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    Is the future of learning in TV?

    February 18th, 2010

    Despite the growth of the internet, television is still a technology which most people have, most people use and dominates a lot of peoples’ lives.

    Even the most popular videos on YouTube are predominantly from television programmes.

    This week sees the start of Seesaw TV, an online service that allows you to catch up with TV and view programmes from an archive of over 3000 hours of footage. Seesaw is funded by advertising – viewers see unskippable 60-second ad breaks before and during each show.

    The BBC said it was also considering releasing apps later this year for its popular iPlayer service.

    So despite the growth of the internet, television is still big and still predominates people’s time. For some young people, too much time…

    Video games, mobile phones and TV are keeping children up at night, answers to a BBC questionnaire suggest.

    Intel believe that television will still be at the heart of our homes in the future.

    Justin Rattner, Intel’s chief technology officer, told BBC News.

    “TV will remain at the centre of our lives and you will be able to watch what you want where you want.”

    He continues…

    “People are going to feel connected to the screen in ways they haven’t in the past.”

    The statistics of YouTube are amazing.

    In September 2008 I reported on my blog that 13 hours of video were been uploaded to YouTube every minute!

    Now 20 hours of video are being uploaded every minute!

    I rarely sit down and watch television these days, but that is just me, for others, they love the Apprentice, Dragons’ Den, Doctor Who, Merlin, etc… This is very apparent from dipping into Twitter, as tweet after tweet is about a particular programme.

    It’s not as though I don’t watch television programmes, but am now more likely to watch them recorded via a laptop, an iPod or on the computer. I rarely watch live TV anymore and when I do I get confused as I can’t rewind or fast forward through the adverts…

    So what about our learners?

    Are they just watching video on the internet or do they mainly watch television? There certainly has been a huge growth in video on the internet, but likewise there has been a huge increase in the number of TV channels available.

    To ignore video and its usefulness in enhancing teaching and learning is in my opinion a mistake. Video has huge potential to engage learners and to allow them to see and hear about things and stuff.

    Video has the ability to stimulate discussion and debate (think of the impact of TV on Twitter). A video clip can be used to start of a learning activity that will result in verbal conversation or even a written activity.

    Video does not replace teachers, neither does the internet. They are merely tools that allow for a more enhanced and enriched learning experience.

    Photo source.


    Likewise

    July 23rd, 2009

    Bill Thompson in his BBC column covers a couple of issues I have discussed before on this blog, lack of 3G and conference wifi.

    Firstly Bill has been on holiday and has been “suffering” from a lack of connectivity.

    I have just endured a week of limited connectivity and it has given me a salutary lesson in what life is like for the digitally dispossessed here in the UK and around the world.

    I have been driven to searching for open wireless access points so that I can download my e-mail, sometimes wandering the beach looking for elusive 3G signals just to get my Facebook status updated.

    He was on the Norfolk coast and it reminded me of my holiday last November on the Suffolk coast which I blogged about.

    Lovely place, however connectivity was seriously lacking. The place we were staying at had no internet which generally isn’t an issue for me as I have a 3G USB stick (or I use my phone as a tethered modem or using JoikuSpot as a wireless hotspot).

    However despite the area being very trendy and popular could I get a mobile phone signal? No I could not! No signal from T-Mobile or Vodafone…

    As a result I had no connectivity apart from when we travelled to an area with a mobile phone signal or at a place with wifi.

    boat

    My similar experiences to Bill should remind us that we should never take connectivity for granted and that though 3G is great it still does not cover all of the UK. We when designing websites and e-learning content need to remember that not all our learners will have fast broadband speeds or good 3G connections.Using video and audio is great (you can even now have HD video on the web as seen in this video I put up recently).

    As I summarised in my blog post:

    It did make me think about those learners who don’t have easy access to the internet, and despite falling costs of both broadband and 3G it can still be sometimes impossible to get online as the area itself does not have broadband or 3G coverage. Rural and coastal areas are often places with minimal 3G coverage and broadband access. Using 3G at 7.2Mbps in the centre of London streaming video and browsing really fast makes you sometimes forget that in some areas this is an impossibility.

    As well as having issues with 3G in Norfolk, Bill also had problems with wifi at a conference he was at.

    We had wifi access inside the theatre as the conference included tutorials on social networks and online engagement, and the audience were encouraged to contribute questions online so they could be displayed on the screen behind the speakers.

    Unfortunately the wifi stopped working about half-way through the first session of the day, and those of us with smartphones and laptop dongles were forced to resort to slower 3G connections.

    The reason given was:

    It appeared that we had overwhelmed the capacity of the wireless network that the venue had set up for us..I talked to the IT support engineer and he asked me how many of us were trying to connect, and I told him I estimated that thirty to forty people were using laptops and probably the same number had wifi-enabled smartphones. After he had recovered from the shock he explained that the wifi router they had installed could only support twenty simultaneous connections and had crashed when we all tried to log on.

    This is now happening too often at events I go to; I blogged about this back in October last year.

    One thing I have noticed attending a few events recently is that the wireless networks have been unable to cope with the large number of delegates wanting to use it.

    A few years (or even just a year ago) if you attended an event with free wireless, there were probably just a few of you who used it with their laptops. Today if you attend an event, you may find that everyone (virtualy everyone) has a laptop and if not a laptop then a PDA or a phone or an entertainment device with wifi capability.

    As a result the wireless networks can not cope… Generally this happens because most wireless routers can only deal with a limited number of wireless clients.

    With many more people with laptops, netbooks, wifi enabled phones conference venues need to have a much better infrastructure to cope with the wireless. Likewise if we are to be encouraged to amplify the conference through social media and social networking then we need decent connectivity. If we are also going to live stream video and audio from the conference then we need more than decent connectivity we need excellent connectivity.

    I recall an Apple Keynote at WWDC in 2007 when video iChat was demonstrated I believe that due to issues with the entire audience using the 802.11g network, they used 802.11a to ensure that the demo worked.

    Sometimes it can work. At the MoleNET Conference at the Emirates stadium which was awash with mobile wireless kit and the LSN had ensured that a robust infrastructure was in place and it worked really well.

    Of course it is not just wifi, if everyone has an iPhone at the conference, then there will be issues with 3G connectivity as happened at SXSW in Texas this year. 3G does not work as well inside as it does outside which is one factor, but as happened at SXSW too many people using 3G devices means that there is insufficient bandwidth for everyone. The solution at SXSW was bringing in extra capacity to meet the demand.

    Demand is another issue with ADSL and contention ratios. Despite the hype and advertising, for some (me included) it is impossible to get more than 1Mb download speed on ADSL due to not only distance from the exchange but also the contention ratio as more and more consumers sign up for broadband.

    What Bill’s column and my blog articles show is that we can’t take (at this time) connectivity for granted, for some it will be restricted because of geography and for others because of excess demand, we need to remember that.


    Twitter on BBC News

    January 24th, 2009

    Twitter was on the BBC Breakfast News this morning, Mr Stephen Fry aside it wasn’t (in my opinion) a very good item. See for yourself.


    So are we seeing the death throes of blogging?

    October 24th, 2008

    So is blogging dead, is it no more?

    Will Facebook, Twitter, Jaiku mean that people will no longer blog.

    A Wired article says

    Thinking about launching your own blog? Here’s some friendly advice: Don’t. And if you’ve already got one, pull the plug.

    Following on from the article in Wired on the death of blogging, there has been much discussion on Twitter about the article and the subsequent piece on the Today programme on Radio 4 and Rory Cellan-Jones’ blog entry.

    So here I am blogging about the death of blogging?

    What do you think?

    Personally I think that Facebook, Twitter, Jaiku and other services have in many ways supplanted and replaced the personal blog, you know the kind that talk about family gatherings, taking the dog for a walk, going to the pub, what I did on my holiday kind of thing.

    Where I think there is still room for blogging is the more in-depth articles, technical, reflective, opinion pieces.

    In the same way that radio did not kill newspapers, and television did not kill radio, and the internet did not kill television. Blogging will not be killed by Twitter, Twitter won’t kill blogging in the same way it won’t kill e-mail or instant messaging.

    It’s just another tool that allows you to communicate and learn in ways in which it isn’t possible via blogging and e-mail.

    I see e-mail as one to one communication, blogging as one to many, whilst Twitter and Jaiku is much more a many to many form of communication.

    I still read newspapers, I still listen to the Today programme on Radio 4, I watch BBC News on the TV, I look at the websites of traditional broadcast media for news, I read and subscribe to blogs, and I also find out about news via Twitter.

    Twitter is just an additional tool or medium in which to communicate, share, collaborate and learn. Twitter hasn’t killed blogging it’s just another way of doing things.

    What do you think?


    Can I legally download a movie trailer?

    October 1st, 2008

    Disclaimer: ALL information containing in my post is for informational purposes only and should never be construed as legal advice. For proper legal advice you should consult a lawyer.

    Imagine the scenario if you can, you are a Media Studies teacher. You wish to use some movie trailers in a classroom session, so that the learners can analyse the content and structure of the trailers and compare the features and similarities between each one.

    Now you could use a computer suite and each learner could access the relevant movie site and view the trailer online. However this doesn’t really help as the video plays once and sometimes you want to see part of the trailer again and again. Now if only the learners could download the trailer, or even better could the teacher download the trailers and make them available to all the learners via a local network server, so enabling fast and easy access.

    Well technically this is possible, however is it legal?

    Can I legally download a movie trailer?

    There are many tools available online which allow you to download videos from sites such as YouTube (usually through a Firefox extension or similar). They basically “scrape” the code for the video link from the website and then download the video file, providing you with a Flash based FLV file, some tools will convert this on the fly into an AVI or WMV if required.

    However this article makes for interesting reading on the legality of doing this.The website in question (which is quite a respected tech blog) had given instructions on how to use video downloading tools to download streaming video from a site such as YouTube.

    From the article YouTube states quite clearly that:

    Currently, YouTube is a streaming-only service. We do not permit users to download the videos we host on our site. We believe our Terms of Use are clear on this point, but in light of the confusion which came to our attention today we are considering revisions to our Terms of Use to avoid any further confusion. It is important to many of our users who have uploaded and licensed content to YouTube that their content is authorized for streaming-only.

    If a site streams a video to you, generally you don’t have the right to download that video as they are only making the video available as a stream.

    Media-Convert.com which I have mentioned before, use to do this via it’s web based video conversion service, enter the YouTube URL and before you could say “is this legal” you would have a video in the format of your choice. They were soon stopped from doing this.

    So downloading a streamed Flash based video is not an option, what about Quicktime based trailers from the Apple website?

    For personal use, I can use Quicktime Pro on a Mac (and on Windows as well). What Quicktime Pro allows you to do is to save a Quicktime video to your hard drive. Once the trailer has loaded onto my computer in the browser I can save a copy to my hard disk for later viewing. I can even download the 1080p HD versions which look very nice even if they don’t fit on my computer screen as it’s too BIG.

    Quicktime Pro is not the free video viewer but the paid for upgrade, which is about £12 per license for educational users (it’s £20 for “normal” individuals). There are other things you can do with it as well, I use it for making video and audio recordings on my Mac for example. I have also used it to trim audio recordings and some of the export functionality does make life easier…

    Note the term “personal use”, most film trailers online are only available for personal use only. I would be surprised by any movie site which would allow a teacher to download movies for use in the classroom.

    Apple in their terms of use for example make it quite clear what you can and can not do with any trailer you download from their website:

    …no Content may be copied, reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted, publicly displayed, encoded, translated, transmitted or distributed in any way (including “mirroring”) to any other computer, server, Web site or other medium for publication or distribution or for any commercial enterprise, without Apple’s express prior written consent.

    This would mean downloading and distributing it to students in a classroom situation would be viewed as illegal unless you had the permission of the movie trailer copyright owner.

    Similar guidance is available on most other movie sites I checked. For example on Warner Brothers website is says:

    You may access and display Material and all other content displayed on this Site for non-commercial, personal, entertainment use on a single computer only. The Material and all other content on this Site may not otherwise be copied, reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted, transmitted, distributed or used in any way unless specifically authorized by WB Online.

    You could write and ask for authorisation and permission, sometimes this may be given, more often than not it won’t.

    Legally students could download their own individual copy for their own analysis. However this may not always be possible, especially if you have network congestion or a slow internet connection.

    So is there a solution, well yes, if you go for an alternative solution which is forgot online and go back to broadcasting.

    Now an easier way would be to digitally record the trailers from the TV and use digital copies of them. You won’t even need an ERA licence, as the ERA does not cover adverts from the TV. Though if the trailers are part of say a film programme then these programmes probably are covered by the ERA licensing scheme and appropriate action should be taken accordingly.

    However if it is an advert, under the Copyright Act you have a statutory right (therefore can not be taken away from you) to show recordings of TV broadcasts for educational purposes.

    From the ERA website.

    Are there broadcasts I can’t record under the ERA Licence?

    Yes, only broadcast material owned or represented by ERA Members is licensed through the ERA Scheme for off-air recording. This means that some contents of certain broadcasts and material included in them, such as advertisements, are not covered by the Licence because ERA Members do not own or control the rights in them.

    However, if you record these broadcasts for non-commercial educational purposes, your recordings in the ways relevant to the ERA Licence will not infringe copyright, unless a certified Section 35 licence applies. This is because Section 35 (1) states that where works are not covered by a certified scheme, then educational establishments may reproduce and communicate them electronically on-site without infringing copyright. You will need to adequately acknowledge, i.e. label, any broadcast recordings you make under Section 35 (1).

    Also worth look at the ERA restrictions as well.

    I have made recording just like this using an EyeTV device on a Mac (I have also used a Windows Media Centre as well, but never again…) I just set the video to record for a few hours (takes GB of space mind you) and then go through the adverts until I find the one I want (or one that’s similar). For movie trailers I would recommend recording the adverts during film programes on ITV or Channel 4, or during films.

    If you do have an ERA licence then recording film programmes will help, as some of these will have trailers in them.

    My Elgato EyeTV device captures from Freeview so I get a really good quality digital video file, it’s roughly the same quality as DVD. The editing tools make life really easy well to trim and edit the video you need. There are Windows TV Capture devices, some of them are just small USB sticks which slot into any USB port.

    Though there are legal barriers that are getting in the way of the learning here, there are also solutions as well.

    Photo source.