What Does Research Say about Streaming Media?

Article excerpt

Streaming media is everywhere. Corporations, entertainment media, news media and educational institutions use it. The explosion of technology has raised the question: "What does research say about streaming media?" How effective is the use of streaming media? Streaming media offers the learner a capacity for interaction in a dynamic new learning environment. Implemented effectively, the use of streaming media as an instructional tool can free both the instructor and the learner from the traditionally embedded constraints of time and place.

When you look at streaming media in the educational setting, there are many factors to consider. The face-to-face student-teacher relationship is taken out of the equation. The student has the experience of being "there" in the classroom, but, in reality is quite free of traditional temporal and locative restraints. With the use of streaming media, a class session can be uploaded to a student's computer and the entire class lecture-any visuals and any animated demonstrations that a teacher uses-can be seen and viewed at optimally convenient times for the learner.

If you have watched any video material on the Web lately, you have probably experienced streaming media. Many web content providers are using this technology to provide material to people visiting their sites because it is one of the most effective ways to communicate information. For example, news media sites offer video segments from their coverage of current events. Hollywood studios promote movies with trailers for upcoming releases. Corporations deliver on-demand staff training and vendors promote their products through the use of commercials. Educational administrators, professional faculty, corporate managers and line personnel are finding all kinds of ways to utilize streaming media. Today, course sites are providing links to streamed course lectures to broaden their audience and allow students to review material. Instructors are providing students with convenient access to video materials both in and out of the classroom; researchers are providing links to streamed content related to their projects, results, and much more.

In higher education there are currently two primary ways in which streaming technology is utilized. These modes are determined by the objectives of the user. Streaming technology is used "...as a learning resource to be 'pulled' by the learners and as a delivery mechanism 'pushed' by the teaching team" (Fill, K. & Ottewill, R., 2006, p. 399). It is important to note that a student's participation in accessing and learning from the streaming video plays a large part in the learning process. Students will probably not look at educational streaming video any differently than entertainment streaming video. This point is echoed by Looms (2002) who argues that: As teenagers move on to college and university, they will be taking with them skills and attitudes acquired both in and out of school that will influence how they judge teaching and learning resources. Watching, playing and connecting account for a substantial proportion of our students' waking hours. Those in tertiary education will need.. .to exploit synergies with out-of-school pastimes, to build upon what has already been learnt and to make allowances for what has not (pg. 10). The uses and benefits of streaming video have been well documented. According to Zenios (2002), Michelich (2002), and Fill and Ottewill (2006), the uses of streaming media include:

* "increased learner control: flexibility with respect to accessing, starting, stopping and searching the video, which echoes two questions-relating to student access and control-from Race's list about video and learning (Race, 1995, p. 81);

* 'bite size' delivery: splitting the video content into smaller, more 'digestible' sections;

* synthesis: incorporating all or parts of the video into multimedia learning resources;

* speeding up processes: particularly those that take longer than a typical laboratory or other practical class;

* easier and cheaper updating: changes to a single copy instantly available to all;

* changing the perceptions of students: specifically regarding the value of technology-mediated learning. …

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