From embracing and advancing sustainability initiatives to collaborating with NASA and incubating start-ups, Arizona State University (ASU) has established an expansive legacy that ripples across industries. Ranked the most innovative university by U.S. News & World Report for six consecutive years, ASU has earned its reputation as a multidisciplinary leader, in part, due to its strategic adoption of technology that enhances curriculum, and helps the university better serve more than 130,000 students in addition to the local community. To maintain that high achievement standard throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, ASU leaders explored new approaches for connecting virtually with students. The pursuit ultimately led them to managed live streaming solution, Amazon Interactive Video Service (Amazon IVS).
Already extensive users of Amazon technology, ASU has been leaning on Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud-based tools to enhance student life across campuses and in the greater Phoenix area for several years, and embraced e-learning through partnerships pre-pandemic. Like most schools, ASU offers a video component for almost all lectures now to better accommodate distanced learning. Ahead of the fall 2020 semester, ASU looked for a more scalable and robust solution than traditional videoconferencing tools to stream the ASU President’s welcome address, which is typically delivered annually in person. “We weren’t sure how many students would log into the stream, but we needed to be prepared to support up to 15,000 concurrent users,” explained John Rome, ASU Deputy CIO.
Using Amazon IVS, ASU Mobile and IoT Developer Krista Sefiddashti quickly created an interactive livestream channel on the main ASU website that could be accessed via a web browser, Android, and iOS platforms. During the address, viewers could react to the presentation using a menu of emoji reactions, displayed across the bottom of the stream. “I had less than a week to get everything setup and learn IVS from scratch. The solution is new, but thankfully the documentation is great and I was able to do it all mostly myself,” noted Sefiddashti. “We didn’t have a lot of time for testing so watching the stream go off without a hitch proved a huge relief.”
While the President’s address was streamed off of a pre-recorded video, ASU is now delivering live content with Amazon IVS via its Sync Showcase initiative. Through it, select courses are available for public consumption. Upon logging in, viewers experience the lecture as if in an ASU Zoom classroom, with Amazon IVS powering the stream. To make setup as easy as possible for professors, Sefiddashti created channels for each course using AWS Lambda, and handed over the dedicated stream key and stream secret. Starting each stream is now as simple as logging into Zoom and inputting the stream data. The process was so streamlined that Sefiddashti even used IVS to livestream her private wedding ceremony to guests as far as Iran who couldn’t travel due to the pandemic.
As a technically advanced institution, ASU taps more than 100 Amazon and AWS services for everything from compute storage and database needs to Alexa programming and is even looking at satellite communications with AWS Ground Station to bring internet connectivity to underserved local communities. “Being the most innovative university, we’re constantly testing limits and aren’t scared to try anything. We’re always keen to jump ahead with each new AWS release and think about how we can leverage those technologies in our mission to engage our students and help the community,” Rome concluded.
To learn more about livestreaming with Amazon IVS, visit: https://aws.amazon.com/ivs/