The new EchoSystem 4 from Echo360 is looking to add another important tool to universities that want to build and utilize a virtual, paperless classroom environment. It should be a welcome tool for students everywhere (until they realize it'll make cutting class obsolete).
The new software platform records and relays the classroom experience in HD to iPads, Android tablets, laptops, and desktops. The system requires compatible hardware and simulates attending and participating in the classroom by allowing real-time collaboration through question submission, polling, and commenting while watching the recorded lecture. By taking the classroom mobile, EchoSystem 4 could enable students of any age to take classes from their dorm rooms, roofs, treehouses, or across the country.
According to Echo360, "The new software and live-enabled hardware solution liberates the learning experience from the confines of the classroom with mobility, collaboration, and video quality enhancements while simultaneously reducing the operational costs associated with large-scale blended learning implementations."
While it's not a live classroom relay, EchoSystem was designed for the Apple iPad using HTML5. The EchoPlayer for iPad displays course visuals, scene-based navigation, and institutional branding through watermarking. EchoSystem 4.0 also employs Android's streaming while preventing the download of instructor intellectual property.
Students can participate in online study groups through their computers and tablets. Bookmarks, online note-taking and "asynchronous discussions" allow students to engage in peer-to-peer conversations while asking questions of their instructors. The platform's EchoCenter displays a playlist of lectures and supplemental recordings that let students identify and launch multimedia course content on demand.
While it's not the only remote lecture software platform out there--and far from being the only technology entering classrooms--Echo360 reps are stressing its compatibility with tablets as a step forward in the effort to create a greener, paperless campus free of bound books, presentation printouts, and notebooks.
The pricing on the Echo360 system runs as low as $1,500 per classroom for a software site license. The "Safecapture HD appliance"--which records, stores, and uploads the lecture so students can access it from their computers--sells for $2,995 each. A larger, 40,000-plus student state school will invest more into EchoSystem 4 than a 7,500-student private institution. Would-be customers need to contact company reps directly.
Update, January 20 at 5:30 p.m. PT: We added more price information.