Selecting and Implementing an Enterprise Video Platform Across 11 Colleges and Universities
About North Dakota University System
The North Dakota University System is a unified system of higher education governed by the State Board of Higher Education. Organized in 1990, the NDUS staff supports the State Board of Higher Education’s mission to enhance the quality of life for all those served by the NDUS, as well as the economic and social vitality of North Dakota.
As a system, the 11-institution North Dakota University System (NDUS) has been using Video as a Service (VaaS) products for the past decade. At the end of 2018, administrators realized the product they were using wasn’t making updates. “One of our institutions, University of North Dakota, started an RFP for a video service, so we decided to join their search along with the other 10 institutions,” explained Randy Wald, Operations Manager, Academic Services and Training. Wald and his team support learning technologies across the system, as well as provide training and best practices.
Based on usability, tools offered, its clean aesthetic and affordability, YuJa came out on top, Wald commented.
“Prior to the pandemic, the use of video in higher education was steadily increasing in North Dakota – everything from lecture captures to video vignettes and everything in between. So in 2019, the North Dakota University System sought to update its existing lecture capture system with a more comprehensive instructional video system. YuJa was selected at the conclusion of a market analysis.
With YuJa, each institution of the NDUS has the toolset and flexibility to brand and create its own unique space according to need. Since adoption and particularly after the pandemic struck in early 2020, YuJa has become an integral part of teaching and learning across the NDUS,” Wald said.
Additional considerations included the cost of storing video and making media accessible in Blackboard. “When you have a lot of videos, it takes up a lot of space on servers, which can come with a high price tag,” noted Anthony Willer, an Instructional Systems Analyst at NDUS. At the height of the pandemic, the system was using 32.5 terabytes of storage.
“Prior to the pandemic, the use of video in higher education was steadily increasing in North Dakota – everything from lecture captures to video vignettes and everything in between.”
Integrating with the System’s Learning Management System
Over the summer of 2019, all of the System’s institutions were transitioned to YuJa, including Bismarck State College, Dickinson State University, Minot State University, Lake Region State College, Valley City State University, Dakota College at Bottineau, Williston State College, Mayville State University, North Dakota State University, North Dakota State College of Science, and the University of North Dakota.
When the system was reviewing solutions, “being able to offer a single platform to all 11 institutions using a single instance of Blackboard was crucial,” Wald said. YuJa provided the system with a way to give each institution its own zone to administer to best meet the college’s unique needs.
“We had the option to have a single zone with a hierarchy for each, but it was important for each institution to have its own logos and brand, so we opted to set up separate zones for each institution. We set up an LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) integration for each individual institution to ensure that as students connected, each would be brought to the proper zone within YuJa even when taking courses at multiple NDUS institutions,” Wald stated.
Recordings from the prior system were downloaded and converted to YuJa, with each institution able to tie the recordings to the proper instructor, get them to the right place and publish them to their courses.
NDUS Has Many Use Cases System Wide
Lecture capture is the most widely used feature throughout the 11 institutions within NDUS. “Lecture capture has been invaluable, especially through the pandemic, as it allowed us to provide an asynchronous learning experience during the pandemic when usage increased,” Wald said. “YuJa became the way to deliver lectures when everyone scrambled to get online.”
Streaming video files and proctoring also have been popular features of the YuJa Video Platform across institutions, noted Patti Heisler, Instructional Systems Training Developer.
“YuJa became the way to deliver lectures when everyone scrambled to get online.”
Heisler shared that she worked with a professor who had more than 160 students in a class. When he began using YuJa, he was able to group students for project work and move presentations offline for students to work on in their own time. “He used class time to focus on other topics,” she remarked, noting that nursing faculty also have been exploring YuJa with flipped classes.
Other colleges are using automation, “so when instructors enter their classrooms, they don’t have to worry about recording. They can worry about their students and preparing themselves, rather than preparing technology,” Wald said. “Instructors who have used the tools have, over the pandemic, realized how it can improve both their teaching and students’ learning, and have continued using them as students return to campus.”
Tools Apply Beyond Higher Education
In addition to their educational journeys, students are learning technologies that will apply outside of the classroom, Heisler said. “This tool can be applied in their professional lives,” she added. “I envision students learning to teach others with recordings.”
Willer noted that students also benefit by being able to review recorded course materials at any time and accurate closed captions help many students as they review. “I have been very impressed with the Closed Captions. Auto captioning picks up different dialects, and not a lot of correcting needs to be done,” he said, adding that screens can be arranged so students can see their instructor in a larger view if they read lips, or in the way that best suits them.
NDUS chose YuJa to provide Video as a Service based on its ease of use, clean aesthetics, available toolsets and affordability.
The North Dakota University System has 11 institutions on a single instance of Blackboard. YuJa provided a zone for each to customize to their institution as they see fit.
Lecture Capture has been the most widely used tool through the pandemic, which has allowed the institution to provide asynchronous learning opportunities.
“With YuJa, each institution of the NDUS has the toolset and flexibility to brand and create its own unique space according to need. Since adoption and particularly after the pandemic struck in early 2020, YuJa has become an integral part of teaching and learning across the NDUS.”
Randy Wald, Operations Manager, Academic Services and Training