Adobe Connect for Videoconferencing and Recording Teaching Sessions

connectI have recently used Adobe Connect in a variety of ways to help lecturers record teaching sessions and give their students opportunities to meet and talk to key figures in the industries they are training in. Connect is a videoconferencing platform which allows people to communicate online by watching and listening to each other via webcam, and sharing documents or their computer screen with each other. Participants can also use chat functions to send messages, and answer questions in polls. No software is needed, as everything is done via a webpage. At City, our licence for Connect means that any member of staff can log on to talk.city.ac.uk and set up an online meeting room.

My first use of Connect to support teaching and learning was last summer, before the exams period, when a key revision session for the first year undergraduate Sociology students needed to be recorded. A number of students could not attend because they were out of the country. Instead of simply recording the session and giving students access to this via Moodle, we live streamed the class using Connect and over 20 students joined in from several different countries (around 50 students were present in the “real” class). While the lecturer took questions from the students who attended in person, I hosted the online meeting room online and participants used the chat function to ask questions which I relayed to the lecturer (although it’s simple enough for one person to host an online meeting and lead the session at the same time). We got some really great feedback from students during this session. Those watching from home were impressed that we’d gone to the trouble of letting them join the meeting live rather than having to watch a recording.

JOM834 Adobe Connect JOM952 Adobe Connect

Last term, a number of lecturers, particularly in Journalism, organised press conferences during which their students have an opportunity to talk to and question key figures from industry. While a web-based Voice over IP (VoIP) service like Skype could also be used for this, Connect also allows computer screen and document sharing. Sessions can also be easily recorded and stored on the Adobe Connect server, so that students can watch them again later. Access to recordings can be controlled quite closely.

We’ve also used Adobe Connect’s screen-sharing function, combined with the recording function, as an alternative to lecture capture in rooms which aren’t currently equipped with recording hardware, but where a need for specialist software means we can’t use our Personal Capture laptop kits. Connect doesn’t do a perfect job of lecture capture, because the online meeting room and recording have to be set up each time it’s used, and recordings must be retrieved from the system and posted on Moodle manually. Further, the recordings are not perfect quality and since they are Flash they won’t play back on all devices. However, by setting up a meeting room, connecting a microphone (and/or webcam) and recording the meeting, we have the ability to record a teaching session anywhere in the university. For this purpose, no-one else joins the meeting room; we simply record the session and share the desktop of the computer, which means that whatever the lecturer shows on the computer screen will be recorded along with their voice. The recording can either be downloaded as a stand-alone flash video file or linked to on Moodle.

ECEL Conference and Poster: A learner-centred induction to Moodle

Groningen

The “teaching pod” in the University of Groningen’s main hall

Back in October 2012 I attended the 11th European Conference on E-Learning (ECEL) held in Groningen, the Netherlands. This was the first time I’d attended this conference. I presented a poster on our work with the Department of Psychology on their induction programme for the BSc course in September.

The conference was interesting, mostly because it gave some insight into how City’s educational technology perspective is much more teaching-and-learning focused than many other universities’. Many of the presentations I attended were very technology-orientated and I heard people commenting that they would have preferred them to be more so!

I attended some useful sessions: methods for sending students notifications on Moodle updates via Facebook and Twitter; the changing role of the academic in the Web 2.0 world; and an interesting case study on use of blogging for portfolio development.

My poster summarised the word I had done with the BSc Psychology Director of Undergraduate Studies Marie Poirier, to redesign elements of the induction programme for undergraduate Psychology students. There was agreement between the department and our team that induction would be improved by being more learner-centred, less “information overload”, and by giving students more opportunities to get to know staff and each other. Accordingly, we redesigned many of the activities the students take part in during the week. My involvement was mainly in the first day “orientation activities” and in the Moodle induction on the fourth and final day.

Throughout the whole induction week the main principles for the activities were:

  1. To reduce information overload
  2. To manage students’ expectations and help them understand what is expected of them
  3. To start building a sense of cohort community
  4. To build a sense of subject-specific identity

The students’ first task on their first day at university in September was to get into their tutorial groups and meet the other students who had been allocated the same personal tutor as them. After a welcome and a brief introductory talk from Marie they were divided into small groups of four or five. Each group was loaned an iPad which they used to go off and make short videos about each other and about their personal tutor. Many of the students were quite excited and impressed to be given these devices to work with on their first day – however, the main reason we used the iPads was because they allow quick and easy shooting, editing and uploading of video (via iMovie and pre-created private Vimeo accounts), and because students can also use them to research their personal tutor. We had run a similar activity the previous year with Flip cameras and laptops: the iPads made the whole process quicker and easier.

The approach we took with the Moodle induction was to redesign it as a task-based fact-finding activity requiring students to work in the same groups as they had been in on the first day. The groups were given access to a tailor-made induction module which contained activities such as quizzes, choices, questionnaires and practice assignment submission points. (They could also watch the videos they had shot on Monday). The idea behind this approach was to have students simultaneously learn about and use Moodle: to learn how to use its tools and functionality by finding out something about it. We also wanted to address many of the concerns and questions students have about their new course by giving them the chance to find out the answers to some common questions (How do I find out my timetable? How do I submit my assignments? How do I connect to the wifi?). Finally, we wanted the induction activity to be clearly and explicitly tailored for Psychology students: we included links to commonly used Psychology resources and included contact details for key members of staff in the department. Without too much work, similar approaches could be taken for other departments in the School.

For details of how the project was evaluated, click on the link below to view a copy of the poster. If, as a member of staff in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, you’d like to try something similar for your induction, please get in touch.

Poster Final

A Case Study – iTunes U in Cultural Policy and Economics

In this video I talk to two lecturers at City who have used iTunes U to publish recordings of their lectures to their students and to the public.

Dr Dave O’Brien lectures on the MA Programme in the Centre for Cultural Policy and Management, and is currently acting Senior Tutor for Research at the Centre. Professor Keith Pilbeam is Director of the MSc Business Economics/International Business Economics in the department of Economics.

Dr O’Brien began self-recording his lectures for Contemporary UK Cultural Policy, a module for postgraduate students, in the Spring term 2012. He contacted the Education Support Team to find out about using iTunes U to publish them. Professor Pilbeam also contacted us in order to record his lectures on Introduction to Macroeconomics, a core first-year undergraduate module.

Both lecturers have seen impressive usage statistics for their podcast series, and suggested that publishing their lectures had not only benefitted their students, but freed up some class time for questions, or reduced their own workload. You can hear more about their experience in the video.

Download Dr O’Brien’s podcast series on iTunes U or as an RSS feed.

Download Professor Pilbeam’s podcast series on iTunes U or as an RSS feed.

Video in Education SIG – First Webinar Event 22/11/12

City’s new Video in Education SIG – a special interest group – invites you to grab a coffee and share best practice at our first webinar.

Formed in summer 2012, this group’s focus is on sharing practice within the schools, and gathering examples from other institutions, in: production and publishing of video for education; engaging staff in use of video for teaching and learning; and pedagogical principles behind video for education.

Video in Education SIG at City University London

Webinar – Thursday 22nd November 2012 –1pm to 1.30pm

Event Details

Introduction – Mo Pamplin
School of Law – Scenario-based learning video portfolios – Sophie Paluch
Cass Business School – Dubai MBA student research presentations – Luis Balseca
School of Health Science – Blood pressure self-assessment videos – Natasa Perovic

Moderators on the day, Stef Smith and Steve McCombe at the MILL

Instructions for participants:

There is no need to book a place, all City staff are welcome as are external guests.

Join the webinar room via the link below and settle in from 12.45 pm. Participants will be able to watch and listen to the speakers, watch clips from video projects and pose questions via the chat room. We will use the Adobe Connect webinar service to host this session.

Webinar Room Link (opens at 12.45pm on the day)

It’s good to check your computer audio settings in advance, to find out more see the quick start guide.

Quick Start Guide – Participants

Any enquiries, please contact the organisers via email: video@city.ac.uk

The webinar will be recorded and made available after the event.

We look forward to meeting you on the 22nd November at 1pm.

Lecture capture pilot project report

With the help of the Learning Development Centre and Information Services, the Education Support Team piloted a small-scale lecture capture project in the Spring term 2012. The project report is  available to read here, including case studies of use, analysis of staff and student evaluations, and usage statistics.

The lecture capture pilot reached approximately 1000 students on 19 modules in the Schools of Arts and Social Sciences, Informatics, Health Sciences and the Learning Development Centre in the Spring term 2012. There were 4,195 separate views of the recordings during this period, and usage reports show that the majority of use was around the exam revision period.

The student evaluation showed that 91% of students reported using the lecture capture recordings. The most popular uses of the recordings were for revision and to review areas that students did not understand the first time. 93% of students reported that the recordings helped their learning. A very small minority of students (3%) stated that they did not find the recordings necessary.

Presentations from the Learning @ City Conference

As Anna mentioned in a previous post, the entire team recently presented at the Learning Development Centre‘s Learning @ City Conference. Anna’s presentation with Isabelle Marcoul and Svenja Erich from the Centre for Language Studies won the prize for best paper.

My presentation, which was appropriately about lecture capture, was recorded using our Echo360 Personal Capture system. Click on the link below to watch it:

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Kate co-presented with Gunter Saunders from the University of Westminster on the FeedForward project, which we have piloted in Social Sciences as part of the JISC Making Assessment Count project. They gave a similar presentation at the Cass Teaching and Learning Showcase in May, which you can watch here:

MPG session from City University on Vimeo

Echo360 Community Conference Europe 2012

On 2nd May I attended the Echo360 Community Conference, held at UCL’s Institute of Child Health. This event was organised to bring together people from institutions using Echo360 in the region, although there were also some delegates from further afield, including Finland and the USA.

Sessions at the conference covered updates and product details about Echo360, and case studies of institutions who have used it successfully.

In the afternoon Ilkka Kukkonen from the University of Eastern Finland gave a presentation on student perception of lecture capture. At the Aducate Centre for Teaching and Development (websites are in Finnish – English translations available), Ilkka and his colleagues have been investigating how students use the resource in their studies. They are also conducting a usability study of the Echo360 player using a Tobii eyetracker. One of the most interesting things about Ilkka’s presentation was his conclusion that students don’t yet have full mastery of how to use lecture capture recordings to support their studies, and that use of lecture capture needs to be more fully integrated into teaching. While their study supports many other studies which have investigated students’ use of lecture capture, it also suggests that there is more to implementing lecture capture than just giving students access to the recordings.

I couldn’t attend the whole day, and parallel sessions meant that it was not possible to watch every presentation, but many of them were recorded so if you are interested in watching any of the presentations, keep an eye on the conference webpage.