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Set up a Media Server at your School

As more and more resources become digital, either available as audio, video or flash animations your library and resourcing system must evolve so that you can store and distribute these to all relevant classes or parties throughout your school from a central location and let you use them simultaneously.

The solution to this is quite simple and really inexpensive - A media server is a dedicated workstation or actual network server where you will store documentaries,  Film,  recorded TV, Audio Books, Flash animations and any other information convert it to universal formats and distribute across your network.

You will need the following equipment.

  • A relatively new workstation or dedicated Server if you can afford it.  Core 2 Duo and 2 GB ram min with at least a terabyte of storage.  All that video is going to require quite some space.
  • A TV tuner Card - Take your own pick here but ensure you buy HD digital at a minimum - These start at around $50 US for something decent.
  • Windows Media Player 11 - Available for Free on PC - Sorry Mac users you can use iTunes to do this also but WMP has it all over it for ripping, ability to play anything and management of heaps of Media.  But you CAN do this on a mac with a little more patience.  Maybe Apple TV is an all in one Mac solution if you want to keep it in the family that will do a similar job out of the box.  I'd like some feedback of anyone who has had some success here.
  • DVD ripping software of your choice - Handbrake for Mac users, A range of options for PC users - Format Factory or DVD Shrink is great free option.  just Google DVD ripping software.

Basically from here you need to round up all of your CD based audio throughout the school - rip it to the Media Server as MP3 files, rename it if WMP doesn't automatically pick it up and store it logically on the Media Server.

Set up your TV tuner to record whatever television you need for the week and save it to a shared network location by default.  Note: Setting up Live TV that you can watch on multiple smartboards can be done, but requires far more messing around and expense.  Maybe I'll post a solution to this one later.

Rip any DVD's  you want to the Server - this can take some time - Compressing them as a High quality DivX or h.264 format will ensure they maintain picture and sound clarity.

Add any Flash animations or any type of media you want then basically organise this data in a logical manner and keep building on it.  Staff can view all this simultaneously however it may slow things down a little.

Obviously I have avoided the issue of copyright here.  You will have to research the do's and don'ts for your country but the general rule of thumb is to hang on to your original media and be aware that most countries have some useful exemptions of traditional copyright laws for educational use.

Good luck - This will really save you some headaches in the future - Let me know how you go.