TrueFire launched its online classrooms last year, although there's currently no live interaction. "You'd have connection issues," says Wendkos, "because of different Internet connections used by students around the world. With video messaging, you can record a high quality video and upload it whenever you like. Plus, since students are from all parts of the world, scheduling the right time would be difficult."
So instead, the paid instructor uploads the material, then students do their homework, record their practice regimen and send it back to the instructor. Once the instructor evaluates the student's work, he or she sends it back.
Classrooms include between five and 100 students, who can send messages back and forth on the site, making it a social interaction. Students don't require any special technical knowledge, says Wendkos. "They just hit record on their [computer's] webcam and upload."
TrueFire uses a platform from Mirror Image Internet, a global content delivery network based in Tewksbury, Mass. The platform allows TrueFire to adjust videos by enabling looping a section of the lesson, using slow motion, zooming in closer or going full screen.
"We had zero capital investment," says Wendkos. "Mirror Image powers the back-end video streaming that allows us to do what we do." Three different versions of each video exist to accommodate just about any Internet connection, says Wendkos: low, medium and high. "We can autodetect using the technology."
TrueFire did not need to upgrade its own internal network or add bandwidth at all, says White. "Mirror Image was a turnkey solution."
Credit union builds its own studio
The Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) offers several channels of video content; its video portal is called CUBE (Credit Union Broadcast Experience).
Launched in 2008, CUBE TV started out as a way for the MCUL to provide video content on its website, including industry updates and information about MCUL's strategic plans and financial performance, says Dave Adams, MCUL's CEO. "It allows us to provide direction to the staff and board of directors for approximately 300 credit unions." The initial concept was inspired by the growing popularity of videos on YouTube.
With a subsidiary that creates websites and web content for credit unions, Adams decided to pursue the idea of developing videos in order to put content out in a more compelling manner than using a simple online newsletter or printed publication.
"As a trade association, one of our core functions is education and information for our industry," Adams says. While focused on the Michigan market, Adams and his team create information in a way that allows it to be shared with their counterpart state trade associations across the country.
An internal task force and a manager initially set up the video channels and decided how much content to put into each channel, says Adams. "We ask our staff to set realistic goals for the number of videos we can produce, and we defer to them for topics. Our technical people have a good handle on that because they're already producing the digital content."
Currently two full-time staffers, plus one part-timer and an intern, are dedicated to CUBE TV. An additional two to three people provide regular content, such as monthly video. Between the high-grade equipment -- including JVC pro video cameras and editing software -- and a staff with broadcast experience, the videos are top-notch productions.
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