Should we transform discussion boards from text to video? What would we lose or gain when students converse through video recordings instead of written comments?
Jeffrey Young raises this prospect in a provocative EdSurge article.
Joyce Valenza, an assistant teaching professor at Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information… and a growing number of instructors [are] asking students to send in short video responses to questions or share their arguments by submitting short video presentations.
This is a practical, short-term question, but also one with resonance in the deeper future.
The technologies are already available. There are plenty of ways to record and share video from multiple devices. Different platforms, including learning management systems (LMSes), allow uploading and organizing video clips. We can use Kaltura and Blackboard, for example. Young mentions Flipgrid and one I know well, VoiceThread.
How would it play out in terms of pedagogy, institutional structure, and other issues, if classes shifted from text-based to video discussions?
I can offer some thoughts by advantages and disadvantages.
- Connects with our ever-expanding immersion in video
- Deepens awareness of participants by allowing for more information per post (as the above-mentioned prof puts it, ““I can peek into their environment a bit,” she says. “I can see if there are children running around, or I can see what kind of chaos they might have in their learning space.””)
- Teaches technological skills (video recording, audio recording, editing, publishing)
- Challenges for students without access to needed technologies, including video recorders (how many don’t have smartphones?) and broadband
- Requires support for accessibility, such as captioning
- Missing opportunity for writing practice
- Difficulty in searching video content
- Missing hyperlinking
- Preservation might be more costly
Beyond this +/- comparison, I wonder about combining text and video. That doubles complexity, but allows for the positive affordances of both. Would a set of practices that use text and video discussion become a key element in the next toolkit for online teaching?
Back to the article, I gather than Valenza teaches wholly online classes, and can well appreciate how video’s extra emotional bandwidth can help build a learning community when there isn’t any in-person contact. Would video discussion be as effective for face-to-face learning?
Looking ahead, should we expect rising interest in video discussion? Could it supplant old-school text-based discussion boards?
We can go further still. Video production and consumption is on a massive growth spurt, from the planetary civilization agora that is YouTube to the network-devouring popularity of Netflix (and, to a lesser extent, Amazon, iTunes, etc) to the use of phones and other mobile devices to capture, edit, and share video. As a friend of mine provocatively observed, “video is the new paper.”
If this goes on, would incorporating more video into classes along these discussion board lines be a good thing for educators to do? Would it, say, help prepare learners to interact in a video-saturated world? Should we take more seriously calls for integrating video into our previously text-anchored model of literacy?
Further, what does a video-first class look like? We already have heaps of academic content in video form, from lectures to panel discussions to animations, films, and more. We have the tools for learners to consume, make, and share video. We have many videoconference platforms to use, from Zoom to Polycom to Hangout, Connect, and Blackboard’s tool. We have growing technologies for accessibility, like YouTube’s captioning service, improving AI, and practices for crowdsourcing transcripts. We should expect new tools and forms to emerge. Perhaps the classroom of the future, either face to face or online, is about video first, and other other media and platforms – including text – second.
What kind of teaching and learning is that?
(photo by Joe Brusky; thanks to several friends for thinking about this with me offline)