Author Archive

January 20, 2010

SoDA 2010 Digital Marketing Outlook

“What you’ll find in the pages that follow is the output from the 2010 Digital Marketing Outlook survey which polled in excess of a thousand executives from major global brands, traditional and Digital agencies, vendor and service providers that operate in the Digital space, as well as freelance and independent Digital practitioners. The research has confirmed our outlook: many believe the future of Digital Marketing is exceptionally bright.”
Check out page 10:
Skillsets 2010
Compared with last year’s report:

  • Flash is still around 80%
  • ActionScript is down a bit near 60%

Still an overall great showing for the platform, especially when compared with similar technologies.
Grab the full report.

3:24 PM Permalink
December 10, 2009

What’s Your Mobile Strategy?

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to speak to a media distribution vendor who posed the question “Does your University have a mobile strategy?” Absolutely we do- at least my group of developers does. We’ve had the same strategy for a number of years now and that strategy is to hold and observe. This strategy will be modified slightly with the advent of Flash Player 10.1 for mobile devices next year to one of active, holistic, cross-platform development.
The vendor in question was visiting to inform us of their specialized video capture and delivery solution. This solution is heavily tied to the iPhone and Apple’s set of hardware and software tools. While this may be appealing to those students and faculty with iPhones and iPod Touches, the emergence of a number of Android-powered mobile devices deserves some real consideration, and the Windows Mobile, RIM, and Palm devices are nothing to dismiss either. If you target the iPhone today, you are greatly restricting the use of your application to one device out of many (which may be perfectly okay for some apps). I’d prefer to write my applications for the widest number of platforms and devices available since this expands the userbase and does not exclude anyone from using the tools I’ve worked hard to create. In a university setting which encourages open exploration of platforms, you need to remain as open and accessible as possible. The Adobe Flash Platform fulfills all of these needs in a platform-agnostic manner.
All major mobile platforms have their own version of an “app store” or “market” in which applications are developed and targeted for that specific platform. But what of current browser-based applications in use by students and faculty? If they are built upon the Flash Platform (as many are) then they have been effectively cut off from use on almost all mobile devices since, as of today, Flash Player is not widely available for mobile. HTML-based mobile apps may be one solution, but their capabilities are restrictive, and you must deal with a great number of cross-browser issues. Today- there is no good solution for this range of applications but to design them with mobile in mind… and wait cautiously for something better to come along.
At the University of Denver, we have a mature media delivery ecosystem (CourseMedia™) that absolutely requires Flash and AIR for even the most simple usage. Modern web browsers on mobile devices do a great job at rendering HTML-based web apps exactly as they appear on desktop and laptop computers… almost. The most sought-after missing piece of the puzzle is the Flash Player. With no Flash on these devices, web content delivery is severely restricted. There are platform-specific apps for audio and video delivery alternatives through popular services such as YouTube, but what of the plethora of applications that go beyond the simple viewing of video content? As things currently stand- there is no solution!
We are very excited about the upcoming Flash Player 10.1 release as this means that users will effectively be able to use the full toolset we’ve created to manage, explore, and display rich media objects on a wide array of mobile devices. If we do find the need to target Apple iPhone down the road, we can use the same Adobe toolset to compile apps specifically for that set of devices. While this is not ideal in the case of Apple (everyone I talk to desperately wants true Flash on iPhone), the fact that we will soon be able to “write once, deploy anywhere” is simply an awesome thought to ponder.
So what would be a likely scenario as Flash Player is released for mobile in terms of university usage? I envision faculty preparing media arrangements on their mobile devices while riding public transit with full video editing and annotation capabilities over their provider network. I can see students, later that day accessing this same content in a park or coffee house while studying for an exam that will utilize the same ecosystem through an AIR-based hardware projection system in an upcoming lecture. At first, we developers will not necessarily need to make many changes to the tools that currently exist, users will simply be interacting with mobile devices to do their work instead of sitting at a workstation. As time passes and needs arise, we will be able to modify our tools to better suit this approaching reality and create new tools specifically for these devices. As the hardware becomes more powerful and the Flash Platform itself evolves in the coming years, there will exist truly great opportunities that forward-thinking universities and corporations would be foolish not to embrace.
Our mobile strategy at the University of Denver CTL is strongly tied with the Adobe Flash Platform and the future of Flash on such devices is especially bright as 2009 draws to a close. Welcome, 2010 and Flash Player 10.1!
Open Screen Project
Flash Player 10.1
Adobe Flash Professional CS5
Mobile Framework ‘Slider’

9:00 PM Permalink
November 12, 2009

Adobe Developer Connection – Q & A on DU Video

Last month, I participated in a phone interview with the education team at Adobe to talk about how the University of Denver is using Flash Media Server to stream both live and on-demand content across campus and out into the world. The resulting article was recently published on the Adobe Developer Connection website.
Topics covered include our CourseMedia™ system, live events, and various video uses across departments. It’s a fairly quick read and a comprehensive look at what DU is doing with media streaming using the Flash Platform.
Check it out: Q & A with Joseph Labrecque

8:54 AM Permalink
October 16, 2009

YouTube and Flash Platform (AS3) Integration

Something we’ve struggled with for some time at the University of Denver Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is the full integration of YouTube videos within our rich media tools such as those found within the CourseMedia™ ecosystem. Traditionally, this has been not altogether possible as previous versions of the YouTube Chromeless Player were ActionScript 2 based and so were isolated in a separate Flash Player virtual machine (VM) in any of our ActionScript 3 based tools. There are ways of setting up a proxy and transferring messages between the two VMs through that proxy- but it is messy, includes too much overhead, and is nowhere near ideal. We ended up just opening YouTube content within a browser window- not at all integrated into our systems.
A few days ago, however, Google released an AS3 based Chromeless Player. Using the new player API, we were able to not only effectively integrate seamless YouTube videos within our normal display mechanisms, but were provided the flexibility of hooking full YouTube control functionality into our existing controls for native system content. The result being that the user experiences a YouTube video in the exact same way that they would expect to experience a native system video. This greatly improves the user experience and effectively adds the entire public YouTube video library as potential course material.
A quick overview video of how we’ve used this to enhance a few CourseMedia™ tools is presented below:

The ActionScript 3 YouTube Chromeless Player is Now Live
YouTube ActionScript 3.0 Player API Reference
Google FINALLY Releases AS3 Player for YouTube
MediaViewer 1.2.6 / VPS Projection System 1.3.2

8:43 AM Permalink
October 10, 2009

DU Video Delivery Systems Featured at Adobe MAX

During the opening day of Adobe MAX 2009 in Los Angeles, two separate sessions featured DU video systems.
Firstly, Joseph Labrecque, Senior Multimedia Application Developer for the University of Denver and Adobe Higher Education Leader included mention of the ALORA Embed Generator video player and its ability to tap into Google Analytics during his session for the FITC Unconference:

Custom Event Reporting from Flash to Google Analytics
With the ability to define and report custom events from within your Flash application, you retain control over how specific events are reported and the information contained in these reports. This presentation will cover the implementation of the Google Analytics Tracking For Adobe Flash ActionScript 3 API for generating custom events and the generation of unorthodox event logging from within Flash.

This presentation was streamed live by FITC and Influxis.
Another strong mention was made by John Schuman, Education Solutions Architect for Adobe Systems during his session on video delivery systems in education during which he focused on the CourseMedia™ application:

Customizing the University Experience with a Rich Media Delivery System
Explore the potential of developing a customized, security-focused, RSS-driven delivery solution. This session shows how you can use Adobe Flash Media Rights Management Server, Flash Media Server 3, and Adobe Media Player

While there were some inaccuracies presented during the session, the spirit of our system was well-represented and we thank John for his coverage of CourseMedia™ and other DU video delivery mechanisms.

10:12 PM Permalink
September 20, 2009

H1NWhat? Free Tools to Share and Collaborate at a Distance

Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro is an awesome service for presenting and collaborating at a distance. Unfortunately, not a lot of people at the University of Denver (and other universities, I’d imagine) have a Connect Pro license and have to look elsewhere for such services. In preparing for the H1N1 Influenza virus, faculty actually have a lot of options beyond setting up a standard Blackboard course. Adobe offers some great free tools to help users collaborate across great distances.
One of the services provided by Adobe is called ConnectNow, which actually shares a lot of functionality with Connect Pro. You won’t be able to conduct an entire class with the service (as it only supports a limited number of connection per room) but you can share your desktop, take control of a student machine to work through a problem, and it includes rich whiteboarding and chat tools.
Couple this with Buzzword, Presentations, and other tools, and you can easily conduct your course at a distance in the event of student or faculty illness. I’m fortunate enough to have a Connect Pro account and conduct all my office hours through that service.
Today’s faculty have a set of really robust, free tools at our disposal and should take full advantage of whichever ones complement our specific courses.

11:32 AM Permalink
August 25, 2009

CourseMedia™ Interview with Dr. Devin K. Joshi

Dr. Devin K. Joshi is an Assistant Professor in the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. This interview was conducted by Alex Karklins of the DU Center for Teaching and Learning regarding his use of CourseMedia™ as a faculty member.

DU CourseMedia™ is a course media management system that helps instructors organize and present media materials (images, video and audio). Instructors have access to large collection of art and world history images, library reserve videos and audio works.

2:24 PM Permalink
August 10, 2009

LiveStreamer AIR Application

I wrote a new AIR app called LiveStreamer available now via the Adobe AIR Marketplace.
This started as a simple mechanism to display a live RTMP stream from Flash Media Server to a client machine and related projection system. So… not for broadcast over the web- just sending a live stream from one physical location to another.
While developing the application, I came across the need to test an RTMP stream and it was so simple using this app that I decided to expand it. In the current version (0.9.0), it will accept RTMP and HTTP streams- just type in the URL and you can easily test it in order to verify that it is correct before trying to publish anything on a website or whatnot. You can also use it as a fullscreen projection or display mechanism as was originally intended.
If you have some FLVs or MP4s or whatnot on your local machine- you can just drag those into the app to watch them. I’m thinking about adding some playback controls and other options a bit later.

Application for display of video streams via RTMP, HTTP, or local filesystem. Just drag in a file or enter a stream address and away we go!

At the University of Denver, we have built a good number of AIR applications at this point. Some are internal data management tools, others are full, complex, private applications such as the VPS Projection system, and then we have small utility apps like this which others may also find some use for. These we make available to others free of charge as part of our community outreach.

10:29 AM Permalink
July 25, 2009

Reflections on the 2009 Adobe Education Leader Summer Institute

The 2009 Adobe Education Leader Summer Institute in now over and my intention is to document a few thoughts here while everything is still fresh in my mind.
About 80 Adobe Education Leaders from both K-12 and Higher Education institutions from around the world gathered at Adobe HQ in San Jose, CA for 5 days of networking, presentations, training, and corporate roadmaps. I’ve only been involved in this group since November of last year, so this was the first time I had personally attended this event. This is also the first year that Higher Education was formally represented.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, so tried not to have any sort of pre-conceived notions of how the week would play out. One of the most beneficial aspects of the event was the constant networking going on – a perpetual idea mill and information interchange center. I’m sure that if I had passed up on the 4 hours of sleep I got most nights, those 4 hours would also be spent engaged in intense discussion with my peers.
Most days allowed us to explore San Jose, Adobe HQ (the less secure portions, anyway), and interface with a great number of Adobe employees through presentations, round-tables, Q+A sessions, and some very nice dinner receptions. I found a lot of these individuals to be surprisingly frank and quite receptive to any of the ideas and thoughts that were proposed to them.
Wednesday provided everyone with an opportunity to make presentations to the group. I gave a presentation on what the University of Denver is doing in regard to the Flash Platform focusing on our work on the CourseMedia™ project and received a ton of positive feedback from both Adobe and other AELs. A really great experience although I had to cut the demo portion short due to time constraints. The slides can be downloaded as a PDF and the recording should be available on AdobeTV later on along with 25+ other extraordinary sessions.
I was delighted to find that everyone was very amiable and even though I was one of the new people in the group- was treated with the utmost respect whether conversing with other AELs, product managers, evangelists, or anyone on the education team at Adobe. What a wonderful group of people to be a part of – I cannot wait to begin some of the many collaborations seeded at this event.
Many thanks to Adobe and everyone that was a part of the planning and execution of the institute this year. It will not be soon forgotten and I look forward to future events and hopefully seeing everyone again in 2010.

3:02 PM Permalink
June 26, 2009

DU CourseMedia™ Released!

The University of Denver Center for Teaching & Learning has (finally) released the DU CourseMedia™ Course Media Management System. This has been a focus of my work for the past 5 months or so and is one of the major CTL projects for 2009. Some may recall the mention of the DUVAGA system from time-to-time. CourseMedia™ is DUVAGA reborn.
DU CourseMedia(tm)
DU CourseMedia™ was developed by the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Denver as a course-based media presentation tool for organizing and presenting high quality images and videos to system participants. Although it was initially built with the needs of faculty in the school of art and art history in mind, DU CourseMedia™ is now used by faculty in many other disciplines in approximately 250 courses each term.
Through DU CourseMedia™, instructors have access to over 50,000 art and world history images and over 2000 library reserve videos. DU Course Media™ allows instructors to create online galleries that can include streaming video, images, text slides, discussion boards, quizzes, and voice narrations.
Some of the highlights of the new release are as follows:

  • Complete overhaul of how media objects are accessed
  • Entire media galleries can now be shared across permitted websites
  • Gallery object functionality is raised one level to become more accessible for users
  • The new Media Viewer is written from scratch with the input of DU faculty, staff and students
  • The Media Viewer is a Flash application written upon the Flex framework
  • The VPS Projection System, an application which runs upon the Adobe AIR runtime has also recieved a number of updates

I’ll be presenting on DU CourseMedia™ at the Adobe Education Leader Institute this summer.
To see an overview of the new features, you can check out a screencast produced by Alex Martinez, ColdFusion developer for the CTL.
A screencast specific to the Media Viewer was also authored by Jenn Light.
This article was originally posted at In Flagrante Delicto!

2:28 PM Permalink