NJVid: Statewide Video On Demand


William Paterson University, Rutgers University and NJEDge.net received a three-year IMLS National Leadership Grant to support the launch of NJVid - a New Jersey Video Portal. The grant (nearly $1 million) is from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in order to create a statewide digital video archive comprised of a wide range of educational materials that will provide streaming video to New Jersey colleges and universities, K-12 schools, libraries and cultural heritage institutions.

I like the idea that NJVid will utilize a variety of open source software programs to serve the organizations in the project’s various consortia. The portal will allow access to three general areas. The first area scheduled to launch is the part that interests me the most right now. That component is the Video Commons which will hold publicly available videos.

The other two areas will hold commercial videos and lectures on demand and will generally require authentication by users. It's a model I'm familiar with from my iTunes U experiences while at NJIT - offering both a public (open) face and a private (authenticated) face.

There is still much to be done with this project, such as an authentication method that works across all the organizations, the customized annotations of videos etc.

The Institute for Museums and Library Services grant was awarded to William Paterson University with partners Rutgers and NJEDge.Net, and collaboration with VALE (Virtual Academic Library Environment), statewide academic library consortium with 50 members, and NJDH (New Jersey Digital Highway), the statewide cultural heritage consortium which includes museums, archives, libraries, and historical societies.

“Digital video provides a multi-sensory experience that is an increasingly important resource for teaching and learning,” says Sandra Miller, director of instruction and research technology at William Paterson University and principal investigator for the project. “The goal of this project is to expand New Jersey’s digital media collections in academic institutions, libraries, museums, and other historical collections and archives, and provide easy access to those resources via the Web for students, faculty, and citizens any place and any time.”

William Paterson will be responsible for developing the Web-based portal for users. Rutgers University and NJEdge.net will provide technical development and the ongoing technical infrastructure, including a centralized video storage repository and an infrastructure for housing and managing a variety of digital video objects.

The hope is that this portal will serve any cultural heritage institution, school or university regardless of size or technical readiness.

In addition to William Paterson University and Rutgers University, eight other institutions serve as initial testers of this model integrated resource: University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Montclair State University, Georgian Court College, Atlantic Cape Community College, Middlesex County College, Passaic Valley High School, the Bergen County Cooperative Library System (BCCLS), and the American Labor Museum.

NJVid is notable for providing a statewide video strategy to accommodate any type of organization - higher education, K12, public libraries, museums and archives. A substantial part of this project will provide the resources to develop a statewide Shibboleth-based Identity management infrastructure, supporting statewide network authentication and authorization that can be used for many content resources.

Additional Information
at William Paterson University
at Educause

The Internet As Your Classroom TV Set



More shift happens. Viewers, especially younger ones, are turning more and more away from watching TV on a TV. Are big screens and high definition pictures going to hold viewers? Doubtful.

YouTube and Google and so many new players are capturing serious numbers of "viewers" online, and making available more and more serious educational content too.

In 2006, I was writing more about using and uploading personal video, and that's still important for teachers and students in a creative way. But using video as teachers have used DVDs, VHS, 16mm films and filmstrips in the past is also important.

Many people still look at online video as a place for "entertainment." That's definitely a big share of what's available. I'd argue that even some of that is useful in a classroom, especially when it has been trimmed down to clip size. You could probably use some segments from the newer service Hulu that's serving up lots of TV and movie content (with ads).

There's Julia Louis-Dreyfuss in a funny sketch from Saturday Night Live about an adult school class on using MySpace that could work as a way to entertainingly introduce a class to the topic of online safety.

When I wrote that earlier post in 2006 about video online, NBC was one of the companies that was upset about their content being uploaded as clips by viewers. That has all turned around. Today you can go to the NBC site and watch clips and full episodes of current shows like 30 Rock or Late Night With Conan O'Brien. It takes a bit longer to turn those big ships around even when they can see an iceberg ahead.

I don't think all the copyright issues are worked out to everyone's satisfaction. If I install a program like DownloadHelper into my Firefox browser, I can quickly download videos that I want to watch away from my computer. Legal? Fair use in my classroom?

I might want to use YouTube to show my class Barack Obama's speech on race. Of course, remember that Obama has his own YouTube channel.

PBS uses YouTube to run a promo for their Frontline special on "Growing Up Online", but you can show the full program at the PBS site or ask students to access it there from outside the classroom.

Professor Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture", which has also become a book, is available in several versions and with commentaries on a number of sites.

When sites allow you to embed video on your own blog or web page, or allow you to download video to play on an actual TV set using one of the growing number of devices made for that purpose, you know the nature of using video has changed.

Sites like Hulu are open up a huge vault of video that exists but isn't (and hasn't been) available. The commercial media companies are finally getting it because they are finding ways to profit. The educational media companies, like the educational book publishers, are going to be slower to discover how to adapt. It's the same with viewers at home (like you) who are changing their technologies, but schools will be slower to adapt/adopt technologies - as they have been for all the previous ones. How many classrooms still have/need VHS machines because tapes are all they have to use? Maybe it's because the school can't afford to buy new players (even though they are incredibly cheap now) or repurchase titles on DVDs. Maybe the publishers haven't made all titles even available on DVDs.

Blip.tv is an example of another trend in media online. They are aiming at bloggers (some of those are teachers & students) and others and throwing in the added feature of being able to possibly make some money from their service. As they explain it:

We've got a great service for great shows. A new class of entertainment is emerging that is being made by the people without the support of billion-dollar multinationals. Our mission is to support these people by taking care of all the problems a budding videoblogger, podcaster or Internet TV producer tends to run into. We'll take care of the servers, the software, the workflow, the advertising and the distribution. We leave you free to focus on creativity.

You deserve to make money from your hard work. That's why blip.tv works with as many video ad networks as possible to make you money. If you have a hit show we'll use our own sales force to sell a sponsorship. We share everything we make for you 50/50. And if you have your own sales force you can sell a sponsorship — and we'll traffic it for you in exchange for 10%.

Tons of people come to blip.tv to watch great original programming, but that's not the end of it. We've got a distribution network that reaches hundreds of millions: built-in syndication to AOL Video, Yahoo! Video, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, MSN Video, Google Video, Blinkx, iTunes and the Apple TV, Blogger, WordPress.com and much more.

What will I be able to say about online video in a year or two? Your guess is as wrong as mine.

Heading Cross Country to Write Across the Curriculum

Tomorrow, three of us from the Writing Initiative group at PCCC are headed to the University of Texas at Austin for the 2008 International Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) Conference.

My first conference of the summer: workshops, speakers from around the world, presentations by colleagues across the disciplines.

Writing Across the Curriculum was a hot initiative about 20 years ago when I was still in secondary education, but I haven't paid much attention to it or heard much about it the past few years. But, since our own writing initiative at PCCC is working to develop 20 GenEd courses as writing-intensive, it's time for me to tune back in to WAC.

The University of Texas at Austin has a "Substantial Writing Component" requirement aimed at helping students improve their ability to formulate ideas in writing ability, write across disciplines and incorporate critical thinking skills. That matches some of our own grant goals pretty closely.

From their site, I see that a UT SWC course uses low-stakes writing activities (e.g. freewriting, outlining, email responses to class questions) to allow students to manipulate the language, thinking processes, and concepts of the discipline so that they can more effectively complete formal, high stakes assignments (e.g., arguments, research papers, analyses, web pages). A combination of low and high stakes writing activities that include opportunities for revision, peer review, quality instructor feedback, and conferencing will improve students' critical thinking as well as their writing.

We also share their interest in using the freshman/first year experience course and composition course as an important introduction to the Initiative and the minimum two required WI courses that must take to graduate. Our own high-stakes writing includes passing the college's required writing exam (GWE).

I'm not a "live blogger" who types during sessions at workshops. I like to take my notes and process things before writing, so I don't expect posts this week to be full of the conference. Any Serendipity35 readers in Austin this week?


Veterans History Project


The Veterans History Project relies on volunteers to collect and preserve stories of wartime service. It is a project of the Library of Congress aimed at collecting oral history interviews, memoirs, letters, diaries, photographs, and other original materials from veterans of World Wars I and II, and the Korean, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf Wars and the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts (2001-present).

Those U.S. citizen civilians who were actively involved in supporting war efforts (such as war industry workers, USO workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers, etc.) are also encouraged to contribute their personal narratives. Members of the public become part of the Veterans History Project after they donate their materials.

Teachers, students and youth groups throughout the United States have contributed significantly to the Veterans History Project. (See the youth resources) You can get a copy of their Project Kit, Field Kit (for interviews) and the Memoir Guidelines as a PDF file online at http://www.loc.gov/vets/kitmenu.html.

The Veterans History Project (VHP) of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center plans several activities and events for today, Memorial Day 2008, including the Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. in support of the White House Commission on Remembrance. Visit the Library of Congress blog at www.loc.gov/blog/ or the VHP Web site at www.loc.gov/vets/ to "count down" to the Moment of Remembrance.

Blackboard In Bollywood


Since I follow the story of Blackboard and its patent controversy, and open source LMS options, it was inevitable that someone (Thanks, Alex!) would send me a link to these videos. It's a series of nine funny video mashups on all that. They take clips from Bollywood films and add subtitles about Blackboard, Moodle, Sakai and others.

At least watch the first two quick segments on Paying The Annual Licensing Fee and Dealing with Customers Who Are Looking at Open Source Alternatives.


Of course I had to play for a few minutes with the service they used to create them. It's an online tool called BombayTV. It gives you an archive of short clips and ypu just type in the subtitles you want for each section. It takes about 2 minutes to do (see below) though you can get a bit more careful about timing your subtitles to match the original diaogue and it will be better (see links above). Here's a quick shot I took at using it:

Why Teachers Are Reluctant To Report Cheating and Plagiarism


This post is meant to be read as a companion post to "Why Students Cheat: A Student View." As I said there, this is based on some formal & informal surveys and opinions communicated to me while I was working on issues about academic integrity while working at NJIT, and from workshops I have run on other college campuses.

I'll talk briefly here about the reasons that I heard multiple times. If you teach, you will probably be able to identify with some of these reasons - either for yourself or for other teachers you know.

  1. A number of faculty members told me quite simply that they preferred to deal with it themselves. Some said this with a clear feeling of pride, as if going to their department chair or the Dean of Students showed a weakness. A few told me this with a hint of shame, as if going to someone else would be showing weakness. This was especially true of adjuncts and non-tenure faculty. In my K-12 years, I experienced the same sentiments from my fellow teachers at times.
  2. They want to give students the "benefit of the doubt" and be fair.
  3. They don't have the time to deal with instances of cheating and plagiarism using "the system" that was in place at the university. As someone involved with the Honor Committee then , I knew that "the system" of reporting infractions was not really that time consuming, but that was a perception on campus.
  4. Some people told me that it made them feel uncertain about their own roles as models or mentors rather than as "police."
  5. Deserved or not, there was also the perception on at least three campuses I surveyed that there was a lack of support from the administration (from department chairs, to deans and above) for faculty who pursued infractions of the honor code.
  6. I also heard that frequently they did not have solid "proof" that a student cheated and obtaining that proof would take too much time, if it was even possible. Using Turnitin.com (which was something I was involved with implementing on campus) did provide much of that proof in instances of plagiarism, but many instructors still saw it as too time consuming.
  7. Finally, as the years went by I heard more frequently a reason that I was aware of from my years in K-12 education: a fear that there would be legal action by the student or the student's family. Oddly enough, no one could give me an actual example of a case that had ended in this way, but there were plenty of second & third hand examples. The only case I was actually involved in was when a student filed a grievance against an instructor who had failed him in the course for copying a homework assignment. Unfortunately, the instructor had not gone to the Dean of Students, but had acted on his own (see reason #1 above). Failing the student in the course could not be supported by the administration, as it was not the appropriate punishment for that level infraction. The student "won" his case. The instructor felt angry with the Dean's office ( see #5 above)