Skype has been a familiar platform for “e-learning” for pipers and drummers for some time, but the National Piping Centre plans to move far beyond the low-resolution online application with the introduction of an in-house high-resolution streaming and webinar technology for long-distance tuition and broadcast of recitals.
In partnership with the Glasgow-based digital media consortium Yellow Brick House, the National Piping Centre will officially launch the initiative on April 17th, in conjunction with the official launch of the 2013 Piping Live! Glasgow International Festival of Piping. The technology “will allow the highly skilled and sought after NPC tutors to deliver interactive virtual piping tuition to groups and individuals anywhere in the world,” the National Piping Centre stated in an exclusive advance release to pipes|drums.
“We are constrained by our building here in Glasgow and this is a way of getting to more students,” said Roddy MacLeod, National Piping Centre principal. “The plan is an e-learning process that allows us to take our lessons anywhere in the world. The lessons are live and (although) we’ve been using Skype in the past to do one-to-one sessions, this will let us teach to wider groups.”
The Centre will roll out an integrated e-learning program that includes materials from their large library of archive, print, and audio. Students will “encourage dialogue between pipers across the world which will increase engagement in piping and the work of the National Piping Centre.”
Using Adobe Connect, the multi-user lessons will allow students to communicate directly with the teacher and the other students in the online class, so that pupils can communicate with one another. Archived lessons will also be available on-demand for those who can’t attend live.
The platform will also enable the National Piping Centre to live-stream more events throughout the year. The organization broadcasted several Piping Live! events last August and also coordinated the streaming of the 2012 Glenfiddich Invitational Solo Piping Championships in October, which reportedly attracted an online audience of as many as 1,900.
The new technology is funded by the Scottish Digital Research and Development Fund for Arts and Culture, through the “creative charity” Nesta, Creative Scotland and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.