Open Menu Close Menu

Planning and Implementing Instructional Video

By Allen Burnett, Don Maue, and Edward McKaveney

Since its first experiments with instructional video in 1995, Duquesne University has gained significant experience in producing and delivering video for multimedia, video conferencing, and Web-based courses. Here, three campus technology leaders examine the evolution of instructional video at Duquesne and explain how a collaborative planning process is shaping its future.

As faculty, students, and presenters begin to use new video capabilities at Duquesne University, they are collaborating to make instructional video successful and planning the technology infrastructure to support it. The university is enhancing equipment installations and augmenting services to support video streaming, multicasting, and Internet-based conferencing.
Most elements of a collaborative strategic plan developed in 2001 have now been completed, including: sharing results of faculty members using video, developing university standards, providing consulting and training to faculty members, optimizing video services for campus network topology, and establishing a stable production process. But instructional video at Duquesne has come a long way since the initial efforts began in 1995.

The Early Stages: Evolved Rather than Planned
Each year, the university delivers a growing number of courses via video conferencing, the Internet and the Web, or a combination of technologies. These technologies are also playing a greater role in supplementing traditional, face-to-face courses. According to Ira Fuchs, vice president for research and technology at the Andrew Mellon Foundation: “Students, faculty, and staff expect their colleges and universities to be on the leading edge of video use.” Duquesne University is no exception. Music Technology, Multimedia Technology, Nursing, Instructional Technology, Studio Arts, Communication, Education, Business, Health Care Ethics, student radio and TV stations, and Distance Learning are just a few of the programs at Duquesne that have either used or expressed serious interest in multimedia projects that incorporate video.
Early experiences with new video technologies on campus were evolutionary—that is, as new technologies became available, we offered them and looked for faculty willing to experiment and apply these technologies to their content areas. There was no overall plan to target specific areas for development, though we did have a university-level Educational Technology Committee to recommend the use of new technologies to improve teaching and learning.
As a result of this evolutionary approach, we have had, and still have, a mix of systems. Three course delivery systems have been supported at the university: FirstClass, WebCT, and Blackboard. We have both high- and low-end video recording and editing equipment, and a mixture of platforms and media, including the Mac OS, Windows, TARGA, Dazzle, VHS, S-VHS, MiniDV, Media100, and FireWire. We can deliver video on campus via our Fiber-Optic Video Network, cable television system, and local-area networks.
Various programs operate their own servers for video streaming, and faculty use desktop cameras for conferencing, but these particular implementations are not sufficiently prepared to scale in size or to provide high levels of quality. Video may be delivered from a variety of points on campus, but there is no planning for the uneven impact on portions of the network.

Adopting and Adding New Technologies
We began our evolutionary process in 1995 with the use of ISDN-based video conferencing from VTEL. Also in 1995, we opened our New Media Center, composed of a Faculty Development Studio and Media Distribution Center to assist faculty in learning, developing, and applying the newer multimedia technologies of that time, such as QuickTime and Adobe Premiere. Subsequent years have seen the addition of QuickCams, CUseeMe, Webcam Turbo, Real Server, Netmeeting, Media Cleaner Pro, and a variety of other authoring and production tools.
In 1998 we expanded the scope of our Fiber-Optic Video Network and began to add more robust hardware and software development resources. In 2001 we made major upgrades to our video services, with the addition of Windows Media and QuickTime servers, high-end encoding workstations, and digital video cameras, as well as portable lighting and sound equipment, and we upgraded our legacy video conferencing system with current technology by Polycom.

Selected Resources for Video and Streaming Media
· Consortium of College and University Media Centers
· Discreet CleanerLive (Live Web casting of Real and Windows Media Streams)
· DV Video Magazine
· e-learning and Teleconference Magazine
· eMEDIA Magazine
· (Media100 affiliate info and tutorials on QT, WM, and REAL)
· Internet2
· New Media Centers
· QuickTime Streaming Server
· Real Networks/Real System iQ, Real Server, Real Producer, Real SlideShow
· Streaming Media Magazine
· Streaming Media World Video (Tutorials, reviews, references, services, and more)
· University of Wisconsin Madison, Streaming Media
· Video Conferencing Cookbook
· Video Development Initiative
· Windows Media Technologies, Windows Media Training

Into the Future: Making a New Plan for Technology
Since there has been growing interest in the use of video technology for instructional purposes, Duquesne University has a unique opportunity to optimize and capitalize on this technology by organizing its efforts into a working strategic program. Members of Computing and Technology Services, the Center for Distance Learning, Multimedia Technology, and faculty from several schools are collaborating in this planning and implementation process.
In 2001, we launched an Instructional Video Technology Subcommittee (IVTS) as a working subcommittee of the Educational Technology Committee. The purpose of the IVTS is to develop a plan for successful use of instructional video at Duquesne University. During 2001, we completed the majority of the elements in our strategic plan for instructional video:

  • Develop a context for scholarship, research, and sharing the results of faculty members utilizing instructional video.
  • Create university standards and policies for the use of instructional video.
  • Define the various types and needs of instructional video services, e.g., streaming, conferencing via ISDN, WAN H.323, and LAN H.323.
  • Develop the criteria for ongoing selection and evaluation of appropriate elements in instructional video, e.g., codecs, streaming technology, network topology, formats, and architectures.
  • Evaluate the need for educational consultants in the Faculty Development Studio to provide video-related services for faculty members using instructional video.
  • Provide a plan to optimize video services in our network topology.
  • Produce a report identifying the university’s current effort in resources and dollars for the delivery of instructional video.
  • Develop initiatives and workshops on instructional video pedagogy for faculty.
  • Develop a strategy for current and emerging needs for distance learning use of instructional video.
  • Plan for a video front end enabling WAN instructional video.
  • Build a team for the ongoing assessment of emerging technologies in instructional video.
  • Establish a stable production and delivery process while maintaining the capability to experiment with prototype systems.

Enhanced Equipment
To support our growth and anticipated future endeavors, current basic video equipment installations are being enhanced and services augmented to support the production of quality video streaming, multicasting, and Internet-based conferencing. Ongoing enhancements to the university’s network are providing a robust means of quality delivery of these products to our students and end users.

Augmented Service
Added services are intended to define processes so that we gain efficiency and effectiveness. This means that we add trained staff, dedicated video servers, and encoding workstations for improved reliability and scalability. We also market the services internally to make good use of our capabilities. Faculty and staff can contact our New Media Center for consultation and to develop video projects.

Funding and Staffing
We employ four full-time staff and 16 students in our New Media Center, which is part of a larger Educational Technology division of the Computing and Technology Services Department. Funding at this time is part of our Computing and Technology Services operational budget, and we do not charge for our media development services. We have recently restructured a charge-back policy for video conferencing services, in order to reflect changes and innovations in the system.

Training and Faculty Development
If faculty are more aware of the basics and the big picture before they begin any video projects, they can collect better-quality video for post-production. Otherwise, we face the situation where they decide to reuse or Web cast video obtained under varying methods and conditions, and then they and the students are disappointed with the quality of the end product.
We already have permanent video recording hardware installed in our Law School courtrooms, Speech Language Pathology clinical observation rooms, Biology microscopy labs, and other campus locations. Departments in other disciplines, such as the School of Business, have been capturing video segments with portable cameras and placing the video onto CD-ROM for use in face-to-face classes and for replay on the Web.
Faculty members may want to do their own video project development, or they may want our New Media Center to work with them. In either case, the faculty need to know our capabilities and be able to determine which types of video can help improve teaching and learning. To facilitate these efforts, we offer ongoing overview seminars and training workshops. Faculty development is a key part of our collaborative efforts as we move into the future with instructional video.

Allen Burnett, Ph.D., ([email protected]) is distance learning coordinator; Don Maue is director of computing support services; and Edward McKaveney is the New Media Center team leader, all of Duquesne University.

comments powered by Disqus