Thursday, May 11, 2006

Networked Learning workshops

I guess some people might be noticing the old Teach and Learn Online blog slowing down. Well I've noticed anyway. Its that fulltime job you see... its not that I'm not blogging! I'm still blogging as furious as ever, but more to do with my job. Below is a recent post that may be a little interesting to some readers of TALO. You can see what else I've been doing at my work journal.

Since the podcast about podcasting session, there's been an increase in the number of people at Otago Polytechnic interested in audio recording and publishing. We had a few people at the Digital Video Recording and Editing workshop yesteray. Merrolee wanted to find out how to make her mobile phone recordings available online. Julia is interested in how she can AV record her presentations and make them available online. Rachel is interested in current trends in video for use in her photography classes. Phil turned up to get ideas. Bronwyn was there as well. Ken couldn't make it because of a meeting, but her is interested in audio recording and podcasting lectures.

Seeing as this was the first workshop on digital video, I kinda held the floor for the hour going over all the different things involved, and explaining what it doesn't involve - for me.

I started off explaining how this workshop fits in the series of workshops in networked learning, and how there is an eMail list for the participants to continue discussion before and after workshops. I showed how everyone is a manager in that eMail list and urged everyone to invite and add others. I also demonstrated how to RSVP a time for workshops from the workshop calendar.

Then I moved into what the session is about. I pulled out my little pocket camera and explained my perspective on these camera's video recording capabilities. For the most part these cameras do a good enough job in terms of quality for use on today's internet. The fact that they can only record short lengths of video is a blessing in my view. Like the expense of film, storage issues for digital cameras means we are more careful and thoughtful in how we shoot video. This naturally leads us into a practice of in camera editing, which in the long run is a very good practice to get in to.

From that I showed YouTube. One of many free DIY video publishing web sites that offers free streaming for your videos. I showed some of my uses of YouTube and demonstrated the extra benefits of using socially networked services like YouTube - especially how when you upload a video of your own, it automatically relates your video with other videos like it, based on how you describe yours. This can be a valuable feature that will save we teachers from "reinventing wheels", and networking us with other video creators with similar interests.

I showed how I am largely using YouTube for screencasting. I use the free and open source screen recorder CamStudio to record demonstrations of using particular websites and software. I then upload the demos to YouTube and copy the code offered by YouTube and past it in this blog to display the video in context, as such:

If you are reading this post in your email, then it is likely that you cannot see the video. The email has been forwarded from the original blog post. Click the "educational development" link at the bottom of the email to see this post in its original context.

I then talked about the limitations of YouTube only really being usable to people who have access to broad band Internet. Unfortunately, YouTube does not yet offer a feature of being able to download the video to play offline. What we need is a service that will at least allow people to set their computers to download a video file so that they can walk away and come back next morning and have a video file to play.

So I showed OurMedia. OurMedia offers unlimited file storage, non commercially. It is the contemporary media capture arm of the Internet Archive, an impressive project working towards the goal of offering universal access to all human knowledge.

But before uploading video to OurMedia, it is a good idea to process our orginal video into a size and format that is optimized for the Internet. I use the free video converter Videora. Videora processes videos into the MPEG4 format which is playable in the Quicktime player, as well as the iPod video player. It is generally accepted to be the most widely used and playable format.

Once original video has been processed into MPEG4, it can be uploaded to OurMedia, and then the Universal Resource Locator (URL or Link) is offered by OurMedia for you to copy and use in your online communications. That is the link that people on slower connection can use to save the video to their computer for viewing later.

We talked about a whole bunch of other issues and potentials in the workshop, but hopefully these notes cover the core elements.

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Doug Noon said...

Leigh, the link to Videora may be useful for me, thanks. If you ever want to test your new ideas on someone who is stuck with a slow dial-up connection, you can contact me. Because of where my house is located relative to the rest of the planet, I can't seem to do much better than 26400bps. Podcasts, video, even big images are all a pain and not generally worth it. (There's still a big white spot in the middle of your post.)

Don't know how long it's going to be until I can use some of this stuff away from the fast connection at work, where I don't have time to mess with it anyway. It's hard for me to get interested in all the talk about networked audio and video that has sprung up in the last year. I've considered writing about this problem, of feeling "left behind," but I'm afraid it will come off sounding like an irrelevant whine.

I'm curious to know if you think that the technology is going to push the connection speed, the file compression ability, both, or whether the entire business is going to leave a lot of people wondering what the hell everyone else is doing? I don't know if I'm in the minority or not. But that's the benefit of living near the edge. I generally don't need to care about what I don't know....just curious.

Leigh Blackall said...

Hi Doug,

This issue comes up quite a bit in our work, as many people in New Zealand have limited bandwidth as you do. A lot of people here choose to stay with dial up connections as well, I guess there'll always be people like that too.

Access, digital divides and stuff like that have always been an important issue to keep in mind, and so I look at it like this:

At the moment I am uploading videos to the free streaming services like YouTube. For those on average connections who can't get much joy from YouTube, I upload to OurMedia for people to set their computer to download the video and come back the next day to (hopefully) see it on their desktop. On top of that I am saving them all to burn to CD when I have a CD's worth, for mail out or by ordering from lulu self publishing or something. The last thing to do is transcribe the audio in a wiki for key points mentioned so people with various access isssues can at least get an idea.

This should just about cover the access issues... eventually. I don't do it all at once, just progressively and not all of it gets done.

So that more or less covers the access issues. As for the digital divide, yes I do thing those on slow connections are getting left behind (again). Brewster Kharl talks about ways of networking WiFi around small towns and remote areas to achieve significant improvements in bandwidth. He is of the opinion that if we can't get Internet bandwidth to a level of streaming DVD quality video, then we're not there yet. It's well worth listening to Brewster's speach hey! Perhaps download it when you're at work or the town library.

I remember thinking (back when I was on dial up) that all these multi media for the web monkeys just didn't live in the real world.. but now I'm lucky enough to have access to, and be able to afford broadband, I have discovered a whole new dimension of the Internet!