3 ways technology is democratizing video for course learning

Video is quickly becoming one of the most influential ways for people to communicate to the world. And the same goes for its potential in higher education.

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In the last generation, mass media has truly become “mass”. It used to be that information—whether in schools, in the media, or in the professional sphere—was disseminated top-down. A small group of people would produce something (textbooks, movies, news reports, advertising, company handbooks) and the rest of us would consume it.

But, as we all know, the internet changed all of that.

It started with text. As more people got online, they started creating their own sites and blogs. Then social media took off. Now, video is gaining ground. Video has always been one of the most compelling forms of communication—it gives an immediacy, a human connection, a subtle nuance that text can’t match. Thanks to affordable technology, when we all have cameras in our pockets to capture our lives and the bandwidth to share, we increasingly expect to interact through video in our day-to-day lives.

Witness, for example, the most recent Republican debates. The second half of the debate featured questions asked by regular people from around the country, recorded on video and posted to Facebook. It’s something unimaginable a decade or two ago: normal people, participating in the democratic process by using their own personal technology to produce videos that are then broadcast on national television. By democratizing video, we enable democracy itself.

As the wider culture has changed, so has the culture of educational institutions. It’s sometimes easy to forget, but education doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Faculty and students are part of their environment, and their expectations change as culture evolves. For many people, video is no longer a novelty or even a luxury. It’s just one of the many ways they expect to be able to communicate.

However, educational institutions find themselves compelled, sometimes challenged, to meet those expectations. Both students and faculty are increasingly comfortable interacting in an online environment. But while they once were happy to post to message boards and download course packets, they now expect the same kinds of tech-enabled tools and interactions on campus that they use in their personal lives. Fortunately, video provides not just an expectation but an opportunity. Today’s technology is democratizing video, enabling everyone to easily produce and interact with video content—and that goes for the best pedagogical tradition of knowledge sharing, too.

1. More LMS-based Sources, More Diversity

Video capture, for example, is so much easier than it used to be. The cost of large scale, professional quality lecture capture solutions has been coming down dramatically in the last few years. The Open Capture Standard makes it easier than ever to use the content produced from these solutions; videos produced using the standard can be used across multiple LMSs and technology platforms, enabling reuse and future-proofing video content.

2. Personalized Learning for More Learners

But it’s not even necessary to rely on elaborate, professional-grade set ups to produce engaging video. Rich media capture solutions now make it possible to record quality video, synched to presentation slides or screen captures, right from the desktop. Only a few years ago, video assignments and interactions were limited to a handful of classes, usually media studies and the like. Now, there has been an explosion of videos. Professors give assignments and feedback, TAs demonstrate lab procedures, and students turn in video homework. Entire educational trends, from flipped classrooms to international study programs, depend on video.

New video tools are enabling online learning to become just as compelling as physical classrooms. Video analytics provide accountability, allowing teachers to monitor who has actually watched content, and exactly when they dropped off. In-video quizzes test students’ engagement and understanding of material. Early online educators worried about the anonymity of online learning; however, with video interactions, there’s nowhere to hide. Students are encouraged to interact personally—it’s actually easier to monitor who is engaging with the material than in a live classroom. And, often, students find it more comfortable to interact outside the classroom.

3. A Medium without Geographic Boundaries

The balance of synchronous and asynchronous content also opens up more possibilities. Live streaming and web conferencing allows for material to be shared simultaneously around the world. But there’s value to Video-On-Demand as well: giving students access to lectures on their own schedule helps both distance learners and nontraditional students keep up. Students also often find it easier to engage with content they can stop, fast-forward, rewind, and replay to meet their own needs.

It’s obvious how much video has changed our lives. At Kaltura, we all know how video interactivity has changed how we communicate, entertain ourselves and conduct business. As people, we have embraced video in our daily lives. As future employees, students see how much of their business will be conducted through video. So it’s essential that educators meet the expectations of their students, providing the video tools they depend on. These tools have the power to make education more engaging and effective than ever before.

Justin Beck is a VP of Education at Kaltura, an open source video platform which powers video experiences for thousands of organizations across the globe, including some of the largest educational intuitions.

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