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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Sean Brown, SVP of Education, Sonic Foundry (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Jun 2nd 2014

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Video of the classroom is a trend. How is it playing out?

Sramana Mitra: Sean, let’s start with a bit of context. Tell us a bit about yourself as well as Sonic Foundry.

Sean Brown: I’m the Senior Vice President of Sonic Foundry. I’ve worked for Apple, IBM, and Oracle over the last 20 years. I came to Sonic Foundry about 13 years ago to help roll out our flagship product called Mediasite, which is a system which when introduced, started a new trend in converting your average classroom into an online video studio. You could teach in the classroom the way you normally would – not becoming a web developer or author – and have that knowledge that classroom performance turned into a digital learning object accessible via the web. That’s been very successful for us.

It has put us in touch with a lot of different institutions – K12, higher ed, corporations, government agencies – who all have similar missions to get their knowledge in education converted more easily and more efficiently and distribute it in an increasingly bandwidth-capable Internet going to all these mobile devices and computers around the world.

Sramana Mitra: In terms of adoption, this is something that we’ve started hearing for a while now. Clearly, you are in touch with a lot of education constituencies while adopting. What trends are you seeing in terms of the different segments you mentioned? What are the usage models for each of the segments?

Sean Brown: That’s a great question and a broad question. The greatest adopters at this minute are the higher education institutes all over the world particularly in North America, but it’s very much distributed. When I say adopters in the particular areas that I’ve come to focus in and that our firm focuses in, the biggest trend in higher education and in this type of environment is a conversion to the thought that everything should be digital video. I’m an older gentleman and when I went to school, you paid your tuition, you got your syllabus on paper, you picked up your packets and books, and you sat in class. That class was taught once. If you were there, you heard it. Whatever you put in your memory or notes was all that was going to live on from that moment. If you skipped class, well so be it. If you want to think about it again, go back to your notes or your memory. That’s it.

In 2014, that’s considered an unconscionable waste especially in higher education. At the same time, there’s a recognition I made that the pioneering days of looking at your faculty and saying, “It’s your responsibility to create digital content from your curriculum. There’s a computer, there’s hypercard. There are some tools. If you aren’t prolific, then that’s on you.” There’s been a paradigm shift that, I believe, is analogous to starting to see digital publishing as publishing your knowledge similar to publishing a book. Universities, for example, expected faculty to publish their knowledge as well – publish or perish.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Thought Leaders in Online Education: Sean Brown, SVP of Education, Sonic Foundry
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