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Back Next Contents Digital Video for Multimedia: Considerations for Capture, Use and Delivery

Section 1: Video and Learning

"Throughout the twentieth century, motion pictures have been the vehicle for much of our art, information and entertainment. In the twenty-first century, it will be the way we view those motion pictures, and how we choose to view them that will further extend their scope as communications media. New levels of stereoscopic realism will be offered by virtual reality systems, new interactions of sight and sound will be discovered; and we will develop new kinds of critical awareness as we begin to take personal control of the balance between film and still, "fast forward" and "stop-motion", "close-up" and "longshot"
Cotton & Oliver, 1993

The representation of information by using the visualisation capabilities of video, whether analogue or digital, can be immediate and powerful. While this is not in doubt, there are other possibilities that digital video offers communication. As quoted above, it is the ability to choose how we view, and interact, with the content of digital video that provides new and exciting possibilities for the use of digital video in education.

It is not intended for this section to provide a complete review or understanding of the use of visualisation in learning, as this is adequately covered elsewhere (Rieber, 1994 and references therein), but merely to draw attention to some considerations of use before expanding on the technical issues.

Rieber (1994) writing on the subject of Multimedia and Interactive Video explores a number of levels of interactive video. The lowest levels include video technology only. Students and teachers can manually interrupt the video, usually stop/start, which may be delivered from videotape or videodisc. Moving up the levels, the ability to interact with the video becomes more sophisticated. Here the video and computer technologies are linked using extra hardware such as keypads, barcode readers or at a higher level, overlay facilities where the video is played onto a second monitor or the computer screen allowing text and graphic overlays. The highest level in the taxonomy is referred to as the "dare to dream" level. Traditionally, a typical system at this level will include an expensive, creative assortment of hardware with various video units, sound systems, touch screens, etc. With the advent of digital video and multimedia technologies in general, interactive video takes on a completely new definition; the ability to interact with video no longer being limited by expensive hardware.

Writing in this section, Rieber (1994) discusses the use of video as an appropriate tool to convey information about environments which can be either dangerous or too costly to consider, or recreate, in real life. Obvious examples include simulating dangerous experiments. For example: where video images are used to demonstrate particular chemical reactions without exposing students to highly volatile chemicals; medical education, where real-life situations can be better understood if represented by video. Here such rationales for video are rooted in the cognitive domain.

There are many instances where, studying particular processes, students may find themselves faced with a scenario which seems highly complex when conveyed in purely text form, or by the use of diagrams and images. In such situations the representational qualities of video are rich, and when used well, will help in placing a theoretical concept into context. Other contributory factors such as sound, and the ability to control the pace of information, help to create an environment which transcends the inanimate representation, and allows potentially real-life situations to be fully explored.

The video clips need only have a short duration; material which is only a few seconds long can be rich and powerful in content and to the point. Exploring such environments offers another dimension to the educational process - lectures, printed materials, tutorials and small group teaching, can all offer various stimuli and motivation. One of the most compelling justifications for video may be its dramatic and immediate ability to elicit an emotional response from an individual. Such a reaction can provide a strong motivational incentive to choose and persist in a task. This ability to elicit an emotional response transcends the often made assumption that technology offers a cold, and emotionally barren environment.

"Simulation techniques play an extremely important role in the development of multimedia CAL resources. They can be used in a variety of ways to make learning more exciting"
Barker, 1989

Other examples combine cognitive and motivational elements by using video to provide a meaningful context for learning. Reiber (1994) provides us with the example of students being shown segments of a movie, where, Indiana Jones replaces a golden idol with a sandbag to prevent the booby traps from being triggered as a context for understanding the relationship between volume and weight.

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