Due to the epidemiological situation in recent months, the development of the e-learning system at Semmelweis University has successfully taken place, more quickly than planned. In addition to the existing Seka and Moodle systems, Zoom and Kaltura have newly been introduced. The latter represents a major step forward in the field of educational video materials, due, among other things, to targeted publishing and statistics on the viewers of the videos, which can be used to track the usefulness of the materials.

Today, people of all ages consume an increasing amount of video content on the Internet, not only for entertainment but also for learning purposes, on a wide variety of topics. Naturally, this need has also appeared in higher education, but at the same time it is important that the videos be only available to a limited audience, i.e. to those for whom they are actually addressed, said Dr. László Tornóci, IT Manager of the Directorate of E-learning and Digital Content Development. ‘In order to improve online education, the introduction of the Kaltura programme had been planned for some time, and the epidemic situation created an opportunity for the use of this cloud storage facility to start at the university in parallel with Zoom,’ he added. ‘In Kaltura, instructors can put together short instructional videos for students and easily cut them in a browser, using a single laptop. In the programme, it is also possible to organize, tag and categorize the videos as well as to publish them. In the latter case, the cloud-based system provides a simpler solution, compared to having to store them on one’s own servers.’

Thanks to the developments of the university e-learning system in recent months, the Seka and Moodle systems, which have been operating for almost a decade, can be integrated with the newly introduced Zoom and Kaltura programmes. Thus, all teachers and students can use them with the same ID, and sharing instructional materials, including the publication of videos, can be done in a targeted manner, for a specific group of students. Zoom footages are automatically added to Kaltura, where editing and post-correction can be easily managed.

In terms of videos, shorter, illustrative educational materials are currently available for students. Dr. László Tornóci pointed out that Kaltura also compiles statistics on how many people watched a video, whether they watched it entirely and, if not, where they were stopped. ‘In addition, questions can be asked at certain points in the video, so it is easy to find out if the student has really understood each of the focus questions in a given material. Thus, we can use videos in teaching that the student actually watches until the end,’ he said. The programme also includes a speech recognition system, i.e. a text transcript is automatically created in the cloud, which has the advantage, in addition to helping hearing-impaired students, that certain terms can be retrieved, making it easier to search within the video.

‘The leap in the e-learning system in recent months is well illustrated by the fact that while during the past 10 years, we have created approximately 1,300 courses, now more than 2,000 have been created in only a few weeks,’ the IT Manager stressed. He added that all faculties now use the full range of online learning opportunities. All this was a big burden for the e-learning working group, but, according to Dr. László Tornóci, the result was worth the effort, as a major breakthrough has been achieved in university e-learning.

Dr. Tornóci believes that although the epidemic has caused great damage in many ways, it has brought about a rapid and forward-looking change in higher education in the field of e-learning. He said it is truly positive that the management of Semmelweis University has quickly seized the opportunity to expand the online education system. Of course, neither the curriculum, nor the traditional presence-based education is dispensable, especially in the case of practices, said Dr. László Tornóci. However, it is certain that online tools will be important and worth using in the future, he added.

Semmelweis University was one of the first to implement a quality e-learning system in higher education with the widest range of online education opportunities. As a result, the institution was able to provide high-quality education to its students even during the epidemiological emergency state.


Eszter Keresztes
Photo (illustration): Attila Kovács – Semmelweis University
Translation: Diána Módos