Category Archives: video

100 ways to use a VLE – #70 Hosting video

Though there are video sites out there on the web that will host video. Sometimes you may not want the video to be public out on the web. In that case hosting video on the VLE may be an ideal solution.

If the video is of a presentation on a tricky subject, or contains licensed content that you can place on the VLE, but are not allowed to freely distribute, or has the students in and some don’t want to be publicly online; then place the video on the VLE may be a better option than uploading to Vimeo or YouTube.

Video can be useful to enhance and enrich learning, one lecturer I know films his quiz questions, as the learners find this more engaging than reading them on paper, it also allows him to ask questions about practical stuff more easily than trying to explain a process on paper. Recording debates and discussions, allows learners to reflect and review them at a time and place to suit the learner, rather than just relying on notes and memory. Video analysis of sporting techniques ensures that learners can improve their technique through the video as well as verbal feedback.

By placing the video on the VLE, you can place it in the context of learning, enabling learners to clarify how the video works in respect of the rest of the course or topic.

For ease of access, by placing the video on the VLE, the learners will be able to click and download the video.

Generally though it isn’t perfect, the server may not be configured to deliver or stream video, likewise there may also be storage issues, as video files are generally much larger than text or Word documents.

This is fine if the learners click to download the video inside the college on the fast network connection, but less fine if the students are at home on a slow broadband connection, or more likely on a mobile device.

The key here is to encode the raw video file so that the resulting file is small in size, but not so compressed to be unviewable (very important if there is text in the video).

There is also the question of what type of file format you should upload. Should it be WMV, as everyone runs Windows? What about learners on a Mac, well they should be able to cope with extra software. However WMV is less useful for those on mobile devices or using non-traditional computers like the iPad or a gaming console like the PS3.

Similarly, if you using a Mac to edit the video, h.264 MP4 files are excellent quality for small file formats. However you do need to be careful about file formats so that it will play on most phones, the iPhone, the iPad, PSP, etc… If you are running Windows, after many years of “ignoring” h.264 it looks like that Windows PCs (well newest ones) are able to play h.264 video files.

One option you may want to consider is placing a few formats on the VLE, so giving learners choice on which to download.

From experience, videos should not be too long or too big. In terms of file size try to keep under 50MB, with 100MB being a real maximum, and less than 10MB is better for mobile devices (even on WiFi). In terms of time, I wouldn’t put any video longer than 10 minutes on the VLE. Anything longer, I would put on DVD so that it can be watched on the TV over a computer or mobile device. As with any guidance or advice, there will always be exceptions.

Hosting video on the VLE is sometimes the only option, but with the right amount of compression, it will result in an engaging and enhanced learning experience and not a frustrating annoyance.

Photo source.

Flip’ping Pilots

There were many interesting and informative papers and presentations at EdTech 2010.

One that caught my eye, was a paper on the use of Flip cameras brought to the fore the issue of technical barriers to the successful implementation of a new technology. Even despite these barriers, enthusiasm and perseverance paid off. The project demonstrated the importance of effective communication between all stakeholders.

After the presentation I was discussing cameras with some of the other delegates, I had my Kodak Zi8 and a Sanyo Xacti with me and we were looking at the merits of these compared to the Flip. One of the delegates did say that she was interested in running a pilot in her institution.

Here’s a question how many Flip projects and pilots need to be run before we can accept that there is value in using these “cheap” cameras to enhance and enrich learning? How many duplicate lessons need to be learnt? How many learners need to experience the use of video before it is accepted that this does contribute to the learning experience? I can accept that every institution is different, but how different are they? We are in fact much more similar than we think.

If only a single small pilot has been run in the country, then yes there is probably sensible to run a pilot. But when we are talking about Flip cameras, hundreds of institutions have run pilots and projects involving these cameras, and other similar cameras. Papers have been written, presentations given, case studies disseminated.

Southwark College: The impact of low-cost video cameras across the curriculum

Gateshead College: Successful staff coaching through video footage analysis

West Kent College: Dance and IT capture evidence using pocket video camcorders

The Production of Generative ‘fly on the wall’ Mini Documentaries Capturing a Physiotherapy Students’ Personal Experience of their First Practice Placements

ESOL Students Interview Staff

Flip Cameras arrive at Wisewood

Basic guide to using the Flip Digital Recorder

Move industry into the classroom and the classroom into industry Flip It

Web Video & Healthcare Case Studies & Best Practices

How many pilots do we need? Or is it more a question that we need to run a pilot at our institution before we think about “rolling” it out across all curriculum areas. I am also aware of successful pilots in one curriculum area which have been followed by virtually identical pilots in a second curriculum area… Why? Well the learners are different! Really! How different, they have two heads or something? That actually raises a question on any pilot, well successful pilots have resulted in a roll out across the whole institution?

We do see institutions that use tools such as Powerpoint across the institution, similarly we see some institutions have embedded the use of the VLE. However was this via projects and pilots? Or was it something different?

Do pilots actually help institutions move forward in using learning technologies or are they causing problems rather than solutions?

If we don’t learn from pilots that others do, is there any point in talking about pilots?

So is there a use for the pilot? I believe that we can use the lessons learned above to change how we use pilots in institutions and use them for staff development to improve the use of learning technologies.

Though it would appear from talking to delegates at EdTech and elsewhere that most institutions do not have consistent use of the VLE or other tools. This is down to many reasons, some are fear and apprehension.

However prejudice, lack of training, lack of understanding, lack of knowledge play their part too. Some staff perceive that some tools or technologies are “not suitable” for their learners. Some staff don’t have the skills to fully utilise the tools. Many staff have a lack of understanding about the capabilities and potential of technologies. Others have trouble transferring activities from say face to face to the internet.

Whenever I run training sessions at the college or as a MoLeNET mentor I often talk about a range of learning activities, new gadgets, tools and services; and I know for many this is overwhelming. I will usually tell the participants that they should take “just one thing” away with them and embed that into their practice and make a difference to their learners.

This brings us back to the pilot!

Generally in a lot of institutions pilots are run by the e-learning team or an enthusiastic individual. They try one pilot after another…

This doesn’t always get the holistic results they intended, very much seen as a get the project done, then move onto the next new technology… “…did I say I was going to get my iPad this week?”

Why not get all staff to run a pilot, everyone runs a pilot of some kind, evaluate the results, embed into their teaching and then start another pilot…

There is plenty of ideas, guidance and case studies on the web and from other institutions, so support is much simpler than it was say ten years ago.

Staff don’t need to be restricted to the pilots, but for many staff it will be a way of using a wider variety of learning technologies than they were before.

So next time you suggest a pilot, think is this necessary, is this going to work? Maybe we should get everyone to pilot something.

Photo source.

Clean and tidy

One of the annoyances of using YouTube in the classroom is the “untidy” YouTube interface. It has got better recently, but one annoyance remains, the comments.

For some reason many people who comment on YouTube videos seem to have to use profanities or make weird or rude comments.

As a result when you are showing a YouTube video in a classroom or at a conference, people get distracted by the comments and miss the video.

I did mention QuietTube in a post last week, I was recommended by Ellen to have a look at SafeShareTV.

Not only does SafeShareTV remove distracting and offensive elements around YouTube videos, but it also allows you to crop videos before sharing them.

A neat little idea to sending YouTube links by e-mail, or posting links in the VLE.

It helps avoid some of the distractions that the main YouTube sites offer and is in some ways better and easier than trying to embed the YouTube video.

Another way of showing your videos in the classroom is to use the channel and find the videos that way rather than using the direct URL.

As you can see you also avoid the unecessary comments and distractions, but stil not as clean as SafeShare.

A work in progress

A few years ago I made a video for managers in my college showing how the world was changing in the time it takes to travel from our campus in Gloucester to the one in Cheltenham.

I recently decided that it needed updating, as the old one was out of date and we had moved into the docks in Gloucester.

This is the video I shot and edited on iMovie.

At this point the video is just the video. What I would do next is add text over the video, this would say things like how much video is uploaded to YouTube, how many blog posts were written, how many Tweets were sent on Twitter, etc…

I think I will reshoot the video though as it was raining when I took it and I think that detracts slightly from the way that the speeded up video works.

In case you were wondering I shot the video using my iPhone using a TomTom iPhone mount on the windscreen. This was then imported into iMovie 09. I enhanced the quality of the video (turning up the brightness), cartoonified it and then made it much much faster… The last time I did this in iMovie 06 it was a bit of a pig, in 09 it was a piece of cake.

I removed the audio from my video and replaced it with some royalty free video from iMovie.

Is the future of learning in TV?

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.

100 ways to use a VLE – #71 Embedding video

So you may be old enough to remember the launch of Channel 4 (or even BBC 2 and ITV) however in this day of Freeview, Sky and cable; our learners have access to 24 hour television and hundreds of channels.

However many people are deserting the traditional home of video, moving away from watching video on television and watching video on YouTube.

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!

Now one of the nice features of services such as YouTube is that you can embed the video into a webpage.

This means that you needn’t worry about configuring a streaming server, encoding video, etc…

As a result it is very easy now to upload video to the web, and insert (well embed) that video into any webpage of your choice, which means pages on a VLE.

Now one of the issues you may find with your VLE is that the security settings restrict you using embedding code on pages or discussions forums on your VLE; this is certainly the case with Moodle.

So you’ve embedded the video, what next?

It’s not just about the video, you can’t just place a video on the VLE and expect it to do everything. As with video in the classroom, you need to consider the video in the context of the learning activity. You may example ask your learners to watch a short video clip and comment on the video in a VLE discussion forum. Another example would be to use a video to reinforce a resource on the VLE.

e-Learning Tech Stuff #002 – Green Screen Technology

Once only available to Hollywood and BBC weathermen, it’s now possible for anyone to use green screen or chroma key technology.

Chroma key is a technique for mixing two images or frames together, in which a color (or a small color range) from one image is removed (or made transparent), revealing another image behind it. This technique is also referred to as color keying, colour-separation overlay, greenscreen, and bluescreen.

Source.

This video was made using a couple of Sony HDD Camcorders, on one of them was screwed a 37mm adapter with a ring of green LEDs.

greenscreen001

I sat on a sofa in front of a screen which is not green (but you can use green) but has reflective beads to reflect the green light back into the camera.

Using Apple’s iMovie 09 and switching on the Advanced Tools option in preferences allows you to add your green screen footage over existing footage.

greenscreen002

There is a nice and simple guide on how to do that here.

Has quite a bit of potential to making short videos more interesting and adding learners and practitioners over existing footage to explain stuff.