Video-based learning has been of growing importance at universities for some time now by enhancing classroom experiences and encouraging student creativity. But the use of video in educational settings doesn’t stop there – it’s also handy for internal staff communication and external recruitment efforts. But with all these different applications, keeping video organized and accessible can pose a challenge.
Based in South Yorkshire, England, The University of Sheffield is a public research university with roots going back to the 19th century. With near 30,000 enrolled, the university not only attracts students from all over the world, but is ranked in the top 10% of universities worldwide according to The Times Higher Education World University Rankings in 2019.
In many ways, the University of Sheffield was an early adopted when it came to video, but this quickly led to video published across a range of external and internal platforms. This made video assets hard to find, discover, manage, and share, and there were significant concerns about interoperability.
Colleagues at the university quickly identified several key wants and needs. These included a single video portal to host and syndicate content across all appropriate channels; quick and easy-to-use content creation and publishing tools; and the ability for staff to be able to manage, publish, and discover their own video content. Also essential? VLE integration, accessibility in China, and media submission abilities for students.
By selecting Kaltura MediaSpace, the university was able to establish a web-based portal to organize its existing video collateral and serve as a central point for uploading, creating, and storing content. Meanwhile Kaltura Blackboard Building Block was used to handle the VLE integration.
Implementation began with the University migrating its existing content, populated its new digital media hub with the best of its public-facing content, and then conducted 10 pilot programs, ultimately conducting a public launch at TELFest 2017.
From there, a systematic effort to use video to support teaching and learning was put into place. Videos were created to demonstrate material, increase motivation, explain and visualize difficult concepts, and to bring a wider range of voices to the classroom.
Students were then provided the opportunity to create videos as an alternative form of assessment. This was pedagogically supported by Bloom’s taxonomy of learning which highlights creating new or original work as demonstrating mastery of material. Students quickly became producers, not just consumers, of content.
This led the University of Sheffield to create the Creative Media Service to support students creating video media across any and all disciplines in the university. Growth in student-generated media for class assessment purposes has been steadily growing since, with students saying they appreciate the more in-depth feedback available to them, often saying that it felt more personable, supportive, and useful than traditional evaluations. They also praise the ease up uploading assignments
Faculty have been equally enthused. “The introduction of the Kaltura video hosting platform has made a huge difference to my teaching of broadcast techniques in the department of journalism studies,” says says Matt Robson, lecturer in the University’s Department of Journalism studies. “We had always struggled to find a reliable system which would allow students to quickly and easily upload their video projects and that would link with MOLE for the delivery of marks and feedback to students. Kaltura has provided this solution for us.”
The ability to offer video quizzing, to present video alongside other topics and tools, and the ability to link to the grading center in the VLE were also praised.
This enthusiasm has translated to real, quantifiable results. At the beginning of 2020, they had over 21,000 videos in the system that have to date received over 430,000 plays – translating into the equivalent of nearly 1,300 days of video having been viewed. And, Kaltura’s analytics have allowed those implementing video to see successes at incredibly granular levels.
“Sometimes, if we see a spike in the viewership for a specific video and we inquire to the professor about the popularity, we’ll discover a test on the material is coming up. Students make significant use of these videos for studying and review and the positive results are clear in their academic performance,” says Dr. Graham McElearney, Senior Digital Learning Advisor, University of Sheffield.
Unsurprisingly, that skyrocketed when COVID hit. By the end of the year, the number of videos tipped past the 100,000 mark. In January 2021, 8.5 years worth of content was viewed in the last 30 days, as students prepared for winter exams. In the first five weeks of the fall 2020 term, they added more videos than they had for the whole of 2018 and 2019 put together.
“So you can really see how Kaltura has played a massive role in our adaption to the pandemic, with lockdowns, the pivot to online learning, and everything that goes with it,” says McElearney.
What’s next for video at the University of Sheffield? Expansion, of course! The university is now looking at rolling out video tools to connect more effectively with alumni and researchers, using video through MediaSpace (as an alternative to YouTube) in marketing, and distributing material in China. With Kaltura, video is truly supporting the University in further deepening its commitment to its motto – to discover and understand.