A new way to manage your school’s digital assets
SchoolBench is an easy to use, secure digital asset management solution developed specifically for schools, colleges and educational institutions.
The accelerated growth of digital school photos, audio and video files (digital assets) of students, teachers and parents has created a massive challenge in media asset management for staff across all levels of education (Early Learning Centres, Primary & Secondary/High Schools).
The sheer scale of what is captured and stored, coupled with the timeliness of their use in newsletters, brochures and yearbooks, often results in frustration and the loss of valuable time as staff wade through hundreds of files and thumbprints to find relevant marketing material.
With SchoolBench, digital assets are stored in the one repository, automatically classified using metadata and easily indexed through school oriented taxonomy such as class, year, term, and pupil names for later use.
The system is so advanced that it conducts facial recognition on teachers and students, making searches of persons possible across the various indexing options.
Built with educators in mind, SchoolBench features a simple drag and drop uploading system. Easy to use, it has the capacity to store and make accessible large volumes of digital assets.
Using SchoolBench to source photos for school marketing material is as simple as entering the specific search terms required and then reviewing the immediate thumbnails presented for final selection.
SchoolBench features the technology to publish to other systems when integrated such as the website or zip files for transfer.
- Web based – preview images, audio and video straight from the browser with no download required
- Rapid Search – automatically extract fully searchable data about images and media
- Fast data entry – organise your images into folders and make bulk changes to other properties rapidly
- Network share – access SchoolBench via a network share, through Windows Explorer or Finder
- Security – deployable on premise, so all your data stays in your school network, and all transactions are tracked and auditable
- Cross platform – Java based, running on both PC, Mac and Linux platforms, accessible through all major browsers and fully tested against Chrome, Firefox, IE11 and Edge.
- Publishing and exporting – API can publish assets to other systems. Selected files can be exported via the “download a zip” function.
- Format agnostic – manage all types of binary content such as photographs, scanned images, audio and video files of all sizes and dimensions. House simple documents, including all formats of Microsoft Office documents.
What is SchoolBench?
SchoolBench is a purpose built web application for schools to allow them to better manage their images, audio, video and other types of media, while keeping security in mind.
Why would I need SchoolBench?
You would need SchoolBench if:
- You want a web-based way to view and search for photos, audio and video for publishing and viewing
- You want a way to include extra properties on files, such as whether it relates to a certain event, or has a student or teacher within the photo
- You want to apply face recognition automatically, so that any new photos are automatically tagged with people
- You want to enforce a file/folder structure taxonomy but still have it flexible enough in case the default structure doesn’t work for everybody
How does it work?
SchoolBench is primarily a front end to a backend repository. It allows users to create, preview, download, update, delete files en masse using an intuitive interface which is geared towards bulk actions. Users perform actions on the front end, such as manipulating properties, uploading files, moving paths, and SchoolBench then executes them using a simplified repository API.
SchoolBench is implemented either on premise or in the cloud, allowing schools to choose where their information is kept.
Semantic File System
SchoolBench is implemented as in Semantic File System fashion. This allows not only the path to be the only structure to your photos, but also other properties such as school year, or term, or event. This design means that the file path becomes just one way to drill down into your items with many more available.
For instance you could select files that are from a year, about a certain event like a sports day, and have photos of one or more students in them. Using a traditional file path structure, unless you organise your files in that specific way then it becomes hard to find information.
On the other hand, maybe you want to use the file and folder path but only want to show specific types of images. You might have restrictions that only certain students can be published to a newspaper, so you could filter out images to only include certain, but still use the path to navigate through.
SchoolBench comes equipped with an out of the box face recognition service which allows photos be scanned and tagged with known student or teacher names. SchoolBench utilises the Tensorflow Library for machine learning with pre-trained NN models for face detection and face recognition.
When you upload a photo, SchoolBench will submit that photo into a queue which will extract where the faces are in the image, and then match these faces against existing ones. While this saves a lot of time, there is also the possibility to edit images manually and in bulk to change the outcome of this detection
The SchoolBench API uses a simplified Key/Value data model for each item. The data model is designed to be compatible with a variety of systems, but does extend beyond common file attributes to allow a richer way of defining properties and metadata. Each item is identified by a permanent UUID, which remains the same during the entire lifespan of the item. This UUID has an associated set of properties that describe the item, such as filename, path, modification date, etc.. These are default properties that are used to map files to a normal POSIX file system, but there are also extended properties that can be configured by a system administrator to implement custom data types.
The properties themselves have standard data types such as text, date and time, number, boolean, and file content. Some of these properties can be multivalued, so that you can have for instance, more than one student associated to a photo.
SchoolBench has a strong focus on media files, including Photos, Videos and Audio. In order for each of these media types to be viewable on the front end, a preview needs to be generated in a web-ready format. SchoolBench has an embedded rendition engine called AlterGrid which allows for Alterations and Derivations to be defined for a given media file type. By default SchoolBench will create both thumbnails and file previews for all media files.
Alterations are normally defined as a command line argument template, which accepts one or more input files, and one output file. Alterations can also be filtered to a set of allowed mime types. This gives the freedom to use existing command line tools such as ffmpeg or imagemagick and their full capabilities.
As video transcoding, image manipulation and audio conversion is somewhat of an expensive task, AlterGrid is responsible for coordinating a grid of servers that register their capabilities with the main SchoolBench instance. These remote workers can be spooled up and down automatically as demand requires.
SchoolBench runs on top of a repository, which is used to store files. Currently there are two supported types with more planned in the future: FileSystem and Alfresco.
The FileSystem repository type is in active development and will simply serve up a directory with subdirectories, and store the data model within a database such as SQLite or PostgreSQL.
The Alfresco repository type allows SchoolBench to run alongside Alfresco so you can use it in tandem with an existing ECM environment. This allows you to get the benefit of Alfresco, but can replace Alfresco Share as your main front end for certain areas. This is especially valuable if you have a heavy Digital Asset Management need, rather than standard Document Mangement.