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BroadRamp $150K grant funds UTSA, SISD project

(Dec. 10, 2007)--The UTSA Center for Distance Learning and Academic Technology received a $150,000 grant from the San Antonio Southside Independent School District (SISD) to develop a Web portal to offer online course content to SISD students.

UTSA and San Antonio-based BroadRamp Inc., a privately held venture capital-funded company, will partner on the grant project, which will include the development of SAT and ACT test-preparation courses, a high school algebra course and College 101, an introduction to college course designed to close the gaps in minority participation in higher education.

Because of the efforts of the three San Antonio entities, SISD students soon will benefit from access to the ground-breaking distance learning system enabled by BroadRamp, inventors of the only seamless, universal multimedia content and application delivery platform.

UTSA Assistant Vice Provost Bill Angrove said, "This initiative will include the development of a learning management system unlike any other. The requirements include the delivery of an interactive learning experience, the quick launch of high-definition video over the Internet, the seamless migration of content and, of course, it must be cost effective at every turn. BroadRamp presented the total solution to meeting all of our requirements."

"Our goals for this program are driven by the pursuit of excellence in education and widespread opportunity, without the traditional roadblocks of accessibility, high costs and rigid non-flexible infrastructure," said Juan Jasso, SISD superintendent. "Flexibility is essential to allowing the largest number of students to gain from this initiative," he added.

BroadRamp will utilize its industry leading expertise to deploy a customized program based on their Content Delivery System (CDS) application and its recently announced Managed Content Delivery Services (MCDS), the first end-to-end content delivery solution to integrate encoding and content conversion, media hosting, streaming media services, and multi-source distribution.

To help ensure the success of the program BroadRamp will contribute through reduced pricing and contribution of selected services. Founder and chief science officer Sean Darwish said, "I have long been a supporter of education in San Antonio and want to give back to the community that is home to BroadRamp. It is my personal mission to deliver products that enhance the educational experience for all students." Darwish added that many of BroadRamp's staff attended San Antonio public schools and a large number of the BroadRamp team graduated from UTSA.

A key component of the MCDS platform is BroadRamp's CDS. MCDS quickly converts virtually any type of offline content into an online rich multimedia format usable by all Web-enabled devices. The unique compression approach and embedded player architecture of CDS enables quick-launch, full-screen, high definition quality video (WebHD) with Dolby 6.1 Surround Sound. The CDS compression reduces media file sizes 50-90 percent while maintaining quality levels and delivering an outstanding user experience.

"Engaging the student is just part of the equation," said Darwish. "We believe that quality expectations should be exceeded at all points to hold the student's interest. Poor quality is an unacceptable distraction that hinders learning at the highest levels. The real winners are the students. More students than ever will be able to participate in a program designed from the ground up to help ensure a successful learning experience."

According to Darwish, access to content such as SAT/ACT preparation and advanced math courses from the school or home, will produce a virtual campus experience. With the focus on reduced costs of delivering rich media content and eliminating the need to transport students, more can participate. Tools are in place or are being designed to track progress, improve individual success rates and to deliver the most engaging courseware possible.

For more information, contact Martha Trevino at (210) 828-4451.

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