2011-02-09T15:38:44.031+00:00Just a message to anyone who attended the JISC Digital Media surgery. Please do contact me if you or anyone you know are using screencast feedback. Or thinking about it. Every story is different and I am keen to share what we are finding out.
2011-01-20T22:12:13.277+00:00I continue to use my Challenge Card activity in my audio workshops. In the last year or so I have collected several hundred cards from people who are interested in using digital audio (they're coming to my workshops) but nonetheless identify challenges that they will have to address if they are to move forward. The challenges include all aspects of institutional infrastructure provision: access to equipment, storage quotas for staff and students, management buy-in and leadership, network rights, distribution tools, mentors, training, local e-learning support, etc.
2011-01-20T21:47:46.442+00:00I have just finished running three workshops at the University of Ulster about the different ways academics and students in HE/FE are using the recorded voice to enhance learning. I played some examples of media produced by students, tutors and others featuring the voices of all of the above as well as professionals and members of the public. Probably my favourite piece of audio comes from the CIPEL CETEL and features a young women with Downes Syndrome talking about what it's like and the achievements that she is proud of. The point of the clip in the workshop is that I could write about what she said, and even transcribe it, but its power is in her voice, as you might imagine. The listener is able to make such a strong emotional connection with her. This allows me to talk about audio feedback and audio assignment briefing and the many other techniques that people are now using in the sector.
2010-10-29T20:32:30.598+01:00A model for facilitating learner feedback and reflection using mobile phone technology was presented this week at the Media-Enhanced Feedback event in Sheffield. The MoRe approach was initially trialled with a small group of dyslexic student teachers over a period of 8 weeks during the academic year 2009/10 within Success North, a Centre for Excellence in Teacher Training based at Newcastle College by Chrissi Nerantzi. It uses WordPress.com and iPadio.com as accessible Web 2.0 technologies, allowing tutors and peers to communicate asynchronously via phones, building up a reflective log. She says, "Findings show that participating student teachers did indeed deepen their reflections as the pilot progressed and found the whole experience very positive, flexible and enjoyable. These findings provided food for thought and I am currently exploring further interventions." More information can be found at the pilot study's website and a case study will be published on the MELSIG website shortly.
2010-10-29T20:07:38.703+01:00Audio Feedback has always been the killer app for audio-enhanced learning. It is the perfect and obvious marriage of digital audio to the pressing needs of education, most notable in what students have been telling us for years in the National Student Survey: students want feedback on their work. This has been said often enough and probably in every paper that has been published on audio feedback in the last few years.
2010-10-08T10:00:43.747+01:00Susannah Diamond and myself are putting the finishing touches to our chapter on the capacity of infrastructure at UK universities to support innovation around user-generated media for learning. We have presented on this topic at ALT-C 2009 and a few other events in the last year or so. It's a relatively dry topic for me, but one that is absolutely critical. It is clear that there are great people out there doing great things with digital media. But this is despite inadequate infrastructure in their universities.
2010-09-27T09:23:23.553+01:00Just reading Nicola Durbridge's contribution to Bates' 'The Role of Technology in Distance Education' published way back in 1984 I think. This is the era of the audio cassette and the chapter reflects on why it was useful for UK Open University teachers.
2010-10-08T17:05:13.181+01:00I'm still reading too many articles on educational podcasting that praise or condemn it using inappropriate methodology. This applies to all learning technology, but obviously I tend to pay particular attention to those that deal with the use of digital audio.I am not going to name any particular articles here, but I will say I have seen examples of this woolly thinking in mainstream, peer reviewed journals.There are two things to highlight here: acquisition of the term 'podcasting' and the methodology used. Perennial question: what do we mean by 'podcasting'? (feel free to replace 'podcasting' with your preferred learning technology as you read)Podcasting is a technology, and one that is used in places other than education. Within education it's application is legion. Evaluation of a learning technology is only useful and of interest when it's very particular context is understood: who were the students? How many of them? What discipline, culture, topic were they part of? Who was the academic? What was their need, previous experience, expectation? What institution was involved and how well supported was the initiative by developers, technologists, services departments, strategies, policies and leadership? Pedagogically, did the use of technology complement, supplement or replace existing methods or content? Etc, etcDescribing such factors obviously takes a lot of work and makes presenting 'findings' tedious or complex, nevertheless I would suggest understanding the subtleties of a given context is critical in making any judgement. More important than this, however, is knowing what the word podcasting means to the writer. In reading between the many lines associated with usage of the word in the academic press (especially when it hasn't been made clear) it usually means 'distributing lecture recordings' or what I would call 'coursecasting'. Can we please pay more attention to describing how the technology is being used and avoid short hand assumptions? If someone at my university says "I hear students don't like podcasting?" my heart sinks. I think we know that many students don't listen to lecture recordings and that they should be regarded as supplementary. But this would not be the case with audio briefings or expert interviews, for example, that are distributed through a module's podcast. Or 100 other techniques that might be used by staff and students to make learning a richer experience. Some people (eg France & Ribchester) refer to audio feedback as podcasting. You might want to discuss that with them, but you can see how referring to the technology has little bearing in the value of what is done in a given situation. While I'm griping, the second thing I want to mention is inappropriate research methodologies in discussing academic innovation where it involves technologies such as podcasting. In disciplines where quantitative methodology is common, an academic will frequently use quantitative methods to evaluate educational applications. This is very often inappropriate and lazy. Often sample sizes are too small, the subject being evaluated is emerging and I'll-defined, the criteria or measures are too precise to capture inexact behaviour and opinion. Qualitative methods, on the other hand, can be used to capture rich stories and diverse accounts. They make fewer claims to certainty and are more reliable and even generalisable. They often require more effort in terms of collating and interpreting the data, but immersion in such data usually is evident in the rich writing that follows. So can we have more papers that talk about the nature of the teaching and learning experience as mediated by technologies and more qualitative accounts that allow the reader room to interpret what they read and so map findings to their own contexts?- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone[...]
2010-09-24T17:40:30.947+01:00This is a rather provocative title and perhaps it is there to provoke me more than anyone else.
2010-05-21T18:07:42.930+01:00Education has put a lot of effort into addressing plagiarism in recent years using e-learning technologies like electronic submission, Turnitin and Google. How does plagiarism relate to digital media assignments such as podcasts and digital storytelling?
Location:Lambra Rd,Barnsley,United Kingdom
2010-05-13T09:54:48.590+01:00One of the ideas I keep returning to, and have used personally, in my consideration of educational audio is a-PDP. This is one of the mobile and opportunistic approaches that I believe demonstrates the value of the medium.With this idea the learner autonomously records a note at the end of their learning day (a personal point in each learner's day when they make some disconnection from their studies). The learner simply answers the following three questions: "What have I done today? What have I learnt today? What am I going to do about it?"The next day, perhaps as they walk onto campus, they spend five minutes listening back to their notes. Periodically they return to their audio notes at a time when they have the capacity to reflect - perhaps once a week for half an hour on a Wednesday. They spend that time listening back and writing (yes writing!) deeper notes around what they have heard, focusing more on the actions they took or did not take and what they learnt by taking those actions.With this scenario in mind, technically what happens?This is partly based on the idea that most students carry an audio recorder with them wherever they go; the Voice Memo tool on their mobile phone. Last year we handed out about 60 mp3 recorders to students and when my own daughter started uni thus year I bought her a tiny 4GB recorder for about £35 too. So whether it's phones, Mp3 recorder, laptop, netbook, flip video camera, or whatever, students increasingly have access to technology suited to supporting a-PDP.Turning from the idea and the technologies involved in capturing the learner's thoughts, where do these a-PDP notes go? And how? And this, as with other great ideas for educational podcasting is where things can get messy. The simple answer would be that the audio doesn't go anywhere. It stays on the device used to create it and that it where the learner listens back as the later synthesise their immediate thoughts into more considered notes. However, this is not good enough for some who like the idea of using a portfolio. So far I have described a-PDP as being entirely autonomous and informal - it sits outside the formal, planned curriculum. But student Portfolios have been an important and ongoing focus for educatators in UK HE since Dearing. Attempts have been in place to see PDP and portfolio systems integrated into academic practice for some time. Therefore, sometimes PDP practice isn't private and autonomous. Sometimes there is a requirement to manage and reflect in public, or at least within eye shot of your tutor.Evernote is a system I've been looking at recently (Evernote.com). It offers free accounts and a premium service too It allows the user to make, store, tag and discover notes in a number of media including audio voice memos. These notes can be made using the apps Evernote have developed for a good range of smart phones and operating systems. The desktop application has more functionality, but the mobile app allows the user to not only make a-PDP notes but to manage and develop those notes in written form too. My only concern is with relying on the service in the wake of Ning's service closure to free users. It looks like a fantastic tool, but should we risk putting our stuff there? PDP is a long term commitment that a learner makes. I'm also seriously considering using it to store my personal research database of abstracts and quotes culled from what I read. How secure is it and how long will it be there? Can I get my stuff out of it if I need to and in what format?With these caveats in mind, it seems like Evernote is a great tool for education and it's support for audio is particularly refreshing, where we are thinking about a-PDP or the other ideas that abound for the educational use[...]
2010-05-06T17:11:05.688+01:00I went to a really useful workshop at Sheffield Hallam yesterday organised by my colleague Manny Madriaga and presented by Mick Healey from the University of Gloucestershire. The workshop, 'Reflections on developing an inclusive curriculum', was as thought provoking as I hoped it would be in terms of my media-enhanced learning remit.A couple of things in particular stand out, mostly because they connect to current themes for me. 'Variety' seems to be my word of the month. It's a response to the often silly suggestions about the way that people rationalise their use of podcasting; that it meets the needs of student's various learning styles. A much more useful way of looking at this, I believe, is looking at the benefits of variety in the way we engage our learners. In this workshop 'variety' was less concerned with 'mixing it up' and more to do with offering and supporting several ways of meeting learning outcomes and being assessed. By taking a more open approach to 'content' (and allowing for this in validation procedures) and by offering a negotiated assessment approach, we not only end up with a curriculum that is more meaningful and potentially more creative, but one that is able to address the diverse needs of our students and which makes the most of their differences.By far the largest proportion of disabled students are those that declare their dyslexia. As has been evident in the work I have conducted with Anne Nortcliffe in Engineering and other colleagues in Art & Design, working with audio in various ways has clear benefits to dyslexic students.I recently ran an assignment in Computing where the written form was patently excluding many students from demonstrating their true capacity. Given a variety of tasks that included writing a report, giving a presentation and making a podcast, these particular students, almost without exception, were comfortable and articulate in producing a group podcast. However, the written work was, in the main, startling to me. The presentations were also good but, to me, lacked the depth that was evident when just listening to the students.What is more, the students had no training in making a podcast. Again this surprised me, but they showed how resourceful they were. All I heard about it was the podcast they submitted. No tales of woe.I am conducting some research around this module and others and will hopefully give more useful reports on this experience elsewhere.One of the useful outcomes of the workshop for me was the emphasis on difference rather than disability. This, on the face of it, sounds superficial and PC, but it's not. My story of the Computing students demonstrates that if we are really interested in supporting knowledge construction and assessing it in a meaningful way, then the needs of all students should be considered in terms of the way they are able to engage (not in terms of the way we engage them, for example).I marked the podcasts last, and until I did I had felt quite despondent. There seemed to be little life and ownership of the assignment by the students until then. What I saw as disinterest in the subject was, to a large extent I think, a disinterest in the medium used to convey their knowledge. Now, part of the assignment was indeed about report writing, which is why they were asked to respond in several media, and there were some lessons to be learned by all about such skills with the marks reflecting this. But as an unintend consequence of that assignment I was able to directly observe how some media and methods inhibit learning unnecessarily.The second point to reflect upon from Mick Healey's workshop was cultural diversity. And here I have just some fresh questions. Healey referred t[...]
2010-04-02T16:01:13.650+01:00I’ve just been going through my notes from a mini-conference at the University of Reading in relation to their Assett project on media-enhanced feedback. This meeting happened in mid-January and time has moved on rapidly, but I found myself needing to sort through files on my laptop and discovered a few gems including these thoughts from a presentation by Claire McCullough (UoR) who presented on "Talking about student’s writing".She uses a written summary sheet and uses audio to add detail. This is the mixed approach that I have written about before where one uses each media to its strengths.She notes that, as well as providing the opportunity to personalise the feedback, the audio allows for a greater sense of space to comment and to properly acknowledge student effort.She also reports that, though it is easy technically it is tiring and emotionally draining. This is a useful and timely reminder for me as I am currently considering the emotional dimension of educational audio especially in relation to emotional intelligence.McCullough’s research has analysed what is actually said by those providing feedback in this way. The most commonly occurring comment was about setting tasks, though she highlights the use of elaboration and the use of examples: ‘what I mean is’ ‘for example’. This is a richer layer of feedback often not evident in perfunctory written feedback.She says that students have an awareness of having real readers of their work, yet there is a greater need to be sensitive: “it can hurt at that proximity.”She suggests audio feedback begins by asking the student if they have got their essay or summary feedback sheet. This is an important point that isn’t made often enough. Others have noted the need to begin feedback with more administrative concerns, such as stating the name of the student, the assignment title and its status. This suggestion that the student should have their work with them before listening begins to create a picture of the student’s academic use of the feedback and takes design from pragmatic concerns towards its pedagogic purpose. I usually add that the student should be clearly empowered as a result of the feedback: they switch off the recording knowing what specific action they must take next. She also suggests that it is a good idea to vary your feedback approach and do things to get students to revisit it.I like quotes from students. They don’t always fit in neatly to a research hypothesis, but are rich nevertheless. McCullagh offers the student comment, “If I feel good with the feedback I will be more ambitious.”Finally, she proposes something else that I think is important and resonates with my own Corridor Feedback model (where students move out of the class room to provide feedback to each other on project work in a conversation facilitated by the teacher). She says ask students to compare their feedback with selected other students. This contradicts the assumption that many have that feedback should be a private affair between a tutor and a student. Obviously it depends very much on the context, but if a student can benefit from a piece of feedback then surely a culture of sharing feedback can result in a metacognitive dimension in which students are able to appreciate their own strengths and weaknesses and those of others and so lead to a more supportive and social constructivist dynamic if properly supported. There are obvious dangers here, but it may be worth thinking about the principle. Indeed, in the ongoing work that I am conducting with Anne Nortcliffe we have found that students often do compare their feedback informally and report the benefits of having done so.I[...]
2010-04-01T10:27:42.378+01:00This article on CNN asks "Is voice becoming the new text (again)?"
2010-04-02T16:05:06.709+01:00I have just found this useful site for people (e.g. teachers) who want to aggregate their own podcasts using audio resources that find out there on the Web. It's called Huffduffer (http://huffduffer.com/). There's no reason why those bits of audio should not be your own.
2010-04-02T16:07:47.506+01:00I've been listening back to Steve Wheeler, James Clay, Nick Sharret, Josie Fraser and Graham Atwell from ALT-C last September. A great debate on a serious matter handled with great fun (as would be expected from all named).
2010-03-04T09:48:19.989+00:00I have just set the first tranch of audio revision notes loose on my students. Though I posted them with Podcast LX to Bkackboard a day or so ago I felt it was important to scaffold their use. I wasn't actually teaching this week, nonetheless I realised that it was important to take five minutes to explain what they were, why they were there and, most importantly, how they should be used.
2010-03-02T12:09:30.623+00:00I've been thinking a lot about infrastructure for supporting educational podcasting and I feel like it's time to get something in place. The Opencast Matternhorn project is geeting quite exciting with release of 0.5. This video provides a useful overview.
2010-03-01T09:20:43.116+00:00I'm on the train producing outline scripts for my module audio revision notes. The framework of '5 things you need to know about [any topic]' is working well. I recorded some on Friday and feel that one or two sentences is more than enough to prompt recall of some of the learning activities with which the students have been involved. I went through the five points, then told the listener how to respond by listing and developing the points in their own words, then repeated the five points. I will evaluate this method later. Obviously the main concern for me is the extent to which people can just learn by listening at all. Hence the need to embed guidance in each and every note on expectations for their revision activity.
Location:Gray St,Barnsley,United Kingdom
A colleague asked me the other “How long will this audio recorder last until the battery runs out?” I shuddered. He always asks very good questions, and this was no exception. We have many of these audio recorders around – we use M-Audio devices. The quality’s great, but we’ve had them for a year and a half. Some get used a lot more than others and like any device you do get the occasional failure.
I knew my colleague was about to go off and run a series of focus groups and I suddenly realised I didn’t want to make promises that could well come back to haunt me. How old was the recorder he had? When was it last charged? What condition was the battery in? What settings was he going to use? I feebly said “Keep an eye and an ear on it. If it’s been charged up it should last you several hours… take two! Have one as back up!” He dashed off and I dashed off to our respective meetings.
I haven’t seen him or heard from him since (which I take to be good news!), but this little story highlights how fragile confidence is in such matters – if the battery had failed on him he would never touch the thing again. He just wouldn’t take the risk. I know that, and I wouldn’t blame him. But part of my job is to encourage people to pick up such devices to realise how they can open opportunities. If I set out caveats to do with battery failure, for example, it really undermines the encouraging sounds I strive to make.
Suggesting the second device was probably a good idea to inspire confidence, but not the sort of advice that is realistic in scaling the use of digital audio.
2010-02-26T14:08:01.552+00:00I have spent the morning caught up in thinking about casting, one way or another.First of all, I spent some time responding to an article in the Times Higher Education that reports on concerns about the practice of ‘coursecasting’ in HE – the practice of recording and distributing lectures. The concern is that it threatens the jobs of academics. Well, in this day and age you have to be careful about responding to such things too glibly, but given that, it is often said if it is possible to capture your lecture then you probably aren’t lecturing very well. If you feel threatened by such technology, therefore, perhaps you should look at what you bring to student engagement and how you bring it. Now, that does sound glib, but I recognise whilst many teachers may understand the value of their engagement methods, it is possible that managers just don’t get it. Above all, for me, the idea of recording lectures is just not very interesting to me – claims about the benefits of coursecasting to the learner have never convinced me. Students might say they like, academic staff might say they like it (or not), but at the end of the day it implies that teaching can be commoditised in a very simple way – but that simple way takes us back in time to the age of rote learning. No, we should be looking ahead to see how technology now enables students and staff to take more engaging, active and authentic approaches to learning and teaching.Next this morning, I find myself making the audio revision notes that I have discussed already this week. Well, it all worked really well and I think I have a simple, highly engaging little technique that conveys essential concepts briefly and invites the student listener to develop what they hear into written words that are meaningful to them. So, on the one hand I am ‘casting’ 3 minute nuggets, but on the other I am building into that an articulated expectation for each learner to work with that recording in their own way – to make sense of it.And as I write, an MP3 recording is winging its way up to Slideshare.net where earlier I had already uploaded a PowerPoint from the workshop that my colleague Susannah Diamond and myself ran earlier in the week at a regional JISC event on Pedagogy and e-Learning. The intention is to add the audio to the PowerPoint and so create a Slidecast. Something I’ve not done before, and something I’ve not been inclined to do before. It seems relatively straightforward, but isn’t this just a way of coursecasting? Do I think it is valuable? Well, err yes… I want to communicate (with Susannah) something about our work which includes an invitation for listeners to participate. But you know, this may cause me to get shot by stepping into the territory of the pedagogue! Oh, I don’t know. I suppose all I can say is, things are not cut and dried here, and at least I’m reflecting on what I am doing.By the way there’s a useful tutorial from Mike Bogle at the University of New South Wales on using this technique: Excellent video tutorial about Slidecasting…And this is the Slidecast from our session (quite easy to produce as it happens)SupportingUser-Generated Media-Enhanced LearningView more presentations from Andrew Middleton.[...]
I’ve been doing some work on ‘managing your online identity’ with some computing students. I have interviewed Careers staff for the module podcast on the subject, quoted some discussions from useful podcasts, and linked to online articles (eg).
The best advice came via EdTech Weekly (as usual) who, when discussing the topic in episodes 153 and 154, say that you should use your real name for professionally related endeavours of which you can be proud and for more dodgy things use another name. If there are stories out there that do not reflect so well on you, then you must outweigh them with good deeds (why do you think I blog and podcast! – to make up for earlier sins, obviously!!).
Or maybe I’m making up for the sins of people who share my name.
Doing a quick regular vanity search using Google Alerts I discover this week that I have,
…And now of course Andrew Middleton has declared himself incompetent in front of the whole world.
Actually, this week, only a small number of these would be true.
I conclude, therefore, that if you have a really unusual name you should take a lot more care than if you have a name that is shared by others.
…Though it can’t be bad if people think I’m a fit young cyclist.
2010-02-24T12:18:21.269+00:00I was listening to a discussion on my favourite podcast and the phrase 'click mentality' jumped out at me.
Location:Sheffield, United Kingdom