Picture This

An expert’s take on the future of video in education.

GUEST COLUMN | by Sean Brown

Sonic FoundryIs the knowledge shared in your classroom important? Your students think so, and you should, too. Student demand for academic video is growing at an astronomical rate, and universities large and small are evaluating how best to harness the power of video to increase student success and classroom efficiency. So what’s the best way to capture and archive the knowledge shared before it disappears forever? The campuses that are wired for video are the classrooms of the future.

Take Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU), for instance. ENMU is the third largest university in the state, covering a particularly large geographical area. The dean sought to make education accessible to the region’s traditional, non-traditional and dual enrollment students (high school students taking college courses). So she turned to webcasting to start a flipped instruction pilot, create hybrid classes, branch out into asynchronous distance learning, help high school students earn college credits and even record special events, provide professional development online and connect alumni. To top it off, the university did all of this successfully in less than 12 months and is pioneering some of the most advanced and state-of-the-art e-learning programs around.

Video-based online learning is becoming a standard offering in higher ed. Embracing lecture capture benefits both faculty and students. This new student-driven demand is putting academic video at the top of institutions’ technology planning initiatives, and more and more faculty members are realizing the power of lecture capture to broaden reach and cater to individual student needs. But it hasn’t always been that way.

Embracing the shift

Like any new initiative, generally speaking, there will be some reluctance and fear from those involved. The faculty are in front of the classroom. Their faces, their reputations are on the line. It can be scary facing a camera and a remote audience that spans time and distance when you’re accustomed to facing students in the classroom.

But the attitude toward academic video from faculty members is changing. They are embracing the shift in pedagogy, seeing it as a tool that enhances learning, not forcing them into new ways of teaching.

Mary Fanelli Ayala, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ENMU, uses lecture capture in her classroom and says streaming video improves the pedagogy of online, hybrid and even face-to-face classes.

“High-quality, user-friendly lecture capture means that students can tune in live or later to the actual teaching presence of our best professors. Face-to-face students can ‘attend’ when they’re sick without sharing the latest bug with the whole class, and everyone can review lectures and explanations before a test,” she says.

And students love that.

Faculty members who embrace academic video are lauded by students. I see it repeatedly in my travels to visit universities and I’m always inspired by their reaction. I tell faculty, “You’re going to be a star. Students will want to see this. They’ll watch it over and over.”

Pamela Havice, a professor at Clemson University, polled her students about academic video and found that 100 percent of survey respondents felt streaming video is a valuable and effective part of the course. She nailed it on the head when she said that for many students, technology is an extension of their body. They’re tech savvy and if faculty members don’t embrace that and incorporate it into their courses, they won’t be relevant.

New innovations in education technology this year will further enhance the classroom experience.

The company I am a part of is innovating new ways for faculty and students to create and share lectures, learning modules and assignments wherever they are. It provides all the tools needed to quickly capture, upload, edit and publish rich video. Using a laptop or computer’s built-in camera and microphone, they can easily record high quality video and rich media. This will allow faculty to have more control over their content, and user-generated content will easily facilitate flipped instruction – a form of teaching that involves recording lecture prior to class for students to watch so that class time is dedicated to dynamic discussions and interactions – making that even more prevalent this year than in the past.

The classroom of the future provides more control and flexibility when it comes to content creation. In fact faculty and students are driving it just as much as the schools’ technologists. This year you’ll see faculty and students sharing knowledge anywhere, regardless of technology infrastructure thanks to the new options for user-generated content. We’ll see more flexibility in creation and consumption of rich video, and schools will have vast libraries of rich video that can be referenced for years to come. The knowledge shared in your classroom is important, so embrace the power of video in your classrooms and watch how much more effective and successful you and your students will be.

Sean Brown is Vice President of Sonic Foundry, the maker of the webcasting platform Mediasite. He has 23 years of product management and education business development experience at IBM, Apple and Oracle and is the past president and board member of the Hopkins Foundation for Innovation in Education. ENMU and Clemson University use Mediasite for their lecture capture initiatives. Write to: sbrown@sonicfoundry.com

  • Tom Aquilone


    Sean Brown has painted a powerful landscape of the future of video in education. Nice work!

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