Delivering Video For Self-Analysis: An Update

Instructors have been using video recordings to assign self-evaluation exercises for many years. Video recordings of performances, clinical interventions, role-playing exercises, and presentations offer useful material for analysis and self-critique. To carry out these assignments on the web, videos must be prepared, encoded, and uploaded to media servers such that access is restricted to the class or individual student.

This process has often been challenging: an instructor or student would shoot the video and bring a tape to a video production team where it would be captured, digitized, encoded for Web delivery, and uploaded to a streaming server. Finally, a link to the video would be emailed to students or embedded in the course management system so that only registered students may access the recording. All in all, this process could take as long as a week to complete.

Columbia instructors now have access to two services that offer a complete shoot-encode-upload-view solutionMore recently, instructors and students have adopted digital video cameras that record directly onto flash memory and often encode the video in a web-friendly format. This improvement has cut down the door-to-door production time dramatically (usually to a day or two) because it removes the most difficult step of capturing/digitizing the video. However, the process still requires technical staff intervention to upload the video file to the university's streaming server - a handoff that can take time and resources.

Columbia instructors now have access to two services that offer a complete shoot-encode-upload-view solution, while minimizing the need for technical staff to assist along the way. Making the process simpler and instructors more self-sufficient should lower barriers to using video in self-evaluation assignments and broaden its appeal among teachers and students.

The YouTube EDU Solution

The Columbia on YouTube EDU platform offers a variety of useful features for classroom video analysis: videos that can be embedded directly into a course management system, varying levels of video quality (including HD), long-form streaming videos (a 15-minute limit is imposed on regular YouTube accounts), and captioning. Additionally, YouTube recently added an option to make videos "unlisted." Unlisted videos are technically available to anyone in the world, but only those with the specific Web address for the video can access it.

Columbia instructors can upload videos to the YouTube platform via an online form, which allows them to log in, select a video file from their desktop, and add basic metadata. Upon submission, a CCNMTL-developed workflow takes over - it automatically processes the video and then emails the instructor a URL to the unlisted video. Though it may take some additional time for the video to be fully processed (YouTube has to create the various quality versions), the instructor can immediately provide the link to students and prepare the assignment.

The iTunes U Solution

Columbia on iTunes U offers many of the same features as YouTube EDU (e.g. long-form, HD video), but it also offers downloadable media and granular security options. Rather than using "security by obscurity," videos can be restricted via a UNI login which allows Columbia- or course-specific access. Of course, videos can also be made public when appropriate.

After instructors request a course collection, they and students can upload media files to iTunes U either to shared folders or a drop-box (the latter essentially acts as a private place for students to "turn in" media files to an instructor for review).

Once media files have been uploaded into iTunes U, students can access them via a URL provided by the instructor or via the iTunes desktop application where they can manage media, subscribe to podcasts, and transfer tracks to portable devices.

Conclusion

Classroom-based video recordings can lead to effective evaluation exercises, but, by their nature, the recordings often must be restricted to a small group of students. While an initial manual setup is still necessary for either platform, Columbia on YouTube EDU or iTunes U can provide a flexible, easy-to-use solution to instructors engaging in evaluation exercises using video. Columbia instructors who want to discuss or learn more about these solutions should contact CCNMTL at ccnmtl@columbia.edu.