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For the last four or five weeks, we’ve been walking in the Dales most weekends.  While recording the latest elearning stuff podcast last week, we had a brief discussion on the use of animoto so thought I’d use some of the photos from the last trip up Great Knoutberry Hill to do a short video.

Yes I know – too many sunrise and Hellifield Station photos, but I like it.

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A pal of mine, Andy Dubieniec, was diagnosed with non-hodgkins Lymphoma in May 2008.  He’s currently undergoing chemotherapy and last weekend he completed the the coast to coast cycle ride in 17 hours.  He also managed to record a number of mini videos along the way and has incorporated them into an eBook.  What a great use of technology to share what is essentially a very solitary effort.  Great stuff Andy, well done, and good luck with the final chemo today.

Myebook - Coast to Coast - click here to open my ebook

My colleagues Margaret McKay and Craig Mill from the Scottish RSCs along with the good people at TechDis have produced a superb resource containing 40 different open source and freeware assistive technology applications which can be accessed from a USB flash drive.  As they are accessible direct from the usb drive so there is no need to install any software.  This means that a user can just plug in the drive at any computer they intend to work on.  They offer software to support those with a visual impairment or motor difficulties as well as assistance in writing, reading and planning.

They are free to download from http://www.rsc-ne-scotland.ac.uk/accessapps/. They also contain a full guide to their use and a complete series of TechDis ‘Accessiblitly Essentials

They’ve even produced a video ad for them.

A great resource and as it is totally portable is completely inclusive.  We are getting some free usb drives with them all loaded so I’ll be handing them out like sweeties in the next month or so.   A full list of the applications is here.

I’ve just come back from a fantastic few days in Nice in the South of France (more later) and while I was away it was the ALT-C 2008 – Association of Learning Technologists Conference in Leeds.  As well as the usual conference keynotes and break out sessions, they hold workshops where you actually have to do stuff.  James Clay is a pal of mine and with a couple of colleagues produced this video looking at the ‘digital divide’. Oh and it was scripted, recorded and all techie stuff done within 30 minutes – impressive.


I’d say a homage to Life of Brian, Smith and Jones and Pete and Dud with the expletives removed.  Well done guys.

Lee and Sachi LeFever at Commoncraft have produced another cracking video explaining how social media works.  As part of our job we spend a lot of time trying explaining to people how and why Web 2.0 works and there you go –  they’ve done it in all of 4 minutes. Watch and enjoy – or you can download it here.

I wrote a few days ago about the work being done at one of the Specialist Colleges in the North West. I’ve written an article for our newsletter for it so thought I’d post it up here as I’m quite excited by it.

“Langdon Lecturer prompts new National Project

Langdon College is an Independent Specialist College in Salford in Manchester. They are part of the successful ‘Mobile in Salford’ bid for MoLeNet funds along with Pendleton, Eccles and Salford Colleges. Langdon are the smallest college in the North West with 17 students who primarily come from the Manchester and London Jewish communities. As part of their commitment to providing an ‘inclusive multi faceted extended curriculum’, they are using a number of mobile devices to enable learners to more successfully transfer the skills they learn in college to both the college residences and their own homes.

The college has bought a range of equipment to trial, including Samsung Q1 touch screen tablet PCs, Asus Eeepc, iPods and portable DVD players.

David Foden, the Independent Living Skills lecturer is leading the way, providing video instructions on basic cooking techniques. The learners access the instructions through an interactive PowerPoint© slide. The page is divided into grids with either symbol or verbal instructions. On pressing the relevant square, the video loads and the learner can follow the instructions on the screen. Each task has been broken down into its constituent parts so that it follows a simple and logical sequence. So the first instruction is to wash your hands, followed by putting on an apron etc.

By having these instructions on mobile appliances, the learners can take them back to the residences where support staff can ensure that they follow the procedure then have been learning in college. Similarly, when the learner goes home for the weekend or half term holiday, they can show their parents or carers how they can make their own lunch. This will allow the students more independence as they tend to become deskilled when they return home as things are done for them. The learners now have ‘homework’ to do in half term to make at least one simple snack meal of beans or cheese on toast.

One downside of this work is the time it takes to make the videos and the interactive Powerpoint © presentations. David was sure that there were other lecturers in Specialist and Mainstream colleges doing much the same thing and wanted a way to share his videos. He approached the RSC North West who contacted TechDis. John Sewell, Senior Adviser for Specialist Colleges at TechDis commented ‘short video clips are a great way of showing how to do things and the way that they have been put together by David Foden at Langdon is great. So great it needs to be shared; these clips take time to produce so it makes sense to share. We aim to put together a national resource to do just that’.

The RSC NorthWest will be working closely with TechDis to ensure that this national resource is set up and maintained. David has kindly offered to be the first to share his work. We will be contacting colleges in the next few months with details”.

The exciting bit is the last bit – along with TechDis we are hoping to both set up a TeacherTube account for video sharing but also create a portal using Xerte to add accessibility features to the videos.

Penguin books have launched a new initiative to tell six different stories in six weeks, using Google maps. Yes I did write that. The first one is available now and is called The 21 Steps – a homage to The 39 Steps by John Buchan. “One minute, Rick Blackwell is sightseeing at St. Pancras in London; the next, he’s caught up in a conspiracy that takes him far away from home. Rick needs to use all his skills to find out why a dying stranger seemed to know his name – and to stay alive”.

It’s an interesting exercise and I enjoyed it. On the longer journeys, my screen didn’t update quickly enough, but that is more likely a fault of my PC rather than the technology and be patient in Chapter 4 – you do get there eventually.  There will be six stories altogether, the next one will be available on Tuesday 25 March. This would make a great tool for teaching and learning.

YouTube have announced the winners of the most popular clips on their site for 2007 as voted for by viewers. At the same time Professor Michael Wesch from Kansas State University, who produced the ‘Vision of Students today’ video has produced some statistics for the site. Total video uploads as of January 28th this year – 70 million, March 13th 77.4 million and March 17th 78.3 million – suggesting that 150,000 to 200,000 are uploaded each day. They did a short breakdown of categories from a sample – the details of which are here, and came up with some interesting figures.

The time to watch all content, as of 17 March would be 412.3 years.

Amateur content – 80.3%

Uploads probably in violation of copyright – 12%

Average age of uploader 26.57

This is an ongoing piece of research and you can see the wiki for the project here.

I posted about the videos that Lee LeFever and his colleagues at Commoncraft make a few months ago. Their ‘Zombies in Plain English’ has been short listed for a Yahoo video best animation award.

You can vote for them here.

Why didn’t we have stuff like this when I was at school. You can download it here

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