Professional dilemmas

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Q I’ve heard that streaming video can enhance an e-learning programme,
but I’ve also heard that there are technical issues with it. Can you tell me
how it works and what difficulties I’m likely to come across if I use it?

A Streaming video works in such a way that the end user doesn’t have
to download the file, but rather accesses a flow of data from the server. In
terms of technicalities, any modern computer bought in the last four years
should be able to handle streaming video if set up and maintained correctly.
Complications are usually related to network management issues within larger
organisations. To this end, bandwidth should always be kept at the forefront of
your mind. Bandwidth of 56k and above will provide a watchable picture, but the
more bandwidth the better.

If your server is set up correctly, video streaming should not affect the
operations of other server-related activities even while e-learning programmes
are being operated.

The impact of video streaming is severely compromised if the audio element
is lost, and in open-plan offices noise can be a problem. The solution? Use

Finally, will your network/IT team be able to co-operate? If the video is
being hosted internally, it may require some upskilling of your IT teams, so
buy-in at that level is essential. If this is a problem, ask your e-learning
provider whether you could use CD-based learning. Despite the distribution and
versioning limitations, some customers find CDs a simpler and cheaper way of
enhancing their e-learning programmes.

The real benefit of video streaming is that it can help to demonstrate
tricky situations and positive, effective ways of dealing with them. Thoughtful
use of high-quality video is more powerful than either text or still pictures
and is more memorable. Ensuring that the training messages make it across ‘the
last yard’ – from computer screen to the learner – is the main challenge and it
can only be met by high-quality content presented in the right way.

Response provided by Jeet Khaira, managing director of Video Arts, experts
in blended learning,

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