Video Assessment & the Future of Technology in Higher Ed

At the start of the COVID pandemic, academic institutions moved entire course catalogs online in a matter of days or weeks. Since then, they’ve been re-examining their tech plans, looking for new ways to support teaching innovation and learning continuity by leveraging technology in higher ed.

Because of widespread challenges that arose from COVID, Gartner predicts that higher ed is reaching digital maturity as campus IT leaders focus on four key technology and business trends:

  1. Student experience
  2. Sustainability
  3. Scaling the change
  4. Adapting to the new normal

One technology that many institutions adopted during the pandemic—video assessment—is quickly gaining traction for its tactical, post-COVID benefits in all four of these areas.

COVID & the Shift to Online Learning

To put the challenges of COVID into perspective, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that 19.6 million students were enrolled in U.S. higher education institutions in fall 2019, with 37% enrolled in at least one online course.

When COVID forced campus shutdowns in spring 2020, 84% of postsecondary students experienced course disruption, with some or all of their in-person courses moving online. That increased the number of U.S. college students learning online by 47% in one academic year.

On a global scale, UNESCO reported that in March 2020 1.38 billion students (at all levels of education) were affected by national COVID-related school closures. Many of those students were unable to continue learning virtually because they lacked electronic devices and connectivity.

The World Economic Forum recognized that while the unplanned move to online learning created a poor experience for some, it’s likely to create a new hybrid model of education that requires more integrated technology.

Citing research about the effectiveness of online learning as a benefit of this trend, the Forum reports that on average, students retain 25–60% more when learning online compared to 8–10% in the classroom. And, because they can learn at their own pace, online learning takes 40–60% less time.

Student Expectations & the Student Experience

As COVID gives rise to a new model of education, how are colleges and universities rethinking their approach to teaching and technology in higher ed? And how, as Gartner indicates, is this shining a new light on the student experience?

A recent report by The Chronicle of Higher Education took a closer look at how Gen Z students’ experience with COVID and online learning has changed their expectations. A key takeaway is that while traditional students were frustrated by the rapid shift to online learning at the start of the pandemic, they liked the flexibility of online courses. They still want a campus experience, however, with places and platforms for building human connections. And, because most Gen Z students enroll in college to get a good job, they’re hyper focused on experiential learning and professional skills training.

Predicting that more institutions will go hybrid, offering a greater mix of online and in-person courses, the report recommends they implement “technology that gives students the same opportunities to participate in classroom activities no matter how they consume the course.” One barrier to creating a comprehensive and consistent digital experience is experiential learning.

Adapting the Student Experience to Include Experiential Learning Online

Whereas instructors have a range of digital tools for didactic learning (e.g., text-based content, recorded lectures, and instructional videos), it’s much more difficult to create opportunities for experiential learning and skill development in a virtual environment.

At the height of the pandemic, many skills-based programs in disciplines such as performing arts, nursing, teacher education, and world languages turned to GoReact for video assessment. It gave students a way to practice and demonstrate skills on video: everything from conducting an orchestra to taking a patient’s blood pressure. It also gave instructors the ability to observe, assess, and give personalized feedback remotely.

In fall 2021, GoReact published a report exploring the impact of COVID-19 on the adoption of online video assessment in higher education. It analyzed usage of GoReact starting in 2018 through the first half of 2021.

Results showed that video assessment in higher education was already trending up prior to COVID, but the pandemic massively accelerated the trend with a 100% increase in instructor participation from spring 2020 to fall 2020, and a 125% increase in student participation during the same period.

The Big Picture: Video & the Future of EdTech

As colleges and universities plan for a post-COVID future, they’re thinking differently about their edtech stacks, and, as Gartner pointed out, adopting technologies that are sustainable, scalable, and adaptable. One example is video.

In their Annual State of Video in Education Survey for 2020, Kaltura surveyed a representative sample of more than 500 global educators about the role of video in education during COVID. They found that:

  • 59% of institutions were using video for student assignments.
  • 68% wanted to blend traditional learning with virtual innovations that arose from the shift to online learning during COVID.
  • 84% saw the positive impact of video on student satisfaction.

In addition to working in any modality—online, hybrid, or face-to-face—video crosses over into all six learning tool categories represented in the chart below: academic integrity, active (or experiential) learning, assessment, media-based learning, multi-purpose collaboration, and video conferencing.

Supporting All Campus Abilities: Student Ability, Sustainability, Scalability, & Adaptability

Narrowing the focus to video assessment, it supports needs and priorities in all four of the Gartner top higher education technology and business trends for 2021. Its innovative application for experiential learning online or on campus fills gaps in institutional tech plans, and humanizes skills-based learning for students.

Here’s how video assessment supports trends related to technology in higher ed within each of the Gartner categories shown in the chart above: 

  1. Alternative Credentials. The pandemic accelerated demand for shorter degree pathways such as online certificates, microcredentials, and apprenticeships. Because these alternative programs are primarily career-focused, they’re more likely to require multimodal skills training.
  1. Virtual Experiences. Video assignments can be created and evaluated from anywhere, giving students (individually or as part of a group) the ability to practice skills until they achieve mastery. They can record and re-record presentations or process demonstrations, then watch and reflect on their own skill development, without being limited by the availability of labs, classrooms, or staff.
  1. International Students. Foreign language, sign language, and interpreter training are some of the key disciplines that benefit from the video plus feedback model. They also represent the earliest adopters of video assessment software. As COVID has created extra challenges for international students, video assessment gives U.S. institutions a way to continue offering a range of courses online, especially for first-year students who are allowed to learn virtually from abroad.
  1. Low-Code Applications. Cloud-based video assessment software is easy to set up and use, and integrates seamlessly with all major learning management systems. This eases the IT burden for campuses and contributes to a sustainable technology infrastructure.
  1. Cyberthreats. With the shift to more online learning, cybersecurity has become a serious issue for higher ed. Beyond the assurance of FERPA and HIPAA compliance, all student and institutional video assessment data is encrypted at rest and in transmission, and the software provides assignment and student-level privacy controls.
  1. Online Everywhere. Video assessment gives students the flexibility to use a smartphone or webcam to record and submit videos from home, campus, or any clinical setting. It gives instructors, mentors, and peer reviewers the same flexibility to observe and assess student videos in real time or asynchronously at a convenient time and place. 
  1. Cloud Now. Accessible anytime, anywhere from the cloud, video assessment software and user data is stored, processed, and transmitted on secure cloud servers.
  1. Hybrid Classrooms. Not only does video assessment work in any modality to ensure learning continuity and flexibility, it’s also an effective way to scale enrollment in skills-based programs campuswide.
  1. Online Productification. Video assessment adds a crucial element to online learning programs, enabling institutions to package and market experiential learning as part of their distance education offerings.
  1. COVID-19 Campus. Many institutions began using video assessment for the first time during the pandemic. A growing number plan to continue using it post-COVID to facilitate experiential learning in any modality. Having video assessment in their edtech stack gives entire campuses or individual instructors the ability to pivot quickly and easily to or from online learning.
  1. Hybrid Everything. Beyond its use in academic degree programs, video assessment can be used by student services departments for online or on campus career coaching as well as for any application that requires students to practice and demonstrate skills or evaluate others’ skills.

Join our Weekly Webinar to see how integrating GoReact into your edtech stack will help your entire campus reach digital maturity and adapt to the new normal in higher education.

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