The Evolution of Median

Median is a giant constantly-evolving media library and delivery system built for Emerson College. It primarily hosts video content, but also contains images, audio, and documents. The primary reason for its development was to provide a reliable and extensible media hosting service with a robust set of security and privacy features.

Median was first born under the Enrollment department as “ECMedia”, and it was to be a tool for distributing promotional videos to prospective students. It was quickly expanded to also showcase student and faculty work, both for external PR and internal review. Very rapidly, the idea and development of ECMedia went from “small, simple video hosting” to “massive media content delivery system.” Integration with courses became the biggest reason for its existence.

Renamed to Median, it first launched in the Fall of 2007 for a handful of classes and a few other promotional uses. It featured very basic support for uploading content, playing it back, securing it with various licenses, and assigning content to courses and categories. The first three major releases of Median were entirely Flash-based, allowing it to run on the majority of platforms without trouble. At the time, Flash was the only reliable way to distribute a user interface over the web. Each new version encorporated more features requested by faculty, staff, and students. These include faculty-built Assignments, fullscreen dynamic-streaming high-definition video, podcasting, and live streaming on the Emerson website.

Since 2007, the internet has become less Flash-friendly and more Javascript-friendly, so Median was rewritten from the ground up in late 2010 for Median 4’s release. Median was also redesigned to exemplify new functionality with iPhone and iPad users. Since then, Median has been continuing to grow at an accelerating rate. Median is currently used highly by courses, student organizations, and Emerson staff as the defacto standard for media delivery through the college. It is utilized heavily by the Emerson Channel, the Journalism department, the Visual and Media Arts department, Emerson Productions, WERS, WECB, Commencement, the Admissions department, the Information Technology department, and more.

Median 1.0 to 3.0 were built by Cyle Gage and John Richardson, who were students at the time. Median 3.1 and on were built by Cyle Gage, who currently works as Systems Architect and Developer for IT.

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