Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Attending a lecture even though it is recorded

I just ran into a brilliant ditty on some of the surpising consequences of recording and broadcasting lectures. Do have a look at:

The comment was placed by somebody who remains nameless but I simply must quote it here:

One of the funny uses of the video: one student, whenever he fell asleep and woke up in the middle of the class, he wrote down the time so that (apparently), when the video came out, he can index into the video to know when he woke up and when he was sleeping!

But seriously: the rest of the article does point at a number of aspects which appear regularly in articles on recorded lectures: attendance does not drop significantly, students behaviour during the lecture is different, students find it great if they cannot attend a lecture. In fact today at Eindhoven (see my previous posting) Michiel mentioned that the dropping out of a series of lectures appeared to lessen as students could cover a lecture they had missed, rather than giving up on the series entirely. This might be an interesting aspect for more complex subjects (e.g. statistics) in which for some students missing one lecture, means missing the whole jist of the subject. Please note: this is conjecture, but worth an examination none the less.

Recording lectures on a larger scale

Today we (a number of people from Utrecht University, Amsterdam and Maastricht) visited the Eindhoven University of Technology to see their approach for recording lectures. It was a very valuable and interesting talk. Many thanks to Michiel Schok for giving us some of his scarce time.

There were a number of interesting lessons I recognised from the approach in Eindhoven:
  • There are a lot of different parties that need to be involved (just have a look at the slide Michiel is showing off here ;-)
  • In Eindhoven they have chosen to go for a broad approach: they are managing to capture 50 hours of lectures every week using three capture sets. Respect!
  • Try to work with fixed sets, this saves a lot of hassle and allows for easier recording. This does mean you have to take the assigning of specific lecture halls into account.
  • A discussion arose regarding the pedagogical implications of recording and broadcasting lectures. Interestingly the main arguments for the present use of recording lectures at Eindhoven is to allow the current student to review their lecture, view a missed lecture and to get new groups to be able to view lectures they were otherwise unable to attend.
    The discussion arose whether this was a bad thing. Personally I do not believe this to be a bad approach at all. This does in fact mimic the adoption pattern of VLE's over the past years. New technology is being used as an extra facility to enhance learning and few teachers are using this as a substitute to a lecture itself, yet.
    I believe that teachers need the chance to get used to this new technology with all the advantages (and disadvantages) it has to offer. There are bound to be a few early adopters who will pick up on the possibilities and innovation will grow from there on. For a widespread innovative use of this technology I believe the use will first have to become 'economical' for the teacher. In this calculation I would include cost (hours invested by the teacher) versus output (learning outcomes and time saved).
    So for now I would strive for a broad adoption at a basic level. If I see the enthousiasm with which students are responding in Eindhoven (and to our small scale pilot) it definitely makes it worth while.
  • Eindhoven is using the Mediasite hardware and software. As I had already learned from earlier quotes, this is by no means a cheap solution. However, the manual operation of the recording sets is also an expensive part of the financial picture. This encourages me further to work towards an operator free recording of lectures. Only in that manner can you manage to cost effectively record a lot of lectures. The quality of the camera work will be less, but you can also offer customers the option of paying more for a lecture which has been recorded by an operator.
  • I was wondering how important the features Live Streaming and Editing where. I was interested to hear that these were not being used much at all in Eindhoven.

So all in all a very interesting visit. Many thanks again to Michiel.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sakai at Educause 2006

It was quite amusing to read Chuck Severance's description of where Sakai stood at the past Educause. I have been writing a chapter on the next generation VLE at Educause and came to the same conclusion. I must quote him :-)
It is no longer the cool product, it should now be a serious product which can compete with commercial products...

Attack on the Bb patent....

I just was catching up on some blogs when I saw a posting on the Dutch Sakai blog. Sakai has announced it will be filing for a reexamination of all 44 claims in the Blackboard patent. They are filing this together with Moodle and Atutor. This is a very interesting development. They are obviously not going to wait or trust Blackboard (who claimed they were not planning to charge Open Source products...)

Recording a lecture - a pilot

This is the set up we used last week for recording a lecture for a Bachelor Module on Child Care (Pedagogiek). I was extremely lucky to be able to use such a good quality camera with a good lens, as it makes all the difference to the video quality. I was mucking about with Microsoft Producer, but it is very limited (free though :-). It does take a lot of time on preparation, actual recording and production. We are definitely going to look for a less time consuming solution for structural use.

I will not show you an example yet, because I have promised the lecturer I would not flout it about. I do think that is a shame, not only because the recording (certainly the second hour) is quite good, but also because her lecture was very good.
Things brings up one of the many questions which arise from recording and broadcasting lectures. How freely do you want to share the materials? I am not going to push this point just yet, because it is extremely clear that the teachers I am talking to will first need to get used to seeing themself played back on video and more importantly: see how students respond and see what this does to their learning behaviour....
To be continued...

How about scaling up the interface

I just was sent this link which shows the creative use of a touchscreen. For one thing it is very creative and pretty. But it also set me thinking. Why on earth are we fiddling around with a silly little mouse getting RSI? Is it not much more natural to be able to manipulate your desktop using larger motions? Of course you don't want a computer this size everywhere, but this being at my desk would not seem such a silly idea at all.
PS: I just read that the operating system and programmes wouldn't be on the computer itself but on a datastick. That of course already exists and makes perfect sense. Finally all my programmes with me, everywhere....

Thursday, November 23, 2006

How about an aggregated blog for conference reporting?

At the last onderwijsdagen a number of bloggers published together on a group blog. This does mean you have to write a separate story for the group blog and for your own blog...

How about creating a blog that consists of contributions of different bloggers on one subject (defined by a tag). This means that at a conference everybody can happily blog their own blog, but the common postings can be presented on a single blog (and of course you can subscribe to the feed). The articles can be read on this blog, or you can refer to the contributors blog the posting came from. This would require a moderator for the blog who does the mashups on the side and who defines which rss feeds will be searched for the relevant tag. You could also leave this open and let anybody add their blog to the list,

Of course there are a number of variations to this that already exist. Is see that Wordpress has a similar function but this does not (yet) appear to select on tag..

And you can create your own aggregated feed

Or what about all sorts of group blogs:

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

International Cooperation in the exchange of knowledge

It was very interesting to hear the plans of the Knowledge exchange. Pierre Gorrissen has actually recorded this session so I do not really have to repeat the contents (sadly I can't find the recording on the web. In short the project is now 1 year on and two to go. It is a collaboration of a number of national organisations which each are slightly differently organised: JISC (UK), SURF (NL), DFG (Germany), DEFF (Denmark). They are focussing on the exchange of knowledge in various fields. Two I was especially interested in were repositories (research and learning objects). Driver is a programme directed at connecting the repositories between these countries.
I was also very pleased to hear they are looking at the E-framework and I was especially pleased that there has been interest from the US on this topic as Educause is also joining these talks. If they are trying to set up standards for the exchange of services it is vital that the home country of some of the largest companies for e-learning products is getting involved. It is good to see that the US is not turning a blind eye but sees the need to think in terms of the linking up of services.

Presentation on the use of a Blog and Wiki at a conference

Together with Eja Kliphuis and Gerard Dümmer I gave a presentation at the ' Onderwijsdagen' on our experiences of using a Blog and a Wiki during our visit to the Educause conference last October. You can find Gerards presentation here. You will notice my slides are missing. The most important findings were that it was a big success. This is certainly also due to the excellent wireless connections which were available during the conference.
As a number of people in the Dutch delegation were not used to writing together in a Wiki we decided on a less revolutionary approach. Nobody edited each other's postings, but added these under the postings which were already available. To give you an idea what this looks like visit an example of a posting.

All in all it was a very well attended session and it was great fun to actually give a presentation myself at the Onderwijsdagen.

Onderwijsdagen 2006

I have just spent two days at the Dutch days for ICT in higher education. It was great fun to be back and see a number of interesting sessions. There was a whole track dedicated to the net-generation learner and in several key notes the notion kept turning up. It was very inspiring to hear Diana Oblinger speak again.
George Siemens is said to have given a great preconference on connective learning. I visited his session later in the conference and it was very quick but clear. It is an interesting concept, although perhaps not as new as one would think at first. It contains many aspects already incorporated in principles like networked learning, Communities of Practice and Social learning theories.
I think I find the most interesting shift the idea that Knowledge is in the network and not in the mind. I suppose that depends on what your definition of knowledge is. Personally I believe that information is not knowledge, knowledge is internalized information. Simply being surrounded by knowledge does not make yourself knowledgeable. Skills are required to attain knowledge and knowledge builds on earlier knowledge.
Implications of his theory are that it is important to know where you can find information and value information. Students must be trained to achieve a place in several networks (multidisciplinary) and be trained to quickly select and filter and apply information and turn this into knowledge. This is where concepts of power do come back although the criteria of what makes a powerful person are different. Try to become an important node in the network. You can achieve a prominent place by being the first to enter information into the network or by being a bridge and carrying information across boundaries.

My old blogs

I have just cleared up my old blogs and moved them. For anybody that is interested: they can now be found at:

This will now be the blog to follow....

Monday, November 13, 2006

Embedding a very charming You Tube video

A great little video I found on YouTube. I suppose it is more of an experiment than anything else, but it is definitely worth watching...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Testing Sakai 2.3

I just have been testing Sakai 2.3. The installation went quite easily, but I already had the right Java on this machine, so that helped. Starting it up took quite a while, but then it worked perfectly. I have not found a bug yet.

There are a few things I am less happy about. It is very slow building up some screens. The WIKI is improved in comparison to the 2.1 version I tried. However I still do not find it straightforward enough yet... I cannot find the RSS feed so a student can subscribe to the Announcements. The only thing that does have a feed is the WIKI. How on earth does one get stuff into the presentations tool? I found it last time I tested, but appear to have lost it now :-( The sign-up facilities are great, but why do you want sections and groups? Can't the groups simply be assigned to sections?

I was very curious about the provisional tools, but these may not be offered with the demo... I couldn't find them straight away anyway. And that is a shame as I was very curious about the blog and podcasting and testing... I was very intrigued by the portfolio, but the administration of this does seem to require some serious preparation. This is not a basic hmtl or word template we are talking about ;-)

Anyway: it is looking better and it is about time to do some serious testing...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Getting Learning materials out of Blackboard

Yesterday I got the go ahead to research the possibility of recovering learning materials out of Blackboard. I will be discussing the possibilities with the library who wants the learning materials for their repository in DSpace. I was very interested to read a posting from Wilem van Valkenburg on Lorenet. They seem to be working in the same direction, I had already heard that at the KU Leuven they had been experimenting on this same initiative. I am intrigued how much information can be extracted simply from the data in Blackboard. Teachers can already add metadata although they never do. On the other hand, that is hardly surprising, the data doesn't show up anywhere yet.... Sadly I do not have the image available yet, I hope to add it soon...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My first post on blogger

This is my very first post on
I wonder whether it will satisfy my needs....