Digital Media Support
On January 1, 2013, leaders and teachers involved in teaching young women and men began using a new online curriculum called Come, Follow Me. An integral part of this new curriculum is the use of digital media, such as videos, during lessons.
Technology specialists are likely to get questions from teachers and leaders about using digital media, such as how to acquire videos, whether or not to use the internet in the meetinghouse to stream videos, and what equipment is necessary and available to acquire and show videos.
What is the role of the technology specialist in supporting video playback within the new youth curriculum?
Technology specialists should:
- Determine what audiovisual equipment currently exists in meetinghouses for use by teachers.
- Ensure equipment is in working order.
- Help determine wants and expectations of youth curriculum teachers. Strategize on the feasibility of meeting those expectations, or reset expectations to what is practical.
- Train people on how to use available equipment.
Ecclesiastical leaders may assign others to assist in this effort. The youth themselves may be able to assist instructors with using digital media.
Is the use of videos within the youth curriculum considered a requirement or a nice addition?
While media produced by the Church can be an excellent addition to any Church class, please keep in mind that it is not a requirement for a successful, Spirit-filled lesson. When technology does not work in the way it is intended, it can distract from a lesson more than it helps. It is true, however, that the general direction of Church curriculum is trending toward the use of more multimedia content.
Is there a website from which to download all of the youth curriculum videos at once?
Yes, videos can be downloaded in batches directly from the Come, Follow Me website. After entering the website, go into one of the individual sections (for example, Young Women). Once inside, there is a download button located to the right of the language selection, which will allow for the download of videos for upcoming months. Once downloaded, these videos can be stored either on a personal device or a USB flash drive for playback during a lesson.
What are the recommended audio solutions?
Special attention should be paid to providing adequate audio output when playing videos. If students are unable to properly hear the audio portion of the video, the effectiveness will be greatly reduced. Recommended solutions include:
- Speakers integrated in a personal device (laptop or tablet). This is recommended only for small classes with one to four students.
- Speakers integrated in a TV.
- Personal computer speakers connected to the headset jack of a personal device.
- An EJ-8 or EJ-10 (commonly called a “crab box”) or an aux-in found on some of the newer microphone jacks may be used to connect the personal device to the built-in audio system available in rooms such as the Relief Society room, Primary room, cultural hall, and chapel.
Meetinghouse Internet and Video Playback
Should teachers plan to stream the videos using Church internet or download videos beforehand?
We strongly recommend that teachers download videos prior to using them in a lesson, either onto a personal portable device (such as a laptop or tablet) or onto a USB flash drive for playback on a USB player or a TV with USB video playback capabilities. The stake technology specialist may want to consider labeling a TV’s USB ports with the ability of the port to support video playback. Links to videos can be found on the individual lesson pages of the youth curriculum website.
What about videos which are not downloadable due to copyright restrictions?
Some videos cannot be downloaded due to copyright restrictions. If you choose to stream these videos, the following may improve your experience:
- Use a wired network connection instead of a wireless one whenever possible.
- Ensure sufficient IP addresses are available for all devices that may be attempting to connect at a particular building. Critical devices such as a clerk computer or even a teacher’s personal device can be given a static IP address, if needed.
We are working on two additional things that should help when streaming video:
- Improved filtering. Access control is being improved. Focus will be placed on providing access only to sites that help fulfill the mission of the Church. As people have access to fewer sites, less bandwidth will be taken up on things that are not Church related.
- Allowing local units to control who has access to the internet during important internet-based events and other times when bandwidth is scarce.
Media should be tested in exactly the same way it will be used before a teacher actually attempts to use it in the classroom. It is recommended that streaming tests be conducted in meetinghouses during peak usage times.
Can the internet at our meetinghouse support streaming videos live from the youth curriculum website?
No, while this is a tempting option, we do not recommend that teachers rely on meetinghouse internet to play videos live during a lesson. Many buildings do not have adequate bandwidth to support live video playback. Available bandwidth varies drastically based on location, time of day, and how many people are using it simultaneously.
Using Personal Portable Devices
How can teachers make use of their own personal portable devices (such as laptops and tablets) to present videos?
One of the simplest solutions for showing video content in class is to download the media to a personal device, such as a laptop or tablet. For small classes, the video can be played directly from a laptop or tablet. For larger classes, these devices (including some smartphones) can be connected to TVs or projectors. Teachers, however, must provide their own connecting cables, and audio needs should also be considered. In most cases, teachers are expected to provide the audio and video cables required to connect their personal device to the available display and sound equipment.
If a teacher does not own a personal portable device, what other options are available to utilize existing audiovisual equipment?
One option is to download youth curriculum videos to a USB flash drive. These drives are inexpensive. A 16GB flash drive can likely hold an entire year’s worth of youth curriculum videos for one teacher. Once the videos are downloaded onto the USB flash drive, plug the USB flash drive into the TV.