Using Open Frameworks to Bridge the Technology Divide
Everywhere you look today the use of video in the classroom is growing rapidly – lecture capture, open office hours and MOOCs just to name a few. But the predominant content access point for students (and growing for instructors) is the LMS. Students access it for their assignments, notes and submitting completed homework. Instructors use it for publishing coursework, communicating with enrolled students and grading completed work. But what happens when an instructor records a class session and wants to distribute to the class? How about offering an open office hour to the class using video conferencing? It’s not always a question of whether it’s possible, it’s more a question of workflow and ease of accomplishing the task.
The lack of interoperability between video conferencing, web conferencing, learning management systems, and other technology commonly used in the classroom can often be a stumbling block, either real or perceived.
I’ve been in the video conferencing industry more than 25 years and while we’ve made a good deal of progress with respect to interoperability, there are still pockets of technology divides that need to be bridged. One pathway is custom development, for which I’m currently leading a project that is bringing video conferencing more tightly into the Learning Management System (LMS) world using open API’s. Open APIs are the true key to increasing interoperability in research and education, allowing programmers to manipulate sometimes rigid off-the-shelf frameworks to fit into more natural instructional workflows. While there are several products out there with API support, the integration of two Internet2 NET+ services, Vidyo (video conferencing) and Canvas (LMS) is interesting on many levels. Both have a solid set of well-defined APIs and frameworks for creating custom applications which can bridge workflow tasks that hamper important learning and research engagement, and bring the video conferencing and LMS worlds together..
This means previously recorded lectures can be automatically published to the proper LMS course and allows instructors to create a live virtual open office hour for all of their students with the click of a button.
By making it easy for both the instructor and student, the probability of broad adoption increases greatly. It might just be a small step forward, but it’s progress towards greater interoperability nonetheless and demonstrates the power of products with open frameworks for custom development.
These two services have additional workflow synergies too. Institutions can speed deployment while minimizing business and legal challenges, financial costs, and technology risks for these cloud applications by adopting NET+ Vidyo and Canvas. Both services have completed the NET+ service validation process, conformed to rigorous peer-directed security, accessibility and performance standards, and offer standard business and legal terms for all of higher education.
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