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How To Unlock The Financial Benefits of Video In Education

University & college administrators have a lot on their hands. Competition for students is fierce. In the race to attract and retain students, administrators are forced to spend more and more of the precious budget on amenities, student services and all the latest facilities (do you have a climbing wall yet?!). But, public funding is waning. It's the perfect storm. Are you prepared to weather it?

The challenge: to find new ways to teach more students across local and global locations. For less cost.

Don't panic. This challenge is not insurmountable.

We've done the research, gathered the stories of some of the world's leading institutions, and schmoozed with the experts to bring you some top tips. Buckle up. Here's your game plan.

The Financial Benefits of Video

Video brings a lot of immeasurable benefits to education. Students certainly like it. And, when done effectively, it's an engaging piece of content to bring to teachers' courses. It helps to create immersive teaching and learning experiences.


Coffee shop workspace

By recording lectures and sharing them with students, you extend the reach of your lecturers and attract more and more students. Good quality video adds to the quality of course content making it a powerful tool in the fight to retain and engage students. It can also replace the need for textbooks and other materials, so printing costs can be minimised.

Sample Institution

University with 10,000 students and enrollment growing at 1.6 percent annually.
Concerns include:

  1. Rising education costs and tuitions.
  2. Ability to attract and retain quality students and faculty.
  3. Scaling across multiple campuses.
  4. Competition from traditional and new model institutions.
  5. Maximizing technology for next generation learning.
Applications Considered
  1. Lecture capture.
  2. Distance learning.
  3. Campus communications.
  4. Physical safety and security.
  5. Linking with corporate recruiters. Bringing external speakers to an extended audience during large events.
  6. Some external research and development collaboration.
Butterfly and laptop
Key Hypotheses
  • Scale faculty by 40 percent, from 70 to 100 students per faculty member, using classrooms equipped with immersive video conferencing that is used five hours per day over three years.
  • Reduce the cost of creating and printing textbooks by 15 percent by moving content creation to video and using social media to distribute the content to students, each equipped with a tablet.
  • Increase faculty retention by 20 percent, based on an average annual attrition rate of 13 percent, by improved teaching conditions, including physical safety and security.
Economic Summary
Cumulative benefits over 10 years
NPV = $38.1 million
Payback is 20 months
Gross benefits over 10 years:
  • Faculty reach and scale: $90.5 million (64 percent)
  • Textbook costs: $21.4 million (15 percent)
  • Facilities utilization: $17.8 million (12 percent)
  • Faculty retention: $12.4 million (9 percent)

Environmental impact: carbon emissions reduced by 9,400 metric tons over 10 years.


Source: Video Solves Key Challenges in Higher Education - Cisco, June 2012

The Obstacles (And How To Overcome Them)

Let's be frank, introducing a new system can be challenging. But help is at hand. We chatted with the experts to find out how to overcome the obstacles to get those video wins rolling in.

Staff adoption

Former Director of Technology at Huron City School, Timothy Houston, believes we never stop learning. Author, Developer, and EdTech blogger he’s passionate about integrating technology into the curriculum.

Encouraging staff is easier than ever before due to the low barrier to entry and the ability to easily create videos from mobile devices. The first step is doing. Once the instructors record a video for the first time all of the FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) goes away.

Tim houston
Timothy Houston, Edtech Blogger Director of Technology for "New London & Shelby City School."

Timothy elaborates, "it's also very important for you as an admin to model the behaviour and do things like record staff meetings or push content out yourself.

Finally, the teachers have to see the benefits to them in their world. If you are trying to change a culture, you can't just mandate the change, you must get buy in from the staff."


After a successful career in public education as a Teacher, Instructional Technologist and Director of Instructional Technology, Steven Anderson works with educators across the globe as a consultant.

Part of the problem of technology adoption among educators is that many technologies can replace the old ways of doing things. And the old ways are the most comfortable.

Steven anderson
Steven Anderson Instructional Technologist and Director of Instructional Technology

Steven continues, "if an educator has been lecturing for their entire career and then all the sudden we want students to bring laptops and tablets to the classroom, 9 times out of 10 the content that educator had been lecturing on for all those years is irrelevant. Meaning I can discover the answer to anything in human history through my device. That's a fact.

The idea of what teaching and learning means has to change. Educators need to see technology not as the enemy but as a means to go deeper. Technology can remove the barriers to learning and allow students and educators alike to follow a path of learning that is meaningful to them.

Think in our everyday lives if we had been so resistant to technology like some educators are to technology in the classroom. Or think about if we took the technology we rely on every day to live our lives. We wouldn't stand for it. Yet educators do this to students everyday.

We have to embrace technology as a means not to just rehash already known knowledge but use that knowledge that was traditionally transferred through the lecture model and allow students to create, make and modify."

Remember... It's absolutely critical that any tech (including video) you introduce is super simple to use. A teacher's time is precious. Nobody is going to put the hours in to learn something terribly complex. It just won't happen. You'll need to make it very, very easy to add video to your LMS/VLE. Look for video Building Blocks and plugins that don't take FOREVER to set up. Then, make sure teachers can add video to their courses in a matter of clicks.
Reliability of service

Picture the scene. You've implemented the tech and faculty are actually using it (high five!). They've successfully made the transition to video based education, they've added video to a course and instructed their students to watch and discuss. And then the video doesn't work.

Cue a flood of emails into your already never-enough-hours-in-the-day teacher's inbox. And then they're forced to do tech support. Nobody wants that.

Reliability of service is important. You need to be sure that the tools you've implemented, well, work. So here's a checklist of things that any video host worth their salt should have:

  • Global Content Delivery Network (servers all over the world to handle video playback even in far-flung places).
  • HTML5 Video (videos should be playable on desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile).
  • Customer support! There's nothing quite like picking up the phone and calling someone to chat through whatever issue you may be having. Beats waiting on email responses or trawling discussion forums (unless you want to of course).
Effective video management

Video can be used in a lot of different ways in education. Not only are there different use cases (marketing, teaching tool, student assignments), there's also a lot of different categories that fall within these use cases. Different departments, different marketing campaigns, different student projects…

Without an effective video management system in place you'll likely end up with a LOT of disorganised video content so it's impossible for anyone to find what they need.

You'll need someway of being able to categorize and subcategorize your videos.

Laptop on homepage

When you've got a large faculty and you let them loose with a new "toy", you might regret handing everything over to them. You may, for example, have set up the branding, player colors, encoding settings and want them to be used consistently from faculty member to faculty member.

Be sure to think about how you'll restrict access to the various different types of video and different settings you have pre-set. For example, do you want your Science teachers to have access to marketing materials? The best thing to do is to give each teacher their own video area. And then only you (and maybe a handful of other admins) have total control over the whole lot.