Exploring Online Videos as a Way to Share Knowledge

Lewis, J. (2008). Exploring online videos as a way to share knowledge. Knowledge Management Review, 11(1), 28-33.

This anonymous article looks at an interview with Joyce Lewis, marketing and communications manager, University of Southampton, UK on the topic of the Electronics and Computer Science School’s use of online video to broadcast student and faculty news and research updates.

In this interview, Lewis suggests that the world has not yet realized the full potential of the Web, since so many technologies are so new and people cannot or do not keep up with such advancing technologies. She goes on to opine that our previous experiences constrain our views of computer technologies, so that we put such technologies to use as “modern” versions of existing technology. “Microsoft Word as a new typewriter, Wikipedia as an online encyclopedia.” But, if we did not see the Web so two-dimensionally, we could do far more with it. Lewis believes that exploring video as a means of sharing knowledge and information online is one way to understand how the Web is being used by a few and could be used by a wider population. “It’s quicker to view, it’s more appealing, it’s emotionally rich, and most people’s bandwidth can now support it. So it’s definitely one way the web is going,” she says.

In using this technology (in podcast and videocast format) to deliver information to students, Lewis found that it appealed to the instructors largely due to the ease ith which they could create the videos. The process was also cost-free, since they used iMovie, which came free on their computers. They also found that they could share videos on topics that many students, particularly those at a distance could not see, such as the construction of a new campus building. Lewis also video-recorded the demolition of a campus building, including the emotional reaction of those watching the event, thus capturing the “raw emotion of what was happening.” This stands as an example, in addition to others I have discussed on this blog, of the fact that video captures the emotion of those being recorded.

“The experience brought home to Lewis the inherent power of the medium. “No matter how good the writer, words written on a page from a communications department will never get close to conveying the sincerity and depth of emotion that one 10-minute video did,” she says. “

Lewis’s advice to those considering using this communication format in the classroom, is to keep it simple.

“The simplicity and speed of the format is what makes it appealing to a tight-budgeted department; the problem is that experience breeds a desire to over-complicate the process for more effect, but in the process, losing the thing that makes it worthwhile.”

My cost in using it in my own class was negligible. I have used various Webcam and video cameras along the way. But the use of Viddler is free. My only other cost is the domain name and hosting, which I pay annually. This, however, is a personal option; my university provides me with Web space. While I concur that it can be tempting, at times, to present something more elaborate and edited, the real benefit of this communication format is the immediacy and ease with which I can create and post videos. As Lewis notes, “[I]t’s a trade-off all the time between what would enhance the experience for the audience and what is just an unnecessary ‘nice to have.”

Lewis discovered that the medium created more direct and visible audience participation as interviewees, since they quickly realized that their comments would be part of the school’s communications. This resulted in an increase in ambassadorship and a sense of ownership. While, my in-class application of such technology does not result in an archive directly associated with the school, the students clearly realize that their responses are archived within the class and generally take the time to craft a well-thought response, evident from the outlines they have noted they use and in the fact that they are, occasionally, clearly reading. This too falls into the idea of “archived ignorance” in which the fear that one has in a FtF class–over raising one’s hand and risking looking “stupid” for asking what might be perceived as a dumb question–can actually be increased, since any potentially dumb question asked on video is archived. Therefore , the students seem to take the time to provide more informed commentary. The medium, of course also offers this opportunity, whereas the FtF class is immediate and does not afford students the ability to research and verify heir answers and form more educated questions. As the article notes, “It’s a very effective way to move towards a situation where everyone in the organization is part of the communication culture.”

While I still direct (prompt) the content topics for the assignments, the students perform their own invention of their content to share. Adding to this participative, knowledge sharing environment, I suggest that the students use this medium when conversing within their own Web groups. Each semester, at least one group follows this suggestion, but it is still less than I would hop, suggesting they may not fully realize the value or ease of the medium. For future semesters, I may give them the option to present a longer format (15-20 min.) presentation instead of the 1000-1500 word essay they are required to write at the end of the semester. Using this communication medium in the classroom exposes students to another form of communication, another side to the Internet, and a way that they can communicate in the workplace and in general social (media) situations. While such exposure in a single classroom is rather small, it is important to expose students to such new applications of new or existent media with which they might now be familiar. Doing so helps broaden understandings of where the Web can transcend the simple storage and display for which we most commonly use the Internet.

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