In My Opinion: Vidyo Goes Viral at Arizona State University

Big news for Vidyo, Inc. today in the academic world! Vidyo has partnered with Internet2, a member-owned advanced technology community founded by the nation’s leading higher education institutions, to create and provide a low-cost, subscription-based video communications service for all Internet2 university members and thousands of public K-12 schools in the United States. After a thorough trial run of the Vidyo-based solution at Arizona State, Emory and Northwestern Universities, the Vidyo NET+ Service is expected to be available for early adopter enrollments this May. Arizona State University was extremely influential making this happen; in fact, they sponsored Vidyo as a NET+ Service, based on the great experience they’ve had using Vidyo at ASU for the past several years. Accordingly, we could think of no one more appropriate to share their first-hand experience with Vidyo. The following is an account from Guy Mullins, ASU’s Director of New Media, Academic Technologies:

When we first introduced the use of Vidyo at ASU, it was for one particular purpose: a class at the School of Life Sciences in which our students in Tempe, Arizona communicated and collaborated with leading research scientists and experts from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s facilities on Barro Colorado Island, in the middle of the Panama Canal.  We needed a video communications solution that would allow students and faculty at ASU to connect easily and interact seamlessly with the Smithsonian experts in these remote tropical areas.  It was no small feat … but Vidyo well surpassed any of our expectations and news of this exceptional communications tool spread rapidly. Mainly through ‘word of mouth,’ we soon had others in our academic community requesting Vidyo and downloading the application.

To date, we’ve seen well over two thousand downloads of the Vidyo client application across our community. In terms of demand, we are about double the number of monthly client downloads over this same time last year.

With this in mind, we have started to look a bit more closely at who among our community are using Vidyo.

Based on our early analysis of our usage data mapped against our general user directories, it appears that Vidyo is still primarily a tool of the technical minded staff at ASU.  I anticipate that the next wave of adoption will come from faculty and researchers. Opening up this technology to a much broader range of users through simple-to-use and inexpensive Vidyo desktop tools, we’re finding many more rich, interesting, and innovative uses for video communications across our entire university and beyond.

We’re seeing scientists from a wide range of disciplines collaborate on research with their colleagues from around the world; we have expert guest lecturers being introduced remotely into our classrooms; field reports being filed by our broadcast journalism students; collaborations in the arts, theater, and more.  It is inspiring to see how a new technology can really have an impact in improving our teaching, learning, and research capabilities. Given the strong growth patterns of Vidyo usage , we believe we are only at the beginning of what is yet to come in terms of videoconferencing in the academic community. This global thinking has ironically also spawned some new ideas at home that we hope to explore soon; we’ve realized that our campus is large enough and diverse enough that we actually have numerous “field trip” opportunities we can engage in across campus – or even just down the hall – in which Vidyo can be utilized to bring hundreds of students into lab spaces, studios, research environments, and more.  We look forward to some of these “inside the box” approaches to deploying Vidyo to enhance our teaching and learning activities.

We are now averaging more than eleven hundred calls per month (1114 calls per month as of March 2013 – see above chart) either person-to-person or in collaborative group meetings.  That is far more than we were seeing just a short time ago, and arguably a ten–fold increase over any previous videoconferencing technology we’ve deployed in the past.  Again though, looking at our current rate of growth for Vidyo usage and adoption, I’m confident that in another year the numbers we’re seeing today will be relatively quaint by comparison.  The future of videoconferencing with Vidyo looks bright at ASU.

# # #

Guy Mullins, Director of New Media at ASU’s University Technology Office, has over 25 years of experience in higher education media production. A focus on documentary and research production combined with networking and social media collaboration, Guy’s work blends both traditional and emerging approaches to educational media applications. Guy has a B.A. from the University of Arizona, where his studies focused on Radio & Television; minor studies include Fine Arts and Business, and a M.Ed., Arizona State University, with an emphasis in Educational Media & Computers.


 

 

 

 

In My Opinion: What the 21st Century Classroom Looks Like

Not too long ago, my six-year-old daughter wanted to make a kite, so we opened up her laptop and searched “how to make a kite” on YouTube. We had several videos to choose from on the first page of results, and my daughter soon found one that suited her purpose. Within minutes she was collecting material and pressing pause during each step in the video as she followed directions. She could rewind or play the video as she progressed, and an hour later we were testing her kite outside.

Welcome to learning in the 21st Century. Today, students learn from peers, an online community, and experts who share their knowledge through traditional and online publishing resources. University students I work with have access to more information through their cellphones than I did in my entire library as an undergrad.

Smart phones are a wakeup call to educators. The days of constructing four walls with a podium at the front and calling it a school house are over. Today’s students are highly connected and consume information when and where it’s needed. New pushes in augmented reality, combined with the possibilities of hardware like Google Glass, will change the face of education as we know it.

Unfortunately, many educators tend to focus on testing memorization skills—think every multiple choice question you ever endured–but, as Socrates lamented when writing became popular, memorization is no longer important; and the testing of memorization skills is a significant distraction in education. This reliance on a historically structured curriculum leads to one right answer, as Sir Ken Robinson says, “at the back of the book,” rather than opening up the curriculum to multiple questions, ideally generated by the students themselves.

What society needs are people who can ask good questions, come up with creative solutions, critically examine those possibilities to figure out which one creative solution is most likely to be effective, and communicate that solution effectively enough to motivate others to action. Classrooms in the 21st century will take this into account. One step in this direction is the flipped classroom, in which students watch lectures and read course material outside of class, and use class time to engage with topics and course material through small group discussion or individual projects.

The 21st Century Classroom will be a place where students move up on Bloom’s taxonomy (the new version) beyond rote memorization skills to creation skills. These classrooms will be intellectually safe, comfortable places that encourage peer interaction and tactile connections with the material students are studying (virtual or physical) because these experiences inspire creative solutions and communication skills. Successful classrooms will facilitate networking, small group collaboration, and interaction with the subject of study.

These rooms will also be highly connected. Right now campuses have WiFi available but not in all classrooms and learning spaces. New technologies will allow students and instructors to stay connected constantly. Successful educators will be the ones who can connect learning material with the visual, tactile, and social aspects of the subject: e.g., connecting students with professionals who are successful in their respective fields.

Thanks to initiatives like TedTalks and Creative Commons, students have an unprecedented opportunity to listen to lectures from individuals who are the brightest minds in their field. Students also have the ability to securely attend classes through video they may have missed due to illness, or meet with scholars and practitioners virtually as a class through software like Vidyo. Location is no longer a barrier for those who are connected. If the traditional schoolhouse is a wooden building in a field, the 21st Century Classroom is Willie Wonka’s glass elevator, able to move sideways and slantways and even travel outside the factory. The instructor’s role has moved from content deliverer to experience facilitator.

In short, the 21st Century Classroom will be flexible and highly connective. Moveable, comfortable furniture will be important to encourage small group collaboration and communication. The ability to move furniture will also be important to incorporate new technologies as they develop because we don’t know when, where, and how much space this hardware will require. Connectivity through a media that allows as many types of learning as possible will be important as learning institutions seek to distinguish themselves. Learning institutions that thrive in the 21st Century will have classrooms that embrace the social, physical, and emotional aspects of learning.

My six-year-old is now seven, one year closer to higher education. She’s used to having simple questions answered by her computer, and
she’ll be expecting an engaging learning environment.

# # #

Dr. Shawn Apostel is the Instructional Technology Specialist at Bellarmine University where he provides support to faculty and IT to facilitate online and classroom instruction that incorporates technology. Prior to his appointment, he served as the Communication Coordinator for the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity at Eastern Kentucky University and as the Information and Graphics Specialist for the City of Toccoa. He has a B.A. in Journalism, an M.A in Professional Communication from Clemson University, and a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University.

His research interests include teaching with technology, applied creativity, digital ethos, e-waste reduction, and visual communication. He serves as a reviewer for various journals and conferences. His work is published by IGI Global, CCDigital Press, Lexington Books, New Forums Press, and Computers and Composition Online. He co-edited Online Credibility and Digital Ethos: Evaluating Computer-Mediated Communication which was published by IGI Global in December 2012, and co-authored book Teaching Creative Thinking: A New Pedagogy for the 21st Century which was published by New Forums Press in Spring 2013.