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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

SU School of Education, College of Arts and Sciences faculty receive NSF grant to develop digital video research lab

Grant will develop infastructure to capture and analyze video data

June 11, 2010, by Jennifer Russo

Faculty in Syracuse University's School of Education and College of Arts and Sciences have been awarded a $473,434 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop infrastructure that will be used to capture and analyze video data. The project, "Acquisition of Shared Digital Video Data Analysis Infrastructure," will build shared resources to improve and streamline research projects that capture, code, transcribe and analyze video data.

The project has a three-year timeline, beginning with hardware and software installation, backup infrastructure development and video-capture development. The second year of the project will see the installation of a fixed research and teaching lab to be located in Huntington Hall and pilot projects in undergraduate course offerings. Year three will conclude the capacity and infrastructure development phase with the addition of a portable computer lab for field work and full implementation in graduate and undergraduate courses.

Alan Foley, associate professor in instructional design, development and evaluation, leads the team of researchers that secured the grant. Their individual research projects-in areas including science education, teacher education, instructional technology, linguistics, and communication and rhetorical studies-each pursue questions that necessitate the collection and analysis of large quantities of digital video (DV) data. 

"We use DV data to investigate diverse questions that consider both the obvious and the subtle interactions humans have with each other or with technology," says Foley. "The projects that will be supported by this should endeavor to increase human knowledge generally and address a fundamental gap in human knowledge: how to put knowledge, or information, into practice."

The new technology will make the collection and analysis of DV data more efficient. Data in sections of video can be coded and then compared to codes across hundreds of hours of video to track the frequency and times of specific events. In addition, video can be transcribed and evaluated. For example, if a video transcript becomes searchable, the technology will enable the researcher to compile video segments where certain words or phrases were used. 

"The intention is not for the equipment to be used for a specific research approach or method, let's say, solely for ethnographic video," Foley explains. "Rather, we hope to build capacity and infrastructure at Syracuse University to support researchers who conduct research that generates video data."

"I am most excited about the cross-disciplinary possibilities the grant offers," says School of Education Dean Douglas Biklen. "Faculty and students in inclusive education, educational and assistive technology, leadership, literacy and other fields will be able to collaborate."

Biklen says the tools and technology support included in the project are promising: "We expect that this infrastructure grant will expose students to the latest in educational technology and will boost faculty research productivity." 

For more information about digital video (DV) data applications in research, contact Foley at