As more and more schools, colleges and universities choose to adopt the ‘flipped classroom’ approach to teaching, Greg Hurst, Education Editor of The Times Newspaper, investigated the notion of using short video clips in place of traditional lessons in a recently published article.

Based on the findings of Professor Sanjay Sarma, the director of digital learning at one of America’s most prestigious universities, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Hurst’s article highlights Sarma’s argument that the way students are taught today resembles a ‘factory-style system’, when pupils should instead be faced with ‘friendlier’ and more manageable ‘bursts of on-screen learning’.

It is stated that Sarma suggests that short YouTube lectures should not entirely replace traditional teaching methods, nor make the role of teacher redundant, but instead propose an alternative platform to ‘allow students to learn in different ways’.

Hurst’s article also gives voice to the opinion of headmaster of Honywood Community College in Essex, Simon Mason, who spoke to TES magazine. Mason believes that students are able to concentrate and engage in classroom activity for longer than ten minutes, provided they are involved in learning something where they are ‘able to make authentic choices’ for themselves.

Despite implying that clips of relevant video content should not replace the format of traditional lessons, Mason does add that creating ‘short video pieces is an excellent way of resourcing learning choice’, offering a chance for students to utilise a wealth of different learning techniques.

The article focuses primarily on the use of video clips from the world’s largest video sharing platform, YouTube, which has expanded rapidly in recent years due to a surge in demand for the availability and accessibility of digital media content.

However, undiscussed in this article are the limitations of using YouTube as an educational resource. One of the underlying limitations of using YouTube concerns how without proper management and control of online video content, an institution can find themselves in hot water, breaching licensing and content access laws and even enabling students to take files from servers which, in effect, could unintentionally make them a video pirate.

So what is the solution? Working with a strong and reliable technology partner and an intuitive digital asset management solution, these problems do not and will not exist. Using Tripleplay’s fully customisable Media Portal, IPTV and Video on Demand solutions, integrated into LDAP and Active Directory for instance, ensures that a learning institution can control which users can access content, whether content is available on site, off site or both and when content is made available. This feature is a vital component of any digital media solution and crucial in an education environment as it determines that no laws or license conditions are unwittingly broken.

As this article highlights, the ‘flipped classroom’ approach exists due to a demand for teachers to provide their pupils with chunks of bitesize video content within their lessons, to engage students in a way that they can understand and have come to expect. Albeit that YouTube is free to use, which offers a tempting choice for schools and universities meeting budgets, Tripleplay’s cost effective, safe and fully flexible platform offers institutions the chance to maximise the potential of digital media across site. From an aid to classroom learning, to a modern method of promotion and communication, digital media content delivers the ability to update and improve upon the traditional learning environment, not necessarily replace it, as the theme of this article evokes.

This article certainly demonstrates an interesting insight into the stance that adults need to ‘catch up with the way a new generation of young people learn’, questioning the necessity of replacing teaching methods deemed potentially old hat against the rise of technological advancement, with the consensus of the arguments favouring a need for video content in academic institutions.

However, YouTube is not without its limitations when competing with more secure, robust and comprehensive platforms specifically suited to the education sector. For instance, it has;

  • Limited security
  • Lack of content ownership
  • Limited ability to prevent downloading of content
  • No ability to create bookmarks
  • Reliance on outside internet connectivity
  • No integration with network security

Whilst there may be research in determining how students best learn, there may be a void in ensuring that the best suited or most appropriate technology is secured; you need versatility but this must be controlled versatility, which a good digital asset management solution will certainly ensure.