Adopter Highlights

These articles provide experiences of other universities that already introduced Opencast.



Ghent University


Project Goals

 

Provide an easy to use, flexible and cost effective lecture capture solution to our teachers. Prior to this project no lecture capture solution was available and individual efforts with video recordings were made available on a central streaming server ( Darwin streaming server ).

In order to accommodate students that couldn’t attend lectures a solution was found in Opencast to provide lecture recordings. The project started in 2012 and gradually grew to our current scale. In addition to our initial goal to provide lecture capture for absent students we found out that the project was equally useful as study material for all students and proved a valuable tool to create short knowledge clips in addition to full lecture captures.

Why Opencast?

Scalability

A lecture capture solution that is reasonably easy to scale without major financial implications. We can scale up our processing power on short notice, without system downtime.

Flexibility

The ability to do fully automated lecture capture in addition to manual captures.

Openness

Open Source software and open design make integrations and alternatives as galicaster and paella player easy to integrate.

System Overview

Infrastructure

We run a distributed opencast installation with 7 VM’s, excluding the database servers. All our VM’s run Debian and we use Percona Mysql for a database server.

  • 1 Admin server, 2 cores – 24G RAM
  • 1 Engage server, 2 cores – 12G RAM
  • 2 Worker servers, 8 cores – 8G RAM
  • 2 Ingest-Distribution servers, 4 cores – 4G RAM
  • 1 Download server, 4 cores – 8G RAM ( Apache static file server )

In addition we have 3 SOLR database servers for the search, series and workflow index and centralized storage via NFS.

Monitoring of the system is managed via zabbix for incidents, grafana for metrics, kibana for log retention and extra metrics and piwik for user statistics.

Capture agents

We build our own galicaster and galicaster pro capture agents based on Dell Optiplex desktop PC’s. We use datapath capture cards in all our installations.

  • 28 Lecture halls equipped with galicaster capture agent
  • 6 Mobile capture agents

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Integrations

Our Opencast installation is integrated with our LMS system so that students can view lectures directly in the LMS. We are using the Paella engage player for viewing all lectures.

The integration is currently limited to viewing lectures but we are planning further integration to enable scheduling and managing of lectures within the LMS.

Usage

We are seeing a steady increase of general usage each semester. The number of unique viewers, lectures viewed and lectures captured increase each semester with an increase before exams and decrease after exams and during the holidays.

Contact

You can find more detailed information on https://icto.ugent.be/en/content/team-multimedia .