Kaltura's integration with Canvas gives faculty options in classrooms and online

Travis Johnson
April 17, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Dan Coughlin’s hands skip across his keyboard, then he reaches for the mouse. With just a few clicks, a week’s worth of video lessons for the applications development class he teaches at University Park are uploaded, embedded and waiting for his students in Canvas.

It’s easy enough thanks to Kaltura, Penn State’s new media management and storage platform that seamlessly integrates with Canvas and allows users to create and stream content from any device at any time.

This level of accessibility has come in handy when face-to-face time in the classroom isn’t always guaranteed. Instructors like Coughlin used Kaltura to augment lessons when inclement weather this semester caused classes to be canceled.

“It allows for a lot of flexibility and is easy for instructors to deliver content,” said Emily Baxter, a learning designer in the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. “It’s streamlined and has so much functionality for instructors to present information. Having one place for students to submit assignments is also very helpful.”

Kaltura, which works with Zoom to provide a complete conferencing and streaming service to replace Adobe Connect, debuted this past fall as part of Penn State Information Technology’s effort to meet the evolving technological, academic and communication needs of the Penn State community.

As technology increasingly integrates with every facet of higher education, video and digital literacy tools have become essential for universities to compete in 21st-century classrooms, incorporating technology into the curriculum and building skills that students are embracing.

“It’s exciting to see our faculty take advantage of Kaltura’s ability to empower digital innovation,” said Jennifer Sparrow, senior director of Teaching and Learning with Technology. “It presents them with a multitude of ways to deliver coursework in engaging and meaningful practice.”

Multimedia content with a purpose

The nature of Coughlin’s class relies heavily on demonstration. Kaltura has helped him break down, in a step-by-step format, his programming process.

In the past, Coughlin said he would hand out copies of a finished program, pages of documents loaded with codes and comments explaining the steps he took to get to the final product. Kaltura’s screen capture capabilities have rendered the old method somewhat obsolete.

“With that approach, they can’t see the progress,” Coughlin said. “Now, they’re watching me do this, and hearing my thought process in real time. It’s far more valuable. Much of my classroom instruction focuses on programming with the students. With Kaltura, I can supplement that easily with a screencast where I’m capturing what I’m doing on screen and providing an explanation for what’s happening.”

All this is made possible by Kaltura’s MediaSpace, where users can upload files that can then be embedded in Canvas modules by clicking an icon within the module.

The ability to quickly embed video has been useful for Coughlin and other professors who previously used other means to share content in the course management system. That usually meant redirecting students to other services like Box.

One-stop shop

“When we’re designing courses for students, we want everything to be as user-friendly as possible and keep everything in one space as much as possible,” Baxter said.

Like Coughlin, Baxter was part of the group that piloted Kaltura last summer. She knew early in the process that it would be a valuable tool.

Baxter is currently working with Susan Trolier-McKinstry, professor of ceramic science and engineering, to build an online course for the summer. That class, Materials Science 512: Principles of Crystal Chemistry, will lean heavily on Kaltura as Trolier-McKinstry is recording content for 12 lessons, including 10 videos per lesson.

“The future of effective instruction is utilizing online more,” Baxter said. “Giving students content that they need, that they can watch using Kaltura when they’re not in the classroom, is impactful. Now when they are together, that time can be used to engage more deeply and have that learning experience be more active rather than sitting and listening to a lecture.”

More tricks

Kaltura has been helpful for other faculty members who have found value in some of its other features.

Margaret Signorella, a psychology and gender studies professor at Penn State Brandywine, has made use of Kaltura’s transcription ability, video quizzes and analytical tracking in her Psych 221 class.

She’s used videos to supplement lectures before, but no other platform has been as complete or easy to use as Kaltura.

“This is something that I’ve been waiting on for quite some time,” Signorella said. “This is the first time that I’ve had a system to deliver content that works this well.”

Last Updated May 06, 2019