• Dave Foord
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How to trim a YouTube video and embed it into WordPress

Regular followers of my blog, will know that I have previously blogged about different ways of trimming or cropping YouTube videos to use in different situations, e.g:

Trimming videos can be really valuable, as often (in education) there may be a key message or element in a video, that we want to draw attention to, without having to show the entire video, so carefully selecting sections of the video can drastically improve the impact of using that video as a resource.

Up until recently, something that I couldn’t do was to get this to work in WordPress, I could only embed the whole video – however today I found out that I can do trim a video, if you follow these instructions exactly:

  1. Locate the video you want on YouTube.
  2. Under the video choose ‘Share’ and then ‘Embed’.
  3. Underneath the preview, there will be some tick boxes – make sure the one called ‘Show suggested videos when the video finishes‘ is unticked (this is really important).
  4. Copy the embed code that is above the preview.
  5. Go into your WordPress post, and into the HTML editor.
  6. Paste the copied embed code in the correct position.
  7. Preview your post.
  8. Go back to edit your post, and again into the HTML editor.
  9. The code that you pasted in, will have been changed, towards the end of it, locate the text rel=0.
  10. Immediately after rel=0 add &start=xxx&end=yyy (where xxx is the number of seconds you want the video to start at and yyy is the number of seconds you want the video to end at).
  11. Preview your post – if it works then publish.

So – if I have a video that I want to start at 2:35 and end at 3:15 – I convert these into seconds (2:35 = 155, 3:15 = 195) – and the end of the code will change from:

….?rel=0]

to

….?rel=0&start=155&end=195]

Below is an example of one of my YouTube videos, trimmed to start at 155 seconds and end at 195 seconds.

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Reflections on Using tablets in FE and HE assessment event

This blog post is an example of how a blog can be used for reflective practice. I am going to reflect on a training session that I recently ran, and use this reflective practice to help me improve the session for the future and help with my planning of other similar sessions.

Image of Dave Foord

Self Reflection

On Friday 28th March 2014 I ran the first FE/HE session for The Tablet Academy at Lougborough University. The session was designed to look at the use of tablet devices in assessment, and attracted 8 people from across the country.

There are lots of different people, companies and organisations offering tablet training at the moment, of varying quality and varying price (and no direct correlation between the two), so I was keen that I offered something different, something more than the very easy “look at me and how clever I am with an iPad” type session, that yes can be inspiring, but often doesn’t give people a chance to unpick bigger issues.

Therefore the main focus of the day, was to try to get the attendees to think openly about the use of tablet devices in assessment, including the issues that may arise, and not just the positives that can be brought. We also made the decision to focus on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) rather than specifying a particular platform (e.g. iPads).

The structure of the day was:

  1. Introduction presentation.
  2. Exploring options of how tablets can be used in education.
  3. Designing, completing, then assessing an assessed activity with tablets.
  4. Bringing it all together.

Here is my reflection on each part:

Introduction presentation

I created a short presentation that was designed to set the scene, and to try to create the mindset of not using tablets to replace laptops, but to look at what tablets do that laptops cannot, and how this can be used beneficially in assessment. On reflection, I should have spent less time on this point and more time demonstrating options of what is possible with tablets. I didn’t want to spoil the next activity by giving the attendees the answers to the tasks I was about to set them, but some of the the attendees would have benefited from such examples to help make the rest of the day less abstract.

Exploring options of how tablets can be used in education

We had allocated a significant amount of time (over 2 hours) to this part of the day, which was an opportunity for attendees to explore different options of how tablet devices can be used in assessment. Because each person would have different organisational needs, roles and devices, I created 7 separate tasks (challenges) for them to look at. Each task had some background information, then a set of questions/activities for them to work through which would hopefully guide them through an exploration of that topic, with me facilitating them to unpick some of the issues. I estimated each topic to take about 30 minutes so hoped that people could explore 4 or 5 of the options in the allotted time. As it turned out the tasks took longer than I anticipated, so they only managed to cover 2 of the tasks, which was a shame. For future events, there are various options:

  1. I could shorten each topic, but then have a section for each topic which is titled “further exploration” or similar – so they could continue exploring at a later day.
  2. I could have sent attendees some pre course information so they could look at the options and possibly start some of the tasks (even if they only downloaded any required apps, and created accounts where required on them – which would have saved time).
  3. I could have been more draconian with the time keeping, forcing them to change topics if they spent more than say 40 minutes on any topic. I am not a big fan of this idea, as I need attendees to be comfortable with their explorations, and it is more beneficial for them to unpick a smaller number of options well, rather than more options badly.
  4. If I increased the time of the introduction, to include a quick demo of each idea, this would then have saved attendees time when exploring these options.

Having jotted down these possible options, I think points 1,2 and 4 above could be used together to improve this part of the session, and is what I will do next time.

Designing, completing, then assessing an assessed activity with tablets

This part of the day worked really well. Working in pairs, each pair had 30 minutes to design a tablet enabled assessable activity. They would then share this with a different pair. Each pair then had 30 minutes to complete the task set by someone else, after which they returned the work to the original pair, who had a further 30 minutes to assess and give feedback.
For this activity I was very strict with the timings, using a countdown timer on an iPad to keep me and the group focused. By setting a very specific and challenging time helped to keep people on task, and stopped the afternoon from ‘drifting’. Attendees very much got into the spirit of this activity, they had a lot of fun (which is good), they were imaginative (which was the intention) and they uncovered a few problems with the logistics of actually getting the task to the other people. The main reflection (which was also echoed by the participants feedback) was they didn’t need 30 minutes to assess the work, so could shorten this easily to 15 or even 10 minutes, apart from that I would keep this part of her he day the same.

Bringing it all together

As with any good training session, it is important that there is a chance to reflect and regroup at the end, and some form of identified action for people to do next. For this I set the task of asking people to identify the 5 Ws – Why, What, When, How, and Who for them to identify a small step that they were going to take to move their organisation forward in using tablet devices in the process of assessment. After the slightly pressurised previous 90 minutes as they raced against the clock, this made for a useful reflecting and refocusing activity. We then had some general discussions and used Socrative as a tool to reflect on the day in general.

Looking at the feedback provided by the attendees all bar one were very satisfied with the day, with some highlighting a few of the points I have made above. A few said they would have preferred the day to be platform specific (e.g. Just iPad, or just Microsoft) rather than BYOD, and a few wanted to see more examples of good practice.

From my perspective, I wanted the day to be a chance for people to unpick the real issues around using tablets for assessment, and as such I knew that people would encounter certain problems during the day, which was good, as better for them to encounter them here rather than with real assessments, however these few problems may have been perceived as outweighing the benefits of using tablet devices, which wasn’t my intention. The biggest problem that people encountered was the BYOD issue – of working with ideas that work across all platforms. Many thought Google Docs would be a good option, but discovered that these didn’t work well on iPads and sharing them was more complicated than expected. I tried to reinforce the point that in reality you use the tablet devices when they are most appropriate and use something else when not appropriate, e.g. It is perfectly acceptable for a member of staff to use a computer to create the assessment, the student to use and tablet to complete it and the tutor to use a computer to mark it.

My thanks go to the staff at Loughborough University for their support, in particular Charles Shields and Farzana Khandia.

 

My most viewed posts in 2012

As we move into a new year, I take the chance to reflect on my previous year, and find it interesting to receive the annual report from wordpress regarding the activity on my blog. What is most interesting is which posts attract the most attention – with my top 5 posts last year being:

  1. Quickly creating a Google Map from a Spreadsheet of data (2009)
  2. How to ‘Chop’ a YouTube video and embed it into PowerPoint (2011)
  3. How to re-enable a microphone in Windows 7 (2012)
  4. Choosing different pins when creating Google Maps (2010)
  5. How to automatically pull data between different Google Spreadsheets (2011)

What is really interesting is how only 1 of the top five posts were actually written in 2012, and my top read post (again) is one dating back to 2009.

All of the above posts are ‘instruction’ based posts showing or explaining how to do something, rather than many of my posts which are about my opinions or observations on certain topics such as the flipped classroom, or terminology that is used. I don’t blog very often, as my current work (and family life) makes this difficult – but hope that my posts are high quality and useful to make up for the relatively low frequency of posting. I hope this year coming to be able to blog more often, but want to maintain the quality element of my posts.

My most read posts from 2011

In 2011, I posted 25 times on this blog, which isn’t many by most peoples standards, by my posts do generally attract a reasonable amount of interest, and I hope that my posts (even though infrequent) offer use and insight to others. Looking at my stats for last year, my 5 most accessed posts in 2011 are as below, and what is interesting is how only 2 of the posts were actually written in 2011 – and 1 was written in 2008, so my posts seem to have some sort of ‘staying’ power.

  1. Using ‘game’ and activity templates in education 1 comment January 2011
  2. Quickly creating a Google Map from a Spreadsheet of data 12 comments September 2009
  3. Putting the fun back into ‘fundamental’ learning 5 comments January 2011
  4. Choosing different pins when creating Google Maps 0 comments May 2010
  5. Recording sound directly into a Word file 0 comments October 2008

I hope that my posts over this coming year will please the many people that have subscribed to my blog, and my work gives me the opportunity to post more often than I managed in the last 12 months.

Why I use WordPress rather than IfL’s reflect tool

This morning I read a blog post by David Hopkins on the idea of the bPortfolio replacing the ePortfolio which made me look back at my blog to see what I had written about ePortfolios in the past and came across my post about the ePortfolio conundrum from January 2010. I don’t think we are any closer to solving the problem that I presented back then, but David’s post does back this up, and is for me my reflective portfolio of choice.

Like many other educators in the FE sector I am a member of the IfL. Personally I get no benefit from being a member, and when I asked them to justify the value for money before renewing my subscription, the top item on the list was my access to the IfL Reflect tool. This didn’t help convince me as I chose not to use it, for a variety of reasons:-

Reflect is based on the tool PebblePad which some people really like, and has some very good qualities but the way it works is very personal (which is it’s intention) but by being personal it means that some people will like the way that it works, and others won’t. I for some reason fit into the category of it not working for me.

However more importantly the reason why I choose to use WordPress for my reflective practice, is I am in complete control of the area, and I can personalise it to the way that I want it to work. Also it can never be taken away from me. With Reflect, if I ceased to be a member of the IfL I would lose that area, which to me goes against the notion of Continuous Professional Development. Defenders of Reflect will tell me that I could export my portfolio if I did leave IfL, but that isn’t the same as being able to continue using it as it is, which is what I want.

There are different ways to use WordPress. I use the wordpress.com site, which hosts my blog for free me. If I wanted to (and had the technical ability to) I could download the wordpress software onto my own server and run it from there. If I wanted to switch from one to another, I could easily back up the blog, and then re-import it into the other environment. With WordPress I have so many options

  • I can write and edit entries easily from my iphone.
  • I can send an email which updates my blog.
  • I can integrate images, video, sound easily.
  • I can attach files easily.
  • I can keep the blog private, or public.
  • And the list goes on.

So it will be interesting to see if the idea of the bPortfolio (blog portfolio) that David Hopkin’s mentions does replace the ePortfolio. If it does then I am already converted.

 

My 5 most read posts in 2010

According to the stats on my wordpress blog, in 2010 my blog was viewed about 12000 times, which is a reasonable number seeing as I only made 41 new posts. What is most interesting though, is that only 2 of my top 5 most read posts in 2010 were actually posted in 2010, so although I may not blog as frequently as I would like and should – it looks like what I do blog seems to have staying power, and relevance for more than a passing moment.

Here are my top 5 most read posts in 2010

1

The e-portfolio conundrum January 2010
4 comments

2

How to embed videos into Moodle February 2008
3 comments

3

Choosing different pins when creating Google Maps May 2010

4

Quickly creating a Google Map from a Spreadsheet of data September 2009
11 comments

5

Asknerd.net September 2007
10 comments

Using DropBox as a portfolio of evidence

I am currently working on my ITQ in accessible practice (so that I will be able to teach it). Although the qualification is not an NVQ, it does require the collection of evidence in a portfolio. Originally I was planning to use this blog, but I was concerned that some of my regular followers may not be interested in my evidence. My next thought was to set up another wordpress.com blog, which would be very easy to do, but one problem with this, is that I cannot attach an Excel spreadsheet directly to a wordpress.com blog, which would be a limiting factor as I am doing the Spreadsheets unit in the qualification.

So instead I have used DropBox, which is working very well indeed. The way that DropBox works, is you create an account on it, and you can download a little application onto your computer. This then allows me to save files to this area (which works as a folder structure, just like any other folder system on a computer). What DropBox does, is it keeps a version of the file on my computer, but also synchronises to a version on the web (in the cloud), so that I can retrieve these files from any other computer that has web access, and if someone else is another dropbox user, then I can give them access to specific items or folders, which is great, as I have given the assessor access to my evidence folder on my dropbox account. We have a single spreadsheet which as I produce evidence, I add an item to it, telling the assessor where the evidence is stored, and which criteria I think it covers. My assessor can then edit this document herself providing feedback.

So although a crude mechanism, that isn’t sophisticated, that doesn’t lend itself to natural reflective practice, in this situation it has worked very well.

Screenshot of web view of Dropbox

Screenshot of web view of Dropbox

And another nice feature is there is a free iPhone app for dropbox allowing me to view my files from my iPhone.