Datacasting is a term derived from ‘data’ and ‘broadcasting’.
The technology converts a portion of the broadcast signal to offer a one-way transmission of encrypted IP data. Datacasting offers the same coverage as terrestrial signals and utilizes an existing network infrastructure. South Carolina is the first in the nation to pioneer this concept.
About the Pilot
Several agencies have used datacasting to support public safety and public emergency incidents. Although the concept of datacasting has been around for many years, the idea of using the technology for education is a new one. South Carolina ETV is pioneering a pilot project, in collaboration with Spectrarep, to explore how datacasting can help to address the digital divide by providing instructional content to students without Internet access.
In order to receive files via datacasting, a student will need a Wi-Fi enabled device (i.e., cell phone, computer, tablet, etc.), as well as an inexpensive antenna and receiver. No internet access is required.
Any type of file (jpg, PDF, mp4, etc.) can be transmitted via datacasting. This means that the possibilities of creating and packaging content designed for instruction are limitless.
Our goal is to create a personalized learning experience for students that would not otherwise have access to a multitude of online resources. The pilot will explore the amount of time it takes for files to be transmitted over the encrypted signal to a student laptop. Additionally, the pilot will determine what students will see when they receive the files on their laptop, best practices for end-user equipment and instructional content creation. Discussions are also ongoing about models for returning completed work/assignments to a teacher.
The pilot will include content from multiple sources including SCETV’s KnowItAll.org (a home-grown site that includes nearly 9,000 media assets to include videos, documents, and interactives) and PBS LearningMedia. There is an opportunity for teachers to add content from other sources (e.g., recorded lectures, SC Learning Object Repository, other online websites) and to customize content for end users based on a number of different variables.
During the pilot, SCETV teachers will use the ETV Educast platform to send instructional content.
What is datacasting?
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster addresses datacasting technology for use in education.
What are the Costs Associated with the Pilot?
South Carolina ETV has received state and federal funding to support datacasting. As such, there are minimal costs for a district/school to participate in a datacasting pilot. Once the project begins to scale beyond a pilot, sites can anticipate costs such as the purchase of student devices (if desired), antenna, and receiver for each end user. Other costs may include personnel resources to support the packaging of content and the provision of technical support to end users.
How can my school/district participate in datacasting?
SCETV is currently deploying a phased pilot approach for select South Carolina schools/districts that will take place over the next 12 months. Initial pilot sites include Dillon 4, Fairfield, Jasper, Virtus Academy, and York One. Conversations are ongoing with other partners across the state. The ability to make datacasting available to end users in a targeted area will vary depending on key readiness factors (i.e., educational content, technology, funding). Priority will be given to those districts that have been disproportionately impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, based on a formula developed by the SC Department of Education.
Interested persons should contact SCETV Education at firstname.lastname@example.org.