Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Finally joining in with #ocTEL

Well of course had the best of intentions to get started with this last week but as ever life gets in the way. Not sure how well I'll manage to participate but hopefully enough to collaborate and benefit from others interested in technology enhanced learning. I have been involved with let's say online learning since 1999 and after working on a joint e-learning project across 10 colleges in the city of Glasgow began working with Jisc at the Regional Support Centre covering the west of Scotland in 2002. It now supports the whole of Scotland. Prior to that I lectured for 10 years in an FE college in the city. I participated in an NSMOOC (Not So Massive Online Course - maybe around 25 people) this time last year reasonably successfully but failed to engage in a MobiMOOC recently. I'm hopeful that I might be able to achieve more this time and look forward to working with other like minded professionals participating in #ocTEL

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Assignment 4 - Photos

Here's the collection of photos I included for the 4th Assignment.  I've learned from this activity that I'm a point and click type of photographer and don't have the patience or imagination required to improve my skills in this department.

Photo Assignments
  1. 8th - Make a photograph of a plastic object that you’ve used today.
  2. 10th – Make a photograph where LIGHT is a main element in the image.
  3. 12th – Make a photo of part of an everyday object and let everyone guess what it is.
  4. 14th – Make a photograph focussing on nature – animals, plants, landscapes, etc.
  5. 16th – Make of photograph of technology that you use often.
  6. 18th - What’s the weather like this weekend?
  7. 20th – Take a photograph from an unusual angle.
1 - Make a photograph of a plastic object that you’ve used today - Readers in Every Room

2 - Make a photograph where LIGHT is a main element in the image - this is a screen grab from my iphone of an app developed just after Steve Jobs died.

3 - Make a photo of part of an everyday object and let everyone guess what it is. - It's an SD card!

4 - Make a photograph focussing on nature -  From My Valentine  - the boy did good!

5 - Make of photograph of technology that you use often. It has to be my iPhone

6 - What’s the weather like this weekend? Up at Loch Katerine on a long walk training for The West Highland Way over 6 days in April (between hail showers - ouch!)

7 - Take a photograph from an unusual angle. Taken  by a student in an FE college we work with - far too clever for me to have thought of.

Monday, 6 February 2012

3rd Assignment - Comic Timing

image from Flickr by hartnupj
licensed through CC
Its a bit ironic given the title of this assignment - Comic Timing - that I haven't been able to find time to complete this one. I can however point you to a case study that we completed here with Glasgow School of Art Library Service about how they used Comic Life to create resources to assist their library induction processes.

You can hear a podcast about the project here. The podcast features Jude Boyd, IT librarian at the Glasgow School of Art who explains how the library team worked together to create a 'comic book' style induction resources for students and staff. The goal was to create an alternative and a more visual style of presenting information for library users which would make the information more accessible to a wider range of users. For example students with dyslexia, those learners with more visual learning styles and also for overseas students who may not have English as their first language.

Take a look at the resources here:
Comic Book guide to the ground floor of the Library
Comic Book guide to the first floor of the Library

Friday, 27 January 2012

2nd assignment - The Sight of Sound

For this assignment, combine audio effects into a soundscape to represent a place or an event.
I've done a little sound work in the past. In the early days that involved adding music to slideshows (before I understood the copyright and public broadcasting implications) and my more ambitious attempts at using macromedia software like Director, Flash & Author-ware. Gosh it used to be so difficult and time consuming. It's astonishing how social media and web based applications have changed all that. It must have a huge impact for people working in the Creative Industries.
More recently I've recorded, processed and produced Podcasts from time to time which I've enjoyed, and doing that provided an opportunity to get to grips with Garage Band, although with most of the software I use, I only know enough to do what I want to do. So I can use quite a range of software but not very efficiently. I created this audio project in my usual round about way and I'll  outline the process in this post. My colleagues in edtechcc will soon appreciate the ridiculous processes I go through, largely due to my amateur status and general ignorance.

Cooking for Christmas (mp3)

It took a little time to think about a scenario I could develop but decided to try to create a soundtrack to accompany the short animoto video preliminary project. I looked around for some free sounds and registered with freesound a site that Colin had recommended. It has a great stock of short audio files and I found it really user friendly. I used Garageband to arrange and organise the eight or so tracks but had problems with the final little piece of music as it would not move into GB software. 
Eventually I realised that it was the file format that was the problem (.wav) and Garageband didn't like it. I decided to export the project as an MP3 file and then opened it in Audacity which does like .wav files and added it on to the end - of course Audacity doesn't export in MP3 without an add in so I decided that I would convert the file using ZamZar, a free converting service  - works well and I'm reasonably happy with the result.
It did occur to me during the process that anyone who had a hearing impairment would be excluded from the experience and it seemed important to me that I provide the activity in an alternative format so I wrote a description of the audio. I think this would be acceptable as a reasonable adjustment and it is important  that accessibility considerations are made at the outset rather than "retro-fixing" later on.

The sequence starts with general kitchen noise of utensils being set down and ingredients gathered together. This is followed by an egg being cracked, whisked and then mixed with other ingredients with a wooden spoon. Following the scraping out of the bowl, the sound of paper depicts the process of sealing a pudding bowl before steaming for a length of time when the sound of bubbling water is used. A timer bell rings to signify the end of the cooking time and the end product is divided up for the assembled company that can be heard. The sequence ends with a short rendition of silent night in an old music box style.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Ist assignment - My Signs

We were asked to design a couple of signs for our first assignment: Make two signs or symbols using a graphics tool of your choice. The first sign should be for your own department or course, the second sign should be for another educational department or course. Here are the two I made.

The first one represents my role at the JISC RSC Scotland and the second my curriculum area before I became involved with technology. I had some ideas for the first one driving home - so didn't have a very systematic approach to the creative process as some of the more professional among us did.

For the second one I did some key word searches in image sites such as Flickr, Google images, MS Clipart online to get some ideas.

I used Photoshop to construct the basic images, some basic shapes tweaked from clipart online which has images you can use without breaching copyright. Actually I forgot how much I like using Photoshop (in a very basic way). I'd downloaded a new app to my iPad so I wanted to have a go at using it and transferred the images to it using Evernote - (a web service that enables you to share stuff between all the electronic devices you have - a great alternative to pen drives). The app I used to apply some effects and filters is called Pixlromatic. You open the image and there is a range of effects you can apply till you get the result you want.

Let me know if you can guess what my signs represent.


Friday, 13 January 2012

Creating a quick video resource

Thought I'd try out PhotoPeach but had saving errors (not sure if it's to do with the number of images restricted with the free license) - anyway gave up with it but thought I'd put it together with Animoto which I've used before.

The light version is free but if you are in education and have an "ac.uk" email you can immediately upgrade to the Pro version and get a code which you can share with up to 50 of your students (or other staff). Embed codes are provided so it's a good place to store and stream your videos from which doesn't impact on institutional servers.

It's a great tool for handling images and you can incorporate existing video into it as well. Text is limited but I have incorporated text into images and provided instructions that way. There is a range of copyright free music to choose from which I think really adds value to a video depending on the atmosphere you want to portray (happy, sad, fun, thoughtful).


Sunday, 8 January 2012

Ed Tech Creative Collective - Week 1 Introductions

This is my post for the 1st week’s activity of the Ed Tech Creative Collective project to introduce myself and outline what I hope to gain from doing the course. I work for the JISC RSC Scotland as advisor for curriculum and deputy manager. RSC Scotland is funded to support FE and some HEIs in Scotland to promote and support the use of technology for learning & teaching.

This is a great opportunity to get first hand experience of how popular social media (Blogs / Facebook / Twitter) can be integrated for learning purposes and get a better understanding of the issues that arise. I have done a lot of work around e-Safety lately and I get asked a lot about using social media with learners. I think technology continues to challenge conventional pedagogy and the concepts around social media (collaboration, sharing, reflection) are desirable, of benefit to learners and are pushing the boundaries even further. Education establishments are rightly concerned about e-Safeguarding students and staff but in my experience are having some difficulty working out the procedures and policies they need while at the same time not stifling creativity and innovation.

Participating in the course will help me to better advise others and help to provide solutions and suggestions on how social media could be applied across the curriculum as well as providing a focus for me to explore a range of technologies recommended by others on the course.

One of my colleagues Grainne Hamilton participated in a MobileMOOC last year and blogged about it here. Having failed to keep up at a couple of huge online conferences in the last couple of years, the opportunity to participate in a NSMOOC (not so massive open online course) was very appealing and I hope I will be able to contribute effectively to the learning experience of the community. Thanks Colin for organising the project.

I plan to write up an account of my experience to share with colleagues and I hope that Colin might help me to write up a case study from an organisers perspective too.

Good luck everyone - I’m sure we’ll all walk away with a few brownie points.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Look Mum I'm Blogging !

Having had little experience of creative writing and having never kept a written journal in my life, I’ll admit to being a bit sceptical about this blogging malarkey. Indeed when I decided to produce a weekly Blog I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to meet the deadlines albeit they are self imposed. I have never regarded myself as being a particularly reflective person. I have a poor memory and often just barge on ahead without thinking things through properly and luckily my instincts often serve me well.

CPD, PDP & ePortfolios

I've said before that I'm surprised about the impact writing a Blog each week has had on my capacity to reflect and I do feel I really benefit from it. It provides an opportunity to have another think about my activities each week, firms up my ideas and files them in amongst the rest of the nuggets of knowledge that are in my head - (bet you're glad I shared that thought with you!)

I've previously advocated the use of Blogs with learners as a tool for reflection. Many eportfolio systems include them along with templates that encourage Personal Development Planning (PDP) which is often an element in guidance programs, but a paper I was reading this week as part of some personal study that I'm undertaking, got me thinking a bit more about the idea.

Have you tried Blogging yet?

An interesting video on YouTube I was recently alerted to with  Seth Godin and Tom Peters, discussing the value of blogging. They are both enthusiastic advocates of the benefits of Blogging in terms of personal, intellectual and emotional outlook and I broadly agree about the personal benefits of summarising a topic and writing down your own thoughts on it - It's described as meta-cognition.

So if you haven't tried it yet maybe now's the time to try.

Personalising e-Assesment

Balancing the need for structure (to ensure performance criteria is met) and learner autonomy is a challenge for institutions. It is argued greater structure undermines the authenticity of postings and can compromise the opportunities for deep learning that Blogs can offer. It can't be denied though that using technology seems to be more attractive to learners than putting pen to paper. Perhaps in the Further Education sector providing structure is an essential ingredient if the attractions of web 2.0 technologies are to be exploited and potential benefits are to be maximised. Ideas for overcoming these barriers to uptake at an institutional level need to be explored.

Using Blogs for e-Assesment

As with many Web2.0 tools the emphasis on communication and collaboration means that many types of social software are becoming recognised as valuable learning tools that can be particularly useful to assess contributions of individual learners to group outcomes. Blogs can be used in this manner and have the potential to become powerful tools to provide evidence of deep learning and reflection.

Community blogs can be used to document progress towards the completion of a group task and the chronological aspects of the software are helpful in monitoring progress, achievement and contributions. Consideration of the extent to which authentication is required and indeed how it's managed will determine how this type of software is deployed within an institution.

blog Blogs provide an  ideal solution when the documentation of learning processes is needed, often a challenge for institutions and potentially quite "high risk" in terms of moderation and verification.  As with other social software the "signing in" requirements mean that activities are well documented and can be monitored relatively easily. Comment facilities provide a mechanism for peer assessment - provided good guidelines and support for the whole process is in place.

Blogs can be used as a journal and to assist personal development planning, documenting progress towards the achievement of goals. The ability to easily upload multimedia to web-based applications is of great value in many areas of the curriculum e.g. hairdressing students can take images of both the end result and also the processes that were involved. This could be applied in the same way in food production or the construction trades.