Tag Archives: MP3

iPod Classic

The Unsung Tech Hero: iPod Classic

I’ve had (and still got, somewhere) an iPod Mini, iPod Nano, iPod Touch, and my iPod Classic. Why am I still favouring the unpopular Classic over the other more fashionable or stylish iPods. Easy … storage.

My music iTunes library is over 64gb, and the Classic (I have a capacity of an advertised 120gb – realistically only about 113gb) was the only decently priced option to store it all.

And Apple have killed it off. It’s probably in favour of the touchscreen rather than the out-of-date click-wheel (I still like it though), but there isn’t an alternative with the capacity for my whole library. This means I’m going to be mega annoyed when/if my Classic develops faults and I have to look a the quite frankly inferior options.

I have my Classic in the car during the week so I can listen to something I want (without the inane and annoying radio DJ dribble/banter), and it’s in the kitchen plugged in to the stereo at the weekend providing background music and a lively environment. Continue reading

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.

Freshers 2012

Freshers: 1992 vs 2012

Freshers 2012

OK, so I’ll own up … in 1992 I became a fresher at Kingston University, which is why, after walking around campus this week, ‘freshers week’ at the University of Leicester, I feel compelled to write this.

I know this will sound like I’m an old fart (which I probably am now), but in ‘my day’ my parents left me at the hall of residence, and that was me for the next 2 or 3 months, on my own with hardly any contact with friends or family, left with 10 other complete strangers  in my hall ‘house’ who would grow become a second family. We were all in the same boat. We were all away from home for the first time, all 18/19 years old, and all feeling slightly nervous about these strangers we had to get on and live with. There was a public phone I could use to call friends and family but it was expensive and I couldn’t be bothered to queue for it. And anyway, who would I call – we didn’t find out about the number until we turned up? My old school friends were in the same boat, at their own university, with an equally busy and expensive public phone … and I wasn’t about to call home. I had no choice but to find out who I was living with, I had no choice but to engage and socialise and to make friends. I had no choice but to suck it up and get on with it – no moaning to old school friends about this or that: my new support network was there and I had to find out the hard way who I could trust, or not as it turned out.

I don’t think students are having, or about to have, the ‘university experience’ they think, and it’s certainly not the experience I had. Here’s why.

  • 1992 – my hall of residence housed about 500+students in some 50 ‘houses’, and had less than 50 parking spaces – which were for the most part empty, as students didn’t have or need cars, or afford them either. And those that did have a car had a beat-up old Renault 5 or Ford Fiesta or Mini that their mum let them have.
  • 2012 – so many students have cars, and nearly all I saw today (and in previous years) are no older than 3 or 4 years old, and look like a branch of Halfords loaded in the boot. There is clearly more money in the students pocket (or their parents pockets). The number driving fairly upmarket executive cars is also very high, as it was when I looked around the car park at Bournemouth University over previous years.


  • 1992 – I took a shoe box with 25 or so cassettes and a cassette stereo with me to Uni in my first year, that’s all I had room for in the car along with everything else I had to take. I had to leave my record player and 400+ vinyl albums behind, I just didn’t know what it was going to be like enough to take them. The next year I’d saved and got a portable CD stereo (still quite new even then) so had the same shoebox but stuffed full of CDs, which was still only about 30. I had to be very selective about what music to take for the term, and it was a careful choice that changed often in the weeks and days leading up to leaving home.
  • 2012 – with iPod and iPhone, and probably iPad too (or Blackberry’s, or Android, or cloud storage), in their pockets they’re taking hundreds of albums and thousands of MP3s. It’s too easy. Where are the ‘mix tapes’ and the careful soul searching about which tunes will be good for the next few months? It’s not all about playlists you know!


  • 1992 – even when we tried to be smart, we were still quite scruffy. It wasn’t just about fashion, it was more about money to live vs money to dress well with, and we preferred to eat. In fact one house mate in my first year survived off spaghetti rings and sausages he got on offer from Iceland for the whole of his first term while he waited for cheques to clear (cheques .. .remember them?)
  • 2012 – when the new students are smart, they are very smart with heavily branded (and expensive) clothes and, when they’re scruffy they are very scruffy. But this year the students are, at the moment, extremely well dressed – all no doubt showing off in the first week. Let’s see what it’s like by next May?


  • 1992 – Our assignments were based around what was in the the course materials that we had to buy (yes, buy!) from the office, or in the library; books, journals, and some old newspapers. It was relatively easier for my tutors to know the sources we’d use in their assignments, or at least recognise an un-quoted piece. We had no access to other students at other Universities and what they’d been writing.
  • 2012 – With the Internet in their back pockets its harder for the University to know what is or isn’t copied, or indeed what is in the library and what isn’t. Is this why we are becoming so reliant on tools like Turnitin, or is  that the tutors don’t know their subject as well as they used to?


  • 1992 – there was nothing mobile – phones, computing, etc. I knew only one person with a personal computer (PC) and that was the size of his suitcase and had basic word processor and spreadsheet capabilities, and that was it. In my final year I rented a PC for £25 a month, and it was old and slow even by the standards at that time (remember Radio Rentals). There was barely something you’d recognise as the Internet – I had an email but it was internal to the university only. It wasn’t until my final year in 1996 that I could find work related to my course (Geology) and even then it was extremely limited to the larger US universities who had websites not only for brand but also for research activities.
  • 2012 – everything is mobile, everything is in their pockets, everything is available. While this is good, it’s very good, but it makes it easy to escape from the experience of engaging with new people and places. With Facebook and Twitter and IM and other online tools it’s easy for new students to forget it’s all new and just continue their old lives at a distance, while not putting as much effort in to their new environment and people.

While some aspects (mobile phones, cars, Intenet, opportunities, etc) I wish I’d had 20 years ago, I think I had a better experience at becoming self-sufficient and learning about life.

This is why students are getting, for me, a diluted university experience: they never really shake off their bounds to home and friends enough to explore their new environment, new people, new scenes, new everything. It’s too easy when it gets tough or lonely to snap back to their old life and ‘not try’. I’m not saying this isn’t needed, clearly some need this safety net for a good many reasons, but there are some who just need to try harder where they are now and get on with it. How are they going to graduate as mature capable adults if it’s been easy to avoid conflict or hard decisions?

Come on, one and all … what are your observations about freshers when you were one and the current cream of the crop? Have you noticed the changes and how do you think they impact on the ‘university experience’ – good or bad? You notice I haven’t mentioned the tuition fess .. oh damn, I just did!

Image Source

Amazon Cloud Player App

Amazon Cloud Player App

Amazon Cloud Player AppAmazon Cloud Player (iPhone, iPad, iPod): If, like me, you download music from Amazon you already know that the DRM-free files load easily into iTunes and play nicely (and with good quality sound reproduction) on all iOS devices. Recently available in the UK is the Amazon Cloud Player which enables you, for free, to access all the music you downloaded from Amazon, ever.

  • Note: I prefer Amazon for downloading music as its (a) usually cheaper than iTunes, (b) better choice on compilation & special editions, and (c) DRM free MP3 files (not AAC, which don’t play on all devices).

So, to the app …

“Your music. Everywhere. Listen to your music collection from the cloud on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad anywhere you are. You can download or stream your library from the cloud – or play the music you already have on your device.”

Amazon Cloud Player (Free): http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/amazon-cloud-player/id510855668

You have the ability to match your other downloaded music from other sources (iTunes included) and have these available through the Cloud Player, but you are limited to 250 tracks on the free services – if you want more then you can have the Premium account for £21.99 per year and up to 250,000 tracks! That’s a whole lot of music, and more than iTunes offers at the moment.

  • You can link up to 10 devices to your Cloud Player.
  • You can create your online library to match the music stored on your computer(s) by using Amazon’s “scan and match” technology, which searches a catalogue of 20 million tracks.
  • All matched songs are automatically stored by Cloud Player in high-quality 256 Kbps audio.
  • All Amazon MP3 purchases, including music that you bought before the Cloud was introduced, are automatically saved to Cloud Player for free! Nice

What is also great about the Cloud Player is that you can access it from any web browser so you can have your music playing on your desktop while you work (very useful if you’ve not got much battery life left in your device).

At the moment I’m using my iPhone for recording and editing video so, as I’ve only got the base 16GB model, I deleted all my music and quite a few apps to free up storage space … this app gives me the ability to at least access some tunes.

One aspect of the App that I’m really impressed with is that it continues to play the music even when you start using other apps, it leaves it playing the background. This may be a small thing but other apps that I’d hope to continue in the background don’t and, when you go back to it again you have to wait from them to re-start and re-load the details, often losing where you were in the process.

YouTube: Amazon Cloud Player

Here are some images from the iPhone version of the artist, album, song listing screens as well as the player itself and settings:

UK Copyright – making sense of it

We all are bound to the copyright laws, but they are long and complicated. This series of videos produced by my old friends at CIPPM / Bournemouth University are worth watching.

These are really good videos to watch and share as they cover different aspects of how copyright has an impact on what we do, as professionals or individuals, and are worth sharing with colleagues and students (especially the last two on libraries, DRM, and license agreements).

This first one deals with a basic introduction to copyright law on YouTube:

The rest of the series covers other aspects of modern life and how copyright ‘infringes’ on what we do (or don’t do):

Classic Literature as Text and MP3 Downloads

While this may not be relevant to many academics in higher education (unless you’re involved in literature or language courses) this is still an excellent resource that many more people should know about … it’s called Lit2Go.

Lit2Go is;

“a collaboration between the Florida Department of Education and the USF College of Education [and] is dedicated to supporting literacy teaching and learning by providing access to historically and culturally significant literature in schools.”

So, what can you do with it? You can;

  • Download the MP3 files and listen on the move or at your PC,
  • View the text on a webpage and read along as you listen, or print them out and read wherever you want.

There are two easy ways to search and download the work you want, from a selection of over 5000 works from the likes of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Shakespeare, Beatrix Potter, and many more;

Presentation: A Pocket University (or iTunesU at Oxford University)

If you have any question about whether you and your Institution should think a little more seriously about getting involved in iTunesU, then take a look through this amazing presentation below from Peter Robinson and Oxford University. It was presented at the 2009 Future of Technology in Education (FOTE) conference.

FOTE09 – Peter Robinson: A Pocket University: Open
Content and Mobile Technology – Oxford on iTunesU