JISC's Film & Sound Think Tank: The 21st Century AV Club

The Film and Sound Think Tank, a research project from the U.K.'s JISC, recently released their final report on the use of audiovisual media in culture and education. Although they found the current state of affairs to be lacking, the report's authors offer a series of recommendations that will help higher education evolve along with the dizzying pace of new media.

By Megan Driscoll

JISC open education OER new media multimedia video film and sound think tank

Brave New Media

The JISC (formerly known as the Joint Information Systems Committee) is a government-managed organization in the U.K. that supports research and innovation in higher education. Focused primarily on new technology, the JISC manages 215 different projects to date, exploring such topics as increasing education access, preserving and sharing data and developing new networks and infrastructure for learning.

Among these projects is the Film and Sound Think Tank, charged with advising the JISC on 'all issues relating to the creation, discovery, use, delivery and preservation of film and sound resources,' as well as making strategy and policy recommendations for the implementation of such resources. This spring, they released their final report, which represents the culmination of two years of research into how the education and culture sectors can best harness new media and technologies.

The core message of the report: Media permeates modern life, and for education to remain engaging and relevant, institutions will have to do a much better job of integrating moving images and sound into pedagogical practices.

The report quotes a Cisco study predicting that video will exceed 91% of global consumer traffic on the Internet by 2014. And, as the report's authors also point out, although the 21st century has brought us new forms of making and distributing media content, television, film and radio were already dominant in the 20th century. But multimedia content is still not systematically incorporated into teaching and learning.

In fact, the report offers a dire prediction: 'We believe that there is a real danger that classroom and distance learning/further education experiences - as well as scholarly research and publication processes and cultural heritage experiences - will lose relevance for students, educators and the public if they remain walled off from the wider world of moving images and recorded sound.'

JISC film and sound think tank new media video film oer open education

So how can we avoid this fate? The report offers ten strategic recommendations, many of which hinge on the promotion of open educational resources (OER). The open education movement has the potential to increase the reach of both new and existing educational content across the globe without cost to the consumer. Because most OER is distributed online, it works best when it's distributed through new media, particularly video. In turn, the push to create more images, audio and video for open education will hopefully encourage instructors to incorporate these resources into traditional classrooms as well.

Along these lines, several of the report's recommendations focus on increasing both knowledge of and access to multimedia resources. The report's authors highlight the importance of making audiovisual content more searchable through robust metadata and better collection practices. They also suggest that national data collections should be opened and an integrated media service should be created to help postsecondary institutions distribute educational audiovisual content from a centralized location, like a universal (and free) iTunes U. And, of course, the report emphasizes the need to increase digital literacy among students, faculty and administrators.

Other key recommendations from the Film and Sound Think Tank focus on streamlining many of the logistical challenges that have confronted developers and distributors of new media. These include clarifying copyrights and fair use doctrines, building a citation system and funding efforts to create primary source materials. Finally, the report calls for an international summit on educational video that may generate a new 'laboratory' for both public and private research into improving the digitization of education.

Learn more about one of the consultants for the JISC Film and Sound Think Tank, Intelligent Television, an innovative creator of multimedia open content.

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