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.
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.
I have heard that quite a few institutions are blocking or thinking of blocking mp3 files. The reasoning that “all mp3 files must be pirated songs and thus violating copyright and therefore should be blocked”.
I am assuming they also block other audio formats such as
In my opinion, filtering should be based on the content not the file type.
A blanket filter makes life easier for administration and creates problems for other users.
With the A Level results last week and the GCSE results this week, it reminded me of how we use learning technologies to support and enhance teaching and learning, but when it comes to assessment, we almost always rely on pen paper and those dreaded exam conditions.
BBC news had an interesting opinion piece on whether learners should be able to bring laptops into (some) exams in order to be able to use the internet.
We are in the process of looking at Facebook because our learners are wanting to use it to engage and interact with the college. It is in the main for the social and sports side of college (which is why a lot of learners come to (and stay at a college)).
The University of Bristol is conducting research into the impact of 1:1 access to mobile learning devices at KS2 and KS4. Five schools, which are part of the Learning2Go or Hand-e-Learning projects, are being investigated.
This Development and Research project is using mixed methods to evaluate impact in terms of learners’ learning skills, attendance, behaviour and attainment. It will also review the success of the implementation and sustainability of the schools’ PDA initiatives and provide examples of emerging good pedagogic practice.
The final reports from the project will be available in Winter 2008.
The initial implementation of mobile projects is logistically challenging.
The open negotiation of contracts of acceptable and responsible use with learners and parents can be very useful in clarifying issues and building mutual trust.
When learners expect devices to be used, they are more likely to bring them to school every day and keep them charged. When all pupils in a class have their devices with them, the learning benefits are optimised.
Teachers need to play an integral role in choosing software and content to ensure that it is relevant to learners’ needs. They are then more likely use the devices.
Where possible, all relevant staff – especially teaching assistants, ICT co-ordinators and teachers – should be provided with mobile devices.
Implementation – technical
It is beneficial to ensure reliable wireless connectivity.
It is useful to consider systems for dealing with breakages and temporary loss of use of devices. This may involve planning for temporary loan stock.
Systems for storage of and access to work need to be developed. Teachers and learners need to access digital work to provide and receive feedback.
Consideration can usefully be given to possible software solutions to teachers’ issues around observing process, tracking progress and formative assessment.
Professional development of teachers
Teachers benefit from having time to explore what the devices can do before integrating their use into planned learning.
Using mobile devices is likely to increase learner autonomy. Teachers need to ensure that learners are able to evaluate resources, think critically and reflect.
It is important to consider the ways in which mobile devices are integrated with other (ICT and traditional) tools in learning at home and at school.
So there I was on leave, when I got a phone call from work, someone needed access to JORUM. Though they had an Athens account, they probably weren’t part of the staff group we have which allows access to JORUM (as JORUM is a staff only resource). So using my Athens Administrator account details I tried to login to Athens from home, only to find that I couldn’t because it was also restricted by IP address! So unfortunately the member of staff will have to wait till next week, because the other Athens administrator is also on leave (come on it is August, virtually no one is around).
Now I suppose if we had a VPN at work I could have logged into that and then I could have access. Or if I had my home IP address “added” to the list of safe IP addresses (I have done this before with other IP restricted resources). However at this point neither of those are possible, so the member of staff will have to wait a week!
Will Shibboleth solve these issues? Maybe, maybe not, as you still need to administrate accounts with Shibboleth.
news and views on e-learning, TEL and learning stuff in general…