10 Tips for Educating the YouTube Generation

by Wesley Fryer
Photo by Wesley Fryer. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Walt Disney was on the mark when he foretold that someday all education would be delivered by television. Today, video technologies have eclipsed even Mr. Disney’s imagination, and are at the heart of the latest trends in education: Online and distance learning, MOOCs, and flipped-classroom experiences, just to name just a few.

Educational institutions around the world are embracing video for teaching and learning, research, marketing, admissions, public and alumni affairs, workforce training, and new use cases that surface as the tools are used.

We are the YouTube generation. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or what you do to make a living, we are all swept along in a torrent of media. Much of it is video, and the storm is in full force.

Today, we have at our fingertips tools for personal video broadcasting, instant live streaming, interactive video galleries and applications, face-to-face synchronous video, global video syndication, online video creation and editing, and more – as long as you can connect to high-speed digital infrastructure.

Importantly, the tools are available equally to students, parents, educators, administrators, and entrepreneurs. And, because the tools are programmable, they are the platform through which the next generation will create. Innovation in education will come from anywhere and everywhere.

To inform your adoption of video as an education mainstay, here are 10 tips compiled from a community of best practices:

1. Technology is the second yes

Technology for technology’s sake does little in terms of learning results. You need an overall video management platform and, of course, an education strategy, so that you can create a video experience that is integrated with whatever other activities are happening on campus.

2. Set the storytellers free

Put the power of the world’s leading online video publishing solutions in the hands of the faculty, students, and administrators. Without the right tools, your faculty and students often are forced to make compromises by relying on “free” tools, and becoming dependent on media support teams, neither of which are scalable. Give them the tools to easily create, curate, and collaborate with video. You’ll empower them to explore, to experiment and to innovate.

3. Give the students the tools

In the words of one education technologist, “It’s more than just a way to turn in homework. The students are really interested in seeing what their colleagues are doing, and so we’re creating these walled-garden workspaces where they have privacy, they have protection from the outside world. The video platform is the way that they can share their ideas with each other, in a very 21st century way.”

4. Keep it short

Educational video is best served in small chunks. Whenever possible limit the length of videos to a few minutes each. Individual videos should cover a concept, while a playlist of videos covers an entire topic. Shorter videos keep students focused and engaged with the content and facilitate discovery and re-watching.

5. Own the innovation, not the infrastructure

Do what you do best and leave the infrastructure and all its complexity to the video software. Focus on captivating your audience. The future of online education requires creating captivating experiences, moving from a monologue to a dialogue, and with the proliferation of devices and connectivity, collaborating with people anywhere, anytime.

6. Make it easy

Communicating with video needs to be simple, safe, and straightforward. Paraphrasing an early Apple mantra, people don’t want to use technology, they want what it does for them. Video technology fuels richer communications and collaboration. Interactive video applications are, or will soon be, essential communication tools.

7. Shed a little light on the magic

Train and guide faculty, employees, and students on the available video capabilities and tools. Even the greatest technology is not enough on its own. Provide users with the training they need to leverage the tools at hand. Consider creating user-groups to let faculty and others share dilemmas, challenges, success stories and best practices.

8. Measure video success

How do you calculate an ROI on education video technology? Video is new, and there is disagreement on the criteria to evaluate its effectiveness, but there is a shared perception that the impact of video as an educational tool is overwhelmingly positive for educators, students, and administrators. More specifically, for each video use-case, define the goals you want to achieve, including measurable indicators for each video and for the videos combined. Compare results to a similar case without video (e.g. same professor, same subject) to see the general impact of video, and compare results of individual videos to learn what works better and what can be improved.

9. Future-proof your technology and content

Content formats and technologies change. Many institutions (and individuals) that have invested in solution ‘x’ for their media or their technology, watch helplessly as the market changes around them. Well-managed cloud offerings are magnets for innovation, are malleable and, because they are digital, more smoothly accommodate changes in technology and data formats.

10. Keep IT in Canada

Canadian privacy and security compliance are important considerations for many institutions and their constituents. An in-Canada solution that addresses these concerns, without compromising innovation and quality, is a requirement for world-class organizations that operate in Canada.

Some have said that our education system is obsolete. Others have claimed that it’s broken, built to slake the thirst of an antiquated industrial machine. But, if it is the worst of times, it is also the best of times. In the words of Alan Kay, an Apple Fellow, “Computers are not rescuing the school from a weak curriculum any more than putting pianos in every classroom would rescue a flawed music program. Wonderful learning can occur without computers or even paper…but once the teachers and children are enfranchised as explorers, computers, like pianos can serve as amplifiers, extending the reach and depth of the learners.”

As educators, we are inspired by the richness of communication that is possible with video, and more so by its potential to transform the experiences of our students and ourselves. We recognize the power of putting these tools in the hands of storytellers, where the teacher becomes the student and the student becomes the teacher. As administrators and academic technologists, we are encouraged that the video tools for enhancing educational outcomes are manageable and bolster the organizational needs of the institution. As entrepreneurs, we know an opportunity when we see one. As a community, our goals commingle and are complementary: a better education experience benefits us all. Video is the medium.

About the author: Kevin Greenwood is the President of RackForce Cloud Video, Canada’s video broadband network. RackForce is a cloud solutions partner in ORION’s Nebula program.