Recently, Russ Lichterman from Wilmington University wrote a great article in Stream Semester about how their school is handling some of the video that’s become critical to online and hybrid learning during COVID-19.
“A significant focus of our online educational initiatives is making our courses more dynamic and engaging in the online environment. Focusing on tools like Kaltura, Zoom, and VoiceThread has provided both synchronous and asynchronous video and multimedia experiences for our faculty and students. Kaltura is deeply integrated in all Canvas courses for asynchronous video communication. The Kaltura suite of tools allows for students and faculty to engage in creation of multimedia objects from their own devices and participate in course content like video discussion boards and assignments. Some of our nursing courses use video health assessment demonstrations as final projects for students in healthcare and nursing programs, something that wouldn’t have been possible for students at a distance just a few years ago.
These same cameras, tripods, field monitors, and more are also used daily in academic productions, further stretching our equipment dollar. Everything from guest speakers to on-location academic content is produced using the same equipment used for large-scale productions. This academic ideo content is loaded into Canvas courses via the Kaltura LTI integration to make the courses as dynamic and engaging as possible. Faculty are able to request video productions from the Multimedia team, and we make every effort to provide the right level of complexity for every project. Video-to-USB adapters can be added to these productions as well, with both HDMI and SDI to USB3 options available to turn any video production, on campus or remote, into a fully interactive web video experience. Offerings from Epiphan, Magewell, and Blackmagic are available to take any traditional video signal and provided it via USB to web conferencing platforms like Zoom.
We use a similar workflow in our video-enabled classrooms, which allow us to bring SDI and HDMI cameras easily into both Kaltura for lecture capture and Zoom for live web conferencing. This hardware-only approach is platform agnostic, and combines affordable cameras with USB boundary microphones and interactive projectors (like offerings from SMART and Epson) to turn any physical space into a flexible, video-enabled classroom. This modular approach has allowed us to combine remote students with the face-to-face environment at a fraction of the cost of turnkey solutions. The same SDI and HDMI devices we use for remote productions are installed into classroom podiums and combined with affordable boundary mics to provide video and audio to the software platforms in the expected USB format. This allows full interaction between face-to-face students and instructors along with students at a distance, and the same hardware can be used with Kaltura capture for quick and easy ad-hoc lecture recordings.
What all of these technologies and strategies have in common is flexibility and affordability. TV Chef Alton Brown famously hates any device that’s a uni-tasker. He often admonishes the use of single-task kitchen gadgets, calling them a waste of money, and suggests thinking outside the box to find devices that can accomplish multiple tasks for the same price. We try to employ the same line of thinking when selecting video and multimedia hardware and software. Before any purchase, large or small, we consider the use-cases and longevity of the product: How long will this technology be viable? Is it modular? Is it useful for more than one product? Will support be available in a year? In 5 years? In 10? These are all questions that can help you stretch your dollar to limits you may not have thought possible while still outputting a compelling and engaging product.”
Russ Lichterman spent nearly 15 years in broadcast television production before moving to higher education. He has a B.A. in Film and Media Arts from Temple University and an M.Ed. in Applied Educational Technology from Wilmington University. He is currently Director of Educational Technology and Multimedia at Wilmington University. Feel free to contact him with questions at email@example.com.
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