Zaid Ali Alsagoff shared his discovery of schoology.com at last week’s Wednesday presentation on #CCK11 so I’ve posted the link in a blog post “You’ve got an “Ology”? on the Swansea Learning Lab community blog. We also discussed lecture capture at a pan-Wales meeting today, and I included a postscript about the CCK11 model of meeting capture with Elluminate.
Brits of a certain age, will need no explanation for the title of this post. By way of explanation, for my younger and oversees readers, I include this video, a classic TV ad starring Maureen Lipmann, from before British Telecom became BT,
During this first couple of weeks of the new teaching term I’ve been experimenting with using screen capture software as a means of capturing my lectures. Using nothing more than the built-in microphone on my Macbook Pro and an educational license for Camtasia Studio, I’ve been able to capture several lectures live in the lecture room. When I plug my Mac into the LCD projector, the screen resolution changes to super VGA (1024 x 768 pixels). I literally set Camtasia Studio to use the built-in microphone and full screen capture and switch on record at the start of the lecture. At the end I stop the recording, save the Camtasia Project file and convert it to MPeg 4 (Apple Quicktime format). This takes about 30 minutes to an hour but it’s literally all the post-processing I do. Then I upload the result to the Learning Objects Podcast tool in the Blackboard course site and it’s there for my students to review. Next time the course is given, I’ll be able to provide the screencast before the lecture, allowing me to “flip” my teaching.
The quality is surprisingly good. The only thing missing is a transcript and a copy of what gets written on the blackboard!
Here’s a screencast I made today of a lecture that I gave on Web Applications. I chose to use this as an example because as well as an illustration of what’s possible, the subject of the lecture might be of interest to my readers.
The best quality is obtained by hosting the result on Screencast.com or the Learning Objects podcast tool. I’ve also uploaded it to YouTube (which normally has a 15 minute limit) and Vimeo so you can get a comparison of the relative quality of those delivery options.
Camtasia Studio is the professional screen capture software of choice and is best for live lectures, or other longer or more complex production tasks. If you have shorter screencasts to prepare, Jing (from the same people who make Camtasia Studio) and Screenr work well and are free. To find out more, Jisc Digital Media provides some useful resources on Screencasting and have been running a series of surgeries, including one on Screencasting for Lecture Capture, recently.
Tara Brabazon, writing today for the Times Higher, provides a useful analysis of the common mistakes students make when submitting assignment work and suggests ways that we in academia could improve the first year experience. Her 20-point check list of what students do wrong and how lecturers react to those errors should be published in every student handbook.<br/>
Last year, I bought a Livescribe Echo Smart Pen with the hope that it would be useful in teaching. Well, here the result of my first attempt to use it “in anger”. I used the pen to write out a solution to one of the problems from my module EGLM03 Modern Control Systems while recording a narrative of what I was doing. The pen recorded the pen movement on the special notepaper and matched the movement to the audio. I then uploaded the recording to the Livescribe Community where it is made available as an embeddable flash movie.
Some nice features about this presentation: you can show, hide or partially hide the completed page; you can move through the presentation like it’s a video; and you can click on the page to go to the point in the drawing and the recording closest to the virtual pen’s position on the virtual page when that part of the image was drawn. With the real pen and the notebook, you can also playback what was being said when you wrote a note and this would be great for students using the pen in lectures!
Those of you who are regular readers will know that I spent 10 weeks from September to November immersed (almost literally) in the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Personal Learning Environments, Networks and Knowledge (PLENK2010). As already reported, one of the highlights for me was the guest appearance of Maria Andersen and her intriguing proposal for developing SOCRAIT, a Socratic questioning layer on the internet consisting of a Learn This button, a social gaming-like motivation and reward system, and channeled expertise designed to provide a personalized learning for the masses. A disruptive technology indeed!
Well, a pre-print of Maria’s paper The World is My School, due to appear in the January-February 2011 issue of The Futurist, has just been posted (http://bit.ly/socraitpdf) and Maria is looking to spread the word virally using the twitter hashtag #SOCRAIT.
I invite you to read Maria’s paper and use the comments to answer these questions:
Could a system like SOCRAIT work?
Would you use it?
How would you implement it?
Could you see yourself using it in your own learning?
Could you adopt it in your teaching?
Would it be disruptive?
I’m pretty certain that if someone builds SOCRAIT, I will use it.
First was a summary of the recommendations on 21st CenturyLiteracies from the US National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) :
Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
Design and share information for global communities to use for a variety of purposes
Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments.
This is a pretty sophisticated set of competences that I would struggle to demonstrate. It’s even more challenging, when you consider that these are the aspirations of a professional body for teachers of high-school age children! Do we even do this for our undergraduate and postgraduate students? Would I and my colleagues be competent to teach these high-level digital literacies  to them?
The second theme was a set of principles for creating and successfully using a PLE:
Pursue your passion.
Be personal … sometimes.
I can see how these principles might apply to my own PLE, which for me is centred around this and the Learning Lab blog. But it’s not quite so obvious how it might apply to our students. Too often, we try to get them to engage with the tools of a PLE by telling them that it’s good for them, and we then try to get them to engage with a topic related to a course we are teaching or a topic within a course of our choosing, and we try to force them to engage by assigning credit. Would they engage more if they were able to pursue their passion while we supported their learning as mentors rather than assessors?
Learning Objects Campus Pack, used to provide for blogs, wikis and podcasts in Swansea University’s VLE, was updated at the same time as Blackboard. If you have one or more Learning Objects blog(s), wiki(s) or podcast(s) in your Blackboard (learning portal) module sites, they will be upgraded the first time you or your students visit them.
If you have a large number of these installed in a module site, as I have for some of my modules, you may want to do the upgrade before your course is opened for new enrolments. That way, you will avoid confusion for your students and any colleagues you may be sharing a module site with.
I love this video from the first lecture of CS 106A Programming Methodology (Recorded in Fall 2008). Apart from the enthusiasm of the lecturer Mehran Sahami, which is infectious, it’s a great source of inspiration for learning and teaching:
Grading without numbers
The Stanford Honour Code (approach to Plagiarism)
Use of undergraduates for peer/mentor support (even grading!)
Use of sugary snacks as rewards for contribution
Use of continuous assessment with later work given more marks to encourage work to the end
Personalized feedback via “interactive marking”
2 Free days for late submission of coursework – avoids extensions.
Not sure how we could do it all … but there must some of this which has to be worth trying. The video embedded below is hosted on YouTube and can be downloaded and redistributed under a Creative Commons (Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works) license.
The follow-on course, CS106B Programming Abstractions (See YouTube channel for CS106B), was also recorded in the 2008 academic year. The lecturer that year, Julie Zelenski, is also a great performer, but the course is also worth noting because it’s the first example I’ve seen where there’s a Facebook link page embedded in the course web site.
I read a lot of blogs and I listen to a lot of podcasts, so I thought I’d use this blog to tell you about some of my favourites. Here’s the first of an occasional series of recommendations: It’s e-Learning Stuff and the associated e-Learning Stuff podcast from James Clay, ILT & Learning Resources Manager at Gloucestershire College, and 2009 winner of the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year.
I am an early adopter and self-confessed geek. I love new technologies and often try to find ways to incorporate them into my teaching (and personal learning). But as an educator rather than a learning technologist, the bottom line for me is that I want my students to gain value from my experiments with e-learning technology. The technology should not be an end in itself. As such, I’m only on the periphery of the e-learning technology community. A guest, rather than a fully paid up member, if you like.
I have a digital identity and a personal learning environment that extends across this blog and my Facebook, Twitter, Posterous and FriendFeed accounts. I aggregate my Google shared items, Buzz, delicious account, Flickr, YouTube, SlideShare and Prezi to my FriendFeed. But despite all this, I still spend a frighteningly large amount of time in the institutional Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard in our case). I tend to bring resources into the VLE on the basis that that’s were I assume students will be coming to find them, rather than trying to work outside it.
To the e-learning community, the VLE is like bronze-age technology that should have been made redundant by the dawn of the machine-gun age. But if most HE institutions are anything like mine, bronze-age weaponry is well in advance of the stone-age (should that be chalk-age) technologies that most of my colleagues are wedded to. It’s therefore refreshing to find learning technologists who are as pragmatic as James is. Sure, he likes his toys, but he also knows where the real world is at. His blog, especially his posts on 100 ways to use a VLE, is inspiring, and his podcast, usually consisting of a discussion with colleagues from the FE community mixed with the occasional recorded conference keynote, is genuinely interesting.