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Conclusion Post

I have now come towards the end of my ALT project and I wish to offer a conclusion on whether I feel it has been a success or not. Before I give some statistical data I would like to respond with my feeling on the project. The process and experience of doing the project has been a fulfilling one both in positive and negative ways. The structure of the ALT module provided me with a desire to work towards a project goal which I am happy with its outcome. I have explored the use of technologies within the area of screen and lecture capture and have developed a robust and successful system of capture that has also been beneficial to my student cohort. I fully intend to continue its development with a view to improving the projects problem areas such as the collection of statistical data. Blackboard failed to give me an accurate picture of how students were interacting as there appears to be a problem with the data when I have explored it. Having enabled statistical tracking at several levels within the blackboard file structure it appears to give me data that conflicts with other areas of my collection resulting in data I cannot be fully confident with. In the future I intend to link out to an external platform such as Vimeo or YouTube to give me a more accurate picture of my movies usage patterns or to seek to resolve the issues within Blackboard. As things stand I can see that there is moderate activity to enable me to be able to make some general assumptions. I also conducted a survey through Survey Monkey in which 31, L4 and L5 students responded (results can be viewed here, https://despard.wordpress.com/notes/). This provided a more reliable response that gave me deeper insights into the way student felt about the videos. 80% of students said they have used the videos. 75% of the students preferred the shorter 10 minute videos as oppose to the longer 1-2 hour videos. The answer to this question suggests that students who spend more time on their studies can afford time to the longer videos but these students are in the minority. Most prefer the snappier nature of the shorter videos which fits in better with their busy lifestyles. I previously discussed that the shorter movies could be viewed whilst on a bus ride or the like. Comments about the 1-2 hour videos were mainly negative, one student commented ‘Too long, may have to skip some areas where there nothing going on. Sometimes forget what I was supposed to do and have a hard time finding the right time’. Though some comments were positive ‘Good as they give full insight and clear understanding’ but these only constituted about 15% of responses. Some students commented that they were good if you had missed a lecture which I would not want that to be the intention for generating them. Their opinions on the shorter movies were generally more positive and followed a reverse picture of the previous question, comments such as ‘Much better than the longer movies. They’re a lot easier to find a particular part that may need to be touched upon’ were common. Though comments such as ‘much preferred to the longer presentations, easier to refer to, to practice skills’ represented approximately 10%. When asked the question have the videos helped you within your studies most responses were positive claiming things such as ‘yes, if I have forgotten how to do something i can quickly look at it’. When asked how often they have viewed the movies 16% said weekly, 32% said Bi-weekly and 35% said 1-2 times over the seven weeks of the study. 16% did not use them. Questions also discovered that some students would like them to be more engaging and fun, some feel they would benefit other parts of the course.

From the Blackboard statistics, it appears that harder working students and students with lower attendance are the main users of the videos. The harder working students tend to use the recap video’s to supplement the classroom activities after the event ensuring the learning is embedded. The lower attending students are using the videos in an attempt to get something from what they have missed in class. There also appears to be usage patterns where certain videos are more popular than other. This appears to be the videos where the key concept’s is something that they need as part of their wider course studies, where they may need to inform another module and so see those particular videos as important to their studies. I must recognise this trend and ensure my video sessions are fully aligned to the needs and expectations of other staff and students on the course.

Another area for its development is too make it a more socially engaging platform using online media with a vision to create a community of learners. I feel this could enhance the videos offer and make the students feel part of a collective. This needs to be introduced in an informed and tenacious way as I have seen similar educational initiatives fall by the wayside. Having read Rebecca Jacksons blog http://rebeccajacksonpgcap.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/4-how-the-project-unfolded-altsep12/which has provided me with an insight how this can be approached to increase the chances of success. She uses Google docs to provide a feedback platform to students where she has developed the interaction into not only teacher to student but a more triangulated exchange between teacher and student and student to student. Barba (2012) suggests that as digital material becomes ‘open’ it enriches the experience of the on-campus students due to increased participation in the on-line forum.

I also see an opportunity for the use of less than weekly videos in anyone particular subject which will provide time and opportunity to develop further videos within other areas. The use of this year’s videos next year should be workable so that time can be spent developing new video areas. Could I get the students to generate learning videos which can be traded and exchanged with peers. Each student could find out something new about the software we use then build this into a two minute screen shot.

Barba, L. A. (2012) Open Education, Flipped Instruction & Social Learning, NEA, FOEE Symposium Application 2012, Boston University. [On-line at: http://figshare.com/articles/Application_for_the_NAE_Frontiers_of_Engineering_Education_Symposium_2012/96413]

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ALT Presentation Day.

Just completed my ALT presentation and was generally happy with the way things went. Watching other participant’s presentations also helped to reveal things that I feel that I may have missed and must not miss should I present this project again. The slides can be found here: http://www.slideshare.net/despard/craig-despard-alt15minute-15408859. Below I have produced a checklist to build into the remainder of my project in the run-up to hand-in.

Extract quantitative data from Blackboard, though I fear Blackboard has a problem giving reliable data.

Emphasise how many students did the questionnaire and discuss the first questions to set scene. For instance of the 20 respondants 17 said they had watched the movies.

A panel member asked how much extra work is created by using these movie captures. The answer is 10 minutes to set up the technology to capture the full lecture then 30 minutes to capture the key concepts post lecture. So a total of 40 minutes.

A panel member asked do I foresee them being used the year after the answer is yes this will free up time to create movies addressing other skills sets.

Explain my area of teaching and that I teach 3D computer modelling which is challenging software to learn.

My presentation challenged some current research that appears to promote the use of full lecture capture being a success. I feel this is because Universities have invested  large amounts of money in technology and training of staff. I feel and some research indicates that full lecture capture doesn’t work very well and Universities should not invest. A panel member agreed with this.

Emphasise my test with smart phones so students can watch on the go.

Would have been nice to explain the technology I used some more and show a sample of the outputs. Could I run an example if time?

I also must ask myself the question, Is there any evidence to suggest that my process actually worked. This at the moment appears difficult to do.

Posted in #altsep12, K4 The use of learning technologies, K5 Methods of evaluating effectiveness of teaching, K6 Implications of quality assurance and enhancement, V3 Evidence-based approaches, V4 Acknowledge wider context for practice | 1 Comment

Adding Questions and discussion to Lecture+.

Yesterday I attended the University of Salford’s  2nd lecture of their master-class series by Michael Kerrison who is the Director of Academic Development for International programmes  at The University of London.  His session entitled “Developing flexible learning and setting the University compass. A case of knowing your products; your markets; your customers and your pedagogy” indicated to the staff at the University the strategic direction and considerations that are needed to create a successful International Flexible series of courses. I summarise some of the things I have taken from his excellent presentation. The UKs greatest serving markets were from that of the commonwealth with Nigeria being one of the biggest users of UK courses whilst burgeoning nations such as India, China and Brazil are proving difficult to create without working with partners to help with the cultural and language barriers but working with these partners creates a whole new set of problems. A UK institution who have successfully created partnerships are University of Nottingham and Ningbo University in China. Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh and The University of London are also active players. Access to reliable broadband is still a major problem to some of their key markets such as Sub-Saharan Africa so from a logistical standpoint student’s have choices of how the interact with the courses. They can do it remotely online and/or use locally staffed locations to meet with tutors that speak the language and understand the cultural issues they can also use physical books if their broadband connection is not sufficient. They could also do it at the University of course. So there are multiple models of delivery from traditional to online. The presentation concentrated on some fascinating figures of the rising popularity of flexible courses around the world and also how the leaders in online Mooc’s such as Coursera and Khan academy are now beginning to tie up deals with University’s such as the recent news story between Heriot Watt and Cousera, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-18857999. University’s are using these tie-ups to act as a promotion for their University courses as the Mooc’s are traditionally only short 10 weeks blocks which the University’s will then hope that the students on the Mooc’s will sign up for the full degree. More interestingly to my project, when Michael was talking about the forms of delivery he mentioned that they discovered that 50 minute lectures just didn’t work for the tutors and ten minute lectures exploring key concepts worked much better. He added that the tutors encourage a network of questioning and discussion through forums and the like. This is surely my next step could I create an atmosphere of questions and discussions through Blackboard, or on the Vimeo site where the short movies are located. CouId we use a twitter hashtag? Food for thought!

Posted in #altsep12, A1 Design and plan learning activities, A2 Teach and/or support learning, A4 Develop effective learning environments/support students, K2 Appropriate methods for teaching in subject area, K3 How students learn in subject area, K4 The use of learning technologies, V1 Respect learners and communities, V2 Promote participation, V4 Acknowledge wider context for practice | Leave a comment

The Rise of the Mini-Lecture

The further I progress my ALT journey. I realise there seems to be reducing reasons to keep capturing full length lectures. Research seems undecided in its analysis as to whether it is successful or not, some of my previous blog posts have discussed both sides of the story.  A conclusion that keeps surfacing is that students lose interest quickly and can’t be bothered watching the full length! My own investigations into lecture capture seem to be confirming this lack of engagement. My changing scope for the project now has me posing questions of what are the ingredients needed to make such material of use to more students.  I have begun to create short (10mins) key concept movies which aim to keep the learners attention. Young (2008) writes about a Professor, Dalton Kehoe who says “I had to sit to down and look at these lectures and realize that when you’re looking at someone online as a talking head and shoulders in video, you just want to kill yourself after about 20 minutes,” he says with a laugh. Mr Kehoe also suggests that this realisation has changed his practice and he even breaks up his face to face classroom activities into 15 minute slots punctuated with 3 minute breaks. In that three minutes he plays comedy clips from you tube in which he includes the students in the selection process. “when they move back to listening to me, they’re concentrating in a way they weren’t before”.  The students call it the laugh break. Young (2008) continues with an opposing opinion of Marian C. Diamond who worries that everybody is trying to simplify education.  There is a part of me that agrees with this, arguable students should have the discipline and attention span to sit through longer lectures. Though I do feel there is a happy medium somewhere in between. My worst lecture nightmare would be sitting through a lecture on something like government health and safety legislation and I think I would drift if the deliverer was monotone and uninteresting in delivery, at this point I would be crying out for some sort of innovative, creative, and fun input into the session and certainly a break now and then.  Educators should be self-critical enough of oneself and ones subject to be able to make valued judgement on the level of successful engagement and level of educational quality of their session then make necessary and informed adjustments. Or is this up to higher management to watch us more closely then respond accordingly, this could be highly contentious as this is what happens in the UK school system and appears to make teachers unhappy to have to pander to all the stringent restrictions that are enforced from above arguable obstruct creativity and personal judgement.

Young, J. (2008) Short and Sweet: Technology Shrinks the Lecture, The Chronicle of Higher Education. [See on-line version: http://fp.arizona.edu/geog695c/pdfs/short-and-sweet-technology-shirnks-the-lecture.pdf   last accessed 10 November 2012]

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Digital Inclusion

This week we had an ALT session on Digital Inclusion and how this is an important consideration when designing learning material. Discussions developed around the themes of financial and cultural restrictions of students as well as disabilities which restrict access to learning material. This got me thinking about how the introduction of a webcam image to my short key concept movies could actually enhance the experience for deaf students using lip reading, is this possible or is it a naive thought. Seeing a talking head of me on the session may prove off putting to the task for good of hearing students but this does offer a choice. I would though need to be more static in my presentation and clear in my speech. We also looked at some national figures to do with internet access for the UK population and there were some surprising results, 70% of people in social housing do not have access online. This therefore has to be considered when expecting students to access learning remotely. This has got me thinking a the proliferation of smartphone ownership within the population, a quick internet search suggest that within 18 months 90% of all mobile users will have no choice  but to own smartphones (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/jun/27/smartphones-iphone-mobile-market) another search suggests that in May 2012, 50% of 16-24 year olds own a smart phone (http://www.byoideas.com/2012/05/25/how-many-people-have-smartphones-uk/). I hope these figures would suggest that the students I teach at the University of Salford either have home internet access or mobile access, but that is not known for sure. This web link will help me do this but it does not seem to work as I wish (http://www.mobilephoneemulator.com/). So below I have captured a video clip of a smartphone.


In my Friday session this week I asked the students who had smartphones. Six students out of thirty did not own a smartphone and relied on older phones. That represents about 20% non ownership for my class of 18-22 year olds.

This weeks session re-enforces the importance of educators considering there users financial and cultural restrictions and this is something I hope I pride myself in doing.

Posted in #altsep12, A1 Design and plan learning activities, A2 Teach and/or support learning, A4 Develop effective learning environments/support students, A5 Engage in continuing professional development, K2 Appropriate methods for teaching in subject area, K3 How students learn in subject area, K4 The use of learning technologies, V1 Respect learners and communities, V2 Promote participation, V4 Acknowledge wider context for practice | Leave a comment

Mugshot addition into Screen-cast

In my Screen-casts this week I have introduced an active mugshot of me speaking through the session. This addition is an attempt to make the Screen-casts and lecture capture less robotic to the viewer and add a touch of personality. I wonder if the students will like the addition or just get sick of me:). A link can be found here: (https://vimeo.com/52998986). I also wish to express my thanks to my ex-colleague David Wingate for his help in creating this session.


Posted in #altsep12, A1 Design and plan learning activities, A2 Teach and/or support learning, A4 Develop effective learning environments/support students, A5 Engage in continuing professional development, K1 The subject material, K2 Appropriate methods for teaching in subject area, K3 How students learn in subject area, K4 The use of learning technologies, V2 Promote participation | 3 Comments