Streaming Video's Higher (Ed) Potential

By IGI Global on Jul 8, 2011
New technologies for higher education, when integrated properly into the classroom, have great potential for enhancing student-teacher interaction, whether done face-to-face or remotely.

For example, program code provided by Stanford University, called ClassX Mobile, makes it possible for students watching streaming video to zoom or pan inside the video of a streaming lecture—and it works in the live classroom.

Stanford science-writing intern Melissae Fellet recently reported that this university's researchers had released the program code for ClassX Mobile.

Using the old system, which Stanford has operated since 1996, Fellet notes, "A person operates the cameras from a control room, zooming closer as the speaker writes on the board or panning as she walks across the room." In other words, there is only one video, and all of the "interaction" is controlled by a single person—not by individual users.

ClassX Mobile changes this. According to Fellet, electrical engineering professor Bernd Girod "and his students simplified the recording equipment to three items: a tripod, a wireless microphone and a high-definition camcorder."

"Then they designed software that processes the video so the viewer can zoom and pan around the room during playback," writes Fellet. "Alternatively, the program can control the view automatically."

"… Since the program works in the cloud, users only need a web browser to access the interactive video," continues Fellet. Individual students can choose what section of the video they want to see, whether the entire lecture hall or just a portion of a blackboard that perhaps, in the real world, might have been too hard for them to see from their chairs.

E-learning technologies, such as ClassX Mobile, have the potential to revolutionize higher education once again by making streaming technologies more and more accessible to the average classroom. Along with this, though, come additional concerns for educators.

As Dr. Shalin Hai-Jew of Kansas State University noted in a recent blog entry written for IGI Global, U.S.-based universities face additional requirements when media is used for education. In " Making Web Content Accessible," Dr. Hai-Jew writes that "guidelines suggest" that information should be available in at least two perceptual channels to be compliant with Section 508. "Something that is an audio piece of information also has to have a text form. An audio-visual simulation should have a transcript and text descriptors of the action (which is three channels: sight, hearing, and symbolic processing)," writes Dr. Hai-Jew. "These standards are not meant to put a dampener on the types of rich media used in online learning," she writes. "After all, rich media convey plenty of information, and they often engage learners. However, such accessibility considerations will certainly add an extra layer of steps to the development of such objects."

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, two blind students recently sued Florida State University because the course software contained elements inaccessible to the blind. You can read more about this on their Web site.

"There are some ways to cut corners without losing quality," writes Dr. Hai-Jew in her article on accessibility. "Lecturers who stay very close to their slideshows (and who design effective slideshows) may conduct a desktop lecture capture and also make the slideshows available, which means that the audio of the slideshow is text-readable in the properly-designed slideshows," she writes.

As demonstrated in the embedded video, researchers at Stanford can also set up their video captures to allow students to navigate these videos using the professor's PowerPoint demonstration.

"The video is analyzed and we recognize which slides are shown at what time," says Professor Bernd Girod in the Stanford video. "This is a very powerful way, then, to navigate in the video. We go to a particular slide that we are interested in, click on that slide, seek the slide in the video, and—boom—immediately the video jumps to that particular slide and you can see what the professor said about that slide."

IGI Global offers a number of excellent resources for professors looking to integrate innovative technologies into their classroom. Educators interested in these technologies may wish to explore several of our recently released titles:

IGI Global's course adoption program allows educators within the United States to examine publications in e-book formats for up to 60 days. This gives academics time to determine whether this material is best suited for classroom instruction.

If you are interested in IGI Global's course adoption program and would like to examine a copy of the above mentioned publication or any other IGI Global books, please visit
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