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Faculty get a new, copyright-flexible digital media backpack

By Ron Bethke, eCampus News Assistant Editor, @eCN_RonB
October 29th, 2015

A new “Digital Backpack” provides legal use digital media specifically for higher education that allows for creativity in use beyond the Creative Commons license.

digital-media-VideoBlocksDigital media company VideoBlocks has begun a service for higher education to, simply put, provide accessible creative tools for students and faculty without the traditional worries over quality and copyright.

VideoBlocks, founded in 2009 with the mission of providing high quality stock video at an affordable price, began “VideoBlocks for Education” earlier this year upon recognizing how prominently the service was beginning to be used by consumers in in classrooms.

A subscription to the service, which provides unlimited downloads from the VideoBlocks Library (over 115,000 videos, After Effects templates, motion backgrounds, photographs and even sound files) offers an higher-ed educators a “Digital Backpack” filled with copyright-free video, graphic and audio content for campus media projects. The service can be subscribed to by entire campuses or even just relevant departments such as film, journalism and marketing schools–think Netflix, but for digital media.

VideoBlocks for Education launched with an early enrollment program offering the first semester free of charge, and over 40 institutions have signed up already.

According to the company, with the Digital Backpack, faculty can incorporate digital media into their courses to engage and support their students with a more active, outcomes-based curriculum that has the potential to build digital literacy. When professors lead with teaching theory but then go a step further and ask their students to create, it brings about a marriage of knowledge and skill that allows them to build their portfolios while giving them the practice they need to succeed after graduation, says the company.

“Having a single data base that is easily searchable for content clear for use leads to better quality projects and more widespread use across many disciplines,” said VideoBlocks CMO TJ Leonard, who runs all educational initiatives for the company. “The flexibility, affordability and searchability [of VideoBlocks] help students actively engage with digital media content and bolsters creativity.”

Since most users already have their own personal favorite tools, programs and workflow, VideoBlocks is focused on providing the raw materials for creation. This means that the company aims to fill their library with professional quality multimedia that allows for creative flexibility in a way that simply is not possible with creative commons content. Additionally, it has been reported that 87 percent of students don’t ask for the rights to digital content they find online, so VideoBlocks provides a great solution for campus leaders looking to stop the rise of digital piracy and better teach students to respect copyright laws.

“It’s exciting to work with students,” said Leonard. “They are the future creatives that will be driving video making. In the future, we want to continue increasing the breadth and depth of our content library by…staying in tune with students and faculty and providing what they need. This also means greater integration with tools used for digital creation.”

VideoBlocks also wants to help provide greater understanding in how to maximize the impact of digital learning and help students become creative problem solvers for life.

Their first initiative to achieve this goal started this year with their 2015 Student Film Contest. Ending November 2nd, the contest will be judged by Arthur Albert, director of photography for Breaking Bad, ER, The Blacklist, Better Call Saul and numerous television shows and feature films, and will award a total of 10,000 dollars in prizes including 5,000 dollars for first place winner.

The second initiative is their Digital Media Action Grant, which is aimed at faculty researchers. Launched in July, the program will award grants of 10,000 dollars to two higher education researchers attempting to study the impact of digital media on engaging students in order to improve learning outcomes, as well as how to best help learners develop 21st century communication skills and ethical content use habits.


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