As technology coordinator for the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District (SCUCISD) in Schertz, Texas, Bill Salt believes in the power of technology to help transform education–but only, he says, if it is capable of attracting and engaging students.
Knowing that technology would play a key role in preparing the district’s students for the future, Schertz and his team sought to find a solution that would enable educators to present subject matter in a way that today’s learners could relate to. What they discovered was video.
“I think most teachers very much appreciate having good video as a means to present a concept or to help students reach that ‘ah-ha’ moment,” says Salt. “We were looking for a means by which teachers could access video in their classrooms to either run through a television set for the kids to watch or to project through an LCD projector onto a big screen.”
His search for a viable solution eventually turned up a product from New Dimension Media. Looking to make more headway in schools, New Dimension offered the school district a chance to participate in a six-month pilot project that tested the effectiveness of a newly launched product, called CCC! Video-On-Demand. As a precursor to the deal, New Dimension agreed to furnish the server and video library, enabling the school system to try out the product without making significant adjustments or modifications to its existing technology infrastructure.
For SCUCISD, Salt said, the proposal represented a “win-win” situation. The district has relied on the presence of the CCC! system as part of its technology infrastructure ever since.
CCC! is a video-on-demand system that delivers content from a dedicated video server placed on a school’s or district’s network. This allows the videos that are streamed to the classroom to run anywhere from 60 to 650 times faster than other streaming video-on-demand systems in which video clips are streamed over the internet, said Salt. Because the process is so fast, video clips–most of which have been filmed in the past few years–are shown in near high-definition resolution.
The content is updated regularly through CDs that simply reload the library onto the server. At SCUCISD, the CCC! system originally was launched with somewhere between 700 and 800 titles loaded onto the server. Today, administrators say, educators now have access to more than 3,000 high-quality educational videos through the system.
The library of titles contains content relevant to grades K-12 and features an interactive search system that provides a more precise way of helping teachers find exactly what they are looking for, said Salt. As with other video-on-demand systems, users can search by content area, subject matter, grade level, or keyword. Plus, a unique feature allows users to search the database according to state standard, zeroing in on content developed to help students meet key requirements.
According to Salt, the ability to search by the Texas standards–known as TEKS, or Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills–is what sets CCC! apart from other school-based video solutions. With CCC!, he says, teachers can hone in on a specific TEKS objective they believe students need to work on, then use the system to “drill down” to find an appropriate video clip, in the hope that each child eventually comes away with a deeper understanding of the concept being taught.
What’s more, he said, the product is easy to use–a must when your objective is to get educators to use the technology.
SCUCISD has one dedicated server that is responsible for providing CCC!-related content to the district’s 13 campuses. Currently, the program is limited only to teacher accounts, but Salt says the district will open accounts for students within the next year as well. The goal is eventually to allow students to access educational videos in the library on their own time, as well as author their own material, he said.
With teachers so used to taking VHS and DVD videos out of the library to help educate their students, using CCC! took a little while to catch on, says Salt. Though overall usage is still higher on campuses that participated in the original pilot, he says, other schools are starting to catch up.
Of the teachers who have been using the program a great deal, many are getting to a point where they are able to use a single video to cover several different objectives within the curriculum easily, especially considering that each video is split into multiple teaching segments. Teachers can show part of a video while covering a certain objective, and then show another part of the same video weeks later while focusing on another objective, Salt said. This gives the students, as well as teachers, an added familiarity with the video they are watching.
While the system has made life easier for teachers, it has made learning a lot more fun for students, Salt says. “I made it a point to get around to several classrooms, and when those videos were running, those kids were engaged,” he explained.
Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District
New Dimension Media