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The Tipping Point: 2009 Education Video Year In Review

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Video is increasingly becoming an integral part of the fabric of educational technology. Furthermore, educational video is expanding to become a larger and more-prominent element of the online video ecosphere. Part of this weaving-in process is that video goes from being a whiz-bang, attention-getting feature to being something more everyday and integral, like the video projector and the course website. Indeed, the process is underway with educational video, and 2009 was the year when it truly became evident.

Lecture capture grabbed headlines in the nation’s major newspapers in 2008, and the outside world became aware of the thousands of lectures and educational videos being made available on iTunesU and YouTube. One might argue that 2008 was the breakout year for educational video online. If you were an online video producer, it was the first year you no longer had to explain what you did for a living. Instead, your uncle would immediately relate to you about the article he just read in The New York Times or the Chicago Tribune about the physics professor who has become an overnight podcast star.

By comparison, 2009 was an evolutionary year for educational video. There were no major breakthroughs and no major new initiatives hitting the mainstream news. Yet, without a doubt there was growth and, more important, maturation in the educational video sector this past year.

This, I argue, is a natural and necessary process for the medium to go through. While it’s fun to think of oneself at the bleeding edge of a pioneering technology or movement, it’s an unavoidably fleeting moment. Educational video has been that cutting-edge technology several times before; with the advent of relatively inexpensive videotape in the 1970s or the first attempts at interactive video laser discs in the late 1980s, educational video has had its moment in the spotlight. But after the novelty wore off and the grant money dried up, the spotlight dimmed quickly. The result was that by the mid-1990s, educational video was no more prominent—or well-respected—than educational films had been in the 1960s.

Kaltura
Kaltura Though Kaltura is a for-profit company, its open-source approach to online video platforms made itespecially attractive to the educational market.

The situation in 2009 was much different.

The real signs of maturity are not the number of newspaper stories about lecture videos or statistics about the number of schools and universities posting video to YouTube. Those are indicators of growth and acceptance. Maturity, on the other hand, is about educational institutions treating video like a fundamental element of operation. The maturity of educational video is also indicated by the online video industry taking seriously the educational market and its unique needs and challenges.

By these measures, 2009 was the year when educational video crossed the threshold; it reached the tipping point, if you will. The most important evidence of this is the blossoming of interest in online video platforms. To me this blossoming represents a move from video being regarded as a bell or a whistle to being considered an important, business function. This phenomenon occurred across the online video industry, as evidenced by the emergent success of the Online Video Platform Summit that debuted this year. Education was right in the mix.

The open source movement has had a historical home in colleges and universities, both due to philosophy and practicality. Open source platforms require little or no financial investment; instead, they require a significant investment in terms of programming labor. Educational institutions are often richer in human resources than financial institutions, which makes these platforms more attractive than a plug-and-play, but also a costly competitor. Without a doubt one company that seized the opportunity to work with educational institutions is Kaltura.

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