The Kaltura Experience

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In the last months and the previous semester I have become acquainted with on-line classes. In this blog I want to share some of my experiences with this form of teaching. Most of the lessons are using the Kaltura software so that explains the name of this blog. At the moment it works fine but that took some time. In my first lesson, I missed an hour. Luckily for me the presentation was recorded and I could see it later in the week.

I noticed that there are different sorts of online lectures: just playing a video, a combination of videos and online questions and discussion groups. Lets start with the first one. There is no interaction and you just watch the video. But there are differences. Some teachers put on a lecture of a previous year recorded in the lecture hall. This are not the best. You don’t hear questions from the students, they refer to wrong data and they last mostly 45 minutes or more. Another sort of presentation that I like more, are the lectures where the teacher speaks from behind his desk. In both cases I find it more difficult to concentrate and remember the teaching material then in a live classroom.

Video lessons have some advantages too. I can pause when taking notes, I can repeat a part when I didn’t heard or understood the words. What I’m wondering if it is possible to rip a video. Of course you can use your phone but that will be a low quality. In the paper today was an interesting article  that discussed if it would not be better to put the best lectures in open data.[1] But for many teachers that will be a bridge to far I suppose.

Some of my lectures are divided in mostly four clips of about 20 minutes. I find that better to grasp. The lessons with short video clips are much easier to follow and comprehend. The style of the teacher is also a factor. I found out that someone who talks slowly is easier to remember. I like the lessons where the clips are combined with live questions and discussions,

An other case are the live sessions. You mostly see a small window with the teacher and many other small windows from the students. Here is the first problem. There is a list of participating students but that can have more students then there are windows. If you are not in one of those windows, you cannot use your microphone or camera. I still don’t know how to solve this problem. And on whose side the problem is, do I something wrong or is it on the teachers side? Or just a bug or restriction in the Kaltura software. If anyone knows the solution, please comment on the blog.

In the first lessons there were problems with the microphones. If one of the students had its microphone open the sound was distorted but the last weeks that problem is reducing. Better discipline or tuning of the microphone of the students or improvements in the software or hardware?

But the most annoying I find al those dull windows. You are participating in a discussion group but you can see no one because most students keep their cameras closed. The reason is that it will take to much bandwidth if all the cameras are open. But I don’t know if that is the real reason and if that it is really true. I think that at least the one that speaks or asks questions should open the camera. I think for teachers the experience is that they are talking to a closed wall. Personally I feel that very annoying.

Another painful moment is always when the teacher asks a question to the group and nobody gives an answer. Everybody hides behind his/hers closed window. In a classroom you can see if the question is misunderstood or that everyone is felt asleep. In this case you have to guess why there comes no answer.

Perhaps we need some sort of “kalturaqette”: when to use the camera, the microphone, the raising hands and what we put into the posts. I hope that we don’t need rules or procedures but that it grows natural.

As I said before, not every teacher is equally experienced with the digital tools or controls the art of good and clear presentation. Nevertheless I have a lot of respect for their attempts. May be an idea to give a price to the best performing teacher in this media this semester?

Well we are getting every week more used to this form of teaching. It isn’t optimal but, apart from a lot of other problems, it gives a good possibility to follow lectures.


[1] Eveline Crone, ’Hoorcolleges van de lopende band’ NRC (3 oktober 2020).

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2 Comments

  • Aron
    Posted October 4, 2020 at 11:54 am 0Likes

    Dear Ben, I totally agree with your piece. Although it seems this is the best solution we have right now, the issues you raise regarding camera usage, microphone and the awkward moments when no one replies.
    Some form of Kalturaqette also sounds like a good idea to me! I also think it must be odd for teachers to talk to black screens at the bottom of Kaltura. However it might also be hard forcing students to use a camera/microphone in the confines of their own homes. Not everyone might be as comfortable sharing those spaces on the camera.

    Regarding the problem of being in the window, I believe people can still hear you when you use your microphone, even when you’re not in the window. However People can’t see you. This is due to the problem of how to represent so much people in a window. I’m unsure about the size of the Digital Media class itself but to represent +50 people already seems hard. As far as I know, it’s not just a bandwidth issue, but also local computing power. I don’t know if im the only one, but Kaltura seems to use a lot of power compared to for example Zoom. The lag on Teams with +/- 30 people on screen is also very annoying. It seems there is no clear way to solve this when teaching a large amount of people.

    All with all, good piece that highlights the clear issues with Kaltura!

  • Wakana.K
    Posted October 14, 2020 at 4:17 pm 0Likes

    Thank you for your blog post! I totally agree with your opinion about Kaltura experience. Since I am shy, I prefer not to show my face on a window but when I have a problem with explaining or expressing my feelings, I prefer to turn on my camera to show my facial expression and hand gestures because I can actually communicate with others by using those tools. But I feel a lot more nervous when I turn on the microphone and speak up during the class because I can feel that everyone is paying attention to me. The worst moment for me is that someone askes me something but my connection goes bad and I cannot hear anything. So as you explained, I also think that online classes have both negative and positive aspects.

    Kalturaqette sounds like a good idea but as Aron mentioned in his comment, I think that it is difficult to force everyone to turn on a camera and microphone because of privacy issues. For instance, I sometimes see my classmates’ family from her or his windows and it makes me a bit uncomfortable though of course, I am not trying to peep into my classmates’ personal lives.

    I found your blog post convincing because you are actually experiencing those issues of using Kaltura and so are we. Thank you so much for giving us oppotunity to share how we think about this learning style.

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