In all of the fields in which I work, software, criminal justice and Adult Basic Education, I see the same trend – digitization. Software used to be sold in a box, now you just download it. Application forms for replacing identification or applying for welfare can now be printed from the web or sometimes even filled in online. Course material is now delivered digitally instead of on paper or in a textbook. One of the most exciting areas of the digitization of everything is that of video, particularly the area of instructional videos.
Of course, instructional videos are not new, but because of technological advances, the quality has improved enormously while production and distribution costs have gone down. This, in turn, has opened up exciting possibilities for many individuals and organizations to try their hand at producing educational videos.
To see what’s changed, just compare trying to make an instructional video 15 years ago to trying to produce the same product today. With the video quality available 15 years ago, your video would look fuzzy and grainy. The software to edit the raw video in to a finished product would have been prohibitively expensive. The available network infrastructure didn’t have the bandwidth to distribute your product digitally, so you’d need to distribute it on CD. Your customers would most likely have to watch the video on their TV, since their computer might not be fast enough to play it. Today, because of the advent of High Definition video, the equipment to record a clear, detailed video image is now available in camcorders, as well as in many phones. The software to edit the raw video in to a finished product comes bundled with many computers. Because of improvements in available internet bandwidth and free distribution channels, like YouTube, producers can distribute their video online. More importantly, mobile devices and their accompanying distribution stores (Apple Store, Android Market) have given producers a low cost way of selling the video they produce, giving each project the possibility of being economically viable.
As I try to transition out of the software industry and in to education, I’m working on accumulating the skills I need to participate in this evolution in instruction. Although the technology required to produce and distribute high-quality instructional videos is now available, there are many other skills that are required to make instructional videos, skills such as curriculum development, scripting, editing and video production. I’m confident that completing the Provincial Instructors Diploma (PID) program will be an important step in accumulating the most important of these skills, that of curriculum development.