Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A webbased editor for recorded lectures for teachers

An interesting selling point offered by Echo360. They are now offering their recording boxes. We had one concern when looking at this recording solution. The boxes are thin clients and they require a network connection to the server to operate. In several cases we have had to recordings in spots where there was no network connection present or the firewall ports where not open. This does limit the application of a capture box.
One thing I am intrigued by is the option of allowing teachers to edit their own presentation through a webeditor. This certainly does allow for easier adapting by teaching staff to their pedagogical approach. Editing a recording allows for easily creating reusable learning objects, rather than full lectures. At present our editing has to be done by (busy) audio visual staff. Of course allowing teachers to edit also means administration, giving each teacher access to his/her own recording.
For more information check out their website:

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Presentation at Surfnet on Weblectures

Surfnet has just started a pilot in which institutions of higher education in the Netherlands can participate in evaluating three different systems for recording and broadcasting lectures: Mediasite, Presentations2Go and a solution built on Apple podcast server. I was a little saddened to see that the Apple podcast solution still does not offer true navigable content by slide. The video still is being delivered as picture within picture. I remember a presentation years ago where Apple explained this was possible but nobody had built it. Today I heard that it still isn't quite available yet...

I was asked to give a presentation on our findings regarding Rich Media (is it worthwhile?) and criteria we found important in the choice for a Rich Media system.
You can find my presentation below.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Academic trained teachers in the news

The National news showed an item last Monday on the ALPO (Academic Teacher Training Course Primary Education) which has just started here at Utrecht University. I tried to distill the right snippet using the Virtual Cutting machine and it seemed to work. Theoretically you should be able to watch the snippet below:
However the paramaters start=584&end=721.6 are not being passed through properly. The result is that you do not see the entire news, only a selected amount of time starting at the beginning of the video.

ALPO in NOS Journaal 1 sept 18 uur

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Animation on Surf media

I have finally got round to trying out Surf Media. It does actually seem to work. As a proof here an embedded video (original was Quicktime). The animation is a product created for the Partner Project to illustrate the concept of a Virtual Knowledge Centre. The animation itself is also quite interesting.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The new strict style?

This morning I attended the introduction lecture for all the students of pedagogical and learning sciences entering the faculty this year. It was extra exciting as the first group of ALPO (Academic teacher training course for primary education) students was present. This course is a first in Dutch Higher education and is a cooperation between the professional (Hogeschool Utrecht) and academic (Universiteit Utrecht) university in Utrecht.

The vice dean did warm all students present about the new 'strictness' which they can expect in their courses. Students are expected to pass enough modules in their first year, plaguerism is a serious offence which will not go unpunished and there is a Dutch language test for all students. This is not compulsory, but is strongly advised. Essays containing several mistakes will be returned ungraded.

And now all the hallways are bustling with firstyear students.

Manual Blackboard Grade Center

Having switched to Blackboard 8 our teaching staff is confronted with the new grade book, now renamed to Grade Center. We have written a quick manual (in Dutch) which can be found here.

Some small observations:
- Uses AJAX technology, and works fine on all platforms. We had slow loading on our (rather old) test server, but this is not a problem on our production server.
- Offers a lot of facilities that teachers do not all need and does confuse a little
- Finally teachers can view and grade the grade list by group(s). This does require creating a 'Custom view' first.
- Does not offer a decent calculated final grade on a score of 1 to 10.