What Use Is Educational Video If You Can’t Find It?

My latest column for Streaming Media Magazine is online. In it I focus on the importance of being able to search through the mountains of educational video being produced every day:

That’s the next crucial step in educational video online: developing a common standard for cataloging, organizing, and sharing content, regardless of platform. We already have a model in libraries, which have common standards for cataloging physical assets such as books and discs. The successes and failures of this decades-long process should provide direction and insight for educational video.

In a similar vein, fellow SM writer and columnist Tim Siglin reported on discussions about time-based metadata for video that happened at the recent Open Video Conference:

Chris Jackson noted that URIPlay, an open-source project that MetaBroadcast has been working on with the BBC’s backing, started as an interface project but has ended up as a metadata play.

“Our core goal is to help people find moving images,” said Jackson, “but we’ve found we had to move well beyond user interfaces to the creation effective metadata tools and interfaces. We compared ‘closed code’ and ‘open code’ and realized that the pain threshold would be about the same initially for either type, but that the data range/quality of metadata could increase significantly if our open source code was used by the larger open source community. Our open software code revolves around metadata scraping and parsing.”

Although it all sounds a little technical, what’s at hand here is creating, storing and sharing data about video files so that the media itself is easier to find and use. The real trick is being able to search based upon more criteria than just titles or filenames, which often doesn’t result in much when video files are given names like “video01.mov.”

Searchability is accessibility and is truly one of the next most important steps in the development of online education, especially a more democratic online education.

I’ll be writing about more educational topics here at mediageek as that is what I do for a living and because I think the world of educational media is very connected to independent media and media freedom. Like so many disciplines, these worlds are too often siloed into their own self-contained universes, without a lot of cross-pollination. It looks like the Open Video Conference was one venue where the boundaries were crossed. I wish I could have gone, but I hope there will be more conferences like it.


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