In the late 1980s, a telecommunications engineer named Tim Berners-Lee had a bit of a problem. As a member of CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), he was very frustrated by the inefficiencies and difficulties involved in locating information on its various computers, a confusing search and retrieval process that was likely to add endless hours of work to the center’s operations.
It did not take him long to propose and implement a solution that brought together different technologies under development at the time in a process that would culminate shortly afterwards with the publication of the first web page in December 1990. Its use spread rapidly in non-academic environments, and in the middle of the decade, the appearance of Internet Explorer with Windows 95 was, in a way, the confirmation that having a web page was no longer optional.
More than twenty-five years have passed since then, and it seems that the digital transformation, accentuated more than ever this past 2020, has a clear winner: audiovisual content or, in other words, video. Traditionally reserved for the Broadcast & Media industry, the Internet has enabled the transversal use of a medium accessible to any organization, company or individual. There is no shortage of current arguments to boost its use: according to Biteable, by 2022, 82% of Internet traffic will be video (15 times more than in 2017); according to Wistia, users spend up to 2.6 times more time on websites with video than without; according to Wyzowl, 84% of them have decided to purchase a product or service after watching a video; and, as if these data were not enough, we can only add that YouTube has been the second most used search engine in the world for the last four years.
However, the different organizations and companies likely to take advantage of this new audiovisual reality should ask themselves several strategic questions before making any decisions: Is my organization ready to communicate in video format? What are my company’s objectives and how can I rely on this medium to achieve them? What kind of technology would I need to generate a greater volume of video easily and smoothly?
From VSN we wanted to reflect on these questions from our more than 30 years of experience in the Broadcast, Media and Entertainment industry, analyzing in detail all the possibilities that different specialized software tools can bring to different types of organizations and companies in this period, which we could very well call the video era, and we would like to start with the education area.
The victory of educational audiovisual content
It’s no secret that educational content works. Who hasn’t considered, when faced with an everyday question, looking to see if someone had posted a simple solution on YouTube? From how to tie a tie in four steps to animated summaries of historical events, this type of content has been growing exponentially in the last decade and a half, and already in 2016 the platform itself published that the number of visits to videos of this type exceeded 500 million daily views. Its main audience is no surprise either: 92% of it is made up of millennials, and their successor, generation Z, is not expected to drastically reduce this trend, especially if we take into account that they are also known as Digital Natives.
Of course, and as we have detailed in previous articles, 2020 has meant a considerable increase in the consumption of content in general, and the extensive portion of educational content has been no exception. Moreover, in the specific case of the education field, in many cases it has been the only viable option to maintain the educational continuity of hundreds of thousands of students. Despite the inevitability of this transition, and as has happened in many other areas, it seems that many of these changes are here to stay. As Kaltura states in the seventh edition of its studio The State of Video in Education 2020, ‘Video is no longer a nice-to-have for education, but essential’.
According to the same study, the numbers support this consolidation: more than 70% of respondents in the education sector report using up to three video formats as part of their training, and virtually all available usage trends are on the rise. The possibilities are many: remote classes, lecture recording, remote tutorials, flipped classroom, in-class training videos, virtual libraries, integration of video in educational platforms (Blackboards), social networks, etc.
Moreover, the use of video in educational environments does not end in the classroom. Like other types of organizations, schools and universities can take advantage of these resources for more corporate uses if they have the right technology: from internal use to broadcasting live events, to reinforcing the brand image to future students through promotional content. Given that the medium has the support of students and faculty alike, and that many organizations are opting to create their own pool of audiovisual resources, it does not seem unreasonable to say that video is already or can become as important an asset as their faculty, history or research for many of them.
The need for content management (Media Asset Management)
In terms of content volume, the conclusion seems clear: education is progressively generating more and more valuable content, which in the medium and long term generates a strategic need that requires answering several questions related to the investment, objectives and the technological capacity of the organization. Fortunately, all these doubts, debates and proposals can be summarized in a single main question: How do we manage all this content?
The question, as in so many other cases, becomes much simpler if we look at other industries that had to answer it before. For example, the Broadcast and Media industry has relied on content management systems for decades, also known as Media Asset Management (MAM) systems, a software solution with all the necessary tools to manage and orchestrate the entire content lifecycle, from cataloging and advanced content search to previewing, editing, retrieval and archiving.
These systems allow, in the first instance, to establish a centralized point where to store, archive and catalog all the available content of an entity, in addition to enabling the search and quick retrieval of the same from any point, which can be very useful in environments as departmentalized and with different geographical locations as universities usually are.
Some of these systems, such as VSNExplorer MAM, also focus on providing access through a web interface, which allows users to save time on complicated application protocols and specific permissions and training, as well as eliminating the possibility of incompatibilities between computers or systems. In addition, this also means that a simple connection to the organization’s authorized network enables remote access to these resources for managers, students and teachers. Of course, these three groups will not have the same needs in the system, something that it already foresees: access to VSNExplorer MAM is determined by a user management system that allows assigning different permissions and functions to each profile in an organization chart as hierarchical as needed.
Despite being defined as a centralized hub, an advanced MAM also has certain functionalities that enable a great capacity for flexibility and customization that can be very useful in educational environments: for example, VSNExplorer MAM integrates with different Artificial Intelligence (AI) engines that allow it to catalog metadata of all kinds automatically, adapting existing cataloging systems and saving time by automating the classification of content into specific segments for different departments, classes or interest groups. In addition, these engines also provide aspects that can be key to adding value to content by making it more accessible, such as speech-to-text transcription and automatic subtitling into other languages.
Moreover, the software integration capacity, an essential feature in Broadcast environments, does not end here. Adapting to the different requirements and customized developments of each media project is an essential quality for companies like VSN, and the union of systems like VSNExplorer MAM with a learning platform (blackboard) or a virtual library can be a possibility depending on each particular case.
The (almost) infinite possibilities of an advanced MAM system
All the advantages of a MAM are focused so far on content management itself, but what if we want to go a step further and get the most out of it? The first logical step would be to examine its performance to date, something that VSNExplorer’s Business Intelligence module allows us to analyze in detail through in-depth reports, dashboards and different visualization modes. Let’s imagine that this information points to a reality already confirmed by different studies, such as the fact that students are more receptive to short video formats. Well, in such a scenario, users can launch Wedit, the video editor integrated in VSNExplorer to perform a quick slice-and-dice editing and generate a new content, more adapted to their audience. Of course, if you need more advanced editing, they can quickly export their work to a non-linear editor (Adobe Premiere, Final Cut, etc.). Moreover, if the content is ready, you can publish it just as easily on different websites, educational platforms and social networks (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter…) from within VSNExplorer MAM itself. Finally, and although this is a more specific case, it is also worth mentioning that content management systems can be integrated with news production systems, creating a unique and state-of-the-art environment for the training of audiovisual students.
Finally, and after so many virtual aspects, one can only wonder about the logistical and financial requirements of a content management system. Fortunately, VSNExplorer MAM is also flexible in that sense, since on the one hand it integrates with all types of storage, whether physical, hybrid or in the cloud (MAM in cloud), and on the other hand, it offers single payment models or as SaaS (Software as a Service), which allows each organization to decide which model best suits its needs and objectives.
In conclusion, it seems that both educators and tomorrow’s students have a great opportunity to substantially improve their environment, and many are already doing so thanks to the right equipment. However, this is not a new resource, but rather the total democratization of a medium, video, which until recently was reserved exclusively for experts. Fortunately, rapid technological evolution has also managed to make its best tools available to everyone.
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