Sharing an Academic Milestone Globally: Boston University Live Streaming Commencement 2017 & 2018

By Wendell Seale

Boston University has always taken pride in its educational mission and set a strategic goal to achieve a fully integrated and interconnected institution, as first laid out in the One BU philosophy guide. One of the successful implementations to meet this goal was the establishment of a One BU, institution-wide live video streaming platform.

Back in 2015, there were six separate video platforms deployed at various schools and colleges, all of which provided content management and streaming capabilities at different levels. As one would expect, this variety of platforms brought about complications in providing adequate support to departments and members of the Boston University community. The multiple deployed platforms not only caused confusion and considerable cost but also created major inconsistencies in technology and quality of video throughout the university. A centrally supported video streaming service, able to meet the requirements of Boston University in the One BU model was paramount in identifying a solution that empowered streaming media to become a staple of teaching and learning.

The Kaltura platform, branded as MyMedia, allows Boston University’s schools, colleges, and departments to incorporate streaming media into the curriculum and also reach new audiences. Live-streaming, which is an integral part of Kaltura, is an example of the successful collaboration between Kaltura and Boston University. Learning & Events Technology Services, also known as LETS, provides and supports the audio/visual needs for online event and classroom streaming. Prior to Kaltura, LETS worked with a provider that only allowed for a single live-stream. Thanks to Kaltura (LETS-Stream) that limitation no longer applies. Since offering the live-streaming service in 2017 LETS has been streaming as many as twelve independent events simultaneously.

In the Field: Livestreaming Commencement

Streaming video at Boston University hit a milestone when LETS streamed one of the largest commencements ever held at the university. The momentous event: baseball slugger David Ortiz receiving an honorary degree from the university in 2017. Boston University’s Commencement Exercises were streamed live, to over 5,000 viewers in over 80 countries around the globe. The Kaltura platform successfully addressed the need to live-stream multiple school or college convocations that take place concurrently and to extend the experience of these events to family members who could not attend in person. With the past commencement and convocations in May 2018, the number of viewers further increased.

Jamie Phillips from the Learning Events Technology group has been instrumental in making sure that all of these events were streamed flawlessly. Phillips reported that his department has received an extraordinary amount of positive feedback from the Boston University clients and technicians. The group has not experienced any significant issues with any of the live streams, neither in 2017 nor in 2018. Phillips noted the hard work and extensive research that LETS conducted to ensure proper streaming setup and capabilities. Phillips remarked, “We did a lot of testing as far as bandwidth and equipment went, prior to commencement weekend, and it really paid off. From my experience, being able to view live analytics as you’re streaming is super helpful, and the clients really enjoyed getting that information.” Phillips attributes the positive client feedback to Kaltura’s stability and bandwidth.

Kaltura has made a strong and positive impact on Boston University. The platform has allowed the university to provide a highly reliable video streaming service to its community. The service has facilitated a wider audience being able to take advantage of streaming media and live-streaming, across the institution. Faculty, students, staff, and all members associated with Boston University now have greater access to the outstanding content that is being created at Boston University. With the help of Kaltura, Boston University has been able to achieve the One BUphilosophy in the area of video streaming. Adding the capability to stream on demand, to live-stream, and to distribute media around the world supports Boston University in its mission of educating students to be reflective, resourceful individuals ready to live, adapt, and lead in an interconnected world.

 

Wendell Seale is the Streaming Video Platform Administrator in the Educational Technology Department, Digital Learning & Innovation, Boston University.

Interested in seeing how other schools are using live broadcast? Watch the webinar recording “You’re Live! How Schools are Using Live Streaming On Campus and Beyond.”