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Video.edu: U.S. DOE Releases Technology Plan, C-SPAN Puts Thousands of Hours Online

Video Figures Prominently in National Education Technology Plan
On March 5 the US Department of Education released a draft National Education Technology Plan (NETP), titled “Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology,” which is now open for public comment. In a speech he gave two days earlier Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the plan addresses several key trends in technology that can help transform education. Two of those trends that are of particular import for online video are mobility and the growth of digital content. Duncan noted that “60 percent of students report publishing their own material online,” but also said that content is not just user-generated, acknowledging that “much is professionally produced, and can be used to meet the needs of learners of all ages.”

The NETP suggests a learning model for the 21st century that addresses how, where and where people need to learn, all aspects in which video plays a key role. Video is cited as an important technology for representing factual information and complex ideas from scientific disciplines in ways that “were formerly impossible or impractical.” Creating an always-on, on-demand learning environment also relies on video, from user-generated social media to academic content like online lectures. The plan even references MIT physics professor Walter Lewin, whose engaging science demonstrations gained him a worldwide audience and the attention of the New York Times, as we covered in the 2008 Education Year in Review.

Video can be used for the preparation of new teachers and in the continuing education of professional educators. For example, the NETP suggests that “outstanding demonstrations of teaching practice can be captured and annotated” on video. In the United Kingdom teacher.tv represents just such an archive of multimedia resources dedicated to recording and disseminating best practices.

In order to design and implement the next generation of educational technologies the NETP recommends coordinated public and private sector research and development through the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies, authorized in the 2008 Higher Education Act. One of the “grand challenge problems” to be addressed by this R&D is effectively a large-scale digital asset management initiative, creating “an integrated approach for capturing, aggregating, mining and sharing content... across many learning platforms and data systems in near real time.”

Comments on the NETP can be made directly at its website, with separate commenting available for each section of the plan. Public comments will be accepted through the end of April.

C-SPAN Puts 160,000 Hours of Programming Online
Finding reliable, authoritative video content online can be a challenging for any educator. When you take into account the fact that YouTube or self-hosted videos might disappear at anytime it’s easy to see the value in C-SPAN’s new online video library which made its official debut on March 17. 160,000 hours of content from all three C-SPAN networks are now online, giving teachers and students access to video coverage of important historical moments from the last twenty-three years.

The library provides a rich user interface with both basic searching as well as the ability to perform advanced searches on tags, names, organizations and dates. Of particular use to educators is the fact that most programs are accompanied with a full-text transcript of the video’s closed captions that can also be searched. The transcript appears on each video’s page indexed by time allowing a user to search for a particular word or phrase and then navigate directly to the corresponding portion of the video. The user can also create a clip of the video and obtain a link that will play just that clip. An embed code is available for many, but not all, videos.

According to its copyright policy “a license is generally not required to use C-SPAN’s video coverage of federal government events online for non-commerical puposes so long as C-SPAN is attributed as the source of the video.” This provides significant flexibility for educators to integrate C-SPAN video into online and blended courses. Because the C-SPAN library is maintained by C-SPAN’s own archive staff teachers have the additional assurance that their chosen videos will remain available and accessible.

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