Magazine article Information Today

Studies Come to Life at Harvard Business School

Magazine article Information Today

Studies Come to Life at Harvard Business School

Article excerpt

Faculty and students at the Harvard Business School (HBS) can literally watch their studies come to life, thanks to the school's Online Video Library (OVL).

HBS faculty members post classroom lectures, interviews, documentaries, and on-site tours to the OVL to usher in fresh perspectives that students won't find in any textbook. The OVL also includes videos from the community (guest speakers, symposiums, and campus events). "As the collection grows, the biggest trick is making sure that the best metadata is going in," said Larry Bouthillier, director of Educational and Multimedia Technology Development at HBS. Bouthillier oversees the OVL and HBS's teaching technology.

Case studies are the core of the HBS curriculum, which means the OVL allows instructors and students to put a face to the facts. Professor Michael Porter uses the school's video technology to teach microeconomics of competition in nearly 60 locations around the globe. Lectures and guest speakers are added via streaming video, and case discussions are broadcast to teachers via long-distance as guides for structuring their own classroom discussions.

The first incarnation of the OVL appeared in 1996, when HBS staffers tried to find a way to enhance teaching with new technology. As college intranets became more sophisticated, developers decided to upgrade. In 1997, a Java platform was added. Then, when this system couldn't support HBS's high demand for streaming video, Bouthillier said it was time to "go back to the beginning and scale into the future."

The latest version of OVL (which was launched last January) uses VideoTools (a digital media portal platform) to support a variety of video formats, including MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and RealVideo, with back-end asset management provided by ClearStory Systems' ActiveMedia software. With these improvements, the digital library can now host tens of thousands of videos and allow more traffic.

VideoTools manages, publishes, and shares all of HBS's video resources. There are a few videos on the HBS Web site that are open to the public, but otherwise access is controlled so that only HBS community members can view them. …

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