Category Archives: video

iPod touch

In a session at ALT-C I mentioned (and blogged)…

…about the rumours of new OS X based iPods, these may be wireless and may have browser capability. We should know by about 7pm tonight.

Well by 7pm we did know. I checked out the details via my phone at the conference dinner.

Apple did announce a new iPod with a touch interface (aka the iPhone) which will be available worldwide and will be wireless, have a browser and run a version of OS X.

Whether I get one, different story, £200 is a lot of money for a touch interface. I already have devices which can play music and video and portable wifi capability as well.

Having said that , it would be nice to have one, then again do I wait until the iPhone is available in the UK and get the phone element as well?

Decisions, decisions.

Whatever I decide one of the key things to remember is that our learners will by buying this iPod, they will be buying other iPods, other mp3 players, new phones, etc…. and we need to think about how they can utilise those devices to support their learning.

cn we uz mobz 4 LernN?

At ALT-C this year I am running a workshop entitled cn we uz mobz 4 LernN? or in English, Can we use mobile devices for learning?

The abstract is as follows:

Wouldn’t it be nice if all learners in an educational environment had access to a wireless laptop and free wireless access to their digital resources at a time and place to suit their needs. The reality is that learners don’t always have access to what we as practitioners would like them to have to enable them to access their learning.

However they do have access to some mobile digital devices which could be used, these include mobile phones, iPods, mp3 players, portable video players, PSPs… These devices are used extensively for entertainment, but rarely used for learning.

Should we be exploiting the technology learners bring with them to the classroom? We live in a time where technology changes at an extraordinary pace. Despite increasing expenditure on computer equipment and associated peripherals, such as interactive whiteboards and projectors, many institutions still feel under-resourced and unable to meet the technological requirements demanded by the next generation of learners.

The investment in computer based technology requires a major annual expenditure for most institutions because computer equipment has a relatively short life-span and the requirements for running today’s cutting edge software changes rapidly. This can be a drain on over-stretched budgets and results in a need to look for cost effective alternatives.

In a world where mobile technologies are becoming increasingly mainstream, shouldn’t Universities and Colleges be exploiting these technologies and encouraging their use as part of the teaching and learning process?

Studies are beginning to show that mobile telephones, ipods, mp3 players and other portable devices can be used effectively to deliver learning materials. It should be possible for institutions to capitalise on the successful integration of these technologies into every day life and to exploit the teaching and learning potential inherent in the already familiar devices.

However can we really use mobile devices for learning, can they effectively provide a learning experience via a small screen? What about personalisation, interactivity, communication?

James Clay (at the WCC) researched and developed the use of mobile devices for learning. Now at Gloucestershire College of Arts & Technology (Gloscat) he is planning the embedding the use of mobile devices across the whole college.

This workshop will demonstrate some of the latest devices which can be used for mobile learning and allow participants to try them out and consider how they can start to utilise mobile devices to enhance and support learning in their institutions.

After introducing the concept of mobile learning participants will then be organised into small groups to look through a series of pedagogical case studies on mobile learning and see if they could apply these to their own institution.

Participants will then be challenged in small groups to create a series of exemplar scenarios which they could take back to their institutions to initiate or extend the use of mobile devices to enhance and support learning. These scenarios will then be shared with the community via the web.

I am looking forward to running the workshop as I feel over the years the concept of mobile learning has taken root in the FE and HE communities and has also moved beyond the idea that mobile learning is just about giving PDAs to students.

I will be demonstrating various mobile learning scenarios including the use of mobile video and Bluetooth as well as showing off my new Sony VAIO umpc, the UX1XN.

YouTube introduces advertising…

So there I was blogging about how we use video on our VLE where I did mention that some of the staff were using YouTube.

Now one of the nice things about YouTube was the “lack” of “in your face” advertising, however it is now looking like that could be a thing of the past!

Video advertising has started on the YouTube website, its owner – internet giant Google – has confirmed.

Google said it had designed the way the adverts work on the video-sharing website to be as unobtrusive and undisruptive as possible.

The adverts will begin 15 seconds after a user has started to watch a video, but only on 20% of the screen window.

Google said the advert would then disappear within 10 seconds if the user had not clicked to watch it.

Read more, source BBC.

Video on the VLE

I have over the years looked at how we can store and use digital video to support and enhance learning. Generally small video clips seem to work better online (just look at the success of YouTube) rather than whole programmes.

Though having said that I am currently enjoying the BBC Archive trial and the BBC iPlayer beta and on both of those I am watching full length programmes. However I am watching it for entertainment rather than educational – raises another question, is there a such a stark difference between entertainment and learning these days?

We are storing video clips we use on the VLE (we use Moodle) using the Flash Video format. Though some staff are using YouTube or TeacherTube.

Our Flash video generally streams “okay” both inside and outside the college.

I have found that using Quicktime H.264 encoded files results in a similar file size, but much better quality. This was particularly evident with the Italian Language programme I used as my example, where the audio was out of sync with the video when using Flash video which would have proved difficult for language students to follow the foreign language.

h.264 video

However it does require that the client have Quicktime installed and though this is a free download for users outside the college, the Quicktime player we have installed on college machines is not capable of playing H.264 content.

The main advantage of encoding H.264 was the time it took to encode the files. Though quality and final file size were also advantageous.

To encode a 15 minute MPEG2 Freeview recording took around 15 minutes on my iMac.

To encode the same 15 minute MPEG2 recording as a FLV file took about five to six hours… and then I needed to create a Flash object which contained the FLV video file.

We now have a 15 minute limit on files just because anything longer will take too long to download. For those video recordings/files we put them on DVD and allow the students to view them via a DVD player.

Longer term for larger videos we are aiming to have a media/video server, but this will be mainly aimed at streaming internally.