In these troubling Covid times, with social distancing and economic uncertainty shaking the foundations of education, academic institutions might learn a valuable lesson from an unexpected source: The Power Rangers.
Media entrepreneur Haim Saban adapted the original Japanese show in the 1980s, yet for years the pilot collected dust in his basement, unable to find a home. It wasn’t until a decade later when a U.S. TV exec asked if Saban could fill a broadcasting gap that he pitched it again, and the rest is history.
Educators might also be sitting on video content of interest to a larger audience than they might expect. Of a different kind, to be sure, starring grey-haired lecturers rather than ninjas in spandex. Yet in a world of infinite niches and low costs of delivery, educational content, even of an esoteric kind, might have surprising reach and generate valuable revenue in a time of need.
Focus: An hour’s long introduction to dental anatomy published by the University of Michigan might not interest the average person. Over the years, however, it’s been viewed over 340,000 times. It benefits from the value it offers to a narrow yet deep audience of would-be dentists. Universities cater to many other niches beside dentistry; anything from physics to philosophy, paleontology to criminology. Making such content available to faraway audiences for a fee seems smart, regardless. When congregation is out of the question because of social distancing, it’s all that’s left.
Quality: This factor is subjective. Still, every academic institution by definition should believe the quality of its classes merit a fee. If not, it probably has bigger issues to deal with than whether to sell content online.
None of this is new. Institutions from online universities to Ivy Leagues have been offering courses over the web for years. Yet new technologies take time to spread, be applied and adopted. Covid-19 has expedited all of that. If study by video were widespread before the pandemic, it’s mainstream by now.
Then there are entirely new audiences created by the crisis itself. Sadly, unemployment rates are nearing numbers not seen since the Great Depression. Many jobs that once existed, won’t be back. Legions are looking to return to the labor market by gaining a new skill, or just fill time with intellectual pursuits. Universities cater to both.
So far, the theory. Now, the practice.
A: Kaltura is an online video platform that helps host, manage, play video content.
B: InPlayer is a payment gateway that allows anyone with a credit card to buy video online.
My job at the partners team has been to combine the two to create a simple way for institutions to offer their content to an online audience. It’s a natural integration driven by demand. Clients ask for it. For the hundreds of universities and companies using Kaltura, monetizing content is now just a few clicks away. In addition, we’re seeing inquiries from new prospects – a music venue, a medical school, an accounting firm, a newspaper – come in every week. This is only the beginning.
I started this post comparing the unlikely journey of the Power Rangers from Haim Saban’s basement to popular – if not critical – acclaim, with academic video content owned by universities. What I hoped to illustrate was that video content’s value can be surprising. You never find out until you put it in front of an audience. Back in the 1990s, this was difficult. Cable or aerial channels were the only scalable options. Now, anybody can stream. It’s easy. In a time of diminishing returns from donations and enrollment, and with low delivery costs and high potential gains , why not try?