Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Resources: Films on Demand (Guest post!)

[Today's nifty resource brought to you via a guest post from Tiarra LaPierre, our current library technology student worker. She's been exploring our new Films on Demand database.]

So, I’ve been spending some time playing with Mantor Library’s new database, Films on Demand, and it is definitely worth checking out. Films on Demand is basically the Netflix of educational videos, but unlike Netflix it has a variety of features that make videos far easier to access and share. For students and teachers, this is the perfect tool to enhance a class, homework assignment, group project or presentation. As of this October FonD boasts a collection of 12,375 titles available for online streaming, and includes videos from producers such as PBS, A&E, BBC, ABCNews, National Geographic, Shopware, the History channel, (and my personal favorite), TED talks, just to name a few.

I found the site was intuitive and easy to navigate thanks to a very simple page structure. The toolbar used to navigate this site offers a few different ways to search for films without overwhelming you with options. You can search by programs known as “Special Collections,” such as those listed above, or by subject, all of which are conveniently subdivided into little bite sized categories for your convenience. The catalog also allows you to search by title, keywords, or alphabetically. These features make finding a film simple even if you don’t know the title. Who knows, you might even stumble across something better than what you were looking for. You know when you’re on Wikipedia and you get side tracked clicking link after link? The same can happen with Films on Demand, it’s easy to have fun and get lost exploring videos in a subject you are passionate about.

Another awesome feature is the ability to construct playlists. Because all the videos on Films on Demand can be subdivided into smaller segments, you can add either entire videos or just smaller pieces to your playlist. This is perfect for skipping unnecessary segments, comparing and contrasting videos that might portray different perspectives on the same subject, or just offering a variety and wealth of information about any given topic. For teachers it may be helpful to know that all titles in the Films on Demand collection have a distinct playlist URL for linking in syllabi, Blackboard Vista, or other web pages. The interface allows you to organize videos into folders, individualized playlists, or electronic card catalog systems and you can even track how often which videos are being watched.

As a student I found it handy to have the citation for each video readily available in Chicago, MLA and APA seventh edition styles. Other helpful features include options to imbed the video on your own personal websites, information on available reviews and awards to let you know about the films credibility, full transcripts of the film, organization tools and suggestions for related videos. Honestly, being a lazy student has never been easier… or more rewarding.

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