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Down with OTT? 3 ways this technology is a new must for education

By Meris Stansbury
November 16th, 2016

Over-The-Top (OTT) technologies have the potential to support some of education’s most innovative curriculum delivery initiatives.

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There’s a new catch phrase in town, and it has massive implications for blended and online learning, especially as OER use begins to ramp up in schools and institutions across the country. It’s called OTT and yeah, you’re going to need to know it.

What Is It?

OTT stands for Over-The-Top technologies, or any technology that aids in the delivery of audio, video and media content via the internet, without requiring users to subscribe to ,or pay for, a traditional cable or satellite pay-TV service like a Comcast or Time Warner Cable. In other words, every device that is internet connection-capable can now be a television equivalent, (i.e. a human-centered and screen-deep learning environment). It’s important to note, however, that the internet service provider is not responsible for the content that is being distributed. The internet simply provides manageable access and distribution. Internet-capable devices often harness OTT through apps by third-party interfaces to deliver content. Just a few examples of OTT interfaces are Facebook, YouTube, Hulu, Skype, WhatsApp, and Amazon Video.

“Over-The-Top technologies are transforming the nature of how we receive content,” writes Dr. Bernard Luskin, CEO of www.LuskinInternational.com and former CEO of eight colleges and universities. “OTT channels are the emerging elephant in the field of opportunity in online learning.”

Why Should Education Take Notice?

Because of recent technology and innovation-based initiatives in both higher education and K-12, OTT technologies will be critical in the delivery of online content for students.

There are 3 ways OTT technologies will be critical in education in the near future:

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1. As budgets continue to shrink, OTT technologies lower the cost of learning

According to Luskin, “the presence of OTT creates access for direct sharing of information at low cost. Many times it is in the form of a subscription-based purchase model.” As curriculum and apps associated with that curriculum develop, they may be purchased or distributed with or without long-term contracts. Luskin notes that the best platforms will have minimum barriers to buy-in and ease of use (transparency) will be a central concern, especially in K-12.

Lynda.com, a product of LinkedIn for learning professional skills, is an example of an educational OTT tech platform—both for educator PD and student online learning. It has a monthly subscription fee and can be accessed via a mobile app or website address. “The courses offered on the Lynda.com site are organized into modules with streaming video instructions to lead users/students through the lesson,” notes Luskin. “OTT presents the capability to distribute content to larger audiences, on various devices at low costs making it promising technology for delivering future learning systems.”

(Next page: OTT technologies and their influence in education continued)


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