Tag Archives: Lecture

Video Filming David Hopkins

How ‘long’ is too ‘long’?

For a few years now I’ve been spouting the same lines when it comes to planning a video for an distance learning course or MOOC: “preferably no more than 4 minutes, definitely no more than 6.” Anything more than 6 and we’d consider splitting it at a natural point in the subject, or working with the individual and their content and seeing where a natural break can be made, or other ways to shorten the video.

This has been supported by experience (from distance learning courses I’ve supported at both Bournemouth and Leicester University’s) and the MOOCs I’ve supported and developed while at Warwick, as well as articles like this.

As with everything, there is enough evidence to be found to support and to disprove it.

Yes, I agree that if you have a ‘teaching’ resource, where the academic/teacher is speaking to camera then there is an optimum length that someone will sit and be ‘talked at’, and this is where I see the 6 minute limit coming into play. These kinds of resources are often loaded to a VLE or a MOOC and as part of a set of resources for the topic or week’s subject area.

But there are other approaches to video content where I don’t see this working. What about case studies or mini-documentaries? What about a conversation, when a short 4 minute clip just isn’t enough to get in to the details? Do you still stick to the short-is-best message? In order for these to work you will often need to make it longer so the content and ‘message’ of the case study can be put across.

Let’s not forget, the video is nothing on it’s own. It must always be put into context for the student – why are you presenting the video for them to watch, what do you expect them to think about when they watch it, is there something they need to question as a result of the video (and/or linking it to other resources to build their wider knowledge about the subject area), can they critique the resource and present their findings back to the group, etc.?
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Customise me

Don’t give it to me unless I can customise it

My first car was a 1993 Rover Mini Cooper 1.3i, in British Racing Green (obviously). I bought it second hand in ’97 from John Cooper Garages (JCG) in West Sussex, and the legendary John Cooper himself handed my the keys (and made my mum a cup of tea while I did the paperwork).

Like so many people who own a Mini it didn’t stay ‘standard’ for very long, as I read through the Mini magazines on the kinds of things I could do to personalise the car. I went to Mini events, like the London-to-Brighton Mini Run and the 40th anniversary party at Silverstone, and looked over the show cars and private cars that were parked up, as well as the stands and auto-jumble traders. I bought the whole set of JCG brushed aluminium door furniture (window winders, door pulls, etc.) and chrome accessories (bling!), as well as doing more mechanical upgrades like vented discs and four-pot calliper for both front and read brakes, and a full-length straight-through (manifold to rear ‘box) DTM-style exhaust system (ooh, that was awesome!).

This was the start of my love affair with tinkering and messing with anything that’s standard to make it personal for what and how I like it.  Continue reading

Interview with Peter Reed, #EdTechBook chapter author

Interview with Peter Reed, #EdTechBook chapter author

The Really Useful #EdTechBook, edited by David HopkinsAs part of a new series of posts, I will be talking to authors of The Really Useful #EdTechBook about their work, experiences, and contribution to the book. In this third post I talk to Peter Reed, Lecturer (Learning Technology) at the University of Liverpool.

DH – Hi Peter. How does the use of technology, in all its various forms, affect your day-to-day working life?

PR: Massively. Beyond it being part of the day job, I use a variety of different tools and technologies to make my work more efficient and effective. I use things like Dropbox, Evernote and Mendeley a lot as they synchronise across my devices so I can access things whenever I need to. I see my use of these tools as part of my own little backpack or toolbox to call on. Interestingly the tools I use haven’t really changed much over the past 3 years or so, which I think is because I’m quite critical about new software/technologies when my existing workflows are effective for me personally. Ultimately, I think that’s a big part of being a Learning Technologist – rather than using tools/technologies for the sake of it, there’s some thought and critique to apply the right tools for the job.  Continue reading

Year in Review / 2013

Year in Review / 2013

Welcome to a final few thoughts on and about 2013: what did I do, what did I read, what did I achieve, what did I miss, what did I not do … you get the picture. Well …

  • After thinking, planning, and talking about it for nearly two years I finally got round to planning, writing, and publishing my eBook on QR Codes in Education. (May 2013).
  • Several years in the making I finally completed my CMALT portfolio and submitted it and gained my CMALT accreditation (November 2013).
  • In October I re-read my QR Codes in Education eBook and realised it would read better with a different structure to the contents and I took the opportunity to make it available as a printed book too (November 2013). Working with the CreateSpace website I restructured the materials, redesigned the cover and worked on the 2nd edition of the book (also updating the eBook too to match).
  • Worked closely with colleagues in Leicester on aspects of mobile learning, online marking and feedback, support, course reconfiguration, and roles & responsibilities.
  • Presented a brown bag lunch seminar on “Improving the Student Experience Through Blackboard in the College of Social Science”
  • I am proud to have helped launch the East Midlands Learning Technology SIG including Twitter, blog, LinkedIn group, Google+ group, etc.

Most popular posts (by month):  Continue reading

“Pedagogy, policy and support: taking lecture capture to the next level”

Lecture Capture: Pedagogy, policy and support #lborolc13

“Pedagogy, policy and support: taking lecture capture to the next level”

Date: July 3rd, 2013
Location: Loughborough University
Details: “Pedagogy, policy and support: taking lecture capture to the next level”
Twitter hashtag: #lborolc13

With discussions taking place around the College and University about the merits and technicalities of providing students with recorded materials, the timing couldn’t have been better for this workshop.

Hosted by Loughborough University with keynotes and sessions from leading users and supporters of lecture capture technology, the event was a good introduction to what experienced users are doing with he established technology, and how these enhancements are being vowed and used by students.

What do I want to get from today? I’ve used and been a supporter of lecture capture for many years now, and am enthusiastic for its introduction at Leicester. I want to build on my existing knowledge and understanding, how this has changed in the year or so since I moved to Leicester, and how established users of lecture capture technology are taking things forward and developing the techniques and pedagogy surrounding the technology.

We also need to be careful we do not ignore the ‘other’ questions that need asking: it’s not only about the students and pedagogic use of the technology, it’s also about how it’s implemented. We need to be sure to address the resources and resourcing, the implementation, the strategy surrounding its installation and use, the pedagogy, the support, etc. It is not about how we use it, it’s about how well we use it.

Read the full report on the College’s TEL blog: staffblogs.le.ac.uk/telsocsci/report/report-pedagogy-policy-and-support-taking-lecture-capture-to-the-next-level/

Student use of recorded lectures: a report reviewing recent research into the use of lecture capture technology in higher education, and its impact on teaching methods and attendance

Reading: “Student use of recorded lectures”

Student use of recorded lectures: a report reviewing recent research into the use of lecture capture technology in higher education, and its impact on teaching methods and attendance I am always on the lookout for resources and research that supports (or not – never let it be say that I’m not open minded) the use of an appropriate and considered implementation of lecture capture. So I was very pleased when I saw a tweet highlighting this research from London School of Economics (LSE):

Karnad, Arun (2013) Student use of recorded lectures: a report reviewing recent research into the use of lecture capture technology in higher education, and its impact on teaching methods and attendance. London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK. Available online: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/50929/ [Accessed 28 June, 2013]

What I have taken from this is highlighted in the conclusion – it is as much about the signposting and implementation of the technology as the way the individual(s) use it. Whist some will use it as an excuse to skip lectures (isn’t that their choice?) others will use it as a resource as we intended it … for learning, reflection, growth, the ‘student experience’, etc.:  Continue reading


Reflection on the ‘eLearning and Digital Cultures’ MOOC, Wk.3 #edcmooc

EDCMOOCWeek three and into ‘block 2’ of the five week Coursera / University of Edinburgh MOOC: ‘eLearning and Digital Cultures’. Are we leaving the bliss of utopia behind, or will be building on the fear of a controlling and dystopian ‘master’ as we become ‘human’?

“What does it mean to be human within a digital culture, and what does that mean for education?”

This week is introduced from the perspective that “we tend not to question, in our everyday lives, where the boundaries of ‘the human’ lie”.  As with previous weeks we have a few videos to watch and criticise analyse as well as a few papers and web resources to read in order to define or answer what it means to be human in the future.

  • The advert from Toyota has had a lot of discussion in the Coursera forum but I have a more cynical approach to it – stop trying to intellectualise something that is pure marketing. Do you really think Toyota is trying to make some kind of moral message on the future of technology, or just trying to replicate other successful advertising or cinematic sequences? The end of the advert is very reminiscent of the end of The Truman Show, where Truman (aka Jim Carrey) has a choice to stay in the world he now knows is fake, yet safe, or leave to an unknown but world that allows freedom of choice and experience. Isn’t this also what education is becoming … isn’t this why we’re also doing this MOOC, for the freedom of choice?
  • The second advert, this time one of the adverts in the series from BT (UK) which is supposed to represent “authentic” human contact, taking a cheap shot at the Instant Messaging and Facebook generation in an effort to show how a simple phone call is the real thing. No, a conversation in person is the real thing, a phone call is the next best thing. If we take this scenario into the real world, into my day to day work, then I would rather walk along the corridor to someone’s office and talk to them properly than a phone call or email. In an online learning environment this is obviously not possible, and neither is a phone call (one tutor to ‘x’ number of students, that could be a lot of calls) – this is why Instant Messaging or discussion boards and/or conference calls (Skype?) are popular, and will remain so.

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Research in Learning Technology

Reading: “Students and recorded lectures: survey on current use and demands for higher education”

Research in Learning TechnologyI’ve been interested for quite a while now in the use of recorded ‘lectures’ (for want of a better word) in learning materials for distance learners. Do these kinds of recording help students ‘learn’? This paper, from the Research in Learning Technology journal should be of interest to anyone who is also looking into lecture capture.

The research that accompanies this is paper based on student surveys in two Universities in the Netherlands whose goal was to investigate and understand how the students used the recorded material (downloadable versions of the recordings were not available for consumption offline).

There is good data here from the students that ought to be considered by anyone contemplating the introduction of any system that would enable recording of lecture materials and it’s provision and supply to students. If anything, look at the data about why students did not watch or use them (figures from one of the participating University’s: Eindhoven University of Technology – TU/e):

  • Did not know they were available: 7.2%
  • Went to class (didn’t need the recording): 57%
  • Technical difficulties: 6.3%
  • Didn’t miss anything important enough to consider reviewing the recording: 21.7%
  • Didn’t have time for it: 19.3%
  • Do not like watching recorded lectures: 5.1%
  • Recording quality (which meant they must have tried it to know they didn’t want to watch it?): 6.5%
The paper acknowledges that the majority of the technical issues encountered (which is always an important consideration) were due to students accessing the resources off-site (home, work etc.) which is a shame as, for distance learners, this is an essential consideration. Perhaps this is a limitation of the specific systems or their implementation at these institutions rather than the general technology of ‘lecture capture’?

I do not agree with one aspect of the study though, that the students were given full-length (40-45 minute) recordings. While this may be the “most frequent” type of recordings (and easiest to capture)  it is not the most effective or comfortable way to watch a lecture. I prefer smaller chunks, typically 10-15 minutes (according to the topic/subject structure), that are more easily digested either sat in front of a PC or on a mobile  device (MP3 or other audiobook format). This is how I produced recorded material for the distance learning students at Bournemouth University and, where we only had the longer, fuller, recording, we received negative comments that were solely down to length of recording. Perhaps if they had not had or known the advantages of the shorter versions they would not have responded this way?

The full reference for the paper is:

GORISSEN, P., VAN BRUGGEN, J., JOCHEMS, W.. Students and recorded lectures: survey on current use and demands for higher education. Research in Learning Technology, North America, 20, sep. 2012. Available at: http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/17299. Date accessed: 11 Nov. 2012.

snap.vu QR Code generator

QR Codes: The nuts and bolts #QRCode #edtech #ukedchat

I’ve had some amazing discussions with some colleagues recently about QR Codes and how we can use them. When I got over the initial “huh?” response as to what they are, and they understood that the code can contain type of data, we started to get somewhere really quite quickly.

So, this post is really to consolidate my previous posts and to make it slightly more graphical – images are often easier to follow.

What is a QR Code?
In my first post about the codes –  – I quoted this definition of a QR Code:

“A QR Code is a matrix code (or two-dimensional bar code) created by Japanese corporation Denso-Wave in 1994.” Source: Wikipedia

Let’s face it, that doesn’t mean much to the average person. I explain it to people by explaining how it has already been used: Pepsi used them on bottles to give access to special games and competitions not available anywhere else on the web; they were used to advertise the release of the DVD for ’28 Weeks Later‘ film; and Calvin Klein used them to entice you to see their advert, “uncensored”.

There are plenty of links around (if you search) talking about how US realtors (estate agents to us UK folks) are using them on for-sale boards – instead of having to phone the agents when you see a property you like as you drive around, you simply scan the code on the for-sale board and get the low-down, price, photos, details, etc there and then. Marketing companies are seeing the potential, now it’s time for education to join them.


  • You see/find the code,
  • You scan the code,
  • Your phone decodes the code, and
  • Your phone displays the text, link, e

Like this …

What kind of information can you contain/embed in the QR Code?
When you create the QR Code you will have to assign something for it to hold, to contain, to embed. This is text, always text, but what the text is is up to you. it could be;

  • Plain text (“Hello”, “My name is … “, etc)
  • Your phone number
  • Your contact details (name, email address, phone number, address, etc)
  • SMS / text details (including your number and a short message)
  • URL / web address

The method the user will use to open and decode this information will decide on how this information is used. If you stick to the above then it is highly likely that all QR Code Readers on the different platforms will know what to do.

  • Plain text – display text on screen
  • Phone number – ask if you want to dial the number
  • Contact details – display and/or store the details to your phone memory
  • SMS – create the text message and prepare for you to send it
  • URL – display and/or open the specified web address

All very powerful stuff.

Where can I generate the code?
There are many good and reliable places/websites you can go to generate your own code (for free), and here are a few I have tried and continue to use:

  • Kaywa qrcode.kaywa.com/
    The first one I found and still one of the best
  • Create QR Code createqrcode.appspot.com/
    Another good one I’ve reported on before, although not as many options
  • Mobile Barcodes www.mobile-barcodes.com/
    Options to create a vCard, email, SMS, etc, and different sizes of QR Codes
  • Snap.Vuwww.snap.vu/
    This is good generator website as it has a basic (very basic) stats package behind each generated code, and puts a shortened URL in the actual image to help direct users who are unable to scan the code to the same content (see below). The image you download is good enough for print, so should be ready for all uses you can think of. The shortened URL refers to your code on Snap.vu so accesses/scans are monitored.

In my post QR Codes: In the Classroom I gave some examples of different content (link, text, etc) that had been coded to the QR Code and the different size and quality of the resulting code. It is imperative you take note of this as there is very little ‘loss’ of quality that is accepted by camera and applications before it cannot be decoded – use shortened URL websites (like bit.ly or is.gd) to create short, concise links to make good quality (and easier-to-read) codes.

Whenever you post a QR Code it is essential, in my mind, that you also put a textual element to it – if you’ve not used them before you might need to explain what they are. if nothing else you put a shortened URL along with the code on the page so people without the ability to read the code can still participate. This is why I like Snap.vu – it adds the short URL to the image.

What use are they in ‘education’?

So far the examples above are showing how they can be used in marketing and sales … but what of education? Can they be used? Well, of course they can, and we are only limited by our imagination and abilities in getting all the little bits of the process set-up and working together. By this I mean there is no point in using them around campus (a campus tour / adventure game, for example) if the Estates Group will remove them thinking they’re graffiti.

I listed a few ideas for uses in the classroom or educational settings in my post QR Codes: In the Classroom which included;

  • lectures and lecture slides,
  • hand outs and printed materials,
  • surveys,
  • textbooks,
  • libraries (linking to eBook versions),
  • assignments,
  • induction activities,
  • campus tours,
  • etc

How these things can be used is very dependent on the topic you want to cover; if you’re talking about the UK Spending Review and changes to the funding for Higher Education why not use them in your printed literature to point to

  • YouTube video(s) of the demonstrations to illustrate a point;
  • Google Maps of where the demonstration happened;
  • Copy of Lecture slides hosted on Institutional VLE or somewhere like SlideShare;
  • If nothing else, you could store your contact details in the code, or link to your vCard so students can scan and store your details for future use in their phones (name, office location, surgery hours, email, etc);

The list of possible applications go on.

Are you using them with your students or colleagues? If you are, or planning to, then please share how you are doing this (going to do it) by leaving a comment.