Streaming Forum: Video for Education Needs a Change in Mindset

Video use in education is almost as old as, well, video (back in the days of VHS) but while its usage is increasingly taken for granted, some entrenched mindsets need changing before it goes mainstream, said members of a panel at Streaming Forum in London today.

“We've gone past a watershed of whether video should be part of education to questions of how we integrate and manage it from an ever increasing array of devices,” outlined moderator Ben Kittow, CEO, The Streaming Company.

“There's no better time to be in education video,” declared Philip Tubman, Learning Technologist, Lancaster University—but he added that there are numerous challenges.

Tubman highlighted one of them: How to deal with video and social media captured and ingested on multiple devices.

“The answer concerns mainstreaming, getting people higher up the institution to buy into an institution-wide solution. It's not good enough to be piecemeal,” he said. "Lots of people like to do things in their own way, but it is then difficult to transform that into useable service for all. We are not at a stage where we can do that."

“There are lots of pockets of innovation and tools for new pedagogic opportunities," he said, "screencasts as feedback, for example, or crowdsourcing metadata, or peer assessment with lecture capture videos and assessments for digital stories. I'd like quick hangouts (web conferencing on the fly) and the ability to pull podcasts out of live recordings. VLE's (Virtual Learning Environments) need these new tools that embrace video as a mainstream medium but more R&D is needed to develop them.”

How do lecturers themselves view such cutting-edge teaching gadgets? In the main, reluctantly, said Mike Howarth, an e-learning consultant who helps train educators in the benefits of using video to build into their tutorials.

“Think about the gate keeper,” he urged. “I believe it's all to do with lecturers who need us to help them move their mindsets from 'AcadeMedia' to 'EduMedia.' Video metaphors help that learning.

“The critical thing about an academic mindset is time,” he observed. “An academic is hardwired into 1-2-3 hours whereas in the video world a minute is precise. This is a hard mental shift. They need to understand what happens if you pick up a video camera. Becoming more confident in front of a camera is a great first step to help them see its value as a teaching tool.”

Over at The Netherlands' Tilburg University, the academics have taken charge and developed their own video-based learning system. ISTAR (Interactive web lectures, Snippets-practice, Try and test, Ask questions, and Results), as explained by Bob van den Brand, adjunct associate professor of accounting & innovator in education, focuses on in-depth applications of blended e-learning in the introductory courses of management accounting and financial accounting.

The iSTAR program starts with short studio-recorded lecture blocks that quickly dive into the learning material with case studies and self-guided student exercises. Students receive bonus points for taking practice tests through Blackboard and are immediately able to check their answers through yet another lecture block.

The model has since been introduced into more schools at Tilburg, including Liberal Arts, Social Sciences and International Business Administration, and recordings are done in multiple languages.

“Students in large lecture halls are already distracted by their Facebook and Twitter accounts during the lesson so we attempt to attract their interest with short films hooked into fashion, sports or music,” said van den Brand.

Making the end user experience as intuitive as possible was the message of Jeffrey Newman, Education Account Executive from Kaltura.

“If the interface is good for the end user we get over the fear of the faculty who want to add media into their environment but they don't want to become a multimedia company,” he said.

“A successful technology used on a campus means limiting the steps in the workflow, minimising training and making publishing as simple as managing text files or pdfs,” he said. “Ultimately, the measurement of success is user adoption. You need an easy UI, an intuitive user experience and a reduction in the complexity of the system. Plus, if you can track useage, qualitatively and quantitavely, you can measure whether or not it achieves ROI.”

The ability to test ROI in a commercial environment often comes down to hard numbers, but Tubman wasn't convinced it was as easy to attain in academia.

“I am not sure that if I implement one video system and I achieve a certain increase in student grades, I can directly corrolate one to the other, he said. “But the market is becoming wider and students now expect wider ranging video and social media experiences.”

View the full panel discussion below.

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