Archive for ‘Technology’

June 4th, 2014

API Inside-Out – Tour of Kaltura’s API Driven Architecture

by Jess Portnoy

Being open source provides users of the Kaltura platform many advantages. Amongst which, the ability to shape and influence the platform and its roadmap by contributing code to the project.

More often, when building a new integration or a publishing workflow, it’s a bit too much to dive into the platform code. That’s why you don’t have to!

Kaltura is a RESTful API driven platform.
This means that all features, user facing or internal, are all based on the same unified API.
From upload to through transcoding to playback, is all controlled via the API.

A RESTful API follows the following concepts:

  • It’s uniform – in Kaltura, every service represents an object, and actions represents its methods . For example: the media service represents the KalturaMediaEntry object. The media.delete action deletes a given KalturaMediaEntry object.
  • It’s stateless – In every API call you must provide a valid session key (dubbed KS). You can also create as many sessions as you need at the same time.
  • It’s cacheable – Scale is a make or break with video applications. We cache more than 95% of API calls in Kaltura, once in memory and then even on the CDN.
  • Layered System – Client have a single end point. This encapsulates whether the client connect to the end server, or to an intermediary along the way. Intermediary servers improve system scalability by enabling load-balancing and shared caches. Layers also enforce security policies and enhance system resilience.

A lot of projects offer a RESTful API. But what I believe makes the Kaltura API special are -

It’s API from the inside out!
The platform’s own components also use the same APIs to get their job done. This means core developers build and test using the same APIs that App developers use. Which in turn test and improves the APIs daily.

Always up-to-date SDKs
Kaltura’s API features a unique automatic generation of SDK. With every release Kaltura generates new client libraries. Which are available in most popular programming languages, including: PHP, Ruby, Python and JavaScript.
See the Kaltura.com client libraries page for complete list and downloads.

It’s Robust, Allowing Complete Control
As an outcome, the API is capable of controlling pretty much any operation the platform’s core components. From ingesting content through management and transcoding, to playback, delivery, distribution and analytics.

To further explain point A, lets dive further in to the Kaltura architecture:

 

The API and Client Libraries, are used across the platform’s components, both in external applications such as Kaltura MediaSpace or various modules to 3rd party systems such as Drupal or WordPress, as well as internally, within core Kaltura components such as transcoding batch servers or the platform Admin Console.

For example, the batch daemon, responsible for performing roles such as: media import, media info extraction, transcoding and server notifications, triggers these APIs the same way any other party, for example, your application, would: using the Kaltura API Client libraries.

Here is a short example of how the APIs (in this particular case, the PHP client libs) can be used to upload a new video entry to the system:

Having an API driven architecture enables complete control and freedom with how you desire your application workflows and UI to be. From creating different publishing workflows to exposing sets of functionalities.
In addition, the API inside-out approach opens up many opportunities for adapting, controlling and extending beyond the simple UI workflows and apps, important examples are with platform automation and monitoring tools.

 

Playing with the API:

As mentioned, Kaltura provides client libs generated for various programming languages. In addition, API calls can be made using a testing tool dubbed the Kaltura TestMe console.
The first thing you would want to do is create a Kaltura Session – KS:

  1. Select ‘session’ as service and ‘start’ as action.
  2. In session type, select ‘USER’.
  3. The secret field corresponds to one of two strings that are saved in Kaltura for each partner and are available in your KMC under the Settings>Integration Settings tab. Note that there are two types of secrets, one that can be used to start an end-USER session and one to start an ADMIN session.

 

testme_session_start

If you look at the screen shot above, you will see that, in the right frame, we have the returned XML which includes:

  • The result tag with the KS ‘N2E1NGE1NGIxOGFlNWI3MDU1NWY4YTNmMTRjM2QwZDg2ZDA1YjM0MHwyNDk7MjQ5OzEzOTkyODc1OTA7MDsxMzk5MjAxMTkwLjM1NDs7Ozs=’ as value
  • The executionTime tag with 3.71932983398 as value

In the bottom of the page, you can see the code our selections in the input form generated.

Notice that while the default displayed code is in PHP, you can click on one of the other languages to see the code generated for any other.

 

Next for a second example using the Test Me Console, we will list the entries our partner owns. Doing so by using the baseEntry service and calling its listAction() function.

testme_baseentry_list

As you can see, the generated code reads:

If you run this code and add:

You will get a result very similar to the XML outputted in the right frame of the page in the screenshot above.

 

The Test Me Console is a useful method of starting to work with the Kaltura API. Simply browse through available services and see what actions can be made.

Then, you can copy the code snippet and shape it into something useful within your scripts.

 

Hopefully this article will help you get started with the Kaltura APIs.

Browse the Kaltura API Documentation Set to learn more and explore more Kaltura APIs.

For any questions, leave a comment below, or start a thread in the forums.

Download, install and take part in the Community.

 

Happy coding :)

Join us for the upcoming Video Experience Hackathon on June 13-5 in NYC. Polish your Kaltura API skills with the mentoring of experts and Kaltura core maintainers, and take a chance at winning the $50,000 prize!
The VideoX Hackathon, June 13-15, NYC

February 16th, 2014

Introducing KIPP – Kaltura Install Made Simple.

by Jess Portnoy

kaltura-light-blue-bg

The installation of Kaltura, just like the platform itself, went through a lot of metamorphosis over the years.

Over the years, we invested many resources at making Kaltura the best media management platform. Featuring grand batch system, complex metadata engine, robust entitlements, simplified video transcoding and more.

Alas, built on many different technologies, the installation of the platform became a bit of a complex task. Requiring many pre-install steps and several tricky pit-falls, even for the expert Linux engineers.

 

Announcing “KIPP” – Kaltura’s Install Packages Project!
Putting in place the resources to simplify and standardize the installation of Kaltura.
To enable the use of standard Linux package managers (e.g. yum, aptitude) to deploy the Kaltura platform with ease.

 

Community ahead!

It was important for us to create an open and collaborative project from day 1. Enabling community users to take part in defining, testing and developing the project.

Open repository and packaging tools -

All RPM and deb specs are accessible on an open GitHub repository.
Also available a chrooted ready-to-go build environment to allow experienced package developers to get started with ease and contribute packages for other CPU architectures or other operating systems.

 

Many dependancies, many challenges.
Kaltura requires many 3rd party components. Some of which are available via official Linux repositories. Many are in different versions or compilation options than what Kaltura requires. And other are missing altogether from official repositories.

Most packages are available from supplementary repositories such as EPEL and RPMForge. But, relying on unofficial repositories would force a list of pre-install steps that KIPP was set to avoid. And it would also introduce the challenge of keeping up with updates from these repositories.

 

Clean & Simple!
To meet our simplicity goal, we’ve chosen a few project guidelines.

All packages will have the ‘kaltura-’ prefix.
This ensures a no-conflict with other packages the machine may already have installed.
It would also provide a simple approach to handling updates -
# yum update "*kaltura*"

All files go under /opt/kaltura/.
Apart from standard init scripts: /etc/init.d and symlinks to Apache and logroate configurations. If the user runs the un-install script – everything gets removed.

Release notes matter.
Every package contains project metadata, that includes the project’s github repository and changes log. The changes-log contain all changes or patches for each version as well as links to Knowledge Center release notes.

Simple single-server without compromising cluster installs.
A single call to the ‘kaltura-server’ meta-package will install a complete all-in-one Kaltura server. But, as you grow your usage, so should your network grow into a smarter cluster of dedicated servers.

Modular packages structure.
A key characteristic of Kaltura is its ability to scale and deploy across any size cluster. The install packages should allow for the same level of modularity in deployment:

  1. You only install what you need.
  2. You should always know exactly what you have installed and of which version.
  3. You should have full control over which parts to update or patch.
  4. You should deploy packages based on desired server-role by calling its role. E.g. front, batch, sphinx, DB, etc.

Automated, silent installs.
Repurposing and adding new servers in your network should be a painless and automatic task.

Post-install script for each server role, allows for an easy deploy or repurpose of Kaltura servers.
Utilizing answers-file, preconfigured server-role templates allow for automatic deployment of new servers.
Admins can use Chef scripts with preconfigured answers-file to deploy complete clusters with ease.

Building for today, designing for long-term.
The short-term goal is to solve deployment of Kaltura on Fedora and Debian based Linux systems. Utilizing simple shell post-install scripts we maintain a common code base whenever possible. That allows for reuse in future packages, reducing time to package for other systems such BSD variants or even OSX.
Also, if we add new directives or variables in the future, all we need to update is the answer file template.

 

Support the project:

  • Kaltura Admins – Follow the new install guide (http://bit.ly/kipp-rpm). Help test the installation and upgrade flows.
  • Packagers / Package Developers – If you’re experienced with Linux packaging (or brew/macports on OSX) drop us a line!
  • Tech writers, translators and anyone who cares – Let’s reach everyone who cares about online video, anywhere!

To stay updated and learn more, visit the project page!

 

 

January 24th, 2014

Boost Your Social Business with Kaltura’s Video Extension for IBM Connections

by Vitaly.Shter

Over the past few years, consumer social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube have radically changed the way we communicate. Seeing the benefits of consumers’ real time social information sharing, enterprises have been adopting social business systems like IBM Connections not only to meet the expectations of today’s employees and partners, but also to increase productivity and reduce costs.

diagram2At the same time, video usage has seen substantial growth within the enterprise, with Forrester reporting that over 27% of firms already implemented enterprise IP/digital video for internal use, and Gartner predicting that by 2016, large companies will stream more than 16 hours of video per worker per month. Innovative enterprises are using video to harness corporate knowledge. As a result, organizations are recognizing that in order to maximize the benefits and adoption of their social business software, they must enrich traditional social business components like news-feeds, communities, blogs, wikis, and profiles, with video. The simplest way to marry advanced video creation, consumption, sharing, and delivery capabilities with social business software is by using packaged video integrations.

Kaltura’s Video Extension for IBM Connections combines Kaltura’s market leading enterprise video platform with IBM’s leading social business software, into a seamless user experience that leverages video to dramatically improve collaboration, knowledge sharing, and communications across the organization. Think adding YouTube-like capabilities to a Facebook-like portal, with the addition of workflows and security mechanisms required by the modern social enterprise. This empowers employees with intuitive video tools that they are already comfortable using, while providing peace of mind to IT by allowing to securely centrally manage all rich media content in the organization.

Here is a short overview of how Kaltura’s new Video Extension can work seamlessly within IBM Connections:

So why video, you ask? There are many reasons why video is key to your organization’s communications, here are just 5 things to think about as you plan the future of your social business strategy:

  • Video is engaging and simplifies complex ideas:
    Both consumers and enterprises recognize video as an engaging and entertaining medium to convey powerful messages, engage audiences, and illustrate complex ideas. Video is the perfect starting point to get the conversation going since video viewers retain 50% more material than those who just view traditional information sources (according to a recent Wharton Business School study). According to Forbes, 59% of senior executives prefer to watch video instead of reading text, if both are available on the same page. So when your IBM Connection users are creating blogs or initiating online ideation discussions, wouldn’t it be great to let them add a relevant video into the mix?
  • Videos reduces cost by boosting training and ‘multiplying’ sales-force:
    7,500 video views per day on salesforce.com – this is equivalent to work done by 46 hyper efficient sales reps, educating customers on the product (According to Greney Jamie, VP, Social Media and Online Video, Salesforce). Similarly training videos watched by thousands of employees and partners are equivalent to dozens of corporate instructors onboarding and training employees and partners. “By integrating Kaltura into our virtual learning site and transitioning all broker training online with video, we have decreased the onboarding timeline for a new agent from 6 to 3 months” (VP of Learning, Coldwell Banker). No matter how you look at it, video cuts costs significantly.
  • Videos shortens ‘time to knowledge’ and facilitates expertise creation and recognition:
    Tapping into the communal knowledge base of a globally distributed workforce is one of the main benefits of social business software like IBM Connections. Add to that the ability for experts to easily record How-to videos and tutorials accessible 24/7 from any device, as well as the long “shelf life” of video, and you significantly shorten the time it takes to find information in your organization in the years to come.  Once you find the information, it is also about comprehension – it is much easier to watch a 3 minute video walkthrough, like the one embedded within this blog post, as opposed to reading a 10 page user manual. Provide your IBM Connections users with Employee Generated Content (EGC) tools like screen-capture, webcam recording, and mobile capture, and watch the level of organizational knowledge sky-rocket as a result of the videos they create and the chance to be publicly recognized for their expertise (you get bonus points for gamification initiatives that reward employee participation!).
  • Video authenticity brings people together:
    Video helps employees break geographical and cultural boundaries, with “nearly in-person” experiences that add depth, authenticity, and personification to their corporate online identity. Many of our customer executives use live video or send recorded video messages to thousands of employees, in order to create a sense of familiarity and closure that is unmatched by text-based communications. Many companies also initiate video contests to foster a sense of company-wide community and corporate pride (see this great example). An IBM Connections portal where executives and employees record and share their video messages and personal user-profiles, and where employees participate in creative video contests, transforms a large workforce into a tighter, community that takes pride in its work.
  • The demand for consuming and creating knowledge on-the-go:
    Today’s workforce requires access to knowledge anywhere-anytime on a myriad of mobile devices. With limited time at hand, and limitations of the mobile device screen size, video is the best medium to access knowledge ”just-in-time” by providing both visual and audio comprehension. This is especially important for mobile and “desk-less” employees like Sales, technicians, first responders, and retail staff who often need to learn a topic on-the-go right before taking action. In other situations, capturing and sharing knowledge videos remotely is business critical capability – think insurance agents documenting an incident on-site using their mobile device video camera. Imagine how powerful this can become with the proliferation of wearable computers like Google Glass and Motorola Golden-i, where video will play an even more central role for communicating, learning, and collaborating “on the fly”.

In summary, bringing together video and social business provides great value: fast, asynchronous, visual, authentic and engaging knowledge exchange through a many-to-many communication channel, resulting in speedier product lifecycles, competitive advantage, educated employees and constant dialogue across the global enterprise and customer base. Learn more about how enterprise video can enhance your business here.

November 7th, 2013

How Transcripts and Captions Augment Video SEO Strategies

by Shannon K. Murphy

This is a guest blog post written by Shannon K. MurphyShannon is the Content Marketing Manager for 3Play Media, an online video captioning and transcription service located in Cambridge, MA. Prior to 3Play Media, Shannon worked as a Marketing Consultant at HubSpot and Dow Jones Local Media. Shannon has been passionate about SEO, inbound marketing and content creation since 2008.

 

3Play-Media-logoVideo is the gateway to a conversation with your next customer. This brilliant content medium appeals to internet audiences because it utilizes both auditory and visual senses, translating into higher engagement and a quicker recall. According to Forbes, 50 percent of executives look for more information after seeing a product or service in a video.  The growing popularity of animated “explainer videos” exemplify how audiences desire dynamic videos paired with easy-to-remember text and facts. While video messages are becoming more refined, this is only one aspect of video marketing. How to get these videos discovered? Again, a powerhouse combination of text and video. Transcripts vastly improve the chance of discoverability and lift your video SEO strategy.

 

Why Video Transcripts Boost SEO

It’s no secret that search engines love video. Depending on the keywords entered into a search query, Google may automatically produce video search results. For example, the words “how to” will often generate search results with videos demonstrations. Google rewards video content in blended results because video is often more time consuming to produce, post, and curate.

While Google attempts to select the most appropriate media format for our searches, video search technology is still lacking. This is where words still have their place. Because the success of SEO hinges on keywords and text queries, video transcripts add valuable spoken content to your site, furthering your site’s presence with search engines.

Because search bots cannot “watch” a video, they rely on limited text information like video tags and meta-descriptions to understand the content and context of videos. As described in the video below, publishing a video on your site with only a heading and short summary paragraph is akin to a newspaper article missing the most important part—the story! A transcript allows search engines to understand video on a deeper level and index it appropriately.

 

More Ways Video Transcripts Amplify SEO

Keyword Strategy/Keyword Density: Video SEO best practices call for one video per page, each with a unique title, header and tags. Transcripts can aid in discovering the most desirable and relevant keyword phrasings, but also add to overall keyword density. Unlike “keyword stuffing,” placing a transcript on your video landing page is a way to integrate a keyword phrase into a site, naturally.

Content Marketing: In 2012, more than 90 percent of marketers utilized video for content marketing. Video transcripts assist in the development of additional content pieces. After a video is transcribed, that text file can be used to create blog articles, whitepapers, slide share presentations, and support documentation.

Mobile Consumption:  Captioned video is accessible anywhere and everywhere. Video is expected to make up two-thirds of mobile consumption by 2017.

 

Additional Benefits of Online Video Captions and Transcripts

Video captions and transcripts provide the flexibility necessary when audiences need to consume video content in public places like the gym, cafe or subway.

UX: Video conveys information faster than almost any other medium. Even then, we can sometimes feel video is lagging behind our own pace. A 3 minute video can feel like 15 minutes when paired with a slow-paced narrator. If users can’t find an effective away to accelerate the pace or find the desired content another way, they will click away. The 3Play Media interactive transcript gives audiences back control. Users can scan search the spoken content of a video for keywords and then click through to any moment where that word was uttered. This feature can speed up the research and evaluation of products and services.

Global Branding: International websites are the first company ambassadors for potential customers oversees. Greet site visitors in their native language. Translating English transcripts and adding multilingual subtitles to Kaltura videos is an effective way to communicate globally. Furthermore, translation will enhance foreign language keyword tactics, augmenting site presence on search engines abroad.

Video SEO is a practice focused on delivering your video content to a well-targeted audience. Video transcripts assist in this process by adding to a site’s keyword relevance and perceived authority.  Broaden the reach of a site by utilizing transcripts for video SEO as well as mobile, UX and global marketing strategies.

October 21st, 2013

5 Tips to Increase Student Engagement With Video

by Laura Djian

Blackboard_logo

Article by Katie Drossos, reposted from the Blackboard blog

All faculty, whether they admit it or not, are faced with the challenge of keeping students locked into and focused on the lesson at hand.  There’s nothing unique about this challenge – a study by Ralph Burns found that the impact of a lecture is greatest in its first five minutes—after that, learners’ attention wanes and the effectiveness of the lecture drops. You have probably sat through lectures yourself where, despite your best intentions, you became disengaged mid-way through.

This reality begs the question: How can you combat student disengagement with your classroom material?  Take a look at the five tips below, based on how Vrije Universiteit (VU) tackled this challenge with video.

 

  • Give Students Control. One way to increase student engagement is to have students influence what (and how) they learn. Rob Van Leeuwen, Educational Technologist at VU, offers, “We have a group of professors that are planning to use Kaltura, an open source online video platform that allows faculty and students to easily create, edit and upload videos, to have students assist with the creation of curriculum and become producers of class materials.  In essence, the students will be in control of determining how they learn best.”

 

  • Make it easy for faculty and students. Find a solution that will allow students and faculty to post videos with as few   clicks as possible, and allows them to be viewed from any device in any location once uploaded.

 

  • Train Your Users. Implementing new technology doesn’t mean anything unless faculty and students use the solution.  At VU, the university’s library used an online video to demonstrate how to use the platform.  They also added a FAQ page and allowed faculty to add their own questions.

 

  • Look at the Analytics. To get the most out of your video solution, monitor usage on campus.  This will allow you to highlight the power-users whom you can then tap as “video evangelists” or ask them to train other faculty.  VU staff use the administrative tools within their solution to gain visibility into what is happening down to a granular level.

 

  • Integrate your video solution with your LMS. Meet students where they are every day – in Blackboard Learn –  and make it easier for them to access the myriad of solutions available to them without having to remember all the various URLs, usernames, and passwords.  By choosing a solution that integrates seamlessly with your LMS, you can open up a new set of engaging teaching possibilities from integration of lecture capture and video materials to enabling video assignments and sharing of student-and faculty-contributed video content.

 

Want more tips?  Read about how VU faculty started using more video in the classroom.

Hear more about VU’s experience using video as a more intuitive way to teach students. Join us for a live webinar on October 24th to hear firsthand from Rob Van Leeuwen about online video projects that have been deployed at VU.

 

September 2nd, 2013

Floss Weekly Episode 261: Kaltura Open Source Video Platform with Randal Schwartz and Dan Lynch

by Zohar Babin

randal-l-schwartz-floss-weeklyOn August 14th, we were  invited to share Kaltura on episode 261 of the FLOSS Weekly Show hosted by Randal Schwartz and Dan Lynch.

You can watch the full episode on this post below, or at the official show episode page, where you can also subscribe to future shows and watch some of the awesome previously recorded shows. You can also review the episode notes on FLOSS Weekly Wiki – Episode 261.

 

If you don’t know FLOSS Weekly already, Randal’s lightning intro below explains it best. Randal does a fantastic job at bringing exciting and interesting Open Source projects to the online [Video] Radio show.

 

Short summary of what we chatted about (and you can read more at FLOSS Weekly Wiki – Episode 261) -

  • What Kaltura is and why you should care.
  • Cover history and future of the Kaltura project, from making video a first class citizen of the web to world domination!
  • The recent move of the Kaltura Server repository from closed SVN to a fully open repository on GitHub.com/kaltura/server .
  • Wikipedia + Kaltura and bringing video step closer to becoming as easy as text.
  • How to get involved with the Kaltura project, fork and contribute.
  • The upcoming Kaltura Connect 2013 conference that will take place on September 30 – October 1st in NYC.

 

To watch the full episode of FLOSS Weekly 261 – Kaltura, press play below, or visit the FLOSS Weekly episode page.

August 14th, 2013

Playing DRM Content in Native Applications (Video)

by Michael Dale

 

DRM (Digital Rights Management) is an important tool for premium and private content. The need for enforcing content license terms and for ensuring control over content monetization is of major concern when coming to provide an online media service that is available in an over-the-top / multi-platform environment. To help clients delivery to these multiple devices Kaltura has enhanced its native application developer tools ( SDKs ) for iOS and Android to support secured delivery.  

Significant attention and effort must be invested to make sure that content is protected for preventing unauthorized content distribution and enforcing corporate and educational viewing licenses.  

Kaltura provides multiple layers of content security: from a strictly secured infrastructure, through secured API sessions, a robust set of conditional access controls and multiple secured content delivery options. The addition of DRM technology to this security stack enables maximum protection of content by encrypting media assets, and by relying on a per-session license for playback. Playback is enabled only upon receiving this dedicated license which can be obtained only as part of a controlled environment through pre-defined rules.

Kaltura’s video platform is integrated today with Google Widevine’s DRM technology for content protection and with a near-term plan to enable a multi-DRM service as part of its video platform.

Playing DRM Content in Native Applications - Google Widevine

 

Kaltura’s integrated DRM service enables:

  1. Media Encryption as an integral part of the content ingestion process.
  2. License protected playback flow from multiple devices.
  3. Integrating with standard policy setting, license issuing flows and client-side protections provided by the DRM technology provider.
  4. Utilizing Kaltura’s Access Controls as an out-of-the-box authorization system integrated within the DRM license issuing flow.
  5. Enabling service-specific business logic for authorizing user/content entitlements as part of the DRM license issuing flow through Kaltura Access Control’s authorized session (KS) validation.
  6. Integrated Content Management – Encrypted content is seamlessly managed along-side with non-encrypted content from the same KMC account.

More details on Kaltura’s integrated service for DRM with Google Widevine are provided in this article on Kaltura’s Knowledge Center

In addition to the out-of-the-box support for DRM protected playback in PC environments using flash and the widevine extension, Kaltura recently introduced DRM support to its mobile reference applications and SDKs. These enhancements enable developers to secure content in the iOS and Android platforms. These tools have been integrated with the kaltura reference apps for easy integration into your native app projects. Here Eliza and Josh share how to get DRM up and running for iOS.

August 12th, 2013

Vine Goes Mainstream: the Evolution of the 6 Second Revolution (Video)

by Asef.Ahmed

vine-twitterIn 2011, the social medium of images was the new hot thing with Instagram established and Snapchat in its infant stages. Despite the popularity of these apps, many people were still wondering: what’s next?

Fast forward two years, with the world experiencing Vine-fever and the recent launch of Instagram Video, video, now more than ever, is king. But what is it that makes apps like Vine so popular? Can a six second video truly be a work of art or is it just a reflection of our generation’s shortened attention spans? Perhaps, just like mainstream media, it is a bit of both. As Vine becomes decreasingly recognized as just another internet gimmick, it evolves into a form of expression that greatly mimics traditional media (or, perhaps, it is also the other way around). Consequently, Vine, like digital media in general, has started occupying six different realms of mainstream media.

 

1. Vine Awards at Film Festivals

Yes, Vines are being awarded at film festivals. The Tribeca Film Festival, cofounded by Robert Deniro, created #6SecondFilms to honor Vines. Seriously, what more artistic validation could Vines need than that from the Godfather himself. The Vines were separated into four categories: genre, series, animate, and auteur (Described as “[Vines that]told a story or script that was truly unique. A tiny, concentrated expression of the filmaker’s vision”) and were judged by an esteemed panel that included the King himself, Goldberg.

Here is this year’s winner in the “auteur” category titled “There is No Sunny Side to this Story”:

 

2. Celebrity Stars

Just like Twitter and Facebook, celebrities from Tyra Banks to Terminator have adopted Vine. However, what differentiates Vine from the other social media platforms is that celebrities have adopted it as a way to express art. Sure, there are some stars that prefer to just shoot a six second clip of whatever they are currently doing or an inane video that has little substance,  but there is a large number of them, like Goldberg, that actually use Vine to tell stories. These artists see Vine as a challenge. They recognize what Vine truly is (or can really be): the haiku of digital media. Like a haiku, a Vine is simple, short and restricted, yet, paradoxically  complicated, beautiful, and free for those same reasons. Take a look at one of Goldberg’s Vines, “Latency.”

 

3. Instructional Promotions

We’ve recently covered the use cases instructional videos and Vine provides another unique method. Companies are using Vine to promote their products while giving nifty tips. Lowe’s has launched their “#lowesfixinsix” campaign that illustrates simple life hacks. Lowe’s has achieved a marketer’s dream by compressing incredibly useful information into one absurdly brief, yet engaging clip. For example, you can learn how to prep your grill for the summer in six quick seconds.

 

4. Advertisements

The vast majority of companies that use social media do it for promotional purposes. However, one of the main concerns with publishing video is making sure that your content is engaging. Companies do not want to invest a substantial amount of money into an advertisement and see that viewers are tuning out. Vine, similarly to twitter,  solves this problem by accepting our attention spans for what they are: weak. Many companies, like Microsoft, have gotten creative and found ways to use Vine to create short yet informative content. Take a look at this episode from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer advertisement campaign “Not Your Father’s Browser” for IE 10. 

 

5. Journalism

Now, much more than ever, we are linked to the news in an almost inescapable fashion. Twitter has helped revolutionize modern journalism by providing instantaneous coverage of events around the world. Any action, catastrophe, election result is immediately uploaded to our feeds. Vine, similarly, provides the swift impact of twitter but also allows the viewer to survey what’s happening. The most famous example of Vine broadcast journalism was done by the Turkish Pulse, who captured the immediate aftermath of the tragic bombing of the U.S. embassy in Turkey. The Vine not only provides the viewer with the information of what happened (that there was a bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Turkey) but also gives the user a sense of the moment, similarly to traditional news coverage.

 

6. Sports

Vine is still in its early stages with broadcasting sports entertainment. Due to the legal ramifications of distributing content that is protected and owned by various leagues, there are not any Vines of actual games or matches. This is extremely unfortunate because Vine would be the perfect medium to relay a thunderous dunk, game winning goal, last-second touchdown, or any important athletic play. However, there have been some breeches into the sports industry with Vines capturing pre-game warm-ups. Look at this one from the Brooklyn Nets.

 

Vine is often dubbed as the “Twitter of video”, which is not far from the truth (Vine is even owned by Twitter). However, the impact of Vine can be so much more. With a 140 character limit, Twitter, like Vine, limits its users. But if a picture is truly worth a thousand words, then at 30 frames per second, Vine is worth at least 180,000 of them.

July 17th, 2013

3 Ways MOOCs Benefit Teachers

by Asef.Ahmed

MOOCbetterwordbubbleMOOCs, massive online open courses, such as Coursera and MIT and Harvard’s EDx have been the talk of the educational town for the past few months. While the concept is not an entirely novel phenomenon, recent technological innovations in streaming video in addition to the backing of several top universities have made them wildly popular; validating the “M” in MOOC (Coursera alone has about 4 million users).

MOOCs have been a controversial topic with some educational experts seeing them as the rebirth of higher education and others; like Amherst’s Stephen A. George (who recently led the faculty’s rejection of partnering edX) who regard it more as its demise. The majority of the debate on MOOCs centers on the (supposed) benefits that face students. But don’t teachers stand to be impacted just as much if not more than students? Why then is the dialogue so student-centric? Today, we are going to focus on our thoroughly underappreciated and unrecognized teachers and discuss how MOOCs can benefit them as well.

 

1. MOOCs Allow Participating Professors to Rethink Their Course

Typically, a professor who has taught the same course for a few years has his lectures, syllabus, and material more or less set in stone. By joining a MOOC, teachers can look at their course with completely new eyes. Take Professor Gregory Nagy of Harvard University. For the past 35 years, Nagy has been teaching his very popular class “Concepts of the Hero in Classical Greek Civilization”. Nagy has moved his class to the online realm offering his course, re-dubbed “The Ancient Greek Hero”, on edX. The course forced Nagy to completely rethink his course that he has been teaching for the better part of half a century by dividing his lectures into 24, 1 hour long, segments and further subdividing those sections into dramatic clips. Nagy claims, “I had this real revelation…and I thought, My God, Greg, you’ve been spoiled by the system!”

Additionally, colleagues who teach similar courses can see how experts like Nagy teach their material. This helps professors by indirectly giving them teaching tips and ways to structure their course as well as directly providing them with knowledge they may not have known that they can apply to their own lectures.

 

2. MOOCs Encourage Teachers to Become Tech Savvy

MOOC_poster_mathplourdeMOOCs are not just a tool to teach students; they are also being used to educate teachers. New Teacher Center (NTC) has partnered with Coursera to offer a high quality solution to develop young K-12 teachers. NTC plans on providing courses such as “First Year Teaching-Success from the Start“, that provide lessons and strategies aimed at “setting and communicating expectations to students”, “building positive relationships with and between students”, “behavioral preventions and interventions”, “organizing the learning environment”, and “establishing and maintaining routines and procedures that support student learning.” NTC is also rolling out more subject related courses such as Literacy Design Collaborative” and “Math Design Collaborative” that focus primarily on developing teaching  skills for their respective concentrations.

NTC Founder and CEO Ellen Moir says that she started NTC because she saw an unfortunate number of the best and brightest new teachers quit their profession due to a lack of adequate support. She believes that through MOOCs, NTC can reach a much wider array of teachers that could not be previously reached. She writes, ” In the future teachers will increasingly take responsibility for their own professional learning and it is our job to ensure they have easy access to high-quality professional development opportunities. This is a step in that direction.”

 

3. MOOCs Provide Analytics that Improve Learning

MIT physics professor David Pritchard has been using data from MOOCs to see how students use their course material. Pritchard’s findings suggest that students are more likely to use videos as a tool to aid in homework problems but are more often utilizing the online textbook for exams. This raises significant questions about the effectiveness of textbook learning.

Pritchard is not the only professor gathering data from MOOCs. Experimenting professors love MOOCs as they provide an absurdly large sample size in a naturally randomized setting. Professors, like Pritchard, are using A/B testing where one fraction receives one educational experience and the other fraction receives a different kind and then measure the difference in performance (course completement, grades, etc.) to show which educational experience is more effective.

But how do they gather this data? MOOCs track every click. This means that when a student pauses, rewinds, clicks one answer, fast forwards, etc. it is being recorded. The massive amounts of data that this provides on student behavior is staggering. President of edX  Anarat Angarwal estimates that his first course alone received 230 million clicks- providing enough data to  fill 110,000 research books by Pritchard’s estimations.

Check out Coursera co-founder and Stanford Professor Daphne Koller explains the benefits of data gathering in this TED talk clip.

(14:05-16:00)

July 9th, 2013

Collaborating with Customers and Colleagues: How We Learn at Kaltura

by Charlotte.Copeman

I came across a great article this week on the importance of “soft skills” for graduates. It’s a great read and really resonated with me in my role at Kaltura.

Having a highly technical team is a great asset to any technology company, but team work and communication are the skills that bring your technology to life.

Education is a really hot topic at Kaltura, both for training internally and for training customers. It’s great to provide great technology and a strong set of features for your customers, but features don’t grow a business or school, application of those features is what makes your customers soar.

video.kaltura.comExternally, we have a great Community Team that provide a range custom training to customers, from how to upload your videos to how to troubleshoot your server. They also provide a knowledge centre, free training videos, a forum, meetups and free webinars. Customers can call on these sessions at any time in their customer lifecycle and they can either help to refresh your team’s knowledge or to provide you with a whole new skill set. As they say “knowledge is power” and the more we can educate our customers, the more they can grow.

Internally, technical information is shared with the whole team as it grows and develops and we’re all kept well informed of upgrades with core technology, upgrades with partners in exchange.kaltura.com and upgrades with Kaltura Building Blocks and plugins. What makes our internal learning different is the education on why and how a customer would use these.

There’s a big focus on use cases, formal case studies and also on working closely with the Product Team to not only learn about new features but also to feedback from customers. We all learn a huge amount about our technology by listening to our customers, inviting regular feedback on roadmap ideas and also on customer’s experience of using Kaltura. There are both formal and informal channels for feedback, ranging from CEO calls with customers to regular catch-up calls with a customer’s Account Manager and all of these help to make Kaltura stronger every year.

In any organization, when overwhelmed with email, updating written records, responding to customer requests and managing internal information flow, it can be difficult to take time out to process your learning and experience. So how do we manage this information? How do you keep your team working together towards the greater good?

“Soft skills” include a wide skill set that comes with experience. For some, it comes naturally, for others, they are learned as are any other skill. “Team work” is an often-used phrase in organisations, but it takes hard work to build true collaboration, particularly when you have a global team. It’s also essential to remember that your “team” isn’t just internal: your team is built from developers, sales teams, product managers, support teams, billing teams…but most important, customers. If you view customers as part of your team, your organization becomes truly world-class.

As we begin Q3 in our calendar, there are a number of initiatives that are taking place:

Know Your Team

Kino-300x206-2We’ve just completed a great internal global project at Kaltura called “The Point of You”. Each global team was set a challenge to create a video showcasing your team members and the work that each individual does. The value of this is that you not only learn about the role of each team, but you also learn about the individuals that work in that team. Needless to say, most teams took a fun approach to their video task, ranging from Star Wars themes to James Bond, and whilst this was great fun to do, it was also hugely educational for Kaltura as a global company. The videos gave every single employee an opportunity to show their personality and tell you what they do and why they do it. Because the videos were fun, they were engaging and the outcome was a huge strengthening of collaboration and team relationships.

Q3 Kickoff

Each internal Kaltura team approaches the kickoff of a new quarter differently. There are no hard and fast rules, but each team works on a project that benefits Kaltura as a whole. We are usually paired up with colleagues and set a task. Some teams work on improving customer communication, others work on how to improve internal communications between teams, others work on how we recognize our individual achievements and how we work together to strengthen our personal career growth…there are no strict guidelines on what we work to improve, but the challenge itself helps us to grow as both individuals and teams and the close teamwork and open sharing makes us the solid global team that we are today.

Implementation Feedback

Once a customer implementation has been completed, it’s easy to put a “tick in the box”, mark it as done and hand the customer over to their Account Manager. At Kaltura, we think it’s important to revisit that customer after a period of time, when they have had a chance to use the technology for some time and perform a review of their experience. The Professional Services Team and the Product Teams set up both formal and informal customer reviews, and use this opportunity to discuss in detail what the customer experience was like and how we can improve. What were we great at, where can we improve, what features would you like to see on the roadmap? It’s this constant circle of collaboration with customers that helps us to both decide on the roadmap and to improve our internal processes.

CEO Calls

Your customers often get to speak to multiple teams in your organization, but if they had a chance to speak to “The Boss”, what would they tell them? We truly value our customers and every member of the Kaltura team has direct contact with customers, including “The Boss”! We recently had a number of calls set up with customers to speak to Ron, our CEO. Rather than setting up calls with customers who had a smooth ride, we tried to focus on customers who had very specific requirements and challenged us to the best of our ability. The calls have been invaluable and the reason they have been so successful is that once the calls had happened, there were action items for all. We set up follow-up calls with Product, Account Management, Professional Services and many other teams so that the customer could continue the conversation and we all learned from their great feedback.

International Teams

We truly are a global team and that doesn’t just mean that we have offices around the world. I work in the EMEA London office and we have team members from the US, Israel, the UK, France, Austria, Germany, Spain and Holland. Not only do we have team members from around the world in every office, but movement between the offices is strongly encouraged. All staff have the opportunity to work in other global offices and this is incredible for both sharing your experience and also for sharing international experience. Business in the US is different to business in Germany, different again to business in Israel, and by having your team members move between your global offices, they bring the benefit of their experience to the wider team.

Do You Know The Answer To…

We have an internal forum that anyone can send a question out to, and anyone can answer. It doesn’t matter which team you work in, a question lands in all of our inboxes and we can all reach out to help a colleague. This also works in reverse, because as you read through these, you learn something new every day and have a huge body of knowledge to refer to.

Internal MediaSpace

Kaltura Internal MediaSpaceWe’ve all heard the phrase “eating your own dog food” (or if you haven’t, I’ll explain!). What this means is that if you believe in your product, use it! We have our own implementation of MediaSpace called KINO (Kaltura Internal Knowledge) to share knowledge and training internally. We have a number of galleries that each have permissions based on your team membership and these can be used to share video on new features, new releases, what your team is doing this month, training sessions on new technologies…there are no rules and you can upload any video that will help to educate your fellow team members. In addition, there are channels that are open to all where we share and learn with the whole company.

As is written in the article:

“The world’s top employers are picker than ever. And they want to see more than high marks and the right degree. They want graduates with so-called soft skills — those who can work well in teams, write and speak with clarity, adapt quickly to changes in technology and business conditions and interact with colleagues from different countries and cultures.”

We continue to learn and grow at Kaltura, but the focus placed on team collaboration, written and spoken communication, sharing technology updates, business insight and working within a truly global team is taking us from strength to strength.

Oh…and most important…we use video ;)