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Using Video CDs For Education 219

Phil Shapiro writes: "Video CDs offer one of the lowest-cost ways of distributing training and instruction. They can be duplicated much faster than VHS videotapes, the media is much cheaper and the postage costs are much cheaper. Learn how and why we ought to be exploring the educational potential of this new media."
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Using Video CDs For Education

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  • Havn't VCDs been around for like 10 years or so? While most people now have DVD players that will play them now, the format itself is hardly new.
  • One great thing about VCD is that they work in standard DVD players (NTSC and PAL VCD discs only work in players for the respective formats, of course; a limitation not seen on computers). However, lots of older DVD players can't read CD-R media, because of an incompatibiliity with the DVD laser. Duplicated VCDs on normal CD media work just fine, of course. All DVD players in the market today should work, AFAIK.

    • I've discovered that these types of DVD players that won't read CD-Rs *will* read CD-RWs...
      • Unfortunately that's not always the case. I have an Onkyo that won't play any recorded media. Also many manufacturers have been removing VCD capability from their players. I found this really strange since all the ones I tried still supported MPEG1 when burned to a DVD-R. They still support the data stream, but intentionally (or so it seems) remove VCD playback.

        I would recommend checking [] for capatability info. Don't trust the info about mp3 playback unless someone specifically talks about it in their review. Of all the players they say support mp3 id tags only the Daewoo 5800 really does... (didn't test them all though)
    • One great thing about VCD is that they work in standard DVD players (NTSC and PAL VCD discs only work in players for the respective formats, of course; a limitation not seen on computers).

      Bzzzzzzt... and bzzzzzzt!

      When I was DVD player shopping (not less than a year ago), I came upon a few DVD players that specifically said they would NOT play VCDs (a Sanyo, IIRC). BTW, my Apex and Daewoo DVD players play both PAL and NTSC VCDs without a hitch. There is a button on the remote labeled P/N that will switch the output. You can also set the output to NTSC only in the setup; the conversion is done dynamically in the DVD player!! (You may lose a few horiz lines when watching PAL VCDs tho, they are chopped off due to the format differences.) That's the bonus about those "cheapo" Chinese brands... they play everything under the sun, CDRs, MP3s, and let you disable Macrovision to boot!
    • A lot of newer DVD players don't do CD-Rs either, mostly by design (for example, you can only do burned VCDs on the extreme high-end Sony DVD players; Sony could trivially add the correct laser mechanism to all models, but they don't want to).

      Your best bet are those cheap non-mainstream players like Apex, which do DVD, VCD, CD-R, CD, MP3 and MPEG-over-iso9660.
      • I've had a lot of Sony products that piss me off in that respect. I bought a newer-model car CD player that won't read most CD-R's; yet my $25 "Lennox Sound" portable will even read CD-RW audio CDs.

        OTOH, I have a Pioneer DVD player I picked up in 1999 that plays VCDs, and will read any media I can throw at it. I picked that model specifically because it mentions VCD on the front panel, and at the time I thought that was a pretty unique feature.

        I personally like the 8mm CD-Rs. They hold about 24 minutes of audio or VCD, and are perfect for typical 30 minute shows (minus commercials == 22 minutes). They're much more convenient than the 12mm discs IMO.
        • I personally like the 8mm CD-Rs. They hold about 24 minutes of audio or VCD, and are perfect for typical 30 minute shows (minus commercials == 22 minutes). They're much more convenient than the 12mm discs IMO.

          I'd like to know from what dimension you're getting an 8mm disc that holds nearly half an hour of video. :-) (I think you meant 80mm, or 8cm).

          On a more serious note, 80mm discs wouldn't be bad for some things if they weren't so much more expensive than 120mm discs. Economies of scale have favored the larger discs. (In any case, the shows I burn to SVCD are "1-hour" shows that get trimmed down to ~45 minutes. The smaller CDs wouldn't work for that...and note that I'm using SVCD, which is a better format than VCD (SVCD is MPEG-2 instead of MPEG-1, and it uses higher resolution and higher bitrates).)

    • Some portable CD/MP3 players also have the ability to play VideoCD. Here's an example. []
    • One great thing about VCD is that they work in standard DVD players (NTSC and PAL VCD discs only work in players for the respective formats, of course; a limitation not seen on computers).

      They don't work in all, but MOST. (Since they are produced in countries where people have droves of VCD's) - Pioneers are generally good, Sonys are bad (they seem to stick to much to some 'standards')
      Some players will only play commercial VCDs, and some (especially Sony's) will only work with certain brands of CDR/CDRW. If you have a difficult player, try buying one cdr of several different brands, and see what taste your player has.
      Its easy to make one, get the tmpgenc mpg encoder from [] to encode a VCD. and get Nero [] to burn it on the cd.

  • but, i would think if you add in sending computers good enough to play these nicely and a monitor large enough for the class to view the postage would be more than a video tape.
    • They make both VCD and DVD players that are capable of playing VCDs without a computer.
    • You don't need a computer to play a VCD. All you need is a low-end DVD player, and low-end ones can be found for less than $100 each. Low-end TV sets that are still large enough to be seen by an entire class cost only a little over $100, as well.
  • Now i can watch the video for "the sun is a mass of incandescent gas..." by They Might Be Giants in Science class.

    wait, that was 7th grade...
  • New Media? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DeepZenPill ( 585656 ) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @12:17AM (#3925031)
    VCD's aren't exactly new media. They've been used for years, just mostly in asian markets. Advocating their use now just delays even bigger acceptance of DVD's. Instructional use is one thing that could further drive the DVD format, and even more importantly, set a real demand for recordable DVD's. Sure sticking with CD's might seem good now, but it just hurts the impact of media designed for such video uses.
    • Re:New Media? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by alienmole ( 15522 )
      Realistically, though, it'll take time for DVD recorders and media to reach the cost levels of CD recorders and media. So for applications where cost is an issue - especially education - VCDs may make a lot of sense right now. And since they work on the same players, there's no compatibility or upgrade issue for the players.

      I doubt anything will "delay even bigger acceptance of DVD's" - I mean, your local video store carries DVDs, it's not exactly a struggling medium at this point. VCDs could actually help drive the market, they may not be a zero-sum game with DVDs.

    • Re:New Media? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No - DVD media format should not be supported over VCD simply because it suits someone's recordable DVD agenda. That's an absurd notion. VCD is cheaper, and if the application is suitable, then VCD is the right choice.

      Incidentally, living in Singapore, I regularly purchase original movies from local stores in VCD format. It is perfectly acceptable format in general, and the per unit price is about US$5 if you look around, plus you avoid the ridiculous hassles of VHS - tape life, rewinding, bulky size, head alignment, retensioning (it's 2002, wtf???) etc.

      Incidentally, The only reason that studios don't put movies out on VCD in the west is simply that it's such a great, convenient format, easy to back-up and duplicate and long-lasting. The reason they put original material out on the format in Asia is because local pirates already were doing so, and the market had already selected the format as preferable over tape. The studios had no choice by to support the defacto decision and release original movies on VCD, much to their chagrin.

      Tape is a fantastic format for the studios. It's expensive, analog, time-consuming for users to duplicate, and the media rapidly decays if you use it. Sudios support DVD only because most PCs can't easily write DVDs .... yet.
    • We (as in the people) can make these now, its not very expensive. Making DVD's is very expensive for the home user. Besides they'll be replacing the DVD format with Blueray in a couple of years, so people might as well be playing with this now.
  • Nitpicking (Score:1, Redundant)

    by Rob.Mathers ( 527086 )
    At the risk of sounding like I have a bug up my ass, I feel I should point out that VCD isn't a new format. In fact, VCD has been out about as long as DVDs, maybe even longer (don't quote me on that). It originally started in Japan as a cheap format for video. I believe it's moderately popular over there (or was for a time), but it never picked up in North America, except for videophiles and those who like to view their video in less than legal ways.
    • I would definately say that they've been around longer than DVDs. I remember, years ago, discovering VCDs of some stupid thing in an EB store. I would suspect that places in asia would have been using them long before that.

      There is also, of course, the fact that one would assume the VCD is a direct ancestor of the DVD. It's, practically, the same concept using a lower density storage medium (and hence lower quality video)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Thanks to pressure from the @!#$!@# media companies, many many DVD players (which are very likely the primary viewing device) have dropped support for VCD and/or CD-R media.
  • VCDs and DVDs are so low tech. I get my training via implants.
  • (Score:5, Informative)

    by metatruk ( 315048 ) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @12:19AM (#3925041)
    A good place to learn how to convert various media to burnable (S)VCD format can be found at []

  • VideoCD (Score:2, Interesting)

    by H3XA ( 590662 )
    "Video CDs offer one of the lowest-cost ways of distributing training and instruction. They can be duplicated much faster than VHS videotapes, the media is much cheaper and the postage costs are much cheaper."

    can you say "pirated" - thats the main reason VCDs seem to have existed in Asian countries for YEARS now. They get used for anything that can be seen on TV, whether it be movies, TV, karaoke or educational productions. Standalone VCD players are even cheaper than the cost of 2-3 original DVDs. Perhaps with the acceptance of DVD players in western countries that also play VCDs, western educators are finally aware of techniques what asian countries have known and used for years.

    How much functionality do the VideoCD 2.0 and 3.0 standards give the developer? Is it still just simple menus and chapters? If anything more than this was needed, then you are back to having to use multimedia CDs in a computer.

    Anyone know where I can get "Afterschool Chinese" on VCD?

    - HeXa
    • The way the want to use it is in the context of education. Copying for those purposes is legal. Say for example, I bring in a burned CD of music from a lot of different artists to show different musical styles. When I play that for the class I am not violating copyrights because of the context that I use it. Remember when the Internet was younger and warez was a lot more prevalent? They always used the "educational purposes" loophole. That loophole is no longer there but the original intent of that law is. And before anyone starts spouting examples, I know there is limitations to this.
  • by dakoda ( 531822 ) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @12:27AM (#3925059)
    The article starts:
    The education deficit in this country and others occurs because the quantity of student learning needs boosting. Students need access to more learning opportunities.

    More access to learning opprotunities? What they need is more of a will to use the opprotunities they have. The unfortunate truth that I have at least witnessed is that most students don't care to learn. those that actualyl do want to learn often find their own means when their opprotunities aren't enough. agreed, some do not, but i believe a far greater number simply do not care.

    They go on to say how video is the best way to learn? haha, i don't think so. interaction is needed for real learning. and then, the cd's only hold 70 minutes. what can one really learn in 70 minutes? a lot for some things, but almost nothing for others. a lot of subjects are either a lot of practice (calculus, for example), or just a lot of material (french language). because this offers no interaction (practice/ Q&A sessions), the only application would really be subjects that are volumnous, and those may not fit all in 70 minutes...lots of cd changing is in your future =)

    i dunno, it just seems like a waste to me. not that the current education system is anywhere near perfect (indeed, i feel it is far from it), this doesn't seem to me like it would enhance it much. anyone get to watch those science laser disks in science class? interesting pictures and demonstrations, but most of the actual content of the class was drawn on the chalkboard.
    • Amen.

      The old expression you can lead a horse to water but can't make him drink comes to mind.

      In some areas, yes, this would address some of the issues caused by the school districts not having the money to throw at vcrs, tapes, etc. However, if the child doesn't have the interest in learning, then it won't work.

      Of course, if you can reach just one child...then your job is done. :)
    • This argument is as painful now as it was when I was in school. So people are less inclined to learn about the things that you find interesting. Maybe they are involved in other pursuits (sports, dating, etc.)

      Blaming students and then suggesting that all educational innovation is futile is ridiculous. What should we use to test student ambition, before making any expenditures on our part?
    • That's right...

      Interaction is the key.

      Then again what had you learned 70 minutes after the first time naked and alone with girl
    • by FattMattP ( 86246 ) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @04:10AM (#3925379) Homepage
      I can't believe that your post got modded up. You sound like some privileged, middle-class kid from America who's never left his country. The original article, which you quote, states that he's talking about not only his own country but others as well.

      You begin to make sweeping statements that students need to have more of a will to use the opportunities that they already have. Please, tell us about those opportunities that they have in, say, poorer parts of India, Brazil, or even the United States. Why do you feel those opportunites are enough? Don't you think that choice is good? Don't you think that having more educational options available to people is a good thing? Do you think that everyone has access to the same materials that you do? That the libraries throughout the world or even your country have a wealth of materials such as the ones you have access to? You know, there's a lot of places in the world where quality education isn't ubiquitous.

      You also make the mistake of thinking that education can only be gained by sitting through a lengthy class and not from watching a 70 minute video. Who says that one VCD, or many, have to teach you French or calculus? And why do you think they can't? Sure, interaction is important, but haven't you ever sat down with a book and learned something from it? There's plenty of people who've taught themselves things from reading a book on how to do it. I learned how to draw and paint from reading a book. I also learned to program Perl from a book. There's no reason that a video makes it any different, it's just a different medium.

      Thankfully, there are people such as ADUni [] that continue to make quality educational programs accessible in spite of your defeatist attitude. Not only do they provide the videos but they also provide the materials so that people can learn by practicing.


      i dunno, it just seems like a waste to me.
      There are a lot of less foutunate people than yourself who are quite thankful that others in this world such as Phil Shapiro [] do not share your views.

    • by Snaller ( 147050 ) one of those people who don't want to learn *G*
      • one of those people who don't want to learn *G*
        A lot of people are like that. The brother of my father has married that (blonde) chick, whose view of education is that it is totally worthless. When a kid turns 16, he should go to work. The two cousins (14 and 16 year old now) want to go to college to become engineers, and my uncle, a mechanic, wants that too. But the bitch is digging her heels in the ground and making all sorts of obstruction.
    • Yeah, this is the answer to the wrong problem.
      The problem isn't spewing out a ton of low cost content that requires the students to use their imagination or assume that it's going to be cool because it's video. Pretending that kids will play along with the curriculum suggests unfamiliarity with the practical side of education. Kids live in a video saturated world as it is. As an instructor, you're competing with Lucas, Spielberg, Sony, the entire movie, video game and music industries not to mention youthful hormones to capture the student's attention. Cheap is not the only thing that counts in this game, it's got to be gripping.
      You can theorize about how corners must be cut and how blank media costs are a big issue, but it's not a message that is going to be easily received by those in school admin or by teachers. I think what would be much more useful is proper training of teachers on how to use the tools they do have. High level development tools that were originally Mac based are supposed to be in use throughout the educational community both in the States and in many other countries as well. The problem is that although these tools are supposed to be for "non-programmers" teachers don't see it that way. If more teachers were properly instructed on how to use the tools they do already have and have paid license fees for, there would be a huge variety of custom tailored apps for millions of different lessons. The fact is though that teachers don't believe they have what it takes. I know this for a fact because I write educational titles that I sell to schools because their teachers won't make them themselves although they have purchased licenses for the same stuff I use.
      Moreover, we're at the point that most of these educational titles made with the likes of Flash, Director, Authorware, Toolbook and the likes can be run on Linux through Wine. There's really little left to be done except to train the teachers that they can contribute their genuine content.
      That way, instead of just movies, we could fill those cheap CDs with real live Multimedia lessons filled with tests and games and music and still shots and graphs and score reports and electronic journals --the whole deal. That doesn't mean no video, but video in a learning context instead of just here check out this video kids.
      The resources for this already exist, they're just not being used. Instead we have companies that make their living off of crawling way up WinXPs ass to make themselves as incompatible with anything they can so they can hog the market to themselves. That's bullshit and that's the way it is now today in Prince George Fucking Bush's fucked up Monopoly based version of how America is suppose to work.
  • by silentbozo ( 542534 ) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @12:29AM (#3925062) Journal
    Just like how VHS replaced 16mm film (do any teachers know how to thread a reel these days?), the VCD should replace VHS. The reasons why:

    VHS tapes get chewed up with use, VCDs don't degrade with repeated playback and if they are damaged, just burn a new copy from your master.

    VHS tapes need rewinding, placing wear and tear on capital equipment (VCRs), VCDs don't suffer from this to the same degree.

    VCDs can be played by individual students, using a donated computer - no need for those bulky media labs.

    VCDs are cheap to mail, so you can trade a bunch of instructional media for less than a dollar.

    The only caveat is that the cheapest VHS players are less expensive than the cheapest DVD players (at least, as far as I've seen.)

    An additional plus is if this takes off, we can add ANOTHER arena of fair use that uses the "evil" blank CD that the RIAA wants to continue to tax and regulate. The more legit uses we can find for blank CDs, the stronger the argument for banishing the CD tax, and tossing out any notion of regulating recordable media.

    At home, I'm spec'ing out a project to convert all analog media that I have (video tapes, audio tapes, etc.) to digital equivalents (VCDs, CDs), and storing copies of them on a big LAN server (MPEGs and MP3s) for my personal library. I expect my tapes to completely degrade in another ten years, so this is one way of safeguarding my investment. On a related topic, does anyone know if there are archived copies of periodical articles, like you can find on microfilm, but on CD?
    • An additional plus is if this takes off, we can add ANOTHER arena of fair use that uses the "evil" blank CD that the RIAA wants to continue to tax and regulate. The more legit uses we can find for blank CDs, the stronger the argument for banishing the CD tax, and tossing out any notion of regulating recordable media.

      Actually, VCD's can be seen as another EVIL use of blank cd-r media. Trading of movies or episodes of tv shows in the vcd format is very common on p2p networks/irc/ftp. Mainly because they can be played in most dvd players, and most people have cd-burners, but not dvd burners.
    • Regarding your comment on the price of VHS players VS DVD players. Here in the Philippines, where VCD is the standard distribution method for movies, you can buy standalone VCD players for around 1000PHP (about $20 US dollars) and they play VCDs, CDs, and mp3 CDs.
    • Just like how VHS replaced 16mm film (do any teachers know how to thread a reel these days?)

      Did they ever know how to load a projector? Starting in third or fourth grade, I (or one of a few other kids) usually did that--threaded the film through (assuming that it wasn't an autoloading projector), checked the focus and framing, etc. ("Third or fourth grade," BTW, would've been the early '80s.)

  • by RobertFisher ( 21116 ) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @12:31AM (#3925067) Homepage Journal
    The author of this article has some good technical points. Yes, VCDs are much easier to deal with on older and less expensive hardware. However, he is neglecting a critical issue : where will one get the content in the first place? Although there are thousands upon thousands of active open source projects out there, only a handful have good free written documentation, much less freely available video tutorials! And while there are a handful of oustanding science and mathematics video series ("The Mechanical Universe", "Cosmos", "By the Numbers"), they are almost always owned by the university or broadcast station which produced them.

    So, if you are going to distribute video content, either you are going to have to purchase it, or produce it yourself. It doesn't take much to do a quick-and-dirty video shoot with your vidcam in your bedroom with poor lighting and sound, but to really put together an outstanding series like "The Mechanical Universe" takes a lot of time and effort by a lot of talented people. And if you are going to go to all the bother of mass-distributing your video, it absolutely behooves you to do an outstanding job.

    So the question remains... where is all this great video content going to come from?

    • Pay a lecturer for his/her time, get a non-exclusive license to the tape, and GPL it. I think the idea is that there may be more material out there that's freely available, once we find a cheap way of distributing it without resorting to 5th generation copies.

      I'm sure that there are organizations who are acting in the public interest who would release their material for next to nothing, as long as they didn't have to front duplication/distribution costs.

      Also, there is material in the public domain, either explicitly, or because it's out of copyright. Someone with an eye (or ear) for conservation should make a master of this kind of material before it disappears (material that isn't owned by any one person isn't usually kept with as much care), and release the master via P2P so that it can be maintained in perpetuity by interested archivists, and be available for download by interested users (ala the Gutenberg project. [])
    • You're right about the content. As always the most crucial part is overlooked. I work in educational television. We do a ton of stuff for the web and for broadcast. Even our cheap stuff is not cheap. I spend a large chunk of my time protecting myself and the viewing population from teachers who believe that content is easy and inexpensive to produce. I challenge anyone to sit through even 45 minutes of a teacher produced lecture and learn anything. It just doesn't work. A cheap one off half hour program will cost 10000 cdn. And that is dirt cheap. A reasonably lit teacher at a desk with good audio will cost close to 2000 cdn by the time your are done and it is boring. I'm not just a tv snob talking here. This is real experience with real teachers and real classes. Producing something that you can use in the classroom takes creative tv ppl, flexible, open minded teachers, and much money. I just don't think having teachers spend a bunch of time recording and compressing themselves is very revolutionary or cost effective.
  • by chicoy ( 305673 )
    "If someone is the best teacher in a country at a particular grade or on a particular subject, their instruction and explanations deserve to be videotaped."

    What makes the best teachers the best is because they can respond to my questions. Most of the time, they only need to reword some sentences to turn the light on. With this technology, I cannot ask questions, and therefore, not getting the 'best' from the best.

    "They deserve to be compensated for their excellence. And the resulting video ought to be made available to the public for free..."

    How are they being compensated?

    Good idea though, but like everything, it has limitations.

  • Super VCD has much better quality and is user far more than the aging VCD format (at least for movie rips and so-forth). There is a bit of info about SVCD here [], but you can search google for more info.
  • Maybe (Score:1, Interesting)

    by ShishCoBob ( 516335 )
    While this may be a good thing for education you've got to remember a few things. Not all dvds play vcds and not all people are willing to just go out and get one that will. At least in the US copying of VCDs has already been associated with "pirating".

    As for using in schools. I attend what could be considered as a very well off school system. Very good when it comes to technology too. Each high school has 5 dvd players on cart. While every room has VCRs. New schools are still opening with VCRs. Why are they not buying DVDs? Well.. I can see a few reasons. Not all educational stuff that it used has been switched to dvd. I can guess a lot of it won't be just because of how old it is. Like that video from the 70s that I had to watch in Sex Ed with the talking STD. Yes I'm sure they are going to get to turning that into DVD sometime soon. Another reason would be cost. You can buy cheap dvds for under $100, but they aren't very good DVDs most of the time either.

    Teachers in school already have enough trouble opperating VCRs they have owner themselves for 10 years. I can't see a switching to an optical disk technology in schools for another 10 years or so due to still high cost (for many school systems) and because of incompetence.
  • The company that employs me by day has been doing this for several years now for employee training. Things that can be easily moved to computer based learning systems with e-tests etc have been put on VCDs.

    It works very well if it's done right.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Over in SE Asia, VCDs are universally used for the sexual education of adults who should know better...
  • by LionKimbro ( 200000 ) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @12:56AM (#3925119) Homepage
    You can read text/image faster than you can listen to a person talk. You can search text faster than you can search a video. You can perform minute fast forwards and rewinds with much greater speed than you can through a video- just move your eye, rather than fiddling with a UI. I could go on for some time with this.
    • Isn't text+image also known as a book?
      • Yes, that is exactly what I mean.

        I am saying that I think books are a superior educational method than rolling video.

        Actually, Scott McCloud has good ideas on how you could make a "better book" with an easy to use computer screen that you could treat like a book. You could have infinitely large pages, and hyperlink between them. This IS different than the web, because the web only goes DOWN, not left/right up/down very easily. Also can't write on it- keep notes on the side.

        But anyways, YES. I am saying that the book (or, more generally, static text&images) is better than having a movie play by. FAR better, in fact.
        • And- I forgot to add- not very popular with technophiles.

          Technophiles are inclined to believe that the more gears and bits you put into a thing, the better it is.

          "How dare you suggest your little pocket notebook is better than my PDA? It doesn't even have batteries? Luddite!"

          As a programmer for 18 years so far, I have no difficulty ignoring such people.

          When the PDA's are significantly better, I will use them. Until then, the pocket notebook is just fine for my needs.
        • Actually, Scott McCloud has good ideas on how you could make a "better book" with an easy to use computer screen that you could treat like a book. You could have infinitely large pages, and hyperlink between them. This IS different than the web, because the web only goes DOWN, not left/right up/down very easily. Also can't write on it- keep notes on the side.
          You just described Adobe Acrobat []... We use it constantly at work just like that.
    • ... one giftet speaker can teach more in a minutte that you could read in the same time...
    • You can read text/image faster than you can listen to a person talk. You can search text faster than you can search a video.

      Well, maybe you can. Or, more accurately, while you may be able to read faster than you can listen, you may not be able to comprehend. It's all part of the different modes of learning. I have a friend who does not comprehend written words very well. If you talk to her, however, she will understand a great deal. I am the exact opposite. I remember almost everything I read but if you say something to me, then there is no guarantee I will remember it even two minutes later.

    • Please don't feed the trolls.

  • by whee ( 36911 ) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @01:01AM (#3925131)
    I went to a smallish private school in Delaware and we used VCDs in the French language courses. As much as I hated the class, VCDs were a nice choice for learning a language -- quick playback for review, easy to maintain, simple to use. (If anyone cares, the material was French in Action [].)

    I find it odd that techniques like this aren't used more widely; My school wasn't large or that wealthy, yet they decided to use VCD to teach the course. It seems that VCD isn't widespread just because it takes a little more work to generate a course around it; My French teacher worked hard for a high school level class, but I doubt most do.

    The only disadvantage to using video material is the fact that it's video material -- television anyone? It's very easy to stare at a screen and completely zone out, ignoring whatever you're trying to be taught. If not interrupted constantly for questioning and such, VCDs are useless.

    • When I watch language tapes, the first thing I do is record them into my TiVo. Then I can rewind and replay over and over until my feeble US ears finally start to make out the cryptic non-US words and phrases.

      VCD and a player with a "back N seconds" button gets you the same feature, but without the analog-to-TiVo recording step.
  • "new media"? (Score:2, Informative)

    by LuYu ( 519260 )

    ... new media?

    You should say "old medium." VCDs have been around for quite some time. The only reason they are new to you is because the MPAA prevented them from being used much in the US. At the same time, VCDs were very popular in Asia (where the piracy of organizations like the MPAA is less palatable) for most of the last decade.

    However, I agree that this old medium has become cheaper and more advantageous for teaching than probably any other.

  • I guess that's what they are used for most often.
  • by L600R ( 583738 )
    I also fine that VCDs are great for movie pirating ;-)
  • by cowtamer ( 311087 ) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @01:29AM (#3925186) Journal
    The idea is that VCDs are an excellent medium for any instance that require you to distribute video.

    I admit that in most cases, video is not the best medium for instruction. However, there are many more applications:

    1) Archives of videotaped university lectures at the library [my school had real videotapes and I found this extremely helpful, but they were somewhat jelaously guarded]

    2) Sharing video with semi-computer-literate family: Sending out cousin Larry's first piano recital to all the aunts and uncles, mailing a copy of the wedding to all the guests, etc.

    3) Distributing underground "cult classic" movies, favorite TV episodes, etc. Demos for independent filmmakers

    4) "Handouts" for students in film/advertising class

    4) Ticking off the MPAA

    5) etc.

    I'm sure you can think of more. What kind of geeks are you???
  • ... The cost of the VHS equipment.
    I guess you'd call the tape room an equivilent of a server farm. - Lots of very expensive VHS recorders simultaneously creating copies of a master tape. (I'm assuming) it just wouldn't pay to make one copy at a time with VHS equipment.
  • VCD & DVD (Score:3, Informative)

    by quakeroatz ( 242632 ) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @01:31AM (#3925190) Journal
    Many people are posting on how DVDs are better than VCDs... while this may be true in some cases, in other ways they're the same thing

    DVD = 4.7GB
    CD = 650-700MB

    DVD = Mpeg2 video 720x480
    VCD = Mpeg2 video 352x240 - 720x480 (xvcd)

    Were really talking about storage capacity and video resolution as the main differences here.
    My point being that a VCDs with educational content can be produced with DVD video quality, at a cheaper price and still maintain compatibility with standalone DVD players.
    • Actually that's erroneous, VCD standard is MPEG-1, SVCD is MPEG-2 (at lower resolution/bitrate than MPEG-2 used on DVD media)...

      VCD, at adequate resolution (eg; as good as if not slightly lesser quality than VHS) consumes approximately 650 Mb per hour on the media...

      SVCD tends to consume quite a bit more, usually 3-4 CD-Rs used to make one SVCD (hence why DVD-R is more appropriate)

      Now what DOES make S/VCD a much better candidate for educational purposes, is the sheer price of the players... While one could purchase a DVD player with VCD capabilities, there are actually cheaper "dedicated" machines, some even the size of portable CD players, with the sole purpose of playing VCD media (basically a compact disc player with an extra chip for decoding and video playback of MPEG media through a spare RCA jack)... Those usually run $100 tops, with the bonus of being very portable...

  • The article stated that VCDs would be beneficial because they would allow more information to be learned by the student or individual. As a society, we have become more dependent on amounts of knowledge than what the knowledge actually is. What we don't need is for our students to learn more. They are already collapsing under the mountain of information educators and legislators throw at them. What we do need our students to do is to understand more. The current curriculum in schools these days is like the old saying "A mile wide and an inch thick". We have substituted wisdom for information. Projects such as the VCD and other tools can help education not by adding to the amount of what we know, but by understanding what is already taught. The more we, as a society, understand, the better prepared we are for any change in the world around us. The more we teach students to think and understand, the better prepared they will be for any change the world may have.
  • I work for a school system. If you remember, school systems had invested fairly heavily in LaserDisc technology back when it was established enough to have had the bugs worked out. It flopped.

    It flopped because teachers did not make use of it. Remember the old addage "Those who can, do, those who can't teach"? Trust me, it holds true. If you want to buy an LD player with less than 50 hours of use on it, go to a school district surplus auction.

    I know that DVD has had significantly more market penetration than LD had, but at the same time, it's not the older, more established people who are buying into it. It's the video-game era people who are used to buttons and switches. It's the people who can program their VCR's clock to not blink "12:00". a LOT of people who teach, the vast majority, are before this was the norm. They don't rely on video to instruct. They don't use computers for the benfit of the kids except when absolutely required by the superintendency.

    Until you have computer labs being booked solid in schools, without teachers deciding to skip computers for that day of the month that they get lab time, you won't see technology of this sort in schools, or at least not in an effective manner. It's just not going to happen.
  • Real Science (Score:2, Informative)

    by froseph ( 549853 )
    Our high school has a program called Real Science [] where some students volunteer to work on an interacive cd with movies on an area of science. The project is student run and is of fairly high quality.
  • Learn how and why we ought to be exploring the educational potential of this new media.
    Here's some educational potential.
    Lesson One: A VCD is a medium. Multiple VCDs are media.
    Lesson Two: New \New\, a. 1. Having existed, or having been made, but a short time; having originated or occured lately. I.e., not VCD.
  • What is it about VCDs on slashdot that seem so... so... Antiquated? Forgive me for stepping on another deligtfully informing article (ie; wasted space) and say this is a bit behind the times? And what is a VCD going to do that a VCR can't? Sure it's cheap, but unless you're somewhere in Asia, VCDs have gone the way of Betamax. And then you'd actually either have to buy the player or a PC to read it. If you buy the player, that's more out of pocket. if you use the PC, you might as well use CDRs.

    Whoohooo... News for nerds, stuff that matters... I'm all over that action, aren't you?
  • First of all, didn't VCD come out over 10 years ago? I seem to recall something about CD-I being able to play it (and that being one of it's nifty selling points...or not). That's new?

    Second, VCD is a mediUM. When people talk about "New Media" they are speaking of more than one mediUM.

    JEEZ. Why do so many people have to do so many bad things to MY language?
  • by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @02:38AM (#3925284)
    It seems to me books or e-books are all around better: they can be read at the user's pace, they are easier to produce, and they are more compact. Videos might be good for an occasional clip demonstrating something that is difficult to describe; when that is necessary, they are easy to include in e-books. They might also be good for people who are illiterate, but perhaps the first thing to do for people who are illiterate is to teach them how to read.

    So, altogether, I just don't see the point of producing a lot of video at all.

  • by JupiterX ( 94375 ) on Sunday July 21, 2002 @04:24AM (#3925389) Homepage
    Everybody's arguing about how VCD is not a new format, but nobody seems to know how old it actually is. Some think it actually came out around the same time as DVD. The fellow who wrote the article thinks it's a new format. One fellow isn't sure, but thinks it might be even older, but isn't quite sure. Egh. Apparently I'm the first who actually bothered to Google it. VCD is fifteen years old []. It was created in 1987. Now, was that so difficult? And as a matter of trivia, the compact disc was originally invented with video in mind.
    • VCD is fifteen years old. It was created in 1987. Now, was that so difficult?

      Well, this is kind of strange. I don't know about the US or South-East Asian markets, but I do remember seeing something called `Video CD' in the UK during (I think) early 1989.
      There were 3 sizes of disc- ordinary CD size, LP size (12") and another somewhere inbetween. I had a leaflet advertising this format, and saw some discs (5" and 12") on sale. IIRC they were gold coloured.
      I'm pretty sure that this wasn't the same Video CD format as the one that was introduced with the Philips CDi, because the standard-sized CDs could only hold 20 minutes or so of video (good for music singles, I guess)- hence the reason for the existence of the larger discs.
      I don't think the store got any more discs in that format after the initial supply, which says it all.

      More importantly, when the `modern' VCDs were being marketed in the early 90s, I got the impression that this was a different format to the late-80s 'Video CD's.

      So, I'm kind of curious about this now...
      • Theres a version of "Video CD" that was only playable in Philips CD-I players, it didn't conform to VCD standards, since it didnt use a standard mpeg video stream

        The Official Star Trek "Video CDs" were released in the Philips-only CD-I format.

        They get read by my DVD player but since the mpeg stream isn't standard it doesn't play sound correctly, nor can you see more than 10 frames before it corrupts and becomes unusable.

        I've yet to test it on PowerDVD or used any tools to extract the data, as I've recently moved and it's packed away with some million other CDs *over there* (points)

        Anyone know any drivers/programs that can read the Philips CD-I TOC ? or any emulators? last time I looked someone was making a start at an emulation, but since my CDI machines CD Tray isnt working too well, I'd like to at least gain "fair use" of media that I've bought.

    • I didn't have to Google it. I lived it.

      What you Googled is CD Video (CD-V), which happens to use a 12cm disc. This bastardized combination of PCM audio (20 minutes) and Laserdisc video (about 5 minutes) is a Pioneer creation that never really took hold.

      Video CD is a very different thing. Video CD (White Book) was introduced in about 1992 by JVC and Sony (NOT Philips.)

      Just to confuse things further, Philips also introduced a competing format called CD-i Video, which was playable only on CD-i players with a special expansion cartridge (although most Video CD players could find the MPEG program stream and muddle through.) CD-i is a considerably more powerful interactive format than even DVD, and because of this had some success in the education market. However, it's all but orphaned with no new players having been introduced in many years.

      Both VCD and CD-i Video are based on ISO 11172. That standard was developed in '91 - early '92, heavily influenced by C-Cube and JVC.

      JVC introduced the first Video CD product in early 1992 - a karaoke jukebox system for the Japanese market. Sony followed soon after with a home player.

      During 1995-1996 the format really began to catch on in Asia as player prices dipped below $200, driven by low-cost A/V decoder chips from C-Cube and also by relatively low-cost encoders coming available from Sonic, FutureTel and others.

      Now, as far as what format would be suitable for education, Video CD has a weak navigation system and only 352 x 240/288 resolution for video (stills are 720 x 480.) SVCD (Chaoji) improves both and adds two more audio channels, while retaining the cheap CD medium and low-cost authoring tools. DVD further improves presentation and of course offers more play time.

      Speaking of DVD, DVD-R (General Media) blanks are getting cheap enough (maybe $6 now?) that the media cost isn't a significant a factor in short-run duplication when compared to production and post-production cost. In mid-volume production (1000-2000 discs), the DVD-CD cost difference becomes even less. Despite this, there is some sproadic interest in using DVD Video on CD media. The catch is, no standalone DVD player that I know of will support DVD-on-CD.

      Bottom line, Video CD, SVCD and DVD are all worthy replacements for the VCR in education. They all are cheaper to own than videotape and have features that make them better presentation tools than tape. Even better, authoring systems (like Sonic's) tend to support all three disc formats, offering a range of choices depending on quality needed and available authoring skills.
  • ... can use these to get their work out quickly and easily. Since most DVD players can handle this you can just burn a VCD from your computer once you've edited the video.

    Better still, you can resize your video to the correct resolution for VCD (352x288 for PAL, IIRC) from the DV capture (at 720x576) and save a huge amount of render time and disk space. Not to mention how much quicker Premiere handles the smaller video files...
  • I live in Singapore, and VCDs have already been widely used in schools to replace VHS tapes, for quite some time now. If I'm not wrong, VCDs and CD-ROMs have already been in use in schools here since about 5 years ago.

    I suspect the reason why the US has not yet widely adopted VCDs is due to the large size of the country, hence the disability to change standards every once in a while, as compared to Asian countries. This is probably also why the handphone standards in US still lag behind Asian countries in general, which normally use the GSM digital standard.

    A good development, nonetheless. At least VCDs don't have all the restrictions like region coding or encryption that DVDs suffer from. No RIAA or MPAA or whatever to try to reap profits from the education system.
  • The "education deficit" is the only reliable way for the rich to perpetuate their wealth; if the unwashed masses are allowed access to education, they have a good opportunity to become rich, thus removing wealth from the grasp of those who are already rich.

    This is the reason why public schools are chronically underfunded, to provide a steady stream of proletarians that will work to enrich their bosses without becoming rich themselves, and to steadily consume without question the worthless stuff the bourgeois constantly peddle them.

    But if the poor start getting educated and rich, the world as we know it will most definitely crumble!!!

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