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Georgia Public Broadcasting Scales

Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) is among the largest PBS stations in the country. A four year partnership with Mediacurrent has evolved their site, and most recently prepared the organization for a high-traffic event, a live-streaming underwater tour of Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary drawing 47,000 student viewers.

Project Highlights

Realizing that many school districts experience budget, time, and planning as hurdles to student field trips, GPB planned the Gray’s Reef Live Exploration event to offer a fun and interactive way for students to learn about marine biology without leaving the classroom. Viewer turnout was nine times larger than expected as students from across the country logged in to watch the undersea adventure. Mediacurrent was on standby before and during the live event to provide critical performance support.

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    The number of students who attended the live online event.

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    With Mediacurrent’s help, the Education Matters blog rose to become #1 on, driving even more traffic than the sports blog.

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    Questions were submitted during the event through live chat and Twitter, coming from schools across the U.S.

Bolstering the Blog

GPB’s Education Matters blog was redesigned to increase engagement and improve usability, becoming one of the most effective vehicles for promoting the Gray’s Reef event.

  • The blog was moved from node body fields to using the paragraphs module. This makes it easier for GPB to update content and have flexibility with blog post designs.
  • Each paragraph can have its own heading and inline images, empowering the content team with a greater degree of control.

Preparing for a High-Traffic Event

Drupal’s open source standards and vast toolset empower GPB to achieve one of its core initiatives: providing open access to digital learning resources. GPB reaches 80,000 educators each month but this one-hour, high traffic event required special performance considerations. Mediacurrent rose the to challenge with Carl Zornes, Digital Media Development Manager at GPB, describing our team as “superstars when it came to server setup.”

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Spreading the Word

Event promotion on the blog and social media and through partner organizations like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Georgia Department of Education, and University of Georgia’s Skidaway Institute of Oceanography helped spread the word to a national audience.

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Pre-Event Performance Checks

GPB  had to be ready to scale to support any traffic load. In advance of the event, Mediacurrent ensured that the website was primed to accommodate the traffic surge. Mediacurrent adjusted site cache settings and performed prechecks on the server for sufficient memory allocation. Cache control expiration settings were changed to one day for the event and we ensured the page cache was "warmed" for fast page load times.

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Standby Support

As K-12 students from across the country tuned in to explore Gray’s Reef marine life, Mediacurrent monitored requests for Varnish and cache ratio as well as webserver logs. Server load and memory usage remained in normal ranges throughout the event, accommodating an audience that was nine times larger than expected.

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For us, being able to create events like this that improve access to students across the State of Georgia — especially those in rural areas — is the best takeaway and the greatest thing about Drupal’s web platform.

Laura Evans

Education Manager, Georgia Public Broadcasting

A True Partner in Drupal Support

Building on the success of Gray’s Reef, GPB plans to produce more Live Exploration events, bringing Georgia landmarks to life and into classrooms via live streaming.

With Mediacurrent as a support partner, GPB is serving on their mission to provide Georgia students with a strong educational foundation. We recently partnered to launch a bilingual, accessible website to support kindergarten readiness and look forward to serving their mission through future projects.