Georgia teachers and media specialists have counted on for ten years now, and Georgia Public Broadcasting is pleased to announce its forthcoming transformation. In February 2005, we will launch an electronic version of the magazine, which will run alongside the hardcopy version through the end of the 2004-2005 school year.

The electronic format will enable GPB to provide you with a greater number and more up-to-date articles about our activities and opportunities for professional development and student enrichment. The new Pipeline E-zine (electronic magazine) will arrive directly in your email mailbox each month, so individual teachers as well as media specialists can have a subscription. Each issue will feature photographs and short descriptions of each of the month's articles with links that allow you to click through to the website to read the entire story. Without the space limitations of the print format, the Pipeline E-zine can exhaustively discuss the issues that impact you as an educator. It will also offer you the opportunity to follow web links to additional resources at the click of a mouse rather than having to type in the web address printed in your hard copy.

Additionally, by presenting the broadcast schedule electronically, we will be able to avoid confusion created by schedule changes that arise after Pipeline has gone to press. The new online broadcast schedule (see page X for details) is more user-friendly and will allow you to easily access the schedules for all four of our satellite channels from the same page. In order to assist media specialists and teachers with the transition to the electronic format, we have designed a reporting piece that will allow you to create a printable report of those programs you wish to record, along with their broadcast dates and times.

Anyone will be able to access the Pipeline E-zine online, but you will need to subscribe in order to receive the email version with time-sensitive updates each month. Register to receive the Pipeline E-zine online today by visiting our website at and clicking on the Pipeline icon. The sooner you register, the more time you will have to ease into the transition to the electronic version while you still have your hard copy available. Beginning with the 2005-2006 school year, Pipeline will be a completely electronic publication. The shift to a Pipeline E-zine will not only allow GPB to provide you with more timely, dynamic information, but the cost savings from printing and mailing will allow us to direct more dollars toward the purchase of high quality programming and the delivery of professional development training.

Look for the new E-zine online beginning in February.

Saturday, January 1, 2005

GPB Education's New Online Presence

Georgia Public Broadcasting Education is pleased to announce the launch of our new website. The new site, located at, takes the guesswork out of finding the resources you need by incorporating clear and common-sense navigation and more refined search tools. As part of the larger Georgia Public Broadcasting family, Education now has a website that shares the look and feel of the main GPB site, so that as you move from Television to Radio to Education, you will easily be able to locate the information you seek.

The new site features navigation that remains consistent as you travel from page to page. The top menu is your main navigation, and features links to the three broadcast divisions of Georgia Public Broadcasting (Television, Radio, and Education) as well as links to About GPB, Support GPB, and Contact information. When you scroll over any of these links on the top menu, a drop down box will appear offering you choices for specific pages within each section. For example, when you move your mouse over the Education link, the drop down box will give you the following choices:
- Schedule
- Program Guide
- Highlights
- Local Productions
- Teacher Toolbox
- Pipeline

The toolbar on the left-hand side of the page is your sub-navigation. This toolbar is dynamic and will change to meet your needs depending on where you are in the site. For example, when you are on the main page, the shaded box at the top of the side toolbar will give you the main navigation - this mirrors the navigation in the Education drop down menu on the top toolbar and offers you a second way to find information in any of the broad categories listed above. Once you move to another page within the site, though, the side navigation will change to meet your needs. For example, if you go to the Program Guide, the shaded menu on the side toolbar will give you the options of: Search Wizard, Keyword Search, and Standards. If you were to click on a local production, though, the side toolbar would give you these choices: Program Overview, Lesson Plans, Activities, etc.

There has also been some reorganization of the content itself and where it is located on the website. Let's take a look at each of the major content areas and what you can find there.

Broadcast Schedule The new broadcast schedule encompasses Television, Radio, and Education, and allows you to toggle between these three media to find what is airing on any given day. A calendar on the right-hand side of the broadcast schedule page allows you to click on a date to see all of the programming for that day on TV, radio and satellite. Programs will be listed along with their individual episode titles AND links to program websites were available. In addition to viewing the broadcast schedule by date, you may also view it by program. All currently scheduled programs are listed alphabetically and you can click on any of them to see when they are scheduled to air; this view also gives you episode information like the view by date option. All programs listed in the broadcast schedule have active links from the program title to the program guide, where you can find all of the descriptive information you need.

Program Guide The program guide will have information about all GPB programs regardless of whether or not they are currently scheduled. You may search for programs by grade level and subject area or by keyword. Items returned for program guide searches will have active links to the broadcast schedule if they are currently slated to air.

Highlights The highlights section located on the Education main page will replace the News section on the old website. Here you will find rotating features about specific program specials, activities and opportunities available through GPB and our partner organizations, and timely news topics.

Local Productions This page features all of GPB Education's originally produced programming, including Georgia Stories, Irasshai, Salsa, and more. From this page you can link to the specific program websites for each of these programs for activities, program information, and other resources. You can reach any of the local productions program websites by using the navigation on the left-hand side toolbar or by choosing Local Productions from the drop-down menu under Education on your top toolbar.

Teacher Toolbox This section has tons of information to help you use GPB Education resources. Here you will find technical information about your satellite, lesson plans, tutorials, and additional resources for the classroom. You can find the Teacher Toolbox by either selecting it from the drop down menu on the top tool bar or by clicking on the Teacher Toolbox icon on the right-hand side of your screen.

Pipeline You can go to the Pipeline homepage either by using your top bar navigation from the drop down menu or by clicking on the Pipeline icon on the right-hand side of the main page. Here you will find Pipeline articles for the current month as well as archives for the last several years. Beginning in February, the Pipeline section will become a dynamic E-zine, featuring all of the pizzazz of the printed magazine online.

Video Streaming The new website has put all of the resources for video streaming in one place. By clicking on logo on the right-hand side of your screen, you will have access to the GPB Education Streaming Portal AND all of the technical information you need about video streaming. Resources here include a tutorial, the streaming license agreement and copyright guidelines, and information about Network Manager.

Partners In the bottom right hand corner of the main Education page is a box designated to highlighting our partner organizations. Click on the icon of any of our partners to link directly to their websites.