Tuesday, April 30, 2013

CCC Streaming Review


CCC Streaming

Initial Reaction

Distinct from the content itself, the interface felt very clunky. The clunkiness was strongest with the use of frames, navigation, and playlists.

Frames: When you begin a search the results are given to you within a frame. This immediately creates two scroll bars, one for the web page and another for the frame. For a user this could be confusing, which scrollbar controls the web page or frame.

Navigation: Once you select a video another page frame loads. After viewing the video one wants to go back to their original page, yet if you select the back button you are sent to log on page. There are two tabs; search and video which will take you between the two pages but one's first inclination is the back button. The navigation issues are a direct result of CCC Streaming over relying on frames.

Playlists: The whole playlist interface felt rather clunky. The interface seemed to be controlled by cgi scripts with popups for each action.  This could certainly be a user issue since by default most browsers block popups.. I spent time adding some playlists within the Digital Director and adding clips was functional. I liked the ability to add a specific clip of a video to a playlist. I created several playlists for lessons coming up, and became very frustrated that there was no way to order those playlists.  What is the purpose of a playlist if you can’t choose the order of the clips. I do not see myself, or other teachers, using this feature because of its clunkiness. In using the playlist in a lesson its functionality was not consistent, playlist did not always complete.

The site felt very alpha to me. The overuse of frames and cgi scripts gave an amateurish feel. My guess is the developers are using very old technology to deliver the video content. Frames and cgi scripts are 90’s era technology, which could cause security concerns.

Content

I sent a survey to Schenk staff to gauge what kind of content would be useful to teachers. In regards to Science; Animals, Plants, and Earth came back as desired content. This content comes directly out of the FOSS curriculum so that makes sense. In regards to Social Studies; Geography, History, and Community were popular. An additional interest was cultural studies in relation to holidays.

While not speaking to quality, I thought one way to gauge this would be a table to highlight quantity of content in particular subject areas.  
Science (K-5)


Animals
Plants
Earth
Special Interest
181 Videos (Life Science K-5)


Reptiles 22


Amphibians 14


Fish 67


Mammals 32


Birds 73

133


(Life Science) 84


(Sciences) 119
(Earth Science) 389


Magnetism 15


Volcano 28


Physics 58


Chemistry 19


Solids, Liquids, and Gases 13
STEM 320 (Science / Technology)


Bill Nye 115


BBC 82


Uncaged 9


Weston Woods 220 (Think Bookflix).







Social Studies (K-5)

Geography
History
Culture
Community
61


Maps 34


Countries 118


States 147


Midwest 10

348


Biographies 84


US History 581


Slavery 37


Explorers 17
253


Multicultural 394


US Geography and Culture 140


World Geographies and Culture 411
55


Communities / Basic Needs 86


Jobs 22


Cities 51


Rural 12


Quality

One of the first reactions I received from another classroom teacher was the quality.  This was a recurring criticism of Discovery Streaming too. There may be a wealth of content yet its dated and the content is low resolution. In the playlist I selected for a lesson, one lower quality made it difficult to view the video. Other videos were not as poor but only partially covered the screen either on computer or large screen.  

Another teachers said that the content appeared dated but acceptable. In short, while the quality was not up to parr, the quantity of content that teachers desire for instruction balanced it out. Another liked that she could simply put in a code (pdf pamphlet) for magnetism and view the video. In using CCC for a group of lessons this is where I would put my self. There was a good breadth of content I would use for teaching, but increasing the quality is a definite area of improvement for the future.


Supplemental Material

One feature I noticed about the site is supplemental materials. Depending on the content, supplemental material is offered on the particular video. A video on sharks has a student activity, teacher guide, quiz, and correlated standards.  In particular, the emphasis on Common Core looked useful.  It could describe how a particular video fit into a specific standard. On the main page you can also search by specific state standards.

One thing I liked was the quiz feature. One problem ran into was the assumption of watching the entire video. The playlist feature, although work is needed, could be very useful to teachers. For example, in my lesson I took clips from a variety of resources to create a playlist. It is easy to see how the quiz feature becomes useless. What would be helpful is the ability to select quiz questions at the clip level which could then be curated for an entire playlist.

The CCC Connection, http://www.cccconnection.com, site looks like it would be useful for teachers.  Many videos have smartboard, slideshows, and pdf’s that support specific content areas. A forum is even offered for teachers to discuss their lesson ideas.

Library Catalog

The module to include CCC Streaming as a digital resource would be a great resource for teachers. I was playing around with this and a search for animals gave results for videos related to the search criteria. If this resource allowed teachers to go directly to the video after a search that would be great.


Conclusion

I am of two minds with CCC Streaming. On the one hand there has been this huge gap since Discovery Streaming. While the cost of the service was certainly not warranted, having a no ads, video service is a  great need for teachers. Like others, we have utilized Youtube whose abundance of ads is wearing thin. My frustration lies in many of the ads and related videos are   inappropriate for the elementary school audience.

Overall, I am content with the available content especially if in the future higher quality content will become available. The area that I felt was lacking was the site interaction itself. My biggest frustration was not being able to organize the playlists. Another frustration was normal web site navigation behaviors did not work - back button as an example.

Many of these concerns could be bypassed with CCC Streaming being accessible via the Library Catalog.   The little I have played with it hints at the possibility of the content being accessible within an interface teachers are currently using. This is a big deal and alleviates CCC Streaming’s organization and navigation concerns.