The Illinois IPM On-Line project funded by the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR) Strategic Research Initiative for Information Technologies has enabled us to explore the use of various media to deliver educational and informational programs. Since 1999, we have developed video segments that have been viewable from our Web site (http://www.ipm.uiuc.edu). We also have successfully transferred these videos to CD format, and we have a reasonable, but limited, supply of them for complimentary use.|
We developed the Companion CD to help most rural users of our IPM site overcome the limitations of being on the "bandwidth-challenged" side of today's emerging "digital divide." We want all users to have the benefit of a broadband experience when viewing the videos we have created for our site. To accomplish this, we developed a hybrid Web/CD-ROM system for playing the video clips on the end-user's desktop.
Here's how it works. All of the content at the IPM Web site is available over the Internet, including the videos. The videos play fine for broadband users. All video clips have been compressed in multiple levels so that when a user with a T-1 connection brings up a page with a video on it, a high-quality T-1 version automatically is streamed to that user. However, when a user with a 56K modem pulls up the same page, that individual sees a much smaller, lower-quality video targeted specifically for that bandwidth. Our Web/CD-ROM hybrid alleviates this problem. By inserting the Companion CD into the CD-ROM caddy, the user with the low bandwidth automatically sees a higher-quality video clip played from the CD-ROM drive. All users will experience some improvements when viewing the video from the Companion CD, but the difference will be most striking for off-campus modem users.
We have distributed Companion CDs; evaluation forms; and self-addressed, stamped envelopes to a variety of clientele to obtain feedback regarding the ease of use and educational value of the videos. We intend to make improvements to our delivery system and to add video clips on other subjects based on feedback from the evaluations. If you would like a copy of the Companion CD to evaluate, please send your mailing address to email@example.com.
Thanks in advance for your feedback.--Susan Ratcliffe, Kevin Steffey, and Mike Gray