The education sector has already been witnessing high growth and adoption in online education technology, with their digital transformation being accelerated by COVID
By Vinit Mehta
Educational institutions are still reeling from a forced Digital Transformation due to the global shutdown of many institutions due to the coronavirus pandemic, impacting regular classroom learning for approximately 320 million Indian students. Caught off guard, this has presented a whole new reality for educational institutions whose default mode of operations has largely depended on the in-classroom student experience. If there was ever a time launch or revamp their Digital Transformation strategy, the time is now. And assessment of Digital Transformation strategies should factor in plans for remote, home-based learning and how video can play a central role to that strategy.
However, it is not just about adding video to the education delivery mix. Video has to be a central part of the Digital Transformation strategy, and when the video strategy is done right, it can enhance the educational institution brand and market reputation. But before any institution starts overhauling their digital transformation strategy and adding video as an education delivery channel, they need to consider these key elements: a continuity strategy, user experience, video delivery cost and scalability, the role of video analytics, security and the real cost of free platforms.
Strategy – Why Online Remote Learning Will Need to be Part of the New Normal
Most in the education sector were not prepared to transition and deliver learning through remote, online means when the global health crisis escalated to a pandemic. Backed by a legacy ecosystem, most educational institutions need to reinvent themselves, quickly. Reinvention means delivering lessons online, accessible on mobile devices, selecting the ideal medium that is engaging and has a high potential to be interactive.
Different studies have established that a multi-sensory environment, which connects sight, sound, and touch, helps students in developing thoughts and improve their social skills. Students then are able to learn faster and retain information longer. Some research studies indicate that, on average, students retain 25–60% more data from online learning compared to only 8–10% from classroom learning. As a result, video-based online learning presents an effective solution to the challenges in remote learning, while also supporting the continuity of classroom lessons during a lockdown OR new normal as they often say.
User Expects A Smooth Video Playback Experience
It is the clear expectation that video streaming and playback experience should be without buffering, long load times, and zero pixelation. Technological advances like adaptive bitrate streaming create multiple versions or renditions of each video and can automatically detect user bandwidth and dynamically offer the correct rendition to ensure smooth playback at the highest streaming quality possible.
Scalability For Live & On-Demand Video Experience
As more and more students sign up and view digital learning sessions, it is crucial for educational technology platforms to be scalable to cater to spikes in user traffic. However, an increase in the number of users will lead to the rise in the storage and bandwidth costs of delivering video. By leveraging Context-Aware Encoding in video delivery, educational institutions can reduce the cost of storing and streaming video without hampering video quality. Context-Aware Encoding (CAE) uses machine learning and deep video analysis to achieve optimum quality for each video with the fewest bits necessary. This also enables good quality video delivery to low bandwidth environments, which is often critical to patchy Indian networks.
Video Analytics That Goes Beyond Clicks and Views
Video analytics can provide deeper insights into audience viewing behaviour. It can also play a pivotal role in providing detailed data on the program effectiveness and students’ learning performance. Educational institutions can collate and analyse students’ learning performance and progress as well as identify any gaps in learning with analytics data. These observations can help institutions to further develop and refine video-assisted courses to ensure all students are set up to succeed.
High Cost of Free Presents A Security Trade-Off
As with any technology adoption, content security, piracy, and user privacy are key concerns for many educational and online learning organisations. There has been an explosion of tech platforms that can enable or deliver online learning, including free tech platforms that are tempting for some organisations looking to minimise costs. But there is a trade-off between free and secure. Opt for a free platform and end up exposing your business and your users to a host of unfavourable elements such as inappropriate advertisements, low level of security, pirated lessons, and loss of privacy. Choosing a platform that has a robust security protocol built-in that not only respects and protects the privacy of the user, but also protects the business of online learning.
Content security and piracy are easy to manage with two of the most widely used industry technologies, such as Encrypted HTTP Live Streaming (also known as encrypted HLS) and Digital Rights Management (DRM). DRM can prevent video assets from being played back without permission or authentication. Educational organisations can easily secure their content with watermarks, token protection, restrict access by geography, domain, IP address or publication date, so that content is accessible only from within approved networks and meets specific security obligations for distribution. All of this might sound like extremely sophisticated security protocols, but protecting their core product should not be negotiable for the education sector.
The digital transformation in the education sector will progress rapidly in 2020 and beyond, and beyond the four walls of a classroom environment to lessons being delivered via video and over the cloud, within a website or in an app environment. The new normal will mean that both educational institutions and students are prepared to switch between in-classroom experience to a home-based remote learning environment, seamlessly and without any disruptions. The tech is available today to ensure that educational institutions can build a robust ‘digital business continuity plan’, which can make their business, or lack thereof, break their business.
The author is New Business Director, India, Brightcove.