MEDIAL: Updated Video Management with Webcam Recording

Helix Media Library (HML), the streaming media player for uploading and sharing video and audio content available to all NIU faculty, students, and staff, is now MEDIAL, available at hml.niu.edu. After a significant upgrade, the video management tool is faster, easier, and includes the ability to record video directly from a webcam.

Fastervideos on mobile devices

One of the primary benefits to MEDIAL is that videos are encoded and transcoded for streaming online to any device. This means videos are optimized for playing online, so that students are able to watch videos even with slow or intermittent internet connections, and multiple students are able to watch the video at once without issues. Transcoding the videos allows students to view them from a computer, tablet, or smart phone.

In the past, this has sometimes been a slow process with Helix Media Library, particularly with longer videos. The MEDIAL upgrade will speed the encoding and transcoding process up significantly, so there will be less time to wait after uploading a video. In some cases, encoding may happen at double the previous speed!

Easier

MEDIAL makes it easier for students to post videos in Blackboard. Students now have the ability to browse previously uploaded videos in addition to uploading a new video. The video playback controls have been enhanced, as well.

Record from Webcam

The most exciting new feature is the ability to record audio or video directly from a webcam. This functionality is similar to the Video Everywhere tool in Blackboard that no longer works since Google removed the ability to record from a webcam on YouTube.

medial-webcam

Video or audio can be recorded from within Blackboard and is stored securely within the MEDIAL library. That video can then be embedded within a Blackboard course. This feature is great for video announcements or providing feedback on an assignment. Students can use this, as well, to submit video or audio assignments – such as demonstrating for language proficiency, responding via sign language, or just for building a sense of community.

Tutorials

Learn more about using MEDIAL by watching these tutorials.

Blackboard Video Everywhere: Increasing Faculty and Student Communication

It is increasingly important to engage students and foster a sense of community and connection between students and faculty. This is true in all courses, but is particularly true in online courses, where students may not have the opportunity to meet together or with faculty. Simulating face-to-face interaction may help students feel connected to a learning community and enhance students’ motivation to learn (Carr 2000). Bolliger, Supanakorn, and Boggs (2010) reported that college students in an online course who had the option of hearing their professor’s voice in a course podcast made them feel more connected to him or her, while ‘listening’ to explanations of core course concepts translated into more meaningful learning compared to only reading a textbook. This supports the perspective that technologies can assist faculty to personalize and humanize online instruction by integrating multimedia elements that attempt to engage students in active and meaningful learning activities (Lee, Tan, & Goh, 2004).
Video Everywhere Icon
The ‘Video Everywhere’ tool in Blackboard can augment communication between faculty, student, and course content. Video Everywhere, which became available at NIU following the upgrade in June, 2013, allows users to record video anywhere in Blackboard that the text box editor is available (see image, right). Faculty can use this feature for creating and posting videos of course announcements, brief lectures, clarifications, discussion board posts, and instructions for assignments. Students can also post videos as submission to assignments, blogs, journals, and discussion boards.

Video Everywhere uses a webcam, either integrated in a laptop or connected via USB. Videos can be created quickly, but it is not possible to edit the videos.

Videos recorded with the Video Everywhere tool are stored in YouTube, so faculty and students must have Google accounts to use Video Everywhere. Once the video is recorded, Blackboard posts it to YouTube as an Unlisted video. This means the videos will remain private and will not appear in YouTube searches or on a users’ YouTube page. In addition to recording videos, users can also use the Video Everywhere tool to embed videos that were previously uploaded to their YouTube channel.

Some NIU faculty and instructors have already begun to incorporate Video Everywhere for their assignments. For example, Mary Kocsis from the School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders uses Video Everywhere to test her students’ receptive skills in sign language. She records herself ‘signing’ a message within a test question. When students take the test, they must interpret what she signed. Other faculty have recorded and posted a video message welcoming students to a new course at the start of the semester. This can be especially beneficial as a ‘meet and greet’ if the course is entirely online, and never meets face-to-face.

There are other applications for student uses as well.  Students might record themselves ‘signing’ a message for a sign language assignment (demonstrating expressive rather than receptive skills), speaking a foreign language for later review in a language course, or conducting  ethnographic interviews for a cultural anthropology course.

Faculty who are interested in learning more about Video Everywhere can use Blackboard’s help guide for Video Everywhere or view the following brief tutorial, which is available at http://youtu.be/glYGzdxw-mM.

References

Bolliger, D.U., Supanakorn, S., & Boggs, C. (2010). Impact of podcasting on student motivation in the on line learning environment. Computers & Technology, 55, 714-722.

Carr, S. (2000). As distance education comes of age, the challenge is keeping the students. Chronicle of Higher Education, 46(23), A39. Available from http://chronicle.com/article/As-Distance-Education-Comes-of/14334

Lee, C.S., Tan, D.T.H., & Goh, W.S. (2004). The next generation of e-learning: Strategies for media rich online teaching. Journal of Distance Education Technologies, 2(4), 1-17