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Video doesn’t have to go viral to make an impact

Today’s young people have been labelled the You Tube generation – and it’s true that the growth in mobile technologies is radically changing the way that we access and share information.

Our students think digitally and this increased accessibility to information and data has resulted in sites such as You Tube becoming the go-to channel for everything from how-to guides to catch-up TV.

While You Tube provides a constant stream of entertaining film clips, with the potential for a hallowed few to ‘go viral’, it is also shaping the way that we learn.

Regular users tend to develop a preference for visual learning styles and begin to expect their information in quick, accessible episodes.

Recognising this, the last year has seen the launch of our own ‘college You Tube’ – more specifically a cloud-based managed video platform called Kaltura.

It has been launched to provide the any-time, any-place style of visual learning which our students demand, but has also been successful in delivering a host of other benefits.

We have piloted the platform in two curriculum areas this year – hair and beauty and hospitality and catering.

Each has been given its own channel, accessible via the cloud, where staff and students can post relevant videos, with approved content making it onto the course playlist.

Videos are then available for students to comment on, share, and re-visit for future reference. Content is a combination of videos filmed by the ILT team to support curriculum delivery and videos taken by students for evidence of learning and assessment.

The move is developing independent learning skills, by encouraging students to take ownership of their studies.

It has coincided with, and boosted, our flipped learning model – making the transition from a teacher-centred classroom to a student-centred personal learning environment.

In flipped learning, curriculum teams can post video demonstrations of a particular skill or technique to Kaltura ahead of the class. This frees up class time to focus on discussion, application or deepening students’ understanding of the technique.

Put simply, rather than passively watching, students are more involved in actively doing.

In our hair and beauty department, it has increased peer-to-peer learning with students posting videos of themselves performing skills like hot stone massages. Comments left alongside the videos enable other students and staff to offer suggestions that will help to develop the techniques.

The feedback from staff and students involved in the pilot has been extremely positive.

Students love watching the videos on their phones, tablets and laptops – wherever they might be. It is so much part of their daily life that it feels more like a natural extension of what they are doing in their free time. They have also commented that the classroom feels like it is more about them and the teacher has more one-to-one time. They have also said that receiving comments on their own videos has stretched and challenged their learning. The other benefit is that having constant access to the bank of videos increases students’ confidence to perform tasks.

Staff say there is more time to test and challenge students’ knowledge and understanding, students are more engaged and motivated and that the video content provides resources that can be re-purposed across the curriculum. This is not only saving time for individual curriculum areas, but can benefit multiple areas (for example sharing video content on a subject such as anatomy for caring and health, sports and biology students).

In the last year we have hosted visits from colleges interested in our approach. We have explained that our preference for a managed platform, as opposed to utilising You Tube, is that it can be more tightly controlled. Videos and comments are only seen by the members subscribing to their channel, and you don’t have to worry about advertising content. Having a platform hosted in the cloud also means that you don’t have the issues of bandwidth restricting access and interrupting views.

In the coming year we will be rolling out the platform to ensure that every curriculum area has its own channel, and the support needed to make effective use of it. We will also be exploring turning this into a true ‘college You Tube’ where all channels can be accessed by all staff and students.

You could say we will be going viral!

Surjit Uppal is information learning technology manager at Oxford & Cherwell Valley College

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