What Are The Top Tools For Learning in 2021?

What Are The Top Tools For Learning in 2021?

Each year an important list is compiled which thoroughly analyses all the tools that are currently being used across sectors of education – from early school years through to professional development.Read More

Illustrated image of Makematic's co-founder Catherine Davies

Employee Spotlight: Catherine Davies, Co-Founder

With Women’s History Month at full steam ahead, who better to highlight this month’s employee spotlight than our co-founder, Catherine Davies! We caught up with her this month to ask about her role at Makematic.Read More

Gain while you game behind the scenes text featuring two women

Gain While You Game: Makematic Behind The Scenes Vlog

In this vlog, I’m taking you behind-the-scenes of our first Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) video: “Gain While you Game“.Read More

Illustration of video game consoles and text stating how we made a 60-second gaming video

How We Made A 60-Second Gaming Video

During my placement with Makematic, I was tasked to produce a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) video on the benefits of gaming and the life skills it provides.Read More

Image of student doing online learning/home schooling/distance learning

Our Faithful And Educating Friend

If there is anything we have learned in the past year, it’s that video is no longer a nice-to-have but has become instead an essential part of the educational content blend at whatever level of education we examine.Read More

Image of US Capitol

Resources To Help Educators Talk About What Happened at the U.S. Capitol

The events at Capitol Hill were shocking. And as an educator, whether you live in the United States or not, there is so much that should be discussed with those you teach.Read More

Video Content in 2020

Video Content in 2020

It is the end of a long year, what better way to end than to do my usual and have a quick round-up of how video content has been growing as a consumer favourite in 2020.

Whilst international physical boundaries have been closed due to the Covid crisis, digital traffic has increased hugely.  From our perspective as a business who produces short-form educational video targeting post-millennials and millennials, we have seen pretty explosive growth this year as brands, publishers and non-profits all turn to short-form animated and live-action video to educate their audiences.

According to Cisco, who this time last year said that in any given second 1 million minutes of video are crossing the internet, at the end of 2020, they say that 75% of all internet traffic is video content, and this will rise to 82% by 2022.

Publicis and Verizon in a joint study have discovered that a lot of video content is consumed on the go or at work and as a result of this, 92% of those in their study watch video with the sound off.  So captions are becoming a must!

More than 2 billion people use Youtube – that’s one-third of all internet users with around 5 billion videos watched on Youtube every day, and Youtubers are uploading 500 hours of video every minute.  According to Social Media Today, 82% of Twitter users mainly use the platform to watch videos. These are mostly mobile users as well since roughly 90% of all video views on Twitter happen via mobile phones. 

We already know that most view video content via mobiles courtesy of eMarketer’s study in 2018, so this has only grown since then. We are nearing the point where everyone who possibly can in terms of device ownership, will view short-form video content on a daily basis, wherever they are, anywhere in the world. What’s interesting to learn from Brand Gym is that when consumers are viewing adverts on a mobile device, 75% skip the advertising in an average of 5.5 seconds (ie: as soon as they can!), so if advertising-supported video content is your strategy, then it’s completely the wrong one and something needs to change.   

On the educational front, video-assisted learning has become more and more popular.  Classrooms are awash with high-tech digital displays and now that schools are connected to the internet worldwide, video has become an important part of everyday learning – this has of course extended into the home this year.  The Covid pandemic has created the perfect environment for distance learning which has increased spectacularly with universities having to create high-quality distance learning modules with high production values for their video content.  Animated videos enrich subjects and help pupils and students understand complex subjects simply and easily in a format with which they identify.

The US government have recognised this and are awarding grants to those who produce educational video content. PBS Education an off-shoot of the network PBS has secured a $24M federal grant this year.  They’ve seen the opportunity that presents itself and are going to spend it on creating high educational value, curriculum-linked video assets and they’ve employed early-learning and children’s education experts and media producers to realise this project.

Those targeting post-millennials are getting it right.  I have often mentioned Blippi and how he’s grown to become a multi-million dollar brand in his own right through simply producing quality educational videos and posting them on Youtube. Last year he’d made about $12M. This year, judging by the merchandise in our house he’ll be making a lot more.  

In the past week, Ryan Kaja became the highest-earning Youtuber earning $29.5M from his Youtube child influencer shows and a further $200M from his branded toys and Marks and Spencer pyjamas.  Nickelodeon have now signed him for a series so next year that will only increase.

Without a doubt this year has been a big turning point for video content.  It was always on the cards that short-form educational video was going to become the learning medium for learning anything. But the fact that the entire population of the planet was forced online this year, whether they liked it or not, has made this happen now.  Not next year or the year after.  Today.  Those who choose to ignore this will simply be left behind.

Illustration of video content being created

Coming To A Device Near You Soon – Part 2

In my last blog, I talked about my experiences of attending online conferences recently instead of in person.  Since then I’ve again been at an online conference, Futurebook, but this time sitting on the other side of the fence as a presenter.  

Before I go into that, I became curious as to what the origins of online and virtual events are.  This year we’ve all just flicked a switch and adapted because of the Covid crisis, but when did online conferences first start?

I thought a quick internet search would help me find an immediate answer, but it seems that the origins of online and virtual conferences are a little hazy. Turning quickly to Wikipedia, the first-ever publicly described reference to a “virtual tradeshow”, was in a presentation to investors at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in NYC in April 1993 by a company who are now Onstream Media. They had an HTML map to which they’d attached videos of exhibition stands and presentations which could be accessed online.  Thereafter there were further developments in the 90s but not a lot of information exists until the early 2000s.  Internet bandwidth had grown enough to support simultaneous video, voice and text in one call, and in terms of actual virtual conferences, after the economic crisis of the early 2000s, companies looking to tighten their belts, started attending virtually instead of in-person and the whole concept took off.  

At Futurebook last Thursday, I chaired a panel entitled How publishers have turned to video. I’m very grateful for the contribution made by my esteemed panel members, Paul Chen from Wiley, Sam Dumiak from Cambridge University Press, Matt Kibble from Bloomsbury Publishing and Justine Piekarowicz from Richmond ELT.  

We covered a wide range of subjects on how publishers are using video content, both licensed and commissioned, original footage and animation.  Each panel member brought a unique viewpoint to the conversation. 

Video Is Here To Stay

The main overall conclusion was that for the publishing sector, the amount of video in online products which a consumer in any publishing sector expects is rapidly increasing.  The publishing ‘niche’ is mirroring mainstream trends.

Therefore, those publishers who want success in the online world, are also rapidly increasing the amount of animated and live-action video content that makes up their digital portfolio of content.

How To Ensure Success?

By accepting that video plays a rapidly growing part in any publishing portfolio, then the necessary steps can be taken to put in place a strong strategy with short, medium, and long-term goals. All evidence suggests that video content is fast becoming a preferred medium for consent consumption for those under the age of 30. Recognise this, plan accordingly and thoroughly because in a truly multimedia world many others, who you would not see as traditional competitors, currently are.

How Are You Currently Budgeting?

Budgeting for video is different from that of print or other digital products. The amortisation of video as an asset is something new to which publishers need to adjust. Start with an understanding of the ROI and work backwards. Those publishers who are adjusting their business models accordingly are the ones who are capturing and captivating a new video-content orientated consumer. Plan your product investment for future success.

Developing A New Workflow

The workflow for producing video is vastly different to that of published content. Key changes will need to be incorporated, particularly around publishing programme timings, because short-form video, animated or live-action, takes a period to produce. Talk to and engage those with the knowledge that you need and incorporate the necessary changes to ensure future success.

Defining What Is Right For Your Audience Is King

Video-based social networks such as TikTok owe their continued success to low-production-value video shorts uploaded by users.  This shows that defining the right look and feel for your audience is king. Broadcast quality can define a brand, more social media-friendly formats can help build digital product audiences even with lower production values. It is key to define what is right for your brand and your digital product audience. In the overall process of building out your video portfolio, the idea of ‘quality’ should be separated from production standards. A current style of social media format may have a limited shelf-life so finding the “right quality” is what leads to engagement and impact. 

Creativity & Engagement & Fun!

Keeping a digital product fresh and new is a new challenge for the publishing sector and short-form video offers an opportunity to excite and engage your consumer, whomever that consumer is. So, use it as an opportunity to do just that. Video content allows boundaries to be pushed and can inject a big slice of fun. Whether it’s bringing children’s reference and drama content to life, injecting short informational films into an ELT or schools education programmes, explaining complex research papers in a quick two-minute overview, or helping someone cram for law, accountancy, finance or business exam, video is the perfect medium for captivating an audience.

What Is Your Overall Strategy?

As we have seen with the effect of the pandemic this year that having a solid digital strategy for your systems infrastructure, content portfolio and content blend is key. Whilst we are facing challenging economic times, many in the publishing world are seeing the true size of the digital opportunity the power of carefully created and disseminated short-form video content. 

All last week, throughout the sessions at Futurebook, a lot of coverage was made of the explosion in importance of audio content and we are about to witness the same with video content too.

Illustration of Kyle McGeagh who is Makematic's Content & Distribution Coordinator

Employee Spotlight: Kyle McGeagh, Content & Distribution Coordinator

This month’s employee spotlight blog we’re shining the light on the commercial team. In particular, Kyle McGeagh our Content & Distribution Coordinator. Kyle has been working at Makematic for 2 years now and we spoke to him about his unique role in the company.

How did you get your job at Makematic?

I was in the process of moving down to Derry, so I began to send out my CV and a cover letter to media companies in the area. After contacting Mark, I was offered an interview. Not long after my interview with Brian and Catherine, I was offered a position here at Makematic. Originally I was hired on as the Post-Production Coordinator, and then during my time here was moved into the position of Content and Distribution Coordinator.

On a day to day basis, what are your responsibilities and priorities?

My days can vary day to day, it all really depends on what is currently in Production and what is finishing in Post. My main responsibilities would be: Data wrangling rushes and projects, creating straightforward and understandable folder structures and workflows, managing our shared storage, and backing up rushes, masters, deliverables, and project files. Creating metadata for our content and cataloguing it, preparing content for distribution, which includes pulling together all of our master files, gathering or creating SRT files and thumbnails for our content. Managing our Video on Demand platform, our YouTube channel, and various other video hosting platforms. 

How do Content & Distribution Coordinators collaborate with other teams within the company?

A lot of my collaboration with other teams and members in the company comes in the form of me chasing people so that they will fill out a big scary Metadata Sheet, this is usually done through emails or through Zoom or Google Hangout calls. Usually, I prefer to do it through a call, that way I can walk people through the sheet and what it entails, which helps to alleviate the fright of the Metadata Sheet and make it much less of a daunting task for them. Another big part of my collaboration with other members is creating problem-solving, setting up workflows and ways of getting things done quicker and easier is a big part of my job. Most problems will find their way to me and it’s my job to figure out what it is we want to do and how to best achieve that with what we’ve got.

Are you working on any big projects?

I’m kind of across the board on our projects, mostly at the end of them to back everything up, and begin to prepare it for distribution. Getting things ready and prepared for distribution is quite the project on its own. Right now I’d say one of the biggest projects that I’ve been working on the past few months would be Untold Edu, it’s a great project to work on but it is quite the beast. 

What’s an important lesson you’ve learned while working at Makematic?

I’d say the most important lesson I’ve learned at Makematic is that good, strong workflows and systems are crucial to things running smoothly. Without a workflow or system that is clear, consistent, and understandable simple tasks can be made into mountains. Ironing out a workflow or system is also never the final step, these workflows and systems can always be built upon and improved; especially with how fast technologies and our understanding of them change.

Ever since Kyle started working in the company, he has had his hand in the majority of the videos produced by Makematic at some point; whether that’s creating thumbnails to videos or SRT files (subtitles). One of his many responsibilities is to ensure that the Makematic VOD is updated – check it out here!

In case you missed it, read our three previous Employee Spotlight blogs featuring Caoimhe Sweeney (Motion Graphics Designer), Conor McKelvey (Motion Graphics Designer), and Ryan Lee (now Producer!).

Image of Tara Walsh and Eduardo Morlan in this episode of taking classes online

Episode 2: Taking Classes Online

Taking Classes Online is an interview and blog series where real educators share their experiences of teaching online. This month, I had the pleasure of talking to Eduardo Mórlan from Mexico. Eduardo has been teaching online since 2014, so it was great to hear his insights about teaching languages remotely.

My interview technique is improving slightly, but it’s clear there is still a long way to go. Despite that, Eduardo has shared some really great tips and tricks that can be implemented in any online class.

Check Out Teaching Online Masterclass

If you haven’t checked out Teaching Online Masterclass (TOM) yet, I suggest you get started.

You’ll be sure to find something of interest to help you navigate the online teaching and learning space.

If you’ve got a story to share or would like to write a blog, send me an email and I’ll be in touch.

Make sure to check out the first episode of Taking Classes Online where I spoke to UK educator Dr Heather McClue about the trials and tribulations of taking her law classes online.

Image of young woman smiling with an office background. Back to work, covid-19 edition stated as text

Back To Work: Covid-19 Edition | Makematic Behind-The-Scenes Episode 7

Technically, we’ve been working. We’ve never stopped. But in this vlog, we’re showing you the office space – COVID19 edition. So technically, we went back to our official workspace.

Fun fact, there were more sanitisers and face masks in the office than there were people. This is probably quite a common thing nowadays and our office in Belfast was no different. In this vlog, I take you an “unofficial” office tour to show you the measures we have taken to ensure that the space is safe to work in. I say “unofficial” as office spaces should be more lively, with more people and more banter, hence I vetoed this tour just like I am with 2020.

In this unofficial tour, you’ll see the layout of the office, the sanitisers and face masks that I mentioned, and clips of me aggressively wiping surfaces and anything that I’ve touched at the end of the working day. You’ll also hear various safety messages (e.g. wash your hands, wear a face mask, etc.) that you may have heard over the past six months because those messages are the only consistent and non-changing rule that we’ve been told to do.

If you haven’t watched the vlog yet you can watch it below, where I have embedded into this blog (you’re welcome).

Spoiler alert: we’re back at home because the rules change all the time. Literally, all the time. We’re complying and working back at home in our little office spaces. If you’d like to see our home office spaces, you can read it here.

I don’t know when we’ll be back. But when we do, I hope that we can go back to when we feel safe and when there are more people than sanitisers.

Watch episode 7 here!

Animated drawing of Hedy Lamarr

What’s More Important; Brains Or Beauty?

That’s one of the questions asked in the Untold series produced by Makematic, Driving Force Institute and USC Center for Engagement-Driven Global Education. This particular video is about Hedy Lamarr, once dubbed the most beautiful woman on earth and made famous by acting in old Hollywood classic films such as ‘Boomtown’ and ‘Samson and Delilah’. 

Contrary to what her Wikipedia entry may want you to believe, these days young children are more likely to learn about her as the inventor of the frequency-hopping spread spectrum, which is at the basis of mobile phone and Bluetooth technology. She was also one of the first female film producers and a wartime fundraiser. 

It got me thinking whether there were other female film stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood with seemingly hidden talents, real trailblazers of their time, exhibiting skills and traits of creativity and entrepreneurship. Exactly the skills we want to actively develop in young children in this day and age. We use words like ‘empowerment’ and ‘engagement’ all the time, especially in educational settings, but back in the first half of the 20th Century, this was a different story. Perhaps at the time beauty was preferred over brains.

Ester Williams invented waterproof make-up. Marlene Dietrich was awarded the highest US civilian medal, the Medal of Freedom for all of her efforts for the troops during WWII. She was also politically active, regularly speaking with Reagan and Gorbachev. Julie Newman, who played Catwoman in the 1960s, invented ‘bum lifting’ tights and an ‘invisible’ bra. Audrey Hepburn became one of the first UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors and was completely dedicated to her humanitarian work later in life. Bette Davis was the first woman to start a lawsuit against Warner Brothers about her salary, autonomy and quality of roles. Singer and actress Josephine Baker was also a spy during WWII. 

Of course, there were and are many more amazing innovative, entrepreneurial, engaged and pioneering women. The paper bag, dishwasher, windshield wipers, coffee filters and Kevlar are just a few examples of items invented by women. There are lots of great examples of women dedicated to science, politics, the environment and other causes. Young children are becoming more familiar with the names and achievements of these hidden figures. I hope we’re on our way to a society where we value brains over beauty as we teach our children about these wonderful women and their talents are no longer hidden anymore. 

Watch the fascinating story of Hedy Lamarr as part of Untold’s Hidden Histories.

Find out more about Untold by visiting untoldhistory.org.

Follow the Untold social media pages on InstagramFacebook and Twitter @UntoldEdu, for video updates and additional resources.

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