For the past six years, OIT’s Language Resource Center has offered a Video on Demand service that permits faculty to integrate film into their teaching.
The service permits faculty to submit requests for full films or clips. Once the films are located or purchased, OIT digitizes them and stores the digitized video files on a streaming server. Students can gain access to the video material at any time from a number of select locations. Students can find the links to the films and clips within the University’s Blackboard Course Management System. Every course that uses the service will have the links within a Course Materials folder (the location that contains copyrighted materials). Students simply click on the link and the film will appear.
Use of the service has grown considerably, from just 27 courses and 137 titles in 2001 to more than 300 courses and nearly 1,800 titles in 2006. Faculty continue to request approximately 300 new titles each semester.
At the April 25 Lunch ‘n Learn seminar, Marianne Crusius, manager of the Language Resource Center, described the service. She explained how to request a film, how to link the digitized videos to Blackboard course page, and how to use virtual film clips within the classroom. Faculty can make all of the films available to students, or reserve some films or clips only for classroom use.
She noted that the Video on Demand service is popular throughout Humanities and language courses and in Politics, Psychology, and the Woodrow Wilson School. Some courses make just a single film available. At the other extreme, one film studies course offers 35 films.
Crusius then introduced three faculty members who illustrated the range of use of the service within their teaching. Daniela Antonucci, a Lecturer in French and Italian, uses Video on Demand in Italian 319, the Literature of Gastronomy which she teaches with Prof. Pietro Frassica. In lecture, when they introduce topics, they often use films to introduce visual materials that reinforce the main themes of the course. The films are frequently inspired by the literature that they have assigned the students. They have found that use of the clips in teaching inspires discussion and enhances student understanding.
Antonucci showed one clip that stressed the importance of conversation at meal time in Italy. Another clip emphasized key aspects about the unification of Italy in the early 20th century. Students read assigned novels, and the clips are used to focus attention on key points. They showed, for example, how much Italians enjoy eating, and how everything happens at the table.
Larry Danson, Professor in English, has used Video on Demand technology from the beginning in his Shakespeare courses. Years ago, he faced challenges incorporating specific scenes into the classroom. It was difficult, for example, with VHS tapes to locate the starting spot of needed clips. With films on CDs, the problem was worse still, because you could only go to a chapter break rather than a specific scene. If you wanted to compare one version of a scene with another, he explained, that was especially awkward.
With Video on Demand, Danson can now proceed quickly from any segment or scene that he thinks is appropriate to another… or he can quickly play through a segment twice. He brought up three different versions of the same scene from Hamlet. He provided an analysis of all three, showing how the different films and directors had portrayed the character’s introduction.
Yukari Tokumasu, a Lecturer in East Asian Studies, uses the service to provide video materials for Japanese language instruction. She has found the video materials are a useful way to teach authentic Japanese language and culture, including both verbal and non-verbal communication and to show the use of intonation in colloquial Japanese.
She provides students with access to Japanese movies, soap operas and documentaries. Students have
multiple opportunities to view the video tapes, to aid comprehension, and to reinforce the lessons. In a recent survey, students confirmed the usefulness of having access to the videos both in and out of class. They can review the material as needed and prepare adequately for each class.
Instructions for using the Video on Demand service are available on the Language Resource Center web page. To search for available video, search just as you would for books. Go to the University Library main catalog and set the limit to video. Searches will then be limited to video within the University’s collection.
To request a video, go to the library’s online reserve request service and fill out the form as you would for any book or reserve reading. Simply provide the title or the title call number for the film and check the Video on Demand box. You can also request films that are not in the University’s collection. The library will make every effort to acquire these new titles.
Requests for the service will be forwarded to the Language Resource Center.
Crusius invited faculty to directly if their requests involve specific film versions, clips, special dates on which the films are needed, or specific instructions on how the videos need to be digitized regarding the spoken language and subtitles.
Crusius concluded by noting that the service meets copyright restrictions under Fair Use by strictly controlling access to the service. Only students registered in the course can access the links in Blackboard and only from public clusters and lecture halls, not in dorm rooms. Access is further restricted to only assigned films and only during the semester or part of it.