The Future of TV Is the Internet | Print |
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Written by Paul Lara   

School administrators can readily remember a time when television was the primary source of family entertainment each evening, and viewing choices were limited to three networks. In little more than decade, the communications landscape has changed so radically that such a notion seems like it was ages ago. In fact, the very notion of ‘television’ has blurred so much as content is now delivered live on the Internet, such as Ustream™ and TodoCast®, and on-demand through specialized content providers such as SchoolTube™ and the ever-present YouTube™ In fact, YouTube has become the most-viewed video web site in the world. In March 2009, YouTube claimed 100 million monthly viewers in the U.S, and is predicted to 375 million unique views this year.

And this change in how people receive information and entertainment is accelerating, in both the amount of content available and the wide variety of content providers. As an example of how this online trend is accelerating, look at how long it took key communications tools to reach 50 million users:

- Radio took 38 years

- Television took 13 years

- Internet took 4 years

- iPod took 3 years

- Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months

While every emerging technology draws criticism that it is adversely affecting the social order, an interesting fact is that a 2009 Department of Education study indicates that the students learning online seem to outperform the ones receiving face-to-face instruction.

In fact, a prediction by NewTek founder and Chief Technology has already become true. More than 10 years ago, Tim Jenison saw a day when “you are the network”. It is here - today. Instead of tuning into television to find information, information is now finding us. More than 1.5 million pieces of content such as web links, news stories and blogs are shared on Facebook each day.

Students today consider television and even e-mail a thing of the past, as they now communicate with each other in real-time via social networking. This trend has become so pronounced that Boston College has stopped providing e-mail addresses to incoming freshmen.

For education, the Internet is providing critical information in numerous ways:

Campus Monitoring can now be established with network-based cameras at lower costs and easier maintenance than traditional remote camera systems, and they can now be monitored by administration from anywhere, not just from the central office.

Distance Learning is accelerating thanks to the Internet, and now classes can be easily provided online and even archived for review later by students and teachers.

Event Broadcasting can now be shared, live, with the entire school district when dignitaries visit or for significant events, such as opening and touring a new campus.

Sporting Events are gaining new audiences and growing popularity as football, basketball, volleyball and gymnastics are now streamed live to family, relatives and alumni around the world. These games can also be uploaded for viewing by players and fans who attended the game later in the week.

Perhaps most exciting aspect of this growth of is that much of this content is now being driven by the students themselves. Stories in many of the daily morning newscasts across hundreds of campuses each school day are ideas generated by the student journalists and reported and shared with their peers. For countless students across the United States, “you are the network” and that trend is only growing.

Paul Lara is Video Evangelist for NewTek, makers of TriCaster portable live production devices. He is currently traveling across the country as NewTek TriCasts America from a satellite-equipped MINI Cooper. You can read more about this coast-to-coast journey at