How did your education and previous professional experience shape your current work at Knowledgemotion?
While working in the media industry and helping to launch Channel 5 and BBC’s iPlayer, I saw all this great, engaging content being produced for TV. I’d had four kids by then and when I saw what they were learning in school I thought "why wasn’t more of the fantastic stuff that’s on telly every single night, which is completely relevant to what you’re learning at school, university, or in corporate and vocational training, being used in school?" The way they were learning was changing for sure, but the content in the digital textbooks and on the interactive whiteboards was just the same. I couldn’t really see the benefit of a PDF over a physical textbook, without any additional content. I just wanted to make all this great video content available in the classroom and really the key is access. The world’s best content in one place, with simple pricing and easy search.
How do you hope your work at Knowledgemotion will change the way individuals learn?
By 2019 they say 80% of all content on the internet will be video. At the moment it’s still the case that content is catching up with technology in education. They’ve got the gadgets and the tablets, but not enough appropriate and pedagogically aligned content to play on them. It’s important to stress here that we’re not selling directly to students, parents, teachers or schools; we work to make all this video content available to big publishers or education providers who produce the digital textbooks and online learning systems. Right now the biggest obstacle to getting video in classrooms is the lack of understanding between the worlds of education publishing and video production, where the former is unable to search through the many different content providers, and the latter is accustomed to pricing and marketing video for the advertising industry rather than for education. Boclips is the bridge between these two industries, so that the education providers, who are great at producing the pedagogical stuff, can cherry-pick the best of video from world-renowned producers to include in their courseware.
What broad trends do you think will have the most impact on learning in the years ahead?
There’s a lot of new technology appearing in the education market at the moment, but it’s not really clear how effective it all is. There’s so much content out there in different forms that it’s hard to analyze and compare. A few years ago you saw the same trend in the media industry: swaths of content being produced and users being at a loss of how to find it and being a bit overwhelmed. It’s the big aggregators that win out, bringing the content onto a single platform and organizing it with algorithmic curation and recommendation. What’s effective in the classroom is a personalized learning path, not a rigid step-by-step course, and I think that’s what these large aggregators with powerful recommendation engines, with their access to user data, will be able to offer.
What has been the response from education providers and publishers who have used boclips?
Overwhelmingly positive! Education providers and publishers who are looking to include video in their digital resources are very daunted by the idea, and rightly so! Not only do they have to find the videos that fit with their topics and learning outcomes, and that might be from one provider, or twenty, but then they’ve got to also navigate the rights issues. If you think of how complicated rights can be for a still image, it’s a thousand times more difficult for a video. Publishers are nervous about the copyright complications and the fines attached to them, but the clips on boclips are all rights-ready for education, so that headache can be avoided. But if publishers do try and source content from the producers directly, then the prices are set for advertisers and big media companies, which is an industry that, I’m sure we’re all aware, has a slightly bigger budget than education. Boclips is all about making the process easier and faster. It’s a really simple site and, because it’s an aggregator, boclips is a ‘one-stop-shop’ for any education providers looking to include video.
Image: Courtesy David Bainbridge