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RU-iptv: High-tech initiative allows university community to view campus events by computer

By Fredda Sacharow
RU-iptv: High-tech initiative allows university community to view campus events by computer
Credit: Nick Romanenko
Rutgers senior William Beversluis is the operations manager for RU-iptv,
which allows viewers to view campus events through their computer. He
logs on once an hour to make sure the system is glitch-free.

In its first year of operation, a program designed to unify Rutgers’ campuses through video programming has allowed students and faculty to log on to the President’s Annual Address, attend a series of lectures by distinguished scholars while sitting at their desks, and catch a talk by Sierra Leone memoirist Ishmael Beah.

And that, organizers of RU-iptv hope, is just the first flowering of the initiative’s potential. “It’s a pretty slick little piece of software that gives you an interface for watching television on your computer,” says Brenton Smith, assistant director for broadcast operations, RU-tv Network, who oversees the programming aspects of the project.  “It lets you go anywhere at Rutgers with a network connection and share your content.”

Launched through a partnership between Rutgers’ Office of Information Technology and the Department of University Relations, and operating out of Davidson Hall on the Busch Campus, the three-year pilot project uses the newest equipment to provide live coverage of campus events, which viewers can access through their computers.
RU-iptv – the letters stand for internet protocol television – was months in the planning before its September rollout. A task force representing the Department of University Relations and the Office of Information Technology labored throughout the summer to work out the kinks before advertising the service to the wider university community. The debut also involved the efforts of many departmental information technology support staff members.

Robert Gerdes, project manager with OIT’s Office of Instructional and Research Technology, says RU-iptv opens the door to a different way of thinking about “how to bring us all together as a single university. There’s virtually no place on the university that could hold everybody at once, so for events that overflow one venue, this is a natural.”

President Richard L. McCormick’s Annual Address on September 19 marked RU-iptv’s official launch. Data culled from users’ home sites indicated that more than 200 people went online to watch McCormick’s College Avenue talk from remote locales in Camden and Newark, as well as New Brunswick. The viewers came from about 70 buildings across all three campuses.

Other universities nationwide are in various stages of introducing iptv services, Smith notes. “Rutgers compares well with other universities in this,” he says, adding that William Paterson University is getting ready to offer the accommodation to its students, and Northwestern University in Illinois has been doing so for years.

RU-iptv is the online service of RU-tv, which offers through its Rutgers Channel such shows as Wake Up, Rutgers, Inside Rutgers, and SportsKnight. Smith encourages faculty members to tune in to get a sense of the channel’s “great student-produced programming.”

A key component of RU-iptv has been the airing of the Rutgers Distinguished Faculty Talks, which began appearing on the channel in November. Thus far, talks by School of Arts and Sciences professors Richard Miller (English), and Alan Leslie (psychology) have aired.

These programs are being taped for the “At the Podium” series, which also plays on the Rutgers Channel.

Originating from the Fiber Optics Auditorium on the Busch Campus, the lectures take place on the first Monday of every month. Future presenters for this academic year are Professors Joan Marter, art history, in March; Karl Herrup, cell biology and neuroscience, in April; and Richard Riman, materials science and engineering, in May.

The programs are easy to access from campus buildings and dorms, Smith says. Users log on to RU-iptv – the system doesn’t run on wireless – and click the button that says, “Tune In.” Smith says there is no need to update a computer, and he promises that logging into RU-iptv won’t crash a user’s machine.

“There are still some glitches that have to be worked out,” he says. The service is not yet available in some dorms, although these are becoming fewer as the months go on. “The pockets of no-access are pretty small,” Smith says. “If you’re not able to access it, contact your IT support person.”

William Beversluis is a Rutgers College senior from East Hanover majoring in criminal justice and geography. As operations manager for RU-iptv, he logs on once an hour to make sure all systems are up and running.

“I believe that the RU-iptv initiative opens up another valuable media resource for the entire Rutgers community, including the potential to benefit all three campuses after further testing,” Beversluis says. “The faculty, staff, and students will have access to additional entertainment and educational materials that have previously been available only on television, with limited resources offered online.”

Down the road, Smith and Gerdes envision broader applications for the service, including coverage of major speakers and presentations by key committees – possibly even airing the University Senate meetings.

“If you’re on the faculty, what you want to do is take a look at how this can be useful to you,” Smith says. “We would definitely welcome faculty input. We want people to look at this and imagine how it can be incorporated into their lives.”

For more information, faculty and staff members can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Archived from February 4, 2009