Codec moments

This isn’t really eBook related but there are parallels. Many of our schools appear to have bought flipcams for use in school projects. As an ex pat from the world of film and theatre I’m very much supportive of children having access to gear like this to make the school day that much more bearable.

The problem though is not the content creation but the content sharing, as when three schools presented me with flipcam footage as part of our annual Book Award. Not only was each video clip in a different format, but all three were unplayable on the majority of school networked PCs and all corporate networked PCs, and of course a humble librarian cannot get the admin access to install codec packs or even conversion software.

The moral of the story? Schools are generally cooperative and enjoy sharing their work. On the other hand the majority of people are not familiar with the concepts of video encoding and playback. Perhaps software and hardware targeted at schools should have a ‘save at maximum compatibility’ option (and the less said about Quicktime, the better, in my humble opinion)? Not that this is the ideal solution, as this perpetual use of wizards and automated functions is just more ‘IT Parrot Fashion‘. Indeed, another headache is the inability to understand image size and resolution, leading to 400mb PowerPoint presentations crammed full of high resolution digital camera photos.

Things could just get more complicated and frustrated if schools begin to share eBooks and apps between themselves. Once again the only solution is to take an objective look at the technology, take the time to learn its language, and don’t risk making mistakes by rushing things. Although I did not witness the incident myself, if was reported to me that pupils were angry with their teacher when their video could not be played – a reminder that expectations, standards, and reality rarely come together harmoniously, and that although it’s no excuse to throw a tantrum, having a term’s work summed up in the line “File could not be read” is a less than ideal outcome.