By Paul Taylor
The venue for this year’s Kaltura Connect 2013 was the Chelsea Pier, more specifically Pier 60, on the banks of the Hudson in mid Manhattan. It was an excellent venue and you could feel the history of the place and imagine the tall ships and cargo vessels docking there in days gone by with their various produce from around the world. The clippers are long since replaced with luxury liners, but standing outside the venue and looking across the Hudson and hearing the gentle lap of the waves on the underside of the pier still conjured up some magic. For my part, I was staying nearby in a hotel called the Jane Hotel. The room I had was cozy even for my hobbit like stature, but was built around a nautical theme, keeping with the location, and was (I was reliably informed by my taxi driver) one of the key venues to house survivors of the Titanic disaster in 1912, as well as other returning sailors. Being a keen home brewer it was also nice to see the Chelsea Brewing Company next door at Pier 59.
The conference itself was a two day affair and followed a basic pattern of a morning of inspirational keynotes, followed by afternoon sessions from various practitioners and Kaltura staff. The sessions were divided up into three tracks: Products and Technology; Achieving Your Goals with Video; and Unique Content and Use Cases that Drive Video Experiences. As you would expect, the central theme was the increasing importance of video to the learning and training experience, and this was, for me at least, amply illustrated by the keynote from Scott Chambers, the SVP of Worldwide Media Distribution for the Sesame Street Workshop. Scott presented some facts about the success of Sesame Street over the past 44 years and in particular that they had data to support the power of their shows with Sesame Street children achieving 16% higher scores on standard tests, and 40% better results on social skills. He also showed that they still have a long way to go with 3/10 children still not being properly equipped with the skills they need when they arrive at school. The keynote from Kaltura’s CEO Ron Yekutiel was also very powerful. Ron showed some statistics that 32% of education was now conducted on-line and that by 2017, over 90% of information will be “consumed” as video and 66% will be on mobile platforms. This obviously has a huge impact on education and for us as Moodle Partners.
I attended as many sessions as I could and my main interest was how the development of Kaltura would affect the use and deployment of Moodle, since Remote-Learner are the developers and maintainers of the integration, and how the integration was being used by some of our clients and other organizations. The key development moving forward was the implementation of the Kaltura Application Framework (KAF). The purpose of the KAF was to allow more consistent integrations across all the platforms that Kaltura integrates with and, as I understood it, to make it easier to add improvements from the Kaltura side regardless of the front end (in my case Moodle). The interesting part of the KAF, was the use of the LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) functionality. The use of this plugin means that regardless of the updates and changes on the Moodle side, the latest and greatest developments from the Kaltura side would always be available. Some of these developments were highlighted in a technical presentation. The KAF integration will allow the embedding of a MediaSpace type interface, complete with bootstrap responsive elements, into a Moodle instance. The framework means that users can use the tools of Kaltura, such as video embed and tagging, screen records, galleries etc with a really easy to use interface. This also means that any developments on their roadmap, such as the ability to collaborate on video content, shared repositories, channel based analytics and searches, a PowerPoint sync widget and chaptering of content will be instantly available to Moodle users without any further changes to the plugin. The LTI integration also means a better interface to the gradebook as there are plans to build in a in-video quiz element and survey tools.
In addition to the technical presentations, there were some really inspiring use cases presented from various organizations. There was a good presentation from Columbia University where they had extensive data about the use of video content and the “magic four and a half minutes”. It seems that that is the average watch length of any video content so should be a target for all video creation. They talked about how effective video had become for the entire life cycle of their process, from giving students videos about their staff and the experience they will have, through the actual education and on to alumni giving feedback for marketing purposes. There was a good presentation from New York University which showed that the video analytics features were now giving them deep data about students and this was improving overall performance by as much as 20%. Students were also voting with their eyes and attending courses which were much more media rich which shows the power of presentation and the importance of good practice in the media age. This is an important take away for good course creation on any LMS. In light of this, there was a good presentation from Houston Community Colleges showing their system using Moodle, Kaltura, Plone and other open Source systems was driving their 70,000 student’s experience forward in a positive way and staff were becoming increasingly competent and confident with the use of video for teaching and learning. They were keen advocates of the assignment functionality of the Moodle-Kaltura plugin.
All in all this was a great conference with some really inspiring presentations and speeches showing that the open source community is alive and well and it was good to see Moodle deep in the heart of this movement. I had some great talks with Moodle users and the Kaltura team about the next phases and developments and am looking forward to seeing the new KAF based Moodle plugin for Kaltura we are developing and seeing how this has been used effectively at next year’s Kaltura Connect.
If you would like to know about the Kaltura Video solutions for Moodle contact us today for a free consultation.