Today, I am a proud father – not only of our little daughter that makes us happy every day, but also of another baby that almost took the time of a full pregnancy to finally come out: Our new video education system – PCS Video.
I know, this sounds like a long stretch, but if you’ve ever dedicated yourself and all your resources to a project over such a long time, and it finally sees the light of day, it’s a very special feeling.
It all started last year when I began working on the video side of things here at farbspiel-photo.com. Video is the educational medium of the future, and it’s importance grows day by day since websites like YouTube have made it so easy to publish sophisticated content. So, it was clear right from the start that video would be an important pillar in our educational concept. But as with every new endeavor, you never quite grasp the nature of the challenges until you’re in the midst of it.
What was supposed to be rather simple turned out to be a real challenge because my own personal standards are high. And I would not be content with giving you anything less than I would personally expect from a new video-based learning system. So, we ended up designing our own course concept and, in addition to that, a new course player software (the PCS Player) that would fully implement this concept. The combination of these is what we call PCS Video.
Let me take you through the list of features and show you how PCS Video is different from the type of video tutorials that you already know.
In a former life, it has been a central part of my job to present in front of people. And having been a lecturer, I know the power of face-to-face interaction in teaching. So, it was clear right from the start that PCS Video Courses would not be of the same anonymous screencast-type of videos where you do not actually see the presenter. In our courses, the presenter is actually – well – present. Body language and gesture is big if you want to communicate something and make it stick. And even if that makes me more vulnerable as the person in front of the camera, being part of the courses also visually was a corner stone right from the start.
Resources – Making it a hands-on experience
We all grew up with television being an important part of our culture and education. But video-based education needs to be more than just watching and listening. It is incredibly important to put everything that you as a student need into your hands to enable you to actually practice the newly gained skills right away. If it’s video only, it falls short!
That’s why every lesson in a PCS Video Course comes with resources like original photos, RAW images, presets, links an more. But again, merely providing these resources and making them readily and conveniently accessible when they are relevant, are two completely different things.
That’s why the PCS Player puts a high emphasis on tight resource integration. Every resource is available right beside the actual video and can be accessed with a single click. The PCS Player provides a real-time resource notification system: Whenever you reach a point in the course where a specific resource becomes relevant, the PCS Player automatically highlights and display that resource for you. Additionally, a notification icon indicates that a resource is available. So the days when you had to fiddle with your file system to find the relevant files after the fact are over.
Putting things together
Whichever medium you are using to educate yourself, no piece of knowledge ever exists in isolation. Thoughts, ideas, and techniques build on each other and refer to each other. The best example of a medium that really fits this interconnectedness is the web itself with its hyperlinked structure: At any time, you can decide which path to take through the web to suit your needs best. This is the model we adopted for PCS Video too by introducing a number of tools.
Classical video content is not very strong at providing you with the choice of taking your own path. By its very nature, it is a linear stream of information that is created to be consumed start to finish. PCS Video introduces some simple but yet powerful concepts to make it more non-linear. With the Bookmark function, you can keep track of the parts that are most relevant to you across all the courses you have installed. Quick Bookmarking allows you to take detours at any time and return to the starting point to continue the standard path. Cross-Reference Resources let you jump to related parts of the current or any other course quickly. And finally, the Viewing History allows you to jump back and forth between the parts that you have been watching recently much like your web browser lets you go back and forth between web pages.
The course library
Instead of treating each course as a separate item that remains disconnected from the other courses, the PCS Player provides you with a course library that you can easily browser and extend with new courses. All courses are listed in that library which becomes the starting point of all your learning sessions.
The best of both worlds
Some of the features mentioned above are available today in online video training platforms. On these platforms, you pay a monthly fee to be a member, and as long as you pay that fee, you can watch the courses online in the respective environment. This is a valid model that seems to fit the needs of many people. But if you’re anything like me, there is one thing that should bother you about this:
- If you stop paying, you lose access. With the online subscription model, you have to pay your recurring fee in order to be able to access courses, the related resources and any technology that allows you to learn effectively. If you only need a few courses, and if you need them regularly over an extended period of time (as a reference and to revisit specific topics), than this is a bad deal.
The alternative route that many creators take is to offer bare-bones videos zipped up in an archive with resources to be found somewhere in there. And there is nothing wrong about that either. But the concept of “bare-bones” is that you will get a video file and a few images maybe, and that’s it. There is no environment at all that would provide any of the functionalities I described above to facilitate your learning process. Consuming these videos is just like watching a movie.
PCS Video is right in the middle between these two models: It provides downloadable offline training videos that you can watch as long and as often as you like without paying another dime. At the same time, it comes with a powerful, dedicated learning environment (the PCS Player). So it really takes the best from both worlds and combines it in one platform.
To give you a taste of what the Pro Courses will look like, we have compiled a free trial course for you to test-drive the PCS Video system. The video content is compiled from the Hands-on Photo Tips series on YouTube. But beyond the plain video content, you will get some awesome resources with this course, including original RAW files, Photoshop projects and editing presets. So the download is worth it!
Of course, you will also get to test the full version of the PCS Player software that will take your learning experience to a whole new level. Check out the list of the most important features of the PCS Player for more details.
It’s only the start
Just like with a real baby, the pregnancy seems like a long and sometimes difficult process. But when it’s over, you realize that it’s only been the start of much greater things.
And that’s how I feel right now: PCS Video already does many of the things that I had initially planned. But it can be so much more, and I am excited to be able to share this path with you as we continue to add new features and, of course, more courses.
What’s coming up next?
The first PCS Pro Video Course is just around the corner. The official announcement will be coming up later this week. So stay tuned!