This white paper examines the outcomes of a trial of Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), which was tested as an educational platform by the Melbourne Dental School at the University of Melbourne.

It is often very difficult for students and those wishing to engage in continuing professional development to attend classes and tutorials on a university campus, particularly when they live and work in outer-metro, regional and rural communities. Lecturers and tutors may also spend a lot of time travelling between widely separated campuses. Thus so called time- and place-shifting in learning is growing.

IPTV is capable of delivering very high quality video content via a managed data service. This is in contrast with the relatively poor quality and user-experience of best-effort applications such as YouTube. A set top box is used to decode the incoming broadband data and display it on a high definition TV. IPTV has traditionally been an entertainment platform delivering movies on demand for example. The innovation of this study is the examination of IPTV for educational content and services.

This white paper finds that IPTV is an excellent method of delivering high quality educational video material to a range of end users at various locations over a broadband network. High-definition (HD) video material can be broadcast live in a TV channel and also as video-on-demand (VoD). The latter allows the viewer full control of the material so it can be paused, fast forwarded and so on. Such flexibility of access is of interest in an educational setting, allowing repeated review prior to examinations, or to concentrate on particular techniques being demonstrated, for example. IPTV can also deliver 3D video which adds value to the educational experience: the viewer receives extra depth- of-field clues as to, for example, the proper angle and depth of drilling in dental procedures.

This white paper also identifies several barriers to the use and acceptance of IPTV in an academic setting: the most important relates to the difficulties in translating a service originally designed for mass entertainment into one for relatively limited numbers of users often in niche education markets.

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