Due to growing demand for One Button Studio time, the staff of Teaching and Learning with Technology have been hard at work installing new One Button Studios (OBS) in new locations across the Commonwealth. The first OBS made its debut in 2011, and there are currently 12 OBS’s in 11 locations, with several other OBS locations in at least the planning stages.

The OBS enables students, faculty, or staff to create professional-quality videos by pressing a single button. All the components needed for video production, such as lighting, green screen, and recording equipment, are set up and adjusted only once. All the video creator needs to do is insert a thumb drive into the OBS computer, press the OBS’s big silver button, record video such as a class presentation, and then hit the button once more to save the video file to the user’s thumb drive.

This sort of simplicity in creating videos has proven attractive to both faculty and students, with 4,315 videos produced for the fall 2013 semester alone in just the two OBS locations in the Knowledge Commons. Word about the OBS has spread due to word-of-mouth and a marketing and public information campaign and created a popular resource, according to Justin Miller, manager of the OBS. “There’s a very large demand for OBS studios at Penn State,” Miller said. “Especially given the size of University Park and the volume of students at University Park. So, the current OBS studios that the Media Commons manages in the Knowledge Commons are booked solid.”

With demand increasing almost from the moment of OBS’s debut, Miller said they had to increase the amount of OBS locations, and also spread them out beyond the two locations in the Knowledge Commons.  “We’re up and running in Altoona, Harrisburg, Mont Alto, Abington, Behrend, Berks,” he said. “We have one in the College of Education. We have one now in Pollock that’s up and running. And we’re currently building an OBS in the Rider Building.”

Miller noted that the Brandywine and Shenango campuses have started the planning process to install an OBS. He added that Penn State Lehigh Valley and Outreach are also showing interest in installing an OBS.

The OBS has also expanded to beyond the Penn State system. Late last year, OBS staff released an Apple OSX app via the Apple App Store that provides digital consultation and instructions to help institutions and businesses purchase the right equipment and set up their own OBS. More than 60 universities and institutions have contacted OBS staff about installing their own OBS, Miller said, including those in the United Kingdom and Australia. OBS locations are actually up and running at University of Miami (where Miller recently visited to personally install an OBS), Juniata College and King University in Tennessee.

Along with the interest, the OBS is receiving national accolades. The American Library Association has named the OBS a “Cutting Edge Technology Service” for 2014, and the New Media Consortium has featured it in its Member Spotlight and in its 2014 Horizon Report of emerging technologies.

Looking to the future, Miller said they are exploring a few new options for the OBS. One is adding webcam support, since the webcam’s wider field of view would enable building a less expensive studio in a smaller space. He also mentioned improvements such as turning the OBS lights on and off and power them over the ethernet, and the introduction of technology from Reflect Media that is a screen that’s basically a perfectly keyable green screen that requires no additional lighting.

However, Miller said a concern they have about adding these features is taking away the elegant simplicity of the OBS. “We’re very cautious about what features we add, because we want to keep the one button experience,” he said. “It’s critical for us that we keep that experience. So, even though we get request for features some times and we think up cool stuff, we’re very meticulous about what actually makes it into the studio.”

To learn more about The One Button Studio, including learning how to install one in your location, go to http://onebutton.psu.edu/.



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