Rogue Valley TV is making the jump to full digital, expanding the latest technology to the Internet, as well as opening new computer editing classrooms to give students job-ready skills for the 21st century.

Rogue Valley TV, that user-friendly, highly accessible pipeline of cable-delivered information and education from Southern Oregon University, is making the jump to full digital, expanding the latest technology — and its channels — to the Internet, as well as opening new computer editing classrooms to give students job-ready skills for the 21st century.

After upgrading to a state-of-the-art studio and Internet server system and getting a $150,000 loan from the Oregon University System for a computer lab with 20 double-screen work stations, RVTV has "entered a whole new world, going from the 1980s to the 2010s," said media teacher Howard Schreiber.

"The old lab was fine and functional," said Schreiber, "but this doubles the lab size and will train students for full visual access to the Internet, YouTube, social networks, everything — and connects with the three other digital labs on campus."

The lab is being used for classes in emerging media and digital arts, communications, theater arts, film, art and other areas. The public can produce shows in another up-to-date digital lab for showing on Public Access Channel 15 and the Internet, said Joe Brett, RVTV operations and client relations director.

Government meetings and shows will stream on-demand on the Internet by December, as will public-access shows. Government will continue to be viewable at scheduled times on cable Channel 14, with public access on Channel 9.

With the expansion of the Internet, governments, including Ashland, Medford, Grants Pass, Jackson County and Josephine County, as well as school districts, have expressed concern about the decline in cable subscribers and, thus, their outreach.

The new digital equipment, all Apple-based, will help remedy that gap, said Brett.

Because of increasing use of digital video and desktop editing software, the public is often bringing or sending completed shows, Brett said. Anyone wishing to use studio equipment will still have to take classes and get certified by RVTV, he added.

The new studio, digital cameras and control-room equipment enable users to produce high-definition shows that meet market standards throughout the industry, said Schreiber, and software is being adapted to allow streaming video to smartphones by the end of the year.

Catalyst for the modernization was the College of Arts & Sciences, home of the classes being taught in the lab. Students in other majors will soon have access to the lab and be able to create visually oriented productions that can assist governments and have many other applications, said Schreiber.

The upgrades were all paid for by SOU, said Assistant Provost Susan Walsh — and RVTV's budget handled remodeling of the building to use more lobby space for the lab. The College of Arts and Letters contributed $90,000, said Dean Alissa Arp.

"We're able to serve twice as many students now. It's good for the students and good for the community. The students are very excited. It's great for retention of students," said Walsh.

"And it's good for securing jobs," said Schreiber.

"The whole facility got a major upgrade," said production supervisor Brandon Givens. "This is all leading-edge stuff."

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.