ShareStream is an application that facilitates streaming media content, specifically video and audio, within a secure online learning or business environment. According to promotional materials, the ShareStream Media Platform is “a turnkey system for uploading, transcoding, editing, storing, managing, and delivering video and audio content in a secure and auditable environment worldwide.”11 As of August 22, 2013, ShareStream is compatible with the Blackboard Learn Platform, [End Page 503] Dream2Learn Learning Environment, and Canvas.12 Only Blackboard Learn was available for the evaluation of this product.
ShareStream has relatively few technical requirements. Hosted media server storage space may be provided at a negotiated cost by ShareStream or, alternatively, media files may be maintained on a secure local server. As ShareStream is intended to be integrated into a learning management system, access to ShareStream is typically discussed in tandem with pricing negotiations for the learning management system. While the ShareStream website does not provide technical information about their product, Blackboard 9.1 has been fully tested and is supported by Windows Vista (32-bit) and Windows 7 (32-bit) in Internet Explorer 8 and Firefox 3.6. Blackboard has been partially tested and believed fully supported by: Windows XP (32-bit) in Internet Explorer 8 and 7, and in Firefox 3.6 and 3.5; Windows Vista (32-bit) in Internet Explorer 7 and in Firefox 3.5; Windows Vista (64-bit) in Internet Explorer 8 and 7, and in Firefox 3.6 and 3.5; Windows 7 (32-bit) in Firefox 3.5; and Windows 7 (64-bit) in Internet Explorer 8, and in Firefox 3.6 and 3.5. It is not supported in Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit) in Internet Explorer 7. Blackboard has been tested and is supported by Mac OSX 10.6 “Snow Leopard” in Safari 4.0 and in Firefox 3.6. It has been partially tested and believed fully compatible with Mac OSX 10.6 “Snow Leopard” in Firefox 3.5 as well as with Mac OSX 10.5 “Leopard” in Safari 4.0 and 3.2, and in Firefox 3.6 and 3.5. It is not supported by a Mac OSX 10.6 “Snow Leopard” in Safari 3.2.13 Presumably ShareStream is developed with equal or better compatibility.
After logging into ShareStream, the person responsible for creating the audio files, hereafter referred to as the audio technician, first creates a folder for all the audio files intended to be used by one class. A new folder must be created for each course and folder names must exactly match to course name given in Blackboard. Using the MediaMigrator tool located in the left-hand menu, the audio technician then selects the audio files to go into the course folder and follows the instructions until ShareStream ingests and transcodes the audio files. Once fully imported, the audio files become visible in the course folder. At this point, the audio technician has the option of adding metadata or deleting metadata fields that were attached to the file prior to being imported. The final step requires entering the course Blackboard environment to make the connection between the course folder in ShareStream and the course Blackboard page; this last step necessitates editorial privileges for the audio technician within the Blackboard course environment.
When students log into their Blackboard course environment, they will see Share-Stream in their menu of options (although the audio technician may choose to rename this link in the menu; for example, it may be renamed e-Audio Reserves). Following the link will take the user to the full list of audio files. The initial display includes the work title, composer or performer depending on the metadata attached to the file, and the track duration. After clicking on a specific title the view becomes horizontally split, with the full list of audio files continuing to display at the top and the complete track-specific metadata displaying below. The student can begin streaming the audio by simply clicking on the speaker icon.