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.

and

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.

Very,very simple sports movement analysis

Yesterday I was presenting at an event organised for people that will be running the level Diploma in Sport and Active Leisure, and I had been asked to provide some ideas as to how to teach some of the units – including the science based ones. I used to teach biomechanics so for me the science based ones are very easy, but for many they are not.

Having presented a few ideas to the group, I then decided to try and ‘wow’ them with a live demonstration. I wanted to show the group how easy it is to do basic movement analysis, which is normally achieved by using very expensive technology (which is very good) but takes a bit of time to learn, and is often so expensive that you have 1 or 2 computers in the class with it on, making it hard for the learners to practice.

From a teaching and learning perspective, I want something that all the learners can do, very quickly without having to learn lots of skills up front, and this was the basis of this demonstration. I gave my compact camera to one of the group, and asked them to film me carrying out a movement. This they did, I then plugged the camera into my laptop and copied the video file accross.

I then showed in the space of about 5 minutes how I could take still images from that video file by using quicktime which allows me to move the film forwards or backwards 1 frame at a time by using my cursor keys, and then using copy and paste to take these images into a PowerPoint presentation. I then drew an arrow on the position of my arm on each image, before copying each arrow onto a single slide. The end result being a line diagram showing how my arm had moved during the motion.

A screencast showing the technique is here

Normally when I do demonstrations at events, it is the complicated uses of technologies that has the wow factor, but in this case it was the utter simplicity of it that had the wow factor. 1 attendee in particular loved this idea as he had struggled to use the more complicated systems for movement analysis, and the idea of just copying and pasting – was well within his comfort zone.

This technique was something that I used about 10 years ago in my teaching because I didn’t have access to the more sophisticated software, so it is interesting for me to revisit this now, but shows how it is possible to use the technologies that we have to create results.

Why do some people only think of plagiarism in June?

Something that I have noticed over the last few weeks, is how plagiarism seems to become a hot topic at this time of year, with lots of activity about it on Twitter, mailing lists, and other people’s blogs, and then it will drop off the radar until a similar time next year.

Obviously this is a time of the year where for many courses, they are coming to an end, and work is being submitted and assessed and there will be a connection here, but it does highlight to me, how many people seem to deal with plagiarism retrospectively (e.g. deal with it once they have detected it) rather than my preferred method which is to tackle it throughout the year in a preventative manner, and hopefully find your self in a situation where you don’t detect any plagiarised work, when you come to this mad few weeks at the end of the academic year.

Surely, the issue of plagiarism deterrence should be started as early as enrolment on courses and as part of the induction process, so the social media activity around plagiarism should peak in the late summer and early autumn, rather than now.

People often ask me when the best time is to educate learners about plagiarism, to which I respond as early as possible. I would bring it up at the start of the course when students are enrolling, to make sure they know that they are signing up for a course where plagiarism won’t be tolerated. I would then provide them with a brief element of introduction to this area of work during induction, but I wouldn’t cover it fully, as during induction they have so much information thrown at them, it isn’t the best time to deal with this, instead I would wait until the first piece of assessed work is issued, and educate the learners then, this way I can use real examples based on that piece of work, and there is less chance of them forgetting. Another question is about whose responsibility is it to educate the learners, and many organisations will have a dedicated person or team that will go round providing the training, but to me it should be everyones responsibility and the subject tutor is the most obvious person to deliver that element of the support.

The University of Bergen, have as part of their plagiarism deterrence practice, produced this video, which captures some of the ideas quite nicely.

I wish I could bring in a swat team, to deal with a suspected cheat – they wouldn’t do that again.

Thanks to David Hopkins blog post, that alerted me to this video

m-learning – ‘the great accessibility enabler’

Earlier this year, I was honoured to be asked to do a keynote presentation at an m-learning event organised by JISC RSC-Eastern. Earlier in the day James Clay had opened proceedings with his keynote, and I was closing with mine – although I may be bias I think an excellent combination of presenters.

James videoed the session, which he has uploaded to his blog, which is great for me, as I can use this to reflect on my own presentation technique – for example due to the day overrunning slightly, I was slightly late starting, so was concerned that I went a bit too quick to compensate – however watching the video I realise that the pace was OK. I have also reduced the number of uhms from my presentation style (which used to be prevelant in my earlier days) and although I am constantly moving around – I  don’t fidgit as much as I used to. I haven’t seen a video of myself presenting for over 2 years now, so this has been a really useful exercise.

Tagging videos as an educational tool

Over the last 12 months I have regularly demonstrated Veotag which is an excellent site where you upload a video, you then go through the video and apply ‘tags’ and a textual description to parts of the videos. these tages can then be used to navigate to a certain point within the video, or you can directly link to one from somewhere else (e.g. a blog being used a reflective diary), or just to provide additional information about what is going on in the video. This could be used by the tutor creating resources for learners, or by learners showing their understanding of a topic. An example of a veotag output can be found here.

However Veotag have announced this week that they will be stopping the free service, which is a real shame, so I have started looking at alternatives.

One option would be to use YouTube and the caption tool built into that – an example of which would be

(I have used the same video and added a couple of captions at the beginning. This wasn’t as easier to do as with veotag, but I think that YouTube is unlikley to ever go away or to start charging.

Another option is something called Viddler which does allow tags and captions which are quite easy to add, and by the looks of it, other people can add captions and tags to my video, which could have huge educational benefits (as well as a few undersireable side effects) – and the output from this looks like

Now I still think that Veotag does the job the best, so I guess that I will have to look at how much it costs to subscribe, but at least I know that there are other alternatives out there that can be used.

Using ‘Paint’ to create simple quizes for a phone

Lilian Soon of xlearn is superb when it comes to using mobile phones with learners, and one technique that she has developed is creating a series of small image files, which you then distribute to the learners phones, and if they flick through them in sequence they have a learning object. Lilian has created a couple of video clips showing how to do this (by using good old humble paint) and what the end product looks like.

The first video, shows the end product

Source – http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1524458075866693739&hl=en

and the next shows, how this was created.

Source – http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2479360146328027324&hl=en

Another possible variation of this, would be to have images that show a sequence that has to be followed as a guide, so in say plumbing, for people learning the correct order to do thigns when doing a solder joint, a pictoral guide (that they then carry round with them on their phone) could be useful to some people, until they have learnt the technique fully.

How to embed videos into Moodle

Embedding videos that are housed on YouTube, or VideoJug or similar into Moodle, is very easy, and can be very effective as a learner tool, especially if cimbined with some other activities (e.g. some questions following the video). We have to be conscious of Copyright issues – but that is a whole new area in itself

Paul Andrews of Coleg Gwent has produced some guides on how to do this, as well as a list of some different video sharing sources.

http://moodle.coleggwent.ac.uk/mod/book/view.php?id=19168&chapterid=1554