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Education feature: the impact of video and MOOCs

We evaluate the greater presence of video in higher education and the pros and cons of massive open online courses (MOOCs).

After looking at personalised learning techniques and interactive touchscreens, Steve Montgomery concludes his study on technology in education by evaluating the greater presence of video in higher education and the pros and cons of massive open online courses (MOOCs).

At the higher education level, video is becoming an important element of the teaching process. “One of the most effective trends over the past few years is the flipped classroom in which lecturers produce their own videos, for students to watch as preparation before a lecture,” explains Thorleif Hallen, senior advisor, manager education technologies for UNINETT, a government-owned company in Norway which provides connectivity and IT services to higher education. “Another trend, maybe the biggest one for years, is that of massive open online courses (MOOCs) which allows a university to reach out to hundreds of thousands of users. Video recordings and lectures are made available online and enable teachers to deliver better and more flexible education. It means that more young people are able to study.”

Mediasite from Sonic Foundry provides extensive capability for recording, managing and streaming rich video. Rob Lipps, executive vice president, explains some of the features: “Lecturers have several options with Mediasite. They can record presentations using camera phones or on their desktops using webcams and combine them with presentation materials such as PowerPoint. Using a personalised My Mediasite environment, they can easily upload presentations to an on-premise or cloud-based Mediasite server for access by students either in conjunction with a lecture series or as revision resources. Lecturers can also capture live lectures in the classroom automatically, using Mediasite integrated appliances to record, stream live and publish rich video presentations to the Mediasite server in an automated workflow that does not burden the lecturer in any way.”

However, Dr Carsten Sørensen, reader in digital innovation at the London School of Economics, notes: “Education has not changed for thousands of years; we have been conditioned to learn in a direct, face-to-face way. Learning based solely on MOOCs offers opportunities; however, there is significant drop-out rate and you need to be disciplined to complete a course. The value of online resources is in supplementing traditional teaching and enabling new, better techniques such as lecture flipping. Humans still need to learn from humans and in universities the emphasis is on teacher-pupil time together.

“If digital technology allows you to be anywhere, to learn without constraint, it becomes even more important to choose where you want to be. Education is still about direct learning bolstered by social engagement that allows relationships and networks to be formed for the future.”

The latest generation of AV equipment is having a marked effect on the education of students of all ages: not just in making the process of education more efficient and effective, but in preparing the next generation of workers for their future careers. It will undoubtedly mature even further as new technology is introduced and teaching techniques are developed.