Transforming the University Experience Through Video

This article was first published at University Business.

Dr. Michal Tsur

Video has been a staple of the UK university scene since those first black and white Open University programs were transmitted on BBC2 back in the 1970s.

Video has come a long way since those days. Today, our universities use video as a powerful tool in multiple ways and across many different departments. The benefits of using video to aid teaching and learning are well documented: universities across the globe have found that using video correctly within courses, both remotely and during lectures, can improve learning results and improve information retention.

But video is also great for adding value in other areas, such as: university community building; as a support for live events; as an admissions tool; and for marketing and public relations, including activities relating to attracting the right students.

Today’s students, teachers and administrations all require the kind of technology they use in other facets of everyday life, and video makes the learning experience more interactive, immersive and emotive. Online Video, for example, is an essential component of a flipped classroom approach, whereby course content is shared via video prior to lectures. By adopting this approach, students are better prepared and the lectures can be conducted in a more interactive manner.

Universities that implement a serious video strategy tend to see rewarding results: enhanced learning; increasing access to, and quality of, knowledge in the lecture, on campus and beyond; more engaged students and faculty staff; and better learning retention.

So what should universities looking to incorporate a robust video solution look for when selecting a platform?


Here are nine must-have capabilities you should look for when selecting your video platform:


1. Central media hub

Rich media content from lectures, student projects, library collections and campus events can come in many forms – videos, images, audio, etc. Your solution should support all kinds of content input, with the ability to upload files manually, in batch or via an API. Additionally, your content should be searchable and viewable from all campus applications and sites, such as learning management systems and other applications.


2. Manage content and metadata effectively

Disorganized content can be a nightmare for viewers and for administrators. Your solution should allow you to organize content into meaningful categories, with a serviceable search function that extends to custom metadata. As your library grows, organisation, metadata and search will be key. The ability to perform in-video search across libraries of transcribed content is of particular value.


3. Reach anyone, anywhere, at any time

As smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices become more prevalent, users expect the same kind of viewing experience that they receive on their desktops. In order to ensure a seamless transition onto mobile platforms, your solution should: support all relevant devices; detect and adapt the encoding, page layout, navigation and playback experience; support captions; and contain ADA-compliant playback out of the box – all seamless to the viewer.


4. Integrate easily into existing – and future – systems

In every organisation, regardless of industry, existing systems, protocols and technologies are already in place. Video should support the existing framework, not supplant it. Instead of retraining lecturers, professors, other staff or even students to use a complicated video system, your video solution should adapt to current workflows. This consistency extends into the future – a ‘future-proof’ technology will have functionality with emerging technologies, by including extensive APIs and a plug-in architecture.


5. Support security and governance

Protecting the content your students and lecturers create and share is a priority. Security controls for an educational video platform must include (though not be limited to): varying levels of access control, digital rights management, different methods of user authentication, and moderation of uploaded content and publishing. This should also be balanced with ease of connectivity and use, without stunting either.


6. Contain video authoring and video capture tools

Students and lecturers will publish most of the content at a university. Thus, your solution should include user-friendly video authoring tools such as capture via webcam recording, screen recording, synchronizing videos with presentations and more. Other important tools include basic editing functions and the ability to share on social media sites. If you make simple authoring tools accessible, more content will be created.


7. Syndicate, publish and distribute content

Feeding your content to third-party partners such as YouTube and iTunesU and creating RSS feeds for different subjects, lectures1_4ieg0ec7 and formats is a great way to push your rich media to a larger audience. Thus, ensure that your solution supports different formats and can integrate with third party platforms with ease.


8. Contains analytics and metrics

Back-end analysis of your rich media content can help identify how effective your content is at engaging users, or whether your third party platforms are reaching new audiences. Some basic analytics and metrics include bandwidth monitoring and tracking individual students’ viewing of videos, to make sure they are completing assignments.


9. Has no performance, scalability or stability issues

Like any other tool on the Internet, your video player should be fast, responsive, and efficient. As your institution grows in number, or popularity, or sees surges during application time, your player should scale to your needs. In case of complete failure and/or redundancy, your solution should contain high-availability architecture, as well as device support. A top-flight school will have top-flight infrastructure, and video, no matter how young the technology, should be no exception.

Last, but not least, make sure the video platform you select has a user-friendly interface so that students, faculty and administration will actually want to use the platform and it will be easy for them to do so.

As we whisk forward into the Digital Age, traditionally resistant-to-change institutions – including educational ones – must learn to embrace what’s new, disruptive and democratising. This is already happening, as we are seeing hundreds of global educational institutions deploying cross-campus media solutions at a staggering rate.

Incorporating video into lectures and other parts of the university campus will help usher the UK’s universities into the 21st century and will assure better access to, and quality of, knowledge for students and lecturers across the country.

Furthermore, the effective use of online video by universities will help to ensure that the UK’s role as a purveyor of world-renowned university education remains intact.

Dr. Michal Tsur, President at Online Video Platform Kaltura.

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