Mobile Video | Feature
How Lehman College Provides Anytime, Anywhere Access to Video
A new video learning platform at Lehman lets students access course content via any mobile device.
Between lecture capture, flipped classrooms, student video assignments, and other multimedia learning resources, there's an awful lot of video content floating around on campuses these days. Students look up information in video format, record their lives and experiences on video and expect video options in their curriculum — and they want to view it on whatever mobile device they're using at the moment.
"Today's students are the first 'mobile generation,' said James Cross, educator in residence at online video platform provider MediaCore. "They expect the online services that are provided to them as part of their university experience to be available via the devices with which they identify — mobiles and tablets." His assertion is backed up by a September 2013 study from the Educause Center for Analysis and Research, which found that a whopping 76 percent of U.S. undergraduate students own a smartphone, and 58 percent own three or more Internet-capable devices. As the study stated, "Students hold high expectations for anytime, anywhere access to course materials and for leveraging the use of their personal digital devices inside and outside class."
"Look on YouTube," Cross added. "Much of the content is produced by students. Universities are realizing that they need to allow their students to access learning via their mobile device, to share content, and to have the opportunity to do a video rather than write an essay. Over the last 18 months, universities have been focusing on video content because it's one of the best ways to make use of mobile devices."
The growing demand for mobile-ready video recently drove Lehman College, a CUNY liberal arts college located in the Bronx, to seek out a video learning platform. With no method in place for organizing video and audio media, the institution needed a media repository that was easily accessible, matched the look and feel of their website, allowed single sign-on and had lecture-capture capabilities.
More important, Lehman wanted to create a platform on which students, faculty and staff — with the proper permissions — could access, upload and share videos to enhance learning, while making them accessible on any device, for use anywhere.
"We started out with a simple goal in mind," said Brendan McGibney, technical director of the school's Multimedia Center. "We needed a way to organize all of our videos and adapt them to mobile, while protecting access to the videos, so that users could upload and set up video for any device, wherever they were."
In May, Lehman rolled out the MediaCore platform, enabling faculty and students to access and use high-definition videos both inside and outside the classroom. MediaCore provides HD video capture; mobile playback; and automatic adaptation to whatever device the user is on. It also features secure single sign-on (SSO), which, according to McGibney, was paramount for Lehman. With SSO, students use the same name and password they use to access Lehman's e-mail to sign into Digital Connect, the school's video library. This encourages usage, avoids confusion and allows access management — which means that lecturers can limit content to specific groups of students. "Not only does [MediaCore] allow us to organize our media," said McGibney, "it allows us to easily control who can view our media. Its integration with our Active Directory makes it easy to set up with faculty, staff and students."
Anytime, anywhere access to learning content is another big advantage of using video for mobile learning, according to McGibney, who confirmed that students are using mobile video more and more since MediaCore was introduced last spring. Students can stream or download lectures and, in most cases, lectures are recorded, produced and posted the same day.
McGibney added that he is starting to see more interest from professors in 'flipping the classroom.' Lecturers pre-record their lesson and send it to the students to review prior to class. They are then able to spend more time in class on interaction rather than on lecturing.
"Students today are very busy people, with jobs and families," noted Stephen Castellano, Lehman's online teaching and learning technology specialist for the Office of General Studies and Online Education. "Even the commute to the campus needs to be factored in. Students like very much that they have access to their professors' content anytime, day or night, and also have the ability to replay those portions that they do not at first understand."
Every semester, Castellano asks students to provide feedback in a "Student Evaluation of Teaching and Learning," paying particular attention to those courses that are taught entirely online. Castellano said that students now actually request that instructors use rich-media content in their courses, and that responses to Digital Connect are consistently very favorable. One student commented: "The video lectures are carefully produced, and it shows. Everything is clear. I see and hear everything." Another student wrote: "I can watch the lectures on my phone anytime, anywhere — on my schedule."
For those colleges and universities considering a video learning platform, McGibney recommended the following:
- When searching for a tool to help with video learning, sharing and lecture capture, first identify your goals.
- Talk to people who will be using the tool and pick their brains on what they are looking for, as each person you talk to will have different ideas.
- Assign a staff member to support the tool. Even if it's easy to use, there's still a learning and adjustment curve.
- Reach out to other schools to find out what they're using.
McGibney said that he would be more than happy to talk to any school interested in discussing video learning tools and technology. "I wish I had done it myself," he concluded.
Toni Fuhrman is a writer and creative consultant based in Los Angeles.