Lecture capture tools: Office mix and Adobe Presenter

I recently put together two “how to” documents for Haskayne explaining Office Mix and Adobe Presenter as  lecture capture tools and the concept of the flipped classroom.

There are some helpful papers and websites listed as well.

Please let me know if you have any questions, and feedback is always welcome.

 

 

 

The Course Trailer Experience

This past summer, I made a course trailer for a class called KNES213: Introduction to Research in Kinesiology for Dr. Larry Katz. I want to share my experience taking on this project because I learned a lot from it and hopefully my experience can inform yours should you choose to create a course trailer of your own.

Be meticulous with your scheduling

I approached Dr. Katz mid-June with the project idea and he jumped on board right away. We set the deadline for the final project to be early September so it would be ready for his Fall 2016 class. What we did not realize in June however, was how difficult it would be to arrange meetings to complete the project. Between our travel plans and all of the other work we had over the summer, there wasn’t much wiggle room and as a result, much of the work was still left undone by August. Luckily Dr. katz has a wide network of support so while I was absent for the last two weeks of summer, the project miraculously finished itself.

Set realistic goals

You can go out and hire a whole film and production team to make a Hollywood-grade production, or you can make an amateur video that will make you cringe and groan every time you look back on it. In my opinion, the most important part of these videos is the message that you are trying to send, and video quality doesn’t necessarily take away from the message (unless your trailer is for a film and design class I suppose.) So don’t fret if you don’t have the resources for a critically acclaimed trailer, but if you do and want to invest a bit more, nobody is stopping you from going the extra mile!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

This project was extremely exciting in the beginning but as the deadline loomed closer and closer, it was becoming less of a fun challenge and more of a hardship. This was an especially hard truth to reconcile with since I was the one that invovled Dr. Katz in this project in the first place so I didn’t want to say I was losing faith in the project I had started. However, Dr. Katz had invited a huge team of individuals to help with the project from the get-go, so when I expressed my concern for the time constraint and my travel plans, the framework to accommodate for any bumps in the road was already present, and asking for help allowed me to realize there really wasn’t much to worry about.

All in all, making a course trailer was a fantastic experience! I got to look at the course again through a different lens, and also learned how to use amateur animation software. It was definitely a challenge that I would love to take on again.

Live Streaming the “Fruit Fly Life Cycle” to the Classroom

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Hi!, my name is Laura and I’m a Learning Technologies Coach for Science. Let me tell you about a cool project I’ve been working on during this Fall semester.

The project was meant for first year biology students and consisted on implementing a real time observation activity of the Fruit Flies’ life cycle. Fruit flies….those annoying but amazing little insects that most of us brush aside, have been responsible for some of the greatest discoveries in modern science. They go through their entire life cycle in about 15 days! That’s why they are an ideal model organism and a great learning tool.

What did we do?

The project required the creation of a reliable live stream video that would be accessible to 400 students daily during the Flies’ life cycle (around 15 days). The activity was designed to be accessed through the D2L site of the course.

How did we do?

The instructor prepared the experimental set up for the flies and I set up a desktop computer to be used for the streaming. The live streaming was done daily through YouTube during 5/6 hours and integrated into D2L. In that way, the last 3 hours of the streaming were saved and stored in the YouTube Biol205 channel every day.

How did it go?

It was a UToday story last October!. The activity turned out to be really cool, lots of views from students and lots of ideas on how to improve it started flourishing right after the activity was launched.

A reflection….

We faced many challenges with the technology. The most difficult one was finding the appropriate camera. We needed to be able to capture good quality images from the the starting tiny larvae all the way up to the flies. Thanks to a great tech advice we found what we needed: Logitech HD Pro Webcam c920. Great inexpensive web-cam with manual focus control through software.

As a coach, I learned a lot of things by working closely with the instructor in this project, by facing different kind of challenges, by pushing things to the limit and trying to do the best we can, and …. I learned things I didn’t know about flies.

It was a great experience, I enjoyed a lot by doing it and I got the chance to see a hatching event live! 🙂

 

Twelve Apps of Christmas

For those who are interested in new and different e-learning apps, you might want to check out 12 Apps of Christmas. This is an initiative put on by BC Campus to have post-secondary educators try out different apps and discuss them. They have a contest going to keep the comments going, on-topic and engaging.

So far they’ve tried out a favourite here, Padlet, as well as two tools from Google. It’ll be  interesting to see what’s next.

Who am I?

Judy Tran

Hello there! My name is Judy Tran and I am the Learning Technologies Coach for the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning . I’d like to tell you a bit about myself and my work here at the University of Calgary.

Who am I?

I am a third-year undergraduate student in the Faculty of Kinesiology. I got looped into this exciting job because of my interest in teaching. It is my hope to eventually graduate (after who knows how many years) and become a teacher, so when I saw the opportunity to work as a Learning Technologies Coach for the Taylor Institute, I immediately thought this was the perfect position for me. So what exactly does this job entail and why would I be so eager to be involved with the Taylor Institute? This question brings us to the next section of:

What do I do?

Each faculty on campus has or is in the process of hiring their own Coach, and part of the job description is to help faculty members with integrating technology into their classes. This can include providing guidance on using a tool to enhance the way their class is taught, like using Padlet.com as an annotation tool. The Taylor Institute is a fantastic environment to consider ideas of technology integration – the Learning Studios are really innovative spaces that are equipped with technology and designed for flexibility.

My role as a Coach within the building is to understand how to use the technology we have, and how to help instructors and workshop facilitators use the technology to their advantage to support and encourage learning. One project of mine that is my pride and joy was making a course trailer this past summer for a Kinesiology class I had taken the winter prior. I also act as a first line of contact for instructors over the course of a semester in the event that they need technological support. Many of my tasks are filtered through to me from my colleagues in the EDU, so if you are interested in having an extra pair of hands on board, don’t hesitate to mention my name.

 

I hope this provides a little more clarity on the role of Learning Technology Coaches. As mentioned before, there is a Coach for each faculty so take the time to find out who yours is. We’re here as a foundation of support and we’ve been involved in lots of cool projects so I encourage you to take advantage of this readily available resource!

Our ‘D2L Basics’ Workshop at the Faculty of Arts

d2l

This post is about how my fellow LT coach at the Faculty of Arts – Hany Ibrahim and I organized and presented a workshop on D2L Basics.  I will take you through the different stages of preparation and then the workshop itself.

What to cover?

First, after answering numerous professors’ questions on how to build a course on D2L, we realized we had to give a session on the very basic stuff, to instruct a bunch of people at the same time, rather than each one of them individually. We decided to cover the topics that regularly came up as questions during our one-on-one sessions and ended up with 5 large areas: Adding content into D2L, Communications with the Class, Creating a Gradebook, Creating a Dropbox, How to Release and Export Final Grades.

How to present?

Next, we had two ideas on how to present the material: as a PowerPoint Presentation or just to show directly how to do these things on D2L using our Sandboxes. After a long consideration, we decided to combine the two as our goal was to make something hands-on and visual. We also printed out hand-outs with instructions from elearn.ucalgary.ca

How to organize?

We set the date of the workshop and collasuccessful-presentationborated closely with our Associate Dean – Dr. Dawn Johnston, who helped us book a room, send out a series of advertising emails around the Faculty of Arts and even organize some catering (coffee and muffins).

How did it go?

It was great! The Workshop ran quite smoothly and received positive feedback.

What could be improved?

What we realized was that PowerPoint Slides are only good for presenting the overall structure of the Workshop, not for showing the sequence of steps a D2L User needs to take. Everything should just be shown on D2L, and the professors can simply rely on hand-outs from elearn.ucalgary.ca for detailed instructions that they can take home with them.

Another issue was the time. The room was booked immediately after our workshop, and we only had 1 hour, which was barely sufficient for the amount of information we were going to present. Consequently, we didn’t have much time for the profs’ questions. However, they had a chance to ask questions during our presentation as we went along.

What next?

Now we are planning another workshop for more advanced D2L users to cover some features professors may be unaware of. We would also like to incorporate the professors’ feedback and questions into it to come up to the expectations of as many people as possible.

 

Podcasting 101

Podcasting Suggestions

Generally, when building a stereo rig the prevailing ideology is to build from the source out. So, in an analogue world you’d get the best turntable and stylus first and then worry about better speakers. The rationale being If the needle can’t read the record well the quality of the speakers are irrelevant since they are a downstream component. The signal is amplified from the source out. For recording it’s pretty much the same idea. No matter how fancy the software nothing will overcome a bad microphone or room dynamics. Some things just cannot be fixed in post production.

Microphones

There are plenty of microphones available that work well for basic podcasting. This article outlines many good choices. Based on the usages I have seen so far in the various courses though I personally recommend the Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone – Silver Edition (there are different colours if you care).

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There are several reasons I recommend this microphone:

  • Allows for different recording patterns. (Aligning the recording pattern to the type of recording is very important. The company website has a graphic of the capabilities.) . 
  • The Blue Yeti is a USB microphone which makes it much easier for novices. Choosing a non USB microphone introduces an additional layer of complexity because you have to then get a board and other gear that really isn’t necessary. A high quality podcast can be recorded with a USB microphone.
  • Blue Yeti is arguably the most popular USB microphone on the market making troubleshooting for it exceptionally easy. There is a wealth of information. Furthermore, it will be compatible with any competent audio software. 

Acoustics

Acoustics is almost as important as the microphone. For podcasting you really want to try to reduce room noise (the sound of a buzzing fridge in the background) and echoes. This link I’ve included lays out some really easy steps to take to improve acoustics. For example, recording in a carpeted room makes a big difference. Even small things like having a large rug and curtains in the room make a larger impact than you would expect. You can also build a really cheap foam barrier which the link above discusses to reduce echo.

Software

Personally, I use Garageband because it is easy to use and free. Honestly, the core abilities you will need in the software are equalization, noise gate, compressor, trimming, and mixing. Podcasting does not require an advanced software suite and it probably makes more sense to discuss these settings in practice rather than here. Often you don’t need to use a compressor or a noise gate but they make for a more professional product. 

Accessibility

Also, very important but more seldom discussed is accessing a podcast. I am not sure the culture of posting materials regarding how professors feel about sharing their content to a “wider” internet audience vs keeping it locked behind D2L. However, a proper podcast should really be posted to a RSS feed that can then be read by podcast aggregators like iTunes, Google Music, or whatever. I’ve gone through the process of getting a podcast listed on iTunes and it is exceptionally easy. There are many ways to structure it but you could have feeds for every class so a student opens the feed and all of the podcasts are ready to go in chronological order and easily accessible and playable on any device of their choosing. This discussion is probably a more lengthy one but I would be happy to discuss it more in person. 

An aside about the pitfalls of podcasting. Don’t be a podcast tyrant.

When recording in a new room it is inevitable some mistake will happen that requires the re-recording of a podcast. The risk can be minimized with test recording but eventually something will happen. I lost a 2 hour recordings once because of a fridge buzz. Problems like this are almost impossible to fix in post production. It is simply better to re-record the podcast. Basically, what I am getting at here is don’t publish a podcast that has a glaring audio issue. No one will listen to it. Audio issues are magnified substantially when listening in headphones, which I would suggest is how most students are listening to podcasts. Furthermore, it’s simply bad etiquette to force someone to listen to something that is unlistenable. Lastly, the most important piece of advice I have is don’t write a script write a skeleton. Have a structure of where you want to go in a podcast but don’t write a complete script. If you are reading from paper verbatim it will be monotone and the timing will always be unsettling to the listener. When recording visualize you are having a one sided conversation with an invisible guest. This will make the podcast infinitely more engaging to the listener. You want to get better at having a conversation with a microphone not how to write a better script. The essence of a podcasting, like radio, is conversational.

Google Doc on how to remote record a participant:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1zAzfVEoiDNAAyDEJCF3SjsWH0mUXjFLTtgnMIWYN1CQ/edit#!