Future education at USU will use DVD for its quality, online capabilities
Digital Versatile Discs (DVD) are still very new to consumers, but USU students will be using them more and more in the future.
"DVD will definitely have a place in the classroom," said Thomas Risk of the Utah State University Instructional Technology Department.
Risk is the director of DVD production at the university. "The biggest use for DVD," Risk said, "will be in supporting online instruction."
DVD, officially, is a video and computer format. When the CD-size disk is played, users can interact with what they see, kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure game.
The biggest advantage DVD has over CD-ROM is the broadcast quality video. Many consumers say they are buying DVD players because the picture quality is better than VHS and you don't have to rewind a DVD.
The ability to interact with the video is what attracts educators most, said Risk. He explained that online courses are being designed to integrate the web and DVD. "A student will buy a DVD disk at the bookstore, put it in a DVD drive, log onto their online class, and the server will tell the disk what video clips to play," Risk said.
David Nielson, a doctoral student for the Department of Psychology and Instructional Technology at Brigham Young University, said DVD also has applications within the classroom.
"Some DVD players," said Nielson, "have a scanner that reads bar codes." He explained that textbooks or lesson manuals could have bar codes printed on pages and a simple scan would instantly bring up video clip to explain a concept in more depth.
As wonderful as some say DVD is, it is still not the perfect medium. DVD players are becoming more affordable, but making a DVD can be expensive.The discs themselves are relatively cheap, about $2. DVD writers, however, are about $800 and authoring machines range from $10,000 to $100,000.
Steven Soulier, a USU Instruction Technology professor, said one reason prices are so high is because of copyright concerns. He said the enterainment industy is worried about average consumers reproducing near-master quality video.
"Another drawback," said Risk, "is that the technology is so new." Risk is currently working on two education and training grants. "We are trying stuff that nobody has ever done before... even the company who sold us the equipment isn't sure how to help us."
Risk said he is sure costs will drop, copy encription will be more secure and authoring will become much easier.
One of the most respected names in DVD is Jim Taylor from Seattle, Wash. Taylor was deeply involved in creating DVD specifications. A Brigham Young University graduate, he runs one of the only DVD information websites, DVD Demystified, and has written a book by the same name. The following is a summary from his book of how DVD was came about:
The precursor to DVD was the Video Disc that came out in the mid 1980s. The industry wanted to create a medium with high quality video and interactivity. The Video Disc was basically a 12-inch version of a Compact Disc. Each side held about one hour of video and users could skip to places on the disk like a CD.
In the early 1990s, several Hollywood companies requested "...a single,
worldwide standard for the new generation of digital media on optical."
Apparently, they were frustrated with the limitations of the several
formats, such as PAL, SECAM, and NTSC. They made some specific demands
for the new medium:
Nine companies took on the challenge and came up with two qualifying formats. Then the computer companies stepped in and said there can can only be one format. DVD would not have existed if there hadn't been a forced comprimise.
On Dec. 12, 1995, the DVD Consortium was formed to create the DVD specification. The Consortium consisted of 10 companies with joint ownership of DVD: Sony, Phillips, Toshiba, Hitatchi, Mitsubishi, Victor, Pioneer, Thomson, Panasonic, and Time Warner.
After two years of debate and patent controls, the first DVD video players were sold. Currently in the works are: DVD-ROM, DVD-Audio, DVD-Recordable, and DVD-RAM.
DVD is pretty complex, but here are the basics of what it is and what it can do: