I have been involved in several pilots for video streaming services over the past 6 years and have become a frequent user of a particular media streaming service over that period of time. I have found the convenience of being able to pull up a video on a moments notice very convenient. The ability to download and archive videos is also extremely convenient as I am not always in a position to show a particular video at the prescribed time. The cost of this particular service is approximately $2 per student for a one-year subscription. This gives staff full access to the media collection along with access to resource archives and discussion forums. Students gain access to everything except the teacher resource material. Now the quality of the media collection is somewhat questionable at times but overall for the core academics you can almost always find something suitable content wise. One of the drawbacks of such a service is the tech required to make it accessible, namely a computer, multimedia projector and internet connection. Now you can live without an internet connection if you download the videos at home and bring them in to school but for the teachable moment you will need an internet connection. Another pitfall is the speed of your particular school network. If it is anything like the network in my district it leaves something to be desired. Prior to this service teachers would book media through the media services department in their district and wait for it to be mailed to the school. Teachers would plan when they would show a particular video and book it well in advance. Someone like me who doesn’t plan more than a week at a time had difficulty finding the video I wanted when I wanted it. So an on demand video service is ideal for someone like me, especially with the added tech cache that goes along with it. But what does a service like this do to established media service departments?
The outsourcing or digitizing of content is becoming more and more a reality. Textbook companies are bundling digital or online versions of their publications (and charging a pretty penny I might add). Video services even our attendance and marks are now housed online. What will this do to district staff and specialists? Media streaming has slowly led to the dwindling of resources kept in hard copy form in my district and I would imagine similar scenarios are playing out elsewhere. Is this the inevitable direction of 21st Century education or is it a compromise and way for districts to cut-costs and outsource once in-house services? Should teachers be demanding that school boards and districts develop a media infrastructure in-house and compile our own collection of digital resources or would this just lead to every district reinventing the wheel? Do we want to allow our educational media to fall into the hands of big business who see this as a money making venture? The ground beneath our feet is shifting and the delivery of education is changing at a rapid rate. The struggle between established and innovative modes of content delivery leave senior managers in a dilemma. Ultimately it comes down to what is best for the student but the unfortunate reality is it is really what we can afford that makes the difference.