edCamp takeaways

apple part of edCamp logoI went to my first edCamp last month and although I was only able to stay for one session – on Flipped Classrooms – it turns out that everything I learnt during it is useful! Time well spent. One teacher, whose name I didn’t write down and I am so sorry for that, teaches media and technology at an alternative school (for students with special needs) in Portland and has a media background. He had some particularly good suggestions and applications to use with students and for teachers to use when producing their own videos:

  • Use numbers in the video – especially when creating a skills demo so that students can easily communicate when they got lost or stuck
  • www.soundtrap.com seems to be a particularly effective sound editor, a big step up in terms of ease of use from Audacity. Has a 5 project basic free account.
  • Open Broadcast Software is a video editing application. I have just started using this, will report back again when I’ve used it some more. But it is a light touch option, gives a preview, not a big download and looks like it has everything one would need to produce edited video.

Someone else suggested using EDpuzzle to track student’s understanding of what they are viewing in any video assigned to them. I can’t wait to use this application, and don’t worry you can add any school name to sign up if – like me – you are using this as an online tutor or are just researching.

To go with this application, I suggest exploring the badly named MoocNote where students can take notes while watching any video.

I am looking forward to my next edCamp! Thanks go to the wonderful organizers in Portland and everyone who pitched a session this time through.

 

More about video for video feedback

I spent the last couple of days emerging again into the world of edtech having hibernated over the winter. On Tuesday I went to a Meetup in Portland that attracted way more people than the basement room was built for, nevertheless it was a good way to meet people – we were all close!

I met a couple of guys who had driven down from Seattle for the event. They talked me through their video platform startup, circleHD.com. It sounded pretty interesting and I am still testing it. The main positive points from an edtech point of view, was that a teacher could have a free account, could store videos and share videos from their platform and, and this is the important bit, get some analytics from views. They say that are also including an annotation – which I haven’t found yet but will come back and write more when I have.

movenote in action
Capture from movenote review page

Yesterday I attended AcceleratED16 – a conference for education adminstrators (senior leadership team in UK speak) organised by OETC (an organisation that promotes edtech and arranges discounts for its members).

During one of the sessions on the professional development track Jennifer Scypinksi demonstrated using movenote to deliver a weekly newsletter presentation to staff.

I have been looking at it today in order to evaluate its use as a feedback tool to students. And I think it could be very good indeed. I have made one recording so far, though I nearly gave up because I had to fiddle around for hours to get Adobe Flash Player to listen to my microphone (switched from Chrome to Firefox in the end to get it to work). I am generally pleased with the result and I think it has real possibilities. I will need to rerecord this one because I’m not happy with the camera position.

After that I am going to compare movenote to screencastify and will post the results here.

Thoughts about video as a learning technology

I am considering the use of video in the context of tutoring a STEM subject on a higher education graduate course. There are several ways students encounter video: as part of their module materials, as an activity where they are required to produce one themselves, as recordings of long tutorials they were unable to attend or for review and, finally, tutor created videos.

It is likely that students will be fairly media literate  nevertheless the quality of video module materials would be critical to the way they perceived the course. The Open University (OU) once had a reputation for promoting lecture-type videos by men with beards and jumpers and this may have taken quite a few years to escape from, but the university probably now has. All module material videos now include transcripts for accessibility but these transcripts also serve another purpose – enabling students to scan the content. Harvard’s eDx is using a more sophisticated video embedding technology which includes a separate transcript but also includes a rolling transcript next to the video pane. This functions to allow the student to read and listen, review and scan ahead. At the OU the videos are sometimes external resources but more often they are produced in house and in contrast to its reputation no longer attempt to replicate the lecture hall. Were they still to feature the traditional OU tutor character they would be unlikely to impress these media savvy students.

Still from film
Still from Educating Rita 

We tutors often berate students for failing to attend online tutorials. And it is true that, in my experience, if students are not assessed on attendance most will not attend. However at this time there is no easy access to data that would provide us with viewership figures. Our online tutorials normally last around an hour. We need to know how our students access and watch the recordings of them. I suspect that they may use the inbuilt facilities in the OU Live recordings to find parts of the tutorials they will be able to use for helping with assessment rather than seeing this as a deep learning experience. The OU live environment also constrains the tutor. But this may not be a bad thing.

Many tutors are now producing, sometimes shorter, quick fire video messages using YouTube for dissemination. Some of these have a distinctly professional feel  but the majority will be more simple offerings.

It is a very good question, with interesting implications, whether or not these amateur productions enhance the overall OU offering. I have been producing quite a few of these, usually aiming to be less than 5 minutes long. I use a tag “open university ” when I publish and this makes me question whether there needs to be a more formal approach. At the same time short to the point video messages which could, for example, include feedback to groups and even individual feedback perhaps using another online video grab from Collaj, would certainly help to create more presence between tutor and student.

If tutors were able to use these video technologies to help students reflect more deeply on feedback I believe those of us working online would find that this also improved our communications with students. However, I believe that there continues to be a danger that the face to face lecture is replicated via video. I Don’t believe that this continues to be the most appropriate use of the technology because student attention is too early diverted elsewhere.

 

Just one open education technology

One technology that I believe is increasingly useful in open education is Google hangouts.
Hangouts provide free video conferencing though it only allows 10 video participants, each of whom is required to install the chat plugin from Google; the chat/text hangout allows 100 participants. The video hangout, however, can be streamed to YouTube and chat enabled there too which can therefore enlarge the scope for greater numbers.
It is possible to share documents and screens, so it can be a good environment for working on collaborative projects at a distance as well as hosting discussions, viewing demos etc. Google ran their own education conference season and it provides an interesting example of what might be possible in the future: https://sites.google.com/site/eduonair/home.

It is important for open education because it is free and yet, with minimum technical requirements, can enable anyone to create a learning experience.