As education becomes increasingly innovative and accessible, more and more courses are being offered partially or fully online. For students as well as faculty, this transition from the traditional to the virtual classroom can be a challenge.
How do faculty members create engaging lectures without face-to-face interaction? How do students interact and participate effectively? Appearing in several of Mason’s online courses, Kaltura is one video management tool that offers a solution.
Whether by uploading preexisting presentations or creating new media within the program, Kaltura allows multiple ways for users to incorporate video and audio directly into a Blackboard course and creates endless opportunities for interaction, collaboration, and communication.
In order to gain faculty feedback and perspective on the tool, Jim McLean of the Division of Instructional Technology (DoIT) spent the spring semester working with some of Mason’s online professors for a monitored pilot of Kaltura. During this process, several benefits were revealed.
According to McLean, the majority of the feedback has been very positive. “Faculty are starting to implement visual, virtual discussions to encourage collaborative efforts between students, and I think the use of Kaltura has been pretty effective. When considering analytics alone, the number of videos, users, and contributors have all, at a minimum, doubled each month.”
So, what other benefits come with Kaltura?
Perhaps the most obvious benefit, it’s free. Since Mason maintains the use of Kaltura, all faculty, staff, and students are able to access it free of charge within a Blackboard course or organization. Other video management options, like Camtasia or Adobe Presenter, are typically paid for by the faculty member or associated department.
Not only is Kaltura available to all Mason faculty, staff, and students, but it’s easy to use. Content can be uploaded or created within Kaltura’s two basic content building tools, Screen Capture and Web Cam Capture.
What’s more, when users upload or create media content, Kaltura transcodes the files into multiple formats to ensure accessibility on various devices.
“Because Kaltura turns uploaded media into multiple versions, creating a version that can play on any device, the problem of flash-based technology is solved,” says McLean. “For example, students using mobile devices can play Kaltura videos with no problem.”
Rather than opening a third-party plug-in or similar video management software, Kaltura is integrated into the Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS). Therefore, Mason faculty and students can create and upload videos and presentations without having to exit Blackboard, and focus can remain entirely on the course.
McLean explains, “The great thing about Kaltura is that anywhere there is a text-editor in the course, students have access to the program’s tools. Whether in a wiki, blog, learning module, assignment, or discussion board, students can utilize Kaltura to participate and communicate.”
In addition, Kaltura streamlines and optimizes the use of media in Blackboard. While files may be uploaded within a specific course, uploaded content will also be stored in the user’s My Media Library, which exists outside of the course. Faculty members can even share content with each other through the Faculty Repository.
It’s a Start
These key benefits also make Kaltura the ideal tool for faculty and students who are new to online education or may not be ‘tech savvy.’
While other online learning tools are available, faculty can utilize Kaltura’s simpler format to adjust to the online environment before purchasing a more complex program. As the tool is already integrated into Blackboard, accessibility is streamlined and content use is optimized.
“If a faculty member is interested in a more robust program with interactivity, application sharing, or web touring, then Blackboard Collaborate or Camtasia may be better suited to those needs,” shares McLean. “However, if a faculty member is just recording a presentation or lecture, Kaltura is the simplest and quickest way to do so.”
In fact, McLean has seen faculty utilize the tool for a range of engaging projects and useful purposes. Ultimately using the course gallery as a research tool, Dr. Brenda Bannan implemented Kaltura to create lectures, provide visual feedback to students, and incorporate student presentations. Another professor used the software to co-create a film studies montage with his students.
Perhaps the best quality is that Kaltura benefits students and faculty alike, for online education is a new arena for all. As Mason continues to offer additional online programs and courses—encouraging further faculty development and reaching a more diverse range of students—Kaltura would serve as an ideal starting place for anyone looking to excel within the virtual classroom.
For assistance with Kaltura, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.