The Video Communications and Distance Learning Division provides training and public information to health professionals across the nation. The Alabama Public Health Training Networks was formally established in 1992 in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is a nationally recognized provider of public health training and education programs. Ten production and support employees apply more than 125 years of combined experience working in broadcast media to produce an average of 60 satellite conferences and live webcasts every year. They are committed to maintaining the divisionís standard of excellence by incorporating the latest video, satellite, webcast and conferencing technologies, thus making it one of the premier distance learning facilities in the country.
The division now utilizes the same cutting edge production software and video technology as many major TV stations and private production companies. Studio and field cameras support the new P2 chip technology. This enhancement allows for video to be recorded directly to a memory card, eliminating post-production flaws to improve workflow efficiency and maintain the highest production standards. The divisionís six non-linear, high-definition editing stations are all equipped with Final Cut Studio 2, one of the leading professional editing applications. Video can be edited from HD, DV and SD formats, multiple audio and video tracks can be incorporated and unlimited video effects can be applied to create a flawless final product.
Satellite conferences and webcasts are broadcast directly from our Montgomery, Alabama production suite which includes a 1,500 square foot broadcast studio and a state-of-the-art master control room. Two specialized video servers are maintained in-house and allow for conferences to be hosted as live broadcasts and as On Demand programs, which can be viewed at the userís convenience. In addition to producing, hosting and directing distance learning satellite conferences, division staff are routinely requested by public health and allied health agencies to provide off-site conference support. Three audio visual specialists, two broadcast production specialists, a broadcast engineer and two web and graphic artists are available to attend off-site conferences which are held at different locations across the state and country.
The division assists with specialized video projects for public health and other health organizations. These projects can include educational videos or video news packages for broadcast media. Division staff conducts all research, script development, recording and editing. A full compliment of production equipment and staff expertise enable the creation of many specialized projects to be shot ďon locationĒ to provide a more realistic perspective. As with satellite conferences, specialized projects can also be broadcast live, viewed as On Demand programs or recorded to air at a future date.
This division is unique in that the video production specialists work side-by-side with two graphic artists who specialize in Internet publishing and web design. The designers are responsible for marketing and advertising every conference with a flyer whose unique design is based on conference topics. Flyers and educational conference materials are all posted on the Alabama Public Health Training Networks (ALPHTN) website, www.adph.org/alphtn. This enables conference participants to print out relevant information to use as a reference. The designers also prepare and format graphics to use during satellite and off-site conferences.
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The Video Communications and Distance Learning Division produces more programs than any other state or federal agency in the country. Division staff broadcast these programs utilizing satellite and web technologies that continue to provide both new and unlimited educational opportunities for public health employees, not only in Alabama but also around the world.
Division infrastructure includes a satellite uplink truck equipped with the latest digital technology. State-of-the-art capabilities allow the division to broadcast and uplink conferences from any location. A recent digital upgrade has provided a major technological advancement for the division as broadcasts can be transmitted in either analog or digital KU and C band formats.
This multi-purpose vehicle also serves as a mobile production facility. The truck is equipped with all of the necessary production and broadcast tools to ensure that in the event of an emergency away from the divisionís central office, division staff would still be able to produce and broadcast a satellite program or news conference.
All of the Alabama Department of Public Health county facilities (67) are equipped with satellite antennas to receive programs. The division has also partnered with the Alabama Hospital Association to install satellite downlink systems to the stateís more than 100 acute care facilities. This allows thousands of healthcare professionals throughout Alabama to participate in continuing education and in-service programs live from their work sites while continuing to devote their attention to patient care.
Satellite conferences produced by the division are also broadcast as live webcasts through the Alabama Public Health Training Networks website. The divisionís graphic artists utilize the site to market conferences nationwide and are responsible for broadcasting both live webcasts and On Demand programs. They use proprietary web applications to create and produce on-line courses, webcasts and other On Demand special projects.
A live webcast is broadcast at the same time as the live satellite conference and is accessed through the ALPHTN website. Conference participants can view a program from their personal computers and watch in real time. On Demand programs are posted to the website two business days after the live broadcast and can be accessed at the participantís convenience. These webcasts can be viewed from a personal computer with either RealPlayer or Windows Media Player.
The ALPHTN website includes a customized electronic registration system that enables individual viewers to maintain an official transcript of completed courses and to conveniently pursue continuing education credits. Participants are also able to access and print out any educational resources submitted with each program. Resources can include slide handouts, evaluation forms, post-conference tests and other materials necessary for receiving course credits.
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Emergency communications continue to play a significant role in the divisionís responsibilities. The departmentís satellite uplink and production vehicle is fully equipped for disaster response and provides e-mail, fax and IP phone use, a satellite phone, four cell phones, DSS-receive capability and other customized features which can accommodate routine communications or emergency broadcast operations and response. All of these services can be deployed without land-based connectivity requirements including power, telephone lines or Internet. Combined, these improvements ensure reliable and versatile broadcast satellite, voice and data communications from any location around the state.
Another major initiative for the division has been the establishment of a video conferencing system. This two-way video and two-way audio distance learning conference system is as simple as a conversation between two people in private offices (point-to-point) or several different sites (multi-point) with several people participating from each site. The divisionís video conferencing system transmits through a T1 line. This dedicated and isolated line has a reliable bandwidth and can transfer data up to 60 times faster than traditional modems. The end result is a clear and high quality videoconference for participants. This conferencing system is a critical meeting and learning tool and is a huge benefit for workforce development.
The Video Communications and Distance Learning Division also produces other projects such as video educational programs, news conferences, and television and radio public service announcements. The division uplinks department news conferences, provides audio and visual support for news conferences and produces special video packages for the Alabama media. A high-speed CD/DVD duplicator and printer along with the videotape dubbing equipment provides for efficient and prompt turnaround in distributing thousands of educational programs in Alabama and throughout the United States.
Collaborations and Milestones
The Division provides these video production and satellite conferencing/webcast services to other Alabama agencies and national organizations. The division has produced satellite conferences/webcasts in conjunction with the annual meetings of such national organizations as the American Public Health Association, the Directors of Health Promotion and Education, the National Association for Continence, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The division also produces a monthly series for the South Central Center for Public Health Preparedness that is funded and co-sponsored jointly by the Schools of Public Health at Tulane, University of Arkansas, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
View a list of our collaborations and milestones.
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