• Dave Foord
  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,624 other followers

  • Dave Foords Twitter

Making use of statistics from YouTube

A few years ago YouTube was seen by many in education as a source of evil that had to be blocked. banned and banished at all costs -because of the nasty things that learners may see there. This was a shame as alongside some possibly undesirable content is some excellent content, and the YouTube’s streaming capability is better than any others as works on all devices, is quick to load and in short just works.

Luckily the number of organisations blocking YouTube has reduced, especially within FE and HE, and even many schools. This pleases me as I have posted many videos to YouTube – most of which can be used by others, as they give simple clear step by step instructions on various elements of learning technology.

Something that I also find interesting, is the statistics that I get back – I can see how many people have viewed each video, where they are from, what sort fo device they have used and how they have found the videos. This helps me to plan future videos to meet my audiences needs, and if I was using these videos to support teaching and learning, I could use the analytical information to quickly see how effectively my learners are accessing these videos.

When I upload videos on behalf of one of the organisations that I work for, I almost always have the settings of making it public but unlisted. This means that the videos cannot be found by someone else searching for it – they can only be found if someone knows the link to it. If I embed one of these videos into an area the VLE to support a particular session or topic, a week or so later I can see how many people have viewed the video – (and when). Although not an exact science, this gives me a useful insight into the user behaviour – especially if I compare this with the usage data from the VLE.

In one instance I found that lots of learners had visited the area on the VLE but hadn’t played the video – which made me realise that I had embedded the video too far down the page – so I changed it’s position. On another occasion the video had been played many more times than the VLE area had been accessed, which I assume meant that the learners had watched the video multiple times – which as the video was directly related to the assignment task, I assume means they were using it to aid their completion of the task (which was its intention).

I appreciate that most teaching staff won’t have the time or inclination to look at things this way – I was mainly just looking out of interest – but if people do have the time/interest then this could be very useful information to confirm that they are doing things right, or give them pointers as to where they need to change things slightly.

Whilst looking at my own videos, I discovered that my most viewed video of all time is the one about adding countdown timers to PowerPoint.

This has had over 45000 views in 2 years, and currently gets viewed over 3000 times per month. This single video accounts for more than 65% of all views of the 67 videos on my channel. This video shows to me the power of YouTube – the fact that this attracts so many views means that it must be doing something right, and what a shame that there are still many educational organisations that are depriving their learners of this resource.

‘Flipping eL’ – ‘The Flipped Classroom’ – part 5 – Making it happen

This is the 5th and final post in my series on the notion of the flipped classroom. So far the previous posts have been:-

So if  an organisation wants to start using the flipped classroom, what are the considerations?

To me the most important point, is to think this through strategically. This is not something that can be taken on lightly or whimsically and without proper planning. We have to think about which courses this would be suitable for. As I mentioned in the second post in this series – not all learners will want this mode of delivery and especially if students are paying to study (at HE) if a course is going to be taught this way, I think it should be upfront and advertised so they can consciously choose (or not choose) to study there. In the past Universities in particular have had the freedom and mindset to change the way that they deliver without consulting with the students, and without any real comeback. Now that the fees are so high, we have to treat the student more as a customer, so cannot do this.

If a course decides to use this model of learning, we have to think, do we do this for all units or modules, or just some. Or do we experiment with one term or half term first and see how it goes. The key here is that students have to be clear what is going on – we cannot keep chopping and changing as we go along, and for the idea of the flipped classroom to work, it has to become embedded within the students experience – so we cannot just do an odd session here or there – we do need to give this a significant amount of time for the students to settle into it. This area is where the process needs to be closely managed, and is where I think the biggest risk of failure lies. If for example students are studying say 6 units at one point in time, and 1 of the 6 wants to use the flipped classroom ideology. The process will need to be managed to ensure that the students have the time to be able to do the preparatory work required. The problem lies in (typically) week 7 of the semester when 3 of the remaining 5 units have submission deadlines – and the students spend their ‘free-time’ working on this rather than the other units, they then turn up to the ‘flipped’ seminar not fully prepared and the seminar makes no sense.

Another issue is how do we create (or locate) the content that the students will be accessing. One option is for the tutor to create these as they go along – which as long as they stay 1 or 2 weeks ahead of the learners is OK. Many don’t like this idea as they see it as risky, but from my experience it was no different to how many face to face lecturers work, so is an option – as long as the tutor recognises the time required and can factor this into their weekly schedule. The other option is to create everything up front – which requires a bigger amount of initial investment, and is seen by many as less risky but if you choose a style of content packaging, that when you use it with the learners doesn’t work very well, your initial investment will have been wasted, as the packaging will need to be retrospectively changed.

Another issue to consider is the quality issue. When we watch video we tend to judge the quality of the video against the quality that we see on TV, which is professionally produced (at huge cost), and delivered in HD onto your expensive 40″ flat screen – as a result most videos that an educational organisation produces to support teaching and learning will be inferior quality, but this is OK, and we are lucky that videos that apear on the Khan Academy has set a benchmark for us. For years we have talked about elearning or ILT as a method of getting away from ‘chalk and talk’ – and yet ironically the Khan Academy videos are basically just that (they even have a black background – like a chalk board), and although not everyone likes them – we cannot deny that they have had a huge impact on many people.

So if a tutor is creating video clips as part of the flipped classroom process – we can use screen casting software – some of the free ones being perfectly adequate. It doesn’t matter if we occasionally cough in the audio, or things aren’t really slick, as the Khan Academy has shown. If we want to use handwritten notes, then I would be inclined to invest in a digital tablet that allows you to write with a pen rather than the mouse, or if we know exactly what we are going to write then we can prepare these as typed boxes that we just drag into view during the process e.g. like in this video, where I have created a revision activity.

When I created this, my kids (and 2 others) were in the house making noise – I didn’t realise how much noise as I had my headset on – but you can hear them in the video. My initial instinct when I played it back was to re-record it, but I didn’t because I wanted to show that for teaching and learning purposes, this would be OK – we need to concentrate on the quality of the content and the way that it is presented – rather than spending hours and hours making the very little tweaks that although improve the quality doesn’t justify the time.

I have worked with a few organisations recently which seem to want to go for a wholesale blanket change of delivery to this new ideology – which worries me somewhat, especially as they seem to be doing this because there are problems with the quality of teaching and learning and they see this as a way out of trouble – however I am concerned that the current problems with teaching and learning will only be exaggerated by this process not solved.

Another problem is the support needed. Most organisations will have some form of central team that can help with the production of elearning content or videos, but it is highly unlikely that any could fully support an entire organisation switching in one go. If the flipped classroom is ever going to be a long running success, it will require tutors to be given the tools, time and support for them to create the bulk of the content themselves, with the central teams working in a support capacity, rather than a doing capacity.

And as I end many of these blog posts – the need for good quality CPD (and strategically delivered) is paramount. This isn’t just a 2 hour session in July to introduce them to the ideas – we need to learn about the differences between online delivery and face to face delivery, where and how to find appropriate images, how to capture effective videos, and probably even little bits of html so that we can put this together within the VLE.

If we get it right it could be great. If we get it wrong, it will be a disaster. The flipped classroom is definitely not a short term cost saving practice. If we are serious then we need to think it through strategically and carefully, and not just jump on the bandwagon because it is passing….then next one is probably just round the corner.

How to ‘Chop’ a YouTube video and embed it into PowerPoint


Addition to this post made on 20/11/12 – if you are wanting to embed a cropped YouTube video into Moodle then visit https://davefoord.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/cropping-a-youtube-video-before-adding-to-moodle/

YouTube is a wonderful source of videos that can be used very effectively within education, but quite often we only want to show a certain part of the video rather than the whole thing. There is now a free and very easy to use method for doing this called TubeChop, and the output from this can be embedded easily into PowerPoint. One of the great things with TubeChop is you don’t even have to create an account on it, so no passwords to remember (or forget!)

Here is a screencast showing how easy this is to use.

Here is an example of a Example Of TubeChop In PowerPoint.

Although not shown in the screencast, TubeChop will also give you some embed code, so you can embed the chopped video into a blog, VLE or webpage. This is particularly useful to Blackboard users, as if you try to embed a YouTube video directly into Blackboard, you can run into difficulties as Blackboard cannot handle iframes (unless you remember to change the settings in Youtube to give the old embed code).

TubeChop (at the moment) doesn’t use iframes, so works well with Blackboard.

Sorry – I have had to turn comments off for this post, as was getting bombarded by spam, you can still comment on other posts in this blog.

Creating an instructional video

This is the 6th entry in a series on ‘putting the fun back into fundamental learning’.

One of the best ways to learn something, is to try to explain it to someone else, which we often do in the classroom by getting students to explain a concept to the person sat next to them, or stand up in front of the group and do a presentation, but this can become a bit samey for the learners, and they are always presenting back to people at the same levels as themselves.

One option is to ask them to create an explanatory video – the beauty of this, is that you can then give them a different target audience (e.g. younger people, people outside of the subject area etc) making them think not just about the material and information but how it is communicated.

In terms of what technologies to use, learners could use their own mobile phones and the camera facility within, or you could provide them with cameras if you have access to that resource, or you can use the screencasting ideas mentioned in an earlier post (which then doesn’t require a camera at all).

However if you do have access to a camera, and possibly a few tripods, then asking the learners to create an instructional video for their subject area in the style of the ‘Commoncraft Plain English‘ videos, could be a very interesting learning activity, an example of such a video being:-

Obviously these are very polished, well planned out resources that must take hours to produce, so we are not looking for the same level of quality as these, but the idea that we break down a topic into into key elements, and communicate them in a way that is easy for other to understand.

The real beauty of this idea though, is it requires very little planning time from the tutor, the tutor does not need to have any high level technical skills, it promotes higher order thinking skills, and good Personal Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS) and it should be fun for the learners to do.

Using Screenr to create learning objects (and keep them private)

Followers of this blog, will recognise that I am a big fan of Screenr, and use it a lot in my work – with most of the videos appearing on this blog being created with Screenr.
One of the things that I like is the ease with which I can share what I have produced as most of the time that is what I want to do, however within education there are times when people don’t want to share.

It is possible though to use Screenr to create resources, that you then keep private. They will be in the public domain for a few minutes during the process, but unlikely to be found during those few minutes.

This screencast will show you how.

Now – I only recommend the keeping private technique for resources that need to be kept private. Tools like screenr have been developed in the spirit of sharing that is web2.0 – so I hope that most screencasts created are left in the public domain for others to potential use, just like people benefit from the screencasts created from others.

Using screen capturing as a revision aid

A really simple technique that requires minimal set up time from a tutor, but has huge educational benefit, is to get learners to use screen capturing software to create educational resources – such as revision aids.

At the moment I am using http://screenr.com/ as this is free, doesn’t require a download, I can download the final product as an Mp4 or publish it to YouTube – and the videos created will play on an iPhone or iPad

Here are a couple of examples of using screenr as a revision aid, the first is the simple method, the second is where I have used some pre-created images which I drag in – this could have easily been textual labels, used to label a diagram for example.


If screenr is blocked for any reason by an organisation, then you can use Camstudio which is free software that can be downloaded or run from a memory stick as part of the eduapps suite – this I find is harder than screenr, as you have to fiddle with the sound settings to get it right, and the final output is much bigger.

Simple drawing techniques in PowerPoint

I have been called many things in my time (some pleasant, some less so) including perfectionist, obsessive behaviour, pedantic. Now I don’t think that I am a perfectionist (if you saw the state of my house, office, car – you would see why), but in one area of work I am certainly pedantic, and I think I have developed an obsessive disorder. This area is the way that people create images in Word or PowerPoint:-

I often see high level presentations, keynote speeches, websites and even expensive glossy printed literature advocating the use of technology – where they have created sloppy drawn images – now this frustrates me, and when I am sat in the audience and someone is ‘training’ me – I look at their badly drawn image on the screen, and think ‘You cannot even run a spellchecker, you can’t draw 2 boxes the same size, and why is there a gap in that bent arrow? – How can I trust your expertise on……’

Although others may not react in the same way to me, I am sure that all will agree that a well constructed diagram or image will have a far better impact on learners than a sloppy image – and the sad truth is that it is very easy to do (unfortunately though the skills are often not taught).

So in order to right the wrongs I have produced this sequence of 5 screencasts, showing how it is possible to quickly create a professional looking flowchart in PowerPoint (or Word or Excel).

The first video was the introduction seen above

The second video looks at how to create the shapes, making sure they are all the same size, all formatted the same.

The third video looks at what has to be the best kept secret within Microsoft Office – and that is the align and distribute tools, if you haven’t used them before please have a look – they will save you lots of time and make a huge difference to your output.

The forth video, shows the second best kept secret within Office – the connectors tool, which will again save lots of time and improve the quality of output.

And the final video, shows the group, and ungroup tools within Office.

I hope that these videos will make a difference to the quality of presentations that are used, and will help me to overcome my obsessive behaviours and PowerPoint rage!

The videos above although produced by myself belong to the JISC RSC SE.