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....