This week, hundreds of European higher education leaders, teachers, trainers and digital resource creators will convene in Belgium for Media & Learning 2018: Video in Higher Education.

Hosted by the Media & Learning Association and KU Leuven on 14 – 15 June, the conference will highlight the latest pedagogical and technical developments to integrate video learning into classrooms.

We’re excited to attend the conference (we’re a Gold Sponsor and our EVP Rob Lipps is presenting a keynote, “Beyond the Bitrate: Ensuring Campus Video Success”). There’s so much to discuss while there: video as an assessment tool, learning analytics, augmented reality, scaling video deployments, creating video policies – the list goes on and on. So, we sat down with COO of Media & Learning Association,  Sally Reynolds  who is also the joint owner of ATiT, the Belgian company organizing the conference on behalf of the association to discuss a few topics. Sally has more than 20 years of experience helping to implement technology for education and training.

Q: How widely accepted is the use of video instruction at European colleges and universities?

A: More than half of all institutions in Europe have integrated video into their services. Traditional lecture capture – giving students recordings of classes – began several years ago. But the past few years have seen some quite innovative applications around the use of pre-recorded academic video. Also known as microlearning or flipped instruction, instructors are increasingly creating short video clips to supplement their teaching – whether that be in fancy AV production studios or via the DIY method.

Q: Then, along came MOOCs (massively open online courses) a few years ago. How did that affect interest in academic video?

A: MOOCs slightly changed the game plan. On one hand, there were people who had never used video before, and MOOCs made them realize that it was something they could do – it wasn’t as scary as they thought.

Around that same time, we started to see a big push from students demanding that more video be used in the classroom. They started to ask ‘Why isn’t there more video available?’

We’re definitely over the MOOC hype in Europe, just like in the U.S. But MOOCs were a good catalyst for more video usage. Those of us who have been in the education business for a long time saw the types of videos used in MOOCs and realized that they weren’t very innovative. We’ve been doing that sort of thing for 20 years. It made us ask ourselves, ‘Can we do better? Can we introduce a bit more interaction? Can we do something that makes it a bit more lively?’

Q: What has been done to make the videos more engaging and interactive?

A: Because the tools and services -- like Mediasite -- are now on the market, instructors can track a student’s use of video. They can see what they watch, for how long, where they start and stop, etc. Instructors can include interactive elements, like quizzes, polling and annotations to encourage discussion around the content. The possibilities are endless.

Augmented reality, for example, allows instructors to super-impose information into existing videos to make the content more engaging.

There’s a European project called WeKIT (http://wekit.eu/) that uses augmented reality video to train police officers in Spain on how to interview potential sex offenders. Focusing on body language, the officers record themselves conducting practice interviews. Then, they watch the video, paying special attention to how they ask and react to questions and their body language – stuff that you can’t teach somebody out of a book.

In the past few years we’ve also seen a big hype around video assessment. More and more departments are introducing some form of video assessment whereby students have to produce an assignment with an element of video.

Q: Earlier you mentioned that the way videos are created varies across Europe – some are professionally produced while others follow a BYOD approach. What’s the norm, and is one strategy better than the other?

A: As more and more faculty express interest in creating videos, more and more questions over how to do it arise. Should the university provide assistance? Will there be full production? Or are they just let loose to record whatever they choose? And it really is a mix of all the above.

KU Leuven in Belgium, for example, does a great job of offering academics a lot of online training videos that show how to record their own materials. The university also provides them storage and support to make them available to students.

Other universities have no trail for instructors to follow, so they do it completely on their own. That makes it very hard to track, because they create a video, stick it on YouTube and tell their students where to find it.

There’s something to be said for both approaches, and I think it depends on their institutional and cultural perspective. Some universities want to spend time and money to make sure the videos are professionally done while others prefer the candid, off the cuff approach. Presentation skills are very culture specific and therefore affect how universities respond.

In ATiT, we’re trying to figure out how to bridge this divide and find an approach suitably OK in between – giving academics a little bit of support without breaking the bank. I think that’s an issue that’s facing many universities and this will definitely be a hot topic at the Media & Learning conference this week.

Q: Faculty aren’t always quick to jump on the new technology bandwagon. How does a university get wide-scale adoption of video?

A: Schools need a solid video policy to ensure wide-scale adoption. It’s not something you can force, cajole and beg your academics to do if they don’t want to. I don’t think you’ll ever get 100 percent adoption across a university, but having a clear and solid policy is the absolute first step in getting as close to that as possible.

The questions ‘Who owns my content, me or the university?’ and ‘What if my content goes viral? Do I get credit or does the university?’ always come up. Universities need to create good policies for production of video content, because at a lot of schools it’s just not clear.

Another issue is that in Europe, academics are rewarded according to their research outputs not their teaching outputs. So, when it comes time to implement new, and in some cases, foreign strategies into their teaching, not everyone is excited. Until we get our policies straight and until academics are rewarded for good teaching practices, there’s never going to be full adoption. You’ll always have the 10 percent of enthusiastic front-runners and the other 10 percent who never want to try it. The 80 percent in between who are very busy need incentives and need to know answers to the legal questions.

We’re getting completely caught up in GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), rights and ownership here in Europe, and video really is right in the middle of it all.

Q: What’s the next big thing in education?

A: I’d love to say something like 360-degree video, because I find that really interesting and I love the idea of immersive learning environments. I’m involved with a lot of teacher training, and the ability to capture everything that goes on in a classroom from a 360-vantage point is powerful.

While that is lovely to see emerging, what’s probably much more likely is even more adoption of DIY videos across the curriculum. I think we’ll see teachers and students recording themselves, making their own clips and doing video assignments. The democratization of video in universities is already well under way. The sheer availability of it all is going to have a tremendous impact on education in the next 10 years.

If you’re attending Media & Learning, be sure to stop by our stand in the exhibit hall to learn how Mediasite is used for academic video, lecture capture and microlearning. You can also hear how London Business School built a successful video initiative with Mediasite during Wayne Buttigieg’s session, “Integrating Lecture Capture” on Friday. And don't miss our EVP Rob Lipps' keynote, "Beyond the Bitrate: Ensuring Campus Video Success," on Thursday.