Getting the Picture

What makes video more effective in today’s learning environment?

GUEST COLUMN | by Scott Landman

CREDIT CCaches.pngTeachers, students, IT directors and administrators in K-12 school districts face many challenges related to the use of video:

1. The rapid growth in educational video often makes it difficult for K-12 school districts to provide a consistently high-quality, cost-effective learning environment.

2. Students are distracted from learning when network congestion causes videos to start slowly, not play at all, or stop mid-playback.

3. Teachers who are already hard-pressed to keep up with technology are forced to invent their own ways to share videos with students, or find themselves struggling and often giving up trying to learn to use complex content management solutions.

E-rate funding pays for video infrastructure, helping schools improve their video-based learning environment. Districts often jump at an obvious solution—buy more Internet access from the Internet service provider. But a bigger pipe is an expensive solution, when it is even available. Buying more Internet access is a long-term open commitment, with a monthly bill that never stops.

Having teachers feeling confident about using educational video is a prerequisite to making it an effective part of a district’s curriculum.

A local cache is an alternative that provides much more cost-effective bandwidth. It’s a capex investment, a one-time-only purchase, that multiplies the available Internet bandwidth by moving the videos needed in the curriculum into a local cache. Without hundreds or thousands of students using up Internet bandwidth to watch educational video, there’s less need for an expensive Internet access upgrade.

The other challenge is usability of educational video. Having teachers feeling confident about using educational video is a prerequisite to making it an effective part of a district’s curriculum. Very few teachers have the time or interest to master complex features of a content management system. As most teachers are familiar with web browsers putting the controls of an educational video solution into a web browser like Google Chrome is the most likely way to get more teachers to use educational video and achieve the educational outcome improvements video provides.

A local cache with an easy-to-use interface provides the following benefits:

  • Students: Local delivery of videos provides a consistently high-quality viewing experience so students stay engaged and focused on learning rather than waiting for videos to start or continue playing.
  • Teachers: Teachers create playlists of videos to use with existing workflow (learning management systems, web sites, documents, etc.) with a time-saving productivity tool which has a zero learning curve and works with existing browsers such as Google Chrome.
  • Budget Directors: Local delivery of content reduces wide area network congestion, protecting investment in existing Internet access and delaying or eliminating Internet access upgrades.
  • IT Directors: A fully-managed offering saves IT departments from having to install, monitor, troubleshoot, or upgrade a solution.

The local delivery of video combined with the favorable economics from E-rate will support high- quality and cost-effective learning environments in the 21st century classroom. Video solutions that are easy to deploy and easy to adopt will have the greatest positive impact on teachers, IT staff, and on student outcomes.

Scott Landman is CEO of Common Caches, a high-quality video solutions integrator for the education market. Read their white paper, “Consistent, High-Quality, and Cost Effective Video Delivery For Schools”. Write to: scott@ccaches.com

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