Evaluating the Landscape of Higher-Ed Video Solutions
In Tennessee, the law requires that educational technology contracts must be reviewed and put out for competitive bid every five years. The Request For Proposal process was led by Lady (Amor) Moran, Director of Distance Education at APSU, along with a committee of several other faculty members. The RFP defined the institution’s minimum service requirements for content development features, LMS integration, and standards-based captioning integration .
In transitioning, Austin Peay State University officials sought to find a media management solution that was not only easier to use, but that provided top-notch support for faculty, staff and students. “We liked what YuJa had to offer in terms of integration, media management and the ability to expand our distance learning with easy-to-use tools,” Moran said. “Even before the pandemic, we recognized that tools like those YuJa offers are something you should have to complement your online program. It benefits students who prefer to learn through video and who can’t be in a traditional classroom setting, for whatever reason.”
Adopting a Video Platform Focused on Higher-Ed and Video Accessibility
YuJa, Inc. recommended APSU adopt the YuJa Enterprise Video Platform to provide students and faculty with campus-wide media streaming capabilities and an accessible closed-captioning solution. The Video Platform provides Austin Peay State University with the solutions needed to ensure that all their users’ content meets their accessibility requirements.
The solution is used primarily as a media management tool and library for instructional videos. The YuJa Media Library provides an essential organizational framework for the entirety of an institution’s media content. The Media Library is organized with folders and sub-folders that provide a comprehensive video content management system for education.
About Austin Peay State University
Located in Clarksville, Tenn., Austin Peay State University (APSU) is nestled on an urban campus that for more than 200 years has been used to educate future generations. The four-year, public, doctoral-level university is named after former Tennessee Gov. Austin Peay, a Clarksville native who was serving as governor when the charter for what is known as Austin Peay Institution of Higher Education was signed in 1927.
“By and large, our faculty uses the Video Platform to upload lecture videos they create within the Zoom platform,” explained Dr. Tim Oneal, Senior Instructional Designer. “Others use it for video housing and media management.”
Professors enjoy how easy it is to upload and caption lectures and recordings they’ve created outside of the platform. YuJa allows for auto-captioning and access to human transcription services. From an instructional design standpoint, professors lean on unlimited machine captioning to make videos accessible. And while captions are typically correct, editing is not a chore, Oneal noted.
If there is a need for support, APSU officials said they know they can count on YuJa to provide top-notch customer service. “Our customer support team from YuJa has been phenomenal. Our representative is extremely responsive and makes us feel as though our needs are heard and prioritized,” Moran said. “Communication with the YuJa team sets the standard for what a vendor/customer relationship should look like.”
An added benefit of the YuJa Enterprise Video Platform is that it seamlessly integrates with D2L, the developer of the Brightspace Learning Management System (LMS) used by the institution.
“The integration, as opposed to our previous vendor, is a night and day difference,” Oneal lauded. Dr. Anna Carrie Webb, Instructional Technology Support Manager, agreed, adding, “YuJa works so well with Zoom and Brightspace. Faculty have so much to worry about. If we can introduce a technology that isn’t overwhelming, it’s a win, and that’s what we’ve been able to do with this platform.”
Novel Use Cases During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The university launched YuJa Enterprise Video Platform in early 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic began impacting educational institutions in the United States. The number of licenses APSU needed was based on pre-pandemic estimates. “We are seeing more usage than we were initially expecting, which means we are offering technology people need, are coming back to use, and telling others about,” Moran said. There are more than 5,000 users sitewide.
And while the university’s launch campaign was “derailed,” because of the pandemic, the university was able to create a mini project over the summer, successfully collaborating with one another to share a video entitled, “We are here for you, Govs.” “Even though we were scattered around Tennessee, we gave everyone a script to read and they used YuJa to record themselves in their home,” Moran remarked. “The recordings were shared in a YuJa folder and the Communications Department put it together to create a cohesive video telling students ‘We know it’s hard. We’re going to get you through this spring and be ready to receive you in the fall.’ ”
APSU students have access to content in multiple formats. Additionally, videos imported to the media library are easily captioned, shared and cataloged for future use.
“I like that you have options for sharing, including sharing within YuJa with other members, with an embed code or direct link,” Webb remarked. “The ability to customize what you share and what you’re allowing access to and by whom is a big benefit.”
Oneal said he appreciates the ability to place a video player into a course shell, drawing the learner’s attention more so than with a textual link. “Having videos play directly in the browser in D2L is huge,” Moran agreed. “It might not seem revolutionary, but it was huge for APSU, and YuJa made it easy to accomplish.”
The Future With YuJa
Because the Yuja Enterprise Video Platform is different from APSU’s previous vendor and the pandemic has interrupted the launch, university officials said they’re looking forward to both students and teachers embracing multiple tools within the platform as students and professors find their new normal. “Right now, we’re not seeing many instructors using video editing or screen capture, but that’s because they’re not used to being able to do all these things they couldn’t before. There’s a lot more for faculty to discover,” Webb stated.
Additionally, faculty members voted YuJa as the top technology they want to learn more about. “Our hope in 2021 is to focus our attention on promoting and helping faculty members leverage the technology to improve instruction and instructional videos.”
Officials also look forward to offering more opportunities for collaboration, such as with the video project completed over the summer. “We were able to pull it off without having to see anyone or order any special equipment,” Moran relayed. “I can see a lot of growth with YuJa as a collaboration tool in the future.”