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My colleague Kev Hickey has been using our newly purchased video and mac editing stuff to produce a short video guide to using a digital notepad.  This is a great bit of kit ideal for use off site and away from computers and technology – and a great video – well done Kev.

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1178263&dest=-1]

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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.

It’s been a busy week with lots of visits to learning providers and we’ve seen lots of really innovative and imaginative use of mobile devices. On Wednesday, colleagues and I went up to West Cumbria for a meeting and spend the afternoon ‘playing’ with lots of the new kit that the college had bought with the ‘Learning for Living and Work‘ funds. Unfortuntaely the Wii’s were in use in the classrooms but we did have a go with the digital movie makers and the Tony Hawk headcams (these are usually used for skateboarders but did the job well). They are a great bit of kit for recording evidence of achievement in the workplace. They use the same software as the digi-cams so the college had managed to negotiate a half day’s training for 40 staff. I was delighted to hear they made sure that it was curriculum staff who had the training as well as the learning support staff – as ‘this technology is not just good for learners with disabilities or difficulties but for all learners’ – hurrah – someone who has seen the light. but I would say that wouldn’t I.

At the end of the week, I went to a Specialist College in North Manchester where I was fascinated to see the progress they’d made using mobile technology. They are part of a consortium which won a MoLeNet grant (yes that is the correct spelling it stands for Mobile Learning Network) and have invested heavily in some impressive kit. The Independent living skills lecturer has made some videos of recipes and instructions in a very clear and ordered way. Using an impressive Samsung handheld touch screen PC the learner can navigate their way round the instructions via an interactive PowerPoint page. The instructions were set in a grid showing either a symbol or word depending on the learner’s ability and tapping the square launched the next bit of film. Even better the learners can take the device from college to the residences or even home and practice their skills. As usual the big draw back of all this is the time taken – unfortuneately we haven’t worked out a way of cloning staff yet!

Although the Samsung was impressive, they will probably be using the small Asus eeepcs for most of the learners. These are fab small computers with a 7″ screen, but with no moving parts and with a Linux operating system. They are so fast it’s unbelievable and you are typing within a minute of switching on and at £200 worth every penny complete with speakers, webcam and wifi!

We heard this week that there are an estimated 13 million surveillance cameras in Britain. One unsigned band from Manchester decided to use them to their own advantage. They played their set to cctv cameras all over the city and then wrote to the companies asking for the footage under the ‘Freedon of Information Act’. Although not all of them replied, they had enough to produce a great looking video and for free. Cheeky, creative and good music.

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

Animoto seems to be all over the blogs at the moment. It’s a great site that creates professional standard videos from your photos. There are a number of music tracks you can choose and you can do a 30 second video for free. See here for my trip to Emau Hill.

The people at CommonCraft who brought us the brilliant videos such as ‘Wikis in Plain English‘ and ‘Social Bookmarking in Plain English’ have brought out an instructional video just in time for Halloween. It’s title is ‘Zombies in Plain English‘ and it gives clear and unambiguous instructions on what to do in the event of a Zombie attack.

zombies.jpg

I recommend you watch it and be prepared.

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