Considering Delivery of Digital Media Online
It is common to think of using digital media in education as a ‘new thing’ when in actual fact it has been used for many years in a variety of guises. What’s new however, are the opportunities that a convergence of the internet and affordability of devices has provided the mass market. This document looks at some of the options for delivering digital media using the web as a delivery platform.
Until recently it was quite costly for the majority to produce digital media (cameras, microphones, tools and space) and delivery was largely limited to VHS/DVD, often in a classroom environment.
Now however, due to the widespread availability of the internet in educational settings, public spaces and learners' homes, we have a maturing medium that can be used to create, consume and deliver teaching and learning - much of which can be done with little additional skills and quite safe in the knowledge that the internet is here to stay.
In addition to the opportunities that the web can provide, most of us have access to devices such as mobile phones and pro-sumer cameras that create digital media and are seeing that it is possible to produce great resources at any budget.
Also with regard to the use of video, many of us are finding suitable video online via video sharing sites such as YouTube and TeacherTube that can be used with learners.
The graphic below shows where digital media sits on the web and the various ‘types of delivery location'.
Delivering digital media over the web
Delivering digital media over the web provides additional means with which to reach learners, which then offers potential benefits for teaching and learning. Until there was widespread web delivery, the other method was to distribute resources on a physical format such as CD-ROM, print or VHS. However, this is now often not cost or time effective and often has no advantage over web delivery, which is gaining tract as the primary delivery method.
There are also numerous potential benefits for both teaching and learner which are outlined below. The web as a medium provides with us additional platforms for connecting, communicating and achieving improved or new types of activity.
Teaching benefits of web delivery (which can be realised easily):
- Cost/time effective delivery platform
- Time and views or downloads can be measurable
- Scalable platform to design for
- Additional mode of delivery for facilitating teaching and learning
- Opportunities for new techniques (audio feedback for example)
- Sharing of resources
- Sustainability of resources
- Low entry-point - the skills can be acquired quickly
- Reusability or repurposing of resources
- Speed of delivery to both teaching staff and learners
Learner benefits of web delivery:
- Availability 24/7
- Accessible from most web enabled devices
- Possibilities for web-based communication
Whether delivering multimedia resources to learner devices or embedding these resources within a wider teaching framework, there is a likelihood in 2010 and beyond that learning resources will be primarily delivered via the web.
Resources can be designed to take advantage of its specific mode of delivery and context.
For example, a task designed to be delivered via a mobile device would suit a learner situation that took advantage of their ‘mobility': asking an engineering student cohort to visit bridges and view specific video material at the site, may provide context that supports a further learner activity such as asking the learner to take images, video/audio to show evidence of their understanding, in response to the teaching material. This has been enabled by using the web as a delivery tool to the mobile device.
Depending on what we need to achieve and based on our learning objectives, we may choose between the four methods outlined below for delivery.
For example, producing a resource that is to be used in the learner's own time, it may be best to provide the resource as a downloadable resource e.g. a podcast so that they can use it on their own device (laptop/mobile phone).
Some resources are ideally suited to be used within a larger framework such as the VLE. In such situations, embedding the resource is appropriate. An example is embedded video, where supporting text and/or other media provides context to maximise its effectiveness.
3. Streamed media
Streaming media is used for live events/demos where a live feed to the web is required. Typically this is also recorded locally and made available at a later date.
An example of use includes delivery of presentations across geographic locations e.g. an international speaker who cannot physically attend a conference.
4. Video/audio podcast
Podcasts have become very popular over the past five years due to their relative ease of creation and flexible uses which include download and embedding together.
Below is an example of how the JISC funded Bloomsbury Media Cloud project delivers its podcasts:
Structuring the learning
In order to help ensure that our own resources have a good chance of being successful we need to be aware of the learning experience surrounding our resources and specifically the 3 stages of use. Our advice document on Designing Learning Experiences will help you get started.
Three stages of multimedia use:
Based on our learning objectives we will have a desired outcome for what we hope our learners will get out of using the resource. This stage is therefore the foundation of all three stages. It should be noted that this stage needs to also be considered at the other two stages.
For example, prior to a teaching session are there any background resources that learners should be pointed to? And if so is there an agreed location for where they be located?
Again, based on the intended outcomes and the pre-viewing stage, we should have a set of requirements of what the learner is expected to do whilst using a resource and initiate stage three.
When choosing to use multimedia during a session consider where it is accessed and through which devices? This will help us ensure that it is being used in the correct context and technical manner. Also, there is the likelihood that any resource will be re-viewed on a number of occasions and this should be factored into the design.
In order for a resource to be most effective for the learner and for potential teaching activity, an activity or further instruction post viewing is often recommended. In order for this to be successful background context should be given at the pre viewing stage so that the learner is prepared for any such further activity or instruction.
Traditionally a resource would be used only once and associated with a set session or module. Now however the increased used of multimedia and the web allows both the learners and teaching staff the opportunity to re-use or re-purpose resources e.g. for revision later in the year.
Preparing files for delivery
Nearly all digital media that is created by yourself will need to be prepared before it can be suitably used on the web - this is due to the fact that the raw files tend to be too large for optimal web delivery (file size, speed, context). Because requirements vary please contact our free advice helpdesk for advice on how to best optimise your digital media.
There are now many opportunities for using the web to meet the needs of your teaching and learning. Understanding the web as a delivery tool is one major consideration of good practice when using digital media. The benefits will vary depending on the context of use and how your use of digital media underpins teaching and learning: experimentation is key.
JISC Digital Media. Choosing a File Format for Digital Still Images
JISC Digital Media. Using Video in Teaching and Learning
JISC Digital Media. Designing Learning Experiences
JISC Digital Media. Using Web-based Services for Hosting Videos
JISC Digital Media. Choosing a File Name