Typically, an educational institute stores the videos on local servers and students can connect to have them streamed to their browsers whenever they want. It is also possible to use a free or paid video streaming network, such as YouTube, Vimeo, WISTIA, Ustream, or DailyMotion to host and stream videos for students to use at any time. Unlike free video streaming services, like YouTube, paid video streaming services provide professional video hosting and streaming solutions, particularly for business and large companies. Some of these services (like YouTube and Vimeo) allow media developers to upload videos directly from their websites using advanced programming techniques called Application Programming Interface (API) and charge users per video file size and streaming bandwidth which is very costly for educational and non-profit purposes.
YouTube allows users to create their own video channels and upload, stream and embed videos in their own websites for free. In addition, YouTube uses its own advanced API, allowing PresentationTube project to upload videos directly from the website and without the need to have a separate account for each user. For example, an instructor can sign-in to PresentationTube platform and upload a video presentation. The video will be uploaded directly from PresentationTube servers to YouTube media servers for encoding and optimization, and then for embedding in PresentationTube platform. These features allowed YouTube to be the optimal solution for uploading, hosting and streaming video presentations in this project.
In contrast to books, which can be consumed at the learner’s own pace (much time or less time) and arrangement (any chapter), YouTube video player is designed to be watched at a prescribed rate which means one minute of video content consumed per one minute of watching time in a prescribed direction. This prevents learners from learning at their own pace and their own arrangement, since the video content must be watched in the order that it was created. Although YouTube video player allows learners to easily skip forward and back from point to point on the video streamline to a relevant content, the video player does not integrate the video content with the PowerPoint slides. Therefore, PresentationTube platform offered a new way to combine the video content with the presentation slide thumbnails.
Thumbnails are miniature versions of PowerPoint presentation slides similar to slide sorter view in PowerPoint. Thumbnails are arranged in vertical view to allow the learner to browse and navigate through the video content and control both the player and sequence of video presentation. In addition, this association helps to break the forced pace and linear consumption of video content and allows the learner to move to the respective video content and control both the time and progress of video presentation. So, for example, if the learner needs to watch the instructor’s explanations on slide 5, he/she clicks on slide 5 thumbnail to skip directly to the video part associated with this slide (see Figure 3). Video presentations are augmented by a discussion forum to enable some form of asynchronous interaction with the presenter to elaborate on issues that might arise from the material presented in the video or respond to students’ questions (Whatley & Ahmad, 2007). PresentationTube network has been made available online for public at www.presentationtube.com since January 2013.