What do we want? Information.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
In my previous post, I wrote about the digital video camera evolution. The fact that video cameras that write files directly to SD cards and similar media are mainstream means we have portable content. It also means it is much easier to post or upload content to the web (a.k.a. the cloud) to share or otherwise disseminate. Naturally, the next question is...where?
First, answering a few questions will help narrow our options. Who do you want to see it? What is the nature of the video content? How long is it?
Before moving any further I'd like to point out that I've recently updated the copyright resources on the DMS website, including some valuable guidance from YouTube®. This is important because I'm often asked, "How do I put a movie on-line for my class to see?". Well, in my opinion, you can't and you shouldn't. Instead you should use excerpts, ask the class to rent it, check it out on Netflix, Redbox, Hulu or the soon to be relaunch of Blockbuster (recently acquired by Dish Network) on-line or show it live in class. This keeps with the spirit of fair use and the TEACH Act.
Excerpts are an extracted component of a full length video that demonstrates a particular concept or concepts. They are short clips generally and, copyright issues aside, make much more sense for web viewers in terms of download time and bandwidth issues (stuttering, choking, buffering, etc.). Extending the example of a movie clip, let's answer the above referenced questions. Who do you want to see it? Ostensibly, a particular classroom population. This immediately removes YouTube and other video-sharing websites from the mix. At Ithaca College, this leaves iTunes U and Blackboard. We can further narrow our choices by pointing out that Blackboard is a resource intensive application and is not suited to store video clips. While it's possible it simply isn't advisable, thus narrowing our choice to iTunes U. Resources stored elsewhere on-line can be linked to from Blackboard so you can aggregate video content references in one place.
Student video projects are another source of popular content. The nature of the video content may be a public service video, creative work, a performance, an interview or perhaps some aggregated information that might be valuable to others. Assessing the value of the content to others is important because it could be a showcase piece to demonstrate the talent of our students. On the other hand, perhaps it is something so content specific that interest is isolated to the class itself. For the former, Ithaca College's YouTube channel is an option. iTunes U is also an option. For content that is not appropriate for public consumption, iTunes U, by default, limits access to the college community.
Another important caveat is how the content is uploaded to these services. iTunes U has a restricted set of editors (personnel who have the ability to upload video). As a faculty or staff member you can request a course page at http://itunes.ithaca.edu/request_form.php. YouTube is even more restrictive. Uploads are managed through my shop, Digital Media Services.
Asking students to upload content
There are numerous choices and many can be restricted to a particular audience. There is, of course, YouTube. YouTube can restrict content to a set of YouTube users. Content can be hidden and accessed via a private link. A student or group of students could conceivably create a YouTube channel to aggregate their work or supply the instructor with links to their work which could than be posted to Blackboard, if the goal is to share and critique.
Another option is Screencast.com which provides 2GB of space. Other video sharing sites include Vimeo, Yahoo Video, Google Video through Gmail, Flickr, Metacafe and dozens of others. I recommend screencast.com because it is simple, isolate-able and can be easily used with Jing, a free screen-capture application.
Length is also an important consideration. Most video sharing sites have limits on length or file size. Using good compression (H.264) and keeping the video to ten minutes or less generally provides a file within these limitations.
To reiterate an important point - video files do not necessarily need to be stored in the same place, though this does make perfect sense in terms of convenience. You can aggregate references (links) to the video file repositories mentioned above in one place.
One final note: Do not rely on the Internet to view videos in class! If reviewing a project in class is on the syllabus - ask students to bring their file to class on removable media (flash drive, CD, DVD, etc) in a popular format such as .wmv, .mov or as a DVD-Video. This will ensure that it is viewable on a classroom computer and takes the rough and tumble www out of the mix.
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