Mediathread for the rest of us
Mediathread is a next generation media analysis tool that lets students create compositions embedded with rich media (video, images, audio). What’s really cool about Mediathread is that the videos can come from anywhere (Youtube, Vimeo, Library of Congress, etc) and annotated by “clipping” different segments of the video. These clips are then used to support an argument in an essay.
Similarly, images can be pulled into Mediathread from a variety of sources (Museum of Modern Art, Flickr, Google Art Project, etc.) and annotated by “drawing” on the image itself. These drawings become annotations that can be used to demonstrate the student’s understanding of the material: a particular technique that a painter used, or the historical significance of an object in the painting.
Mediathread is being used by dozens of professors at Yale, Dartmouth, Columbia, Georgia Tech and MIT to get their students to engage more critically with the materials they’re studying.
Where to find support and hosting?
One thing that I’ve observed is that while Mediathread has attracted a large number of people interested in using it, the number of people who actually get to use it for their class is much smaller.
Professors want to use it, but their IT department is overworked and will only support software tools that they are already familiar with.
Once installed, the Mediathread software is quite easy to use, but getting the software installed in the first place is not trivial. It requires someone with expertise in setting up a server, installing, configuring and maintaining the software.
Now anyone can create a Mediathread course
Well, we have such expertise and we wanted to make this problem go away. We believe that any professor who wants to use Mediathread should be able to do so, without having to beg their IT department to try setting it up for them.
And so I’m super excited to announce the availability of our Mediathread hosting service!
Check it out at http://getmediathread.com
For the first time ever, professors can start using Mediathread within a matter of minutes. No software to install, no servers to procure, no need to beg the IT guy/gal.
We offer a hassle-free hosted Mediathread service that includes expert support, regular software updates and professional hosting.
The advantages of our service over doing it yourself are:
1) Hassle-free hosting
We do all the nitty gritty server stuff so you don’t have to. We’ve managed high traffic sites for Harvard University, Oxfam America and the Smithsonian so we know what we’re doing. We keep the software up-to-date and take care of security patches and other bug fixes. Daily backups and 24/7 monitoring – we’ve got you covered.
2) Prompt and professional support
We provide prompt and professional support by email, chat and phone. We’re expert Django developers and can dig deep into the codebase if necessary to troubleshoot and debug problems that arise.
3) Self-registration and faculty/student roster
We made it easier for you to delegate administrative tasks by allowing professors to self-register, create courses and invite students. We’ve also added a class roster page where professors can promote a user to the faculty role and add/remove students from a course.
4) Customizations and new feature development
We can make customizations that your professors have been asking for. And we’re constantly adding new features. Some new features that are being considered include video/audio uploading, single-signon and iPad support.
This is the first of many blog posts about not only Mediathread, the software, but the process of turning an open source software package into a commercially available SaaS product. We’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way, and we’re very excited to share those with you!
As always, we welcome your feedback either in the comments of this blog post, or in our special Mediathread knowledgebase and support forum.