An Interview with Kaltura Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer Shay David
, PhD

The topic of video usage is a key component of any conversation about new education models — whether the topic is MOOCs, course redesign, the flipped classroom, lecture capture, or simulations. Kaltura, based in New York City, held its first Education Video Summit a few months ago, entirely focused on the video needs of the education market. Jeanne Heston recently had an opportunity to interview Kaltura Co-Founder Shay David to learn more about his perspective on the changing role of video in education.

Jeanne Heston (JH): What was the inspiration for Kaltura when you and your co-founders started the company back in 2006?

Shay David (SD): In 2006, I was a fellow with the Information Society Project (ISP) at the Yale Law School and working on my PhD in Information Systems at Cornell. At the time, the market had already acknowledged that there was a compelling business model for open source software and systems. In fact, many companies that were built around open source systems had already proved to be successful. That is when I began talking to ISP Fellow Michal Tsur about the idea for Kaltura. We were writing articles about open source licensing and it seemed logical to us that media represented the next big opportunity in the open source space. The market was ripe for a flexible, open source video platform, so we got Ron Yekutiel and Eran Etam involved, and started the company as four co-founders.

Video is now an important part of every aspect of communication, part of the fabric of doing business in every segment of the economy. It is used to share knowledge and to connect with individuals. Of course, print is still a very important medium, but it is clear to us that multimedia and video will soon replace – or augment — print in many of the places where it is used today.

JH: Have you found that the education community has some unique needs that you have not encountered in the commercial or consumer communities?

SD: In the education community, you really have to think about the fact that many users need and want to be producers, as well as consumers of video. Everyone can become a producer, enabled by the ubiquity of mobile devices and the ability to capture content from a wide range of devices. This is different from the media and entertainment market, where videos are typically produced by a small set of producers for consumption by a mass audience in more of a unidirectional model.

Video is particularly important when instructors adopt flipped classroom models, or when institutions provide MOOCs. When you add those two initiatives together, you quickly see that video will play an increasingly important role at all institutions. We will soon witness a 100% participation rate!

JH: Can you tell me more about the open source video platform that you mentioned above?

SD: Kaltura is an open source video platform, a framework for developing video applications. It is the “open” aspect that makes it different because typical video management platforms operate like a “black box”. The features cannot be changed by the user, even if she has the development skills to do so. “Open” does not mean that all Kaltura products and services are free, though we provide a free community edition. It means that the underlying code can evolve to meet the needs of our customers through the participation of the developer community. Video apps can also be built and shared by the community.

The framework is incredibly flexible and can be used across a wide range of devices. We support the Kaltura developer community through a site that is separate and distinct from the commercial Kaltura site. What we have seen is that our model has begun to transform the way in which video is being created and deployed.

JH: How do you determine which features should be added to each new version of the Kaltura platform?

SD: We use both top-down and bottom-up methods to determine the priority of new features, with a focus on determining and responding to the most important and common requests from our user community. Attendees at our executive briefings provide input, as do our advisory board members and the 40,000 active members of our online forums.

From the bottom-up perspective, our active community of developers is constantly modifying the code to meet their own needs, adding new features. We have a perfect environment for fostering real innovation and seeing “what works”.

JH: Where do you see this technology going over the next several years, especially in education?

SD: The video ecosystem is changing – for video that is delivered live and on-demand. We are seeing leaps in capabilities around mobile learning and multimedia capture and delivery, erasing the lines between consumers and producers, and making education more accessible to under-served segments of the population. In the education space, video is a critical tool for catch-up services, as well as for distance learning – for mothers who must miss classes because their kids are sick, for example. They can watch classes remotely or watch recorded versions of the lectures later. Video is also a great tool for collaboration among class members — many of whom may be located in different geographic areas.

It is an exciting time for us. We feel that the education space is undergoing a transformation that is on the same level as the transition from agrarian to industrialized societies. In that transformation, the availability of machines created overlays for culture and the economy that are the foundations of our industrialized society today. Video is playing a big role in the transformation of education. It enables overlays for new models of education that will shape the future of teaching and learning, assessment and testing, and knowledge dissemination — for years to come.

Kaltura is a member of the Cengage Learning MindShare Alliance. The Kaltura functionality is embedded within the MindTap family of products, via a MindApp.

Have you or your students used video to improve the teaching or learning experience? If so, we would love to hear from you. Please share your experiences using the comments section below.