Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Stone Age : Pre-Video on Demand

I once worked on a grant program responsible for training teachers of adults to use technology in the classroom. Teacher of adults include teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) and teachers preparing adults for the General Equivalency Diploma (GED) exam.

There is less money for teaching adults than children, so most programs ran on a shoestring, using local school district facilities. We did what we could by giving a summer institute and various in-services. However, we hit the limits allowed by the technology of the time.

The biggest change in our training methods came when we started using the Teacher Education Agency (TEA) video system. Now, we could reach hundreds of teachers and record the training for future use. It was difficult to schedule time on the busy system, but what a difference it made to our program.

What would have been better is if we had video services set up in our Institute on campus. Instead, my boss and I tried to set up training using video and were not successful. We could have used the help of a video service. When we did capture training, the files were so huge; we had to buy extra storage. I had to learn video editing online so that I could edit them down.

Of course, video has come a long way since then. Now you can video conference on your laptop, talk to service men and women in Afghanistan and see the Earth from a satellite. Police have video cameras on their dashboards and laptops in their service vehicles. Commanders at sea can talk securely with personnel at their bases. People in distant parts of the world can watch television via satellite.

Satellite and cable technology work together to give us an instant replay of a football fumble or a touchdown, provide members of NATO instant access to information on hostiles, bring the horror of the bombing in Baghdad into our living rooms and help scientists in Antarctica to share their research and data with their colleagues.

Whatever your business, I think video on demand (VOD) is an idea whose time has come. You can cut travel costs and time, keep productivity up (without jet lag) and work in real time with other branches of your business or customers--no matter where they are.

I would suggest finding a large video provider and letting their specialists set up and maintain the video conferencing system and mobile satellite setup. That way, you will see faces instead of static and hear compliments instead of complaints.


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