Technological, societal factors are driving the video trend

Widespread, capable networking infrastructure, cheaper video capture and editing tools, and the demand from media-savvy students are the main factors driving the trend toward video in education, experts say.

As an instructional tool, video has significant staying power in today’s classrooms, even in the midst of new technologies and the discussion of technologies yet to come, said Peter Grunwald, president of the market research firm Grunwald Associates.

But, he explained, “video is finding its way into schools through different paths.” Teachers still show video from cable and DVDs, but streaming video is becoming more and more prevalent, as is the trend of students producing their own video content.

“It’s not an explosion in the use of video, it’s a recognition that video as an instructional medium has significant benefits,” Grunwald said. “Video has certain strengths that the printed word does not. Therefore, it has its place in the toolbox as well.”

Ron Reed, Discovery Education’s senior vice president for sales and integration, agrees.

“Video has always been popular with educators, and in recent years it’s becoming more mature,” Reed said. “What’s happening in the last few years is that video is being used differently.”

Many teachers are too pressed for time and cannot show a whole video, but streaming video products let teachers easily identify short, two-minute clips that illustrate or reinforce what they are teaching.

“When I grew up–and even while I was an elementary school teacher–video was shown from the beginning to the end in a darkened room. Occasionally the video would be stopped and the teacher would say a few words, maybe even ask a question,” said Gene Broderson, director of education at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “Today, teachers are using the material differently. It is no longer a 20 to 30 minute break in the day.”

Also, most schools are now equipped with the infrastructure to handle video over an Internet Protocol (IP) network. “Since eRate funding came in 1998, we now have virtually all schools wired in some format,” Reed said. “As that expands, streaming video can become a much more structured part of teaching.”

Phylis Hawkins, education solutions manager for Cisco Systems Inc., sees a trend toward schools consolidating all of their functions onto one infrastructure, and that includes migrating their video collections from analog formats to digital distribution.

“There’s an inherent benefit of digital media,” Hawkins said. Teachers can truncate videos into exact clips and tag them for easy searching.

Plus, students can integrate the video into reports, presentations, and discussions. “It is no longer just a teacher-driven tool, it is a content tool used by teacher and student,” Broderson said.

Video-editing instruction in schools is on the rise, said Steve Chazin, director of strategic markets for Avid Technology Inc., a company that makes video and audio equipment used by movie, television, and music studios across North America.

“The technology is getting more affordable,” Chazin said. “With the advent of affordable computers and the software we produce, anyone can use the same tools as Hollywood.”

The barriers have dropped so dramatically that even high schools can afford to teach students video editing on industry-standard products. Avid Xpress Pro, for example, retails for $1,695–but educational institutions can purchase a license for $300.

One-third of the 5,000 degree-granting institutions in the U.S. now offer a degree in media, film, or television, Chazin said. The growth in the number of television stations available on cable and satellite and the growth in video game, animation, and special-effects production also are fueling the demand for students with these kinds of editing skills.

To get into movie, television, or music production, “students need to have Avid on their resume,” Chazin said.

Megan Stewart, senior director of global solutions at Macromedia Inc., said video production is most prevalent among schools and classrooms that have integrated technology well–especially in classrooms with one-to-one computing and highly trained teachers who are comfortable with the technology.

“What employers are demanding is the ability to communicate digitally,” Stewart said, explaining that students need internet and visual literacy skills.

The near-ubiquity of video capture and editing tools is also driving the popularity of video creation in schools.

“The ability to create MPEGs using mobile phones makes the move to video seem far more doable–and approachable–than ever before. The price of web cameras continues to drop, and the quality continues to increase,” said Ellen Wagner, Macromedia’s senior director of global education solutions.

Web conferencing systems, such as Macromedia’s Breeze, make it easy to integrate video in meetings, collaborations, and distance learning, thereby increasing the perceived value of digital video. “The more others see how relatively easy it is to work with digital video, the more they also want to jump on the video bandwagon,” Wagner said.

Producing video to support student learning has become much easier with digital video production tools readily available on common computer workstations. For example, Apple computers now come preloaded with iLife, a suite of software applications that make video, photo, and music manipulation easy.

Plus, today’s students have grown up accessing information in video format, and they tend to respond positively to media with which they are familiar and find stimulating.

“Evidence is building of the positive role video resources can play in enhanced learning for the general student population and, specifically, for students who have difficulty succeeding with traditional, text-based strategies,” said Don Knezek, chief executive officer of the International Society for Technology in Education.

— Report by Cara Branigan

Related stories:

Video Goes to School — Part I

Video Goes to School — Part II

Video Goes to School — Part III

Video resources

Video editing and production software

Digital video content and delivery systems

eSN Video Resource Center


Grunwald Associates

Discovery Education

Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Cisco Systems Inc.

Avid Technology Inc.

Macromedia Inc.

Apple Computer Inc.

International Society for Technology in Education

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