Video has become a major resource for schools – but how can they manage it online? Enter MediaCore
Within less than a year of being launched for schools, MediaCore is growing rapidly, and has already found its way on to the shortlist for the BETT Awards (in the ICT Tools for Learning and Teaching category).
Not a bad debut for an online video service developed in Canada and driven by an education team based in the UK. And it underlines the fact that many schools want more control and security for their video content than they can get from the popular, free YouTube service.
While MediaCore is a commercial service, any teacher can qualify for a free personal account that gives them 5Gb of online storage. This allows them to share their videos with up to 50 students, and if they are using an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad they can use a free app, MediaCore Capture, that allows them to upload their video directly to MediaCore (an Android version is due soon).
The app is breathtakingly simple and easy to use. A teacher's video can be uploaded to the system within seconds. And the really good news about uploads to MediaCore is that users do not have to fiddle about trying to find the optimum video format for their upload. They simply upload and the system sorts out the optimum format for them. It allows teachers to enter the shoot-and-share era – with confidence and security.
The key attraction for schools is the absolute control they have over their videos. They can control exactly who sees which video and that includes users outside school too. They don't have to make a video publicly accessible just to share it with outside users. They can specify exactly which users can get access. For example, if they're collaborating with an outside firm on a school project they can grant access just to members of that firm's team.
The range of uses is massive, and even includes podcasting
Similarly, the school has absolute control over that most vexatious aspect of online video sharing, the commenting system. The school determines whether comments should be turned on for a video and exactly who is entitled to comment.
The range of uses is massive, and even includes audio for podcasting. Schools using the service have experienced a massive upsurge in in confidence with video which has had a significant impact on the curriculum and communications.
Take Sacred Heart RC Primary School in Bolton for example, which last recently won the 2012 Pearson Award for Outstanding Use of Technology in Education in the north. The school adopted MediaCore for a quick, simple way for children and teachers to upload video for classroom and home use.
Sacred Heart quickly moved from a point where it struggled to use video in class, and simply could not share with parents, to cultivating a media boom that benefited the whole school community. One immediate benefit was enabling children to work at their own pace. If pupils didn't quite understand something in class, videos were available for further exploration and reinforcement both at school and at home.
'Pupils can replay it again and again until it is properly understood'
Headteacher Martin Johnson explains, “Some children get the lesson straight away and others take a bit longer. With video learning pupils can replay it again and again until it is properly understood. We have been able to challenge less able Year 6 children trying to get through the Level 4 barrier and there is already evidence of younger children looking ahead in the curriculum.”
Implications for home use and involving parents are massive. “Video learning extends into the home the kind of technology we are using at school, meaning that there is better home-to-school learning which wasn’t possible before. We are now uploading assemblies and reading meetings for parents who were unable to attend, so that they can help their children with their homework at a time that suits them.”
Teachers get useful feedback on how effective their videos are from the number of views and ‘likes’ from students – they know how many views a video has had, when they happened, and how students have engaged with the content.
And with Single Sign On from popular school technologies such as Google Apps, Moodle and Active Directory, MediaCore can integrate seamlessly with schools’ existing systems, removing the need for teachers and students to remember an additional user name and password.
MediaCore is confident of the capabilities and security of its service and now the focus has shifted to extending the learning features available to its users, many of which will be based on customer feedback. The expertise of MediaCore’s education team, led by former Apple executive Alan Greenberg, will be behind introducing developments in the platform itself, with innovative learning-centric features being introduced over the coming months.
James Cross, MediaCore’s “educator in residence” has lost none of the enthusiasm he first experienced when, as a music teacher in Sheffield, he discovered the extra impact and richness that technology can bring to learning. He brings his teacher expertise and understanding to his role and, as an Apple Distinguished Educator, he shares Alan Greenberg's insistence on simplicity, ease of use and sophisticated design for their customers.
“We’re seeing schools across the world, from Shanghai to Sheffield, creating awesome learning experiences for their students with MediaCore,” he said. “With rising internet speeds and increasingly powerful mobile devices, on-demand media has changed the way that people consume entertainment content – from BBC’s iPlayer, to services like Netflix and Spotify.
“At MediaCore, we’re giving schools the capability to safely bring this powerful technology into their classrooms, amplifying the reach of students’ learning experiences in a profound way. Students can watch, engage with, and even submit their own video learning content, wherever they are, and on any device – putting them in control of the when, where and how of their learning. And it’s all completely secure, completely controlled by the school, and a pleasure to use."
MediaCore is available on a whole-school basis, at a cost of around £2,500 per year for a typical secondary school - and individual teachers can sign up for a free, ongoing teacher account at mediacore.com/free
Meet MediaCore’s education team at BETT 2013 to see examples of how schools around the world are creating engaging learning experiences with video, and sign up for a free account.