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Blended Learning Information literacy Open education Videos

The anatomy of a YouTube tutorial

I am happy to announce the launch of a new batch of tutorials on YouTube, the first of which is on PMB, the print measurement bureau:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ce2dYzFYowE&w=560&h=315]

This video follows a new template I have devised for my blended learning initiative to bring information literacy to my students. I want to replace my in-class lectures with self-mediated learning at home and hands-on exercises in class.

I often get asked about how I create these so I want to share my process with you. I currently have an earlier set of videos on my personal channel but I want to reshoot all of them following the process I outline below. These will be available on a new dedicated YouTube channel.

Background

I have been a business librarians for over a decade and I have delivered hundreds of library training sessions on locating valuable information. My main community is comprised of students taking the Entrepreneurship class at Concordia Univeristy’s John Molson School of Business. Seeing that there are over 30 sections a year of the Entrepreneurship course and only one of me, I was not able to meet the demand for dedicated instruction on locating business information.

I created a step-by-step 4-page research worksheet, which is included in the student’s course packs as well as the Library’s Business Research Portal.

For more information on the background of this project, please watch this 45 minute lecture I gave in April 2013.

Tools

I have bought some gear to test various methods of creating tutorials. Of all these toys, I find that two are essential: my 15-inch MacBook laptop (actually, any Mac will do as long as there is enough disk-space and processing power) as well as a professional-grade table-top microphone, the Yeti from Blue Microphones in my case. On my Mac, I find all the software I need to produce the videos and I find that one needs an external microphone as the one included on the Macs sounds poor on a higher quality system such as one using a public announcement (PA) system in a classroom.

Also, I use an external keyboard and mouse when shooting my video. I find that taping on the laptop’s keyboard or using the track-pad makes the screen wobble. Because that is where the video camera shoots from, it makes the video seem like you are on a boat. I prod my laptop on an old dictionary and work from an USB keyboard & mouse.

Software

No, I do not use any special software to screen-capture, I just use good old QuickTime. If you look at the “File” menu on the software, you find that you can launch a “New screen capture” and “New video” right from QuickTime. I just do both at the same time! I shoot a “High” quality video of my talking head with the MacBook’s camera and the Yeti mic as well as a soundless “High” quality screen-capture video. Both with QuickTime, at the same time.

This gives me 2 video files, which I then mix, match and edit in iMovie, also included for free on my MacBook. In iMovie, you have to go to the preferences to enable the advanced tools and then, you can create the image-in-image effect by draging one file to the other in the video editing screen. I also really want to experiment with blue-screens, which I will do with a 5 dollar tarp from Canadian Tire…

The trick is to “merge” the two video files in iMovie and then to edit the scenes from this main stream. I try to say out-loud when I click somewhere, to help learners follow what I am doing on-screen. This also assists with post-production. If you want to edit a part out, you can right-click on the spot you want to cut out to “split” it, you just have to do it at the same spot for both files… I will probably do a training video on how to do this soon…

Another trick is to go to your Mac’s preferences and change the size of the mouse cursor. I find it is easier to follow if your pointer is huge. In the preferences, access the “accessibility” options and you can toggle the size of the cursor.

Tone, look & feel

It took me a while to experiment with the look and feel of my videos. I got much help from Concordia’s Center for Teaching & Learning on my first set. Then, I tried different venues and modes to shoot them myself. I tried to lecture-capture in the classroom, but I could never get the sound or the lighting right. Also, the flow was off – there is nothing worse than a 60 minute lecture, with bad sound and lighting when FaceBook and other digital distractions are just a click away.

I find the best ones come from a relaxed and personal tone. I try to be myself and imagine I am explaining this to a distant friend or colleague. Warm and close, but still professional. Some personality is good, as you want your learners to feel they are interacting with a person.

I shoot the videos in my home office as I find the backdrop much nicer – those are my graphic novels and other fun readings I keep there. I also have better lighting with 2 windows on the corner of my home, which I supplement with 2 inexpensive LED reading lamps, one aimed at my face and a closer one pointed on my table in front of me. I find that my neighborhood a better and quieter place to shoot my videos than a bustling university library located in downtown Montreal. I also feel comfortable and relaxed, which helps.

I don’t fully script my videos, but I do prepare a summary or plan of what I want to cover. Reading text in a video sucks, feels and looks awkward. I’d rather jot down a few reading notes and ad-lib the rest. If I stumble or stater during the shoot, I usually signal to myself to exclude that bit by covering the camera – this trick makes it easy to pick up these error in the post-production.

Structure

I divide my videos in multiple parts.

First, I have a “pitch” where I explain what we will be covering in the video. This cannot exceed 30 seconds. If it does, I cut it down.

Then, I have a “first title” screen. It provides for my credentials and link to the library’s business research portal. This is about 6 seconds long. The text is fixed on the screen for that period. Should students want to read it further, they can pause it then.

Immediately following the title screen, I have a “second title” screen where I name the video and provide a more specific link on the library website to a specialized guide. This is also about 6 seconds long. The text flies from left-to-right with the link on the bottom.

During the two title screens, I play a loop of music a really awesome colleague of mine donated from his DJ console.

Then, I usually have a screen focus on my face for about a minute, to give more details of the resource I will explain. Then, I turn on the image-in-image feature and I guide users in using a resource. I may leave the image-in-image mode during the body of my video to mix things up a bit and break the flow. I aim to provide 2 or 3 topics for a maximum of 2-3 minutes each.

The last 30 seconds of a video are used to quickly recap what we have covered and perhaps offer an option to offer links to additional videos on my channel. YouTube allows you to add links to videos from the Dashboard of a video.

I then have my credentials on the screen again for about 6 seconds, followed by another 6 seconds with the video title and dedicated link on the library website. I make sure to paste the link to the dedicated page on the library website about the resource in the first line of the video’s description. YouTube makes that link active, so YouTube always points to the library website. I have another music loop during this part, slightly different from the one in the introduction, thanks to my awesome DJ-librarian friend.

I then have an “extro” screen branded to Concordia University, a few seconds long. A little branding goes a long way!

My videos will never exceed 10 minutes. It it must, I split the video – it is better to have two 8 minute videos than a long 15 minute one.

Time

It takes me about 30 minutes to shoot a video, and anywhere from 2 to 4 hours for post-production. That means that I can whip out a video in half a day, including rendering time as well as uploading it to YouTube. I could make longer videos, but I find that 10 minutes or less is probably an unwritten rule for keeping an undergrad’s attention on the Internet.

I organize a stream of videos through playlists on YouTube.

Next steps

I hope to work closely with course coordinators to further integrate these videos in the curriculum for capstone courses. For example, they can become part of assignments or additional materials included on the course’s online management system. I am focusing on a few course for now, to maximize the reach, but I can certainly roll the videos out to more niche courses. Or, I can use the time I free up from servicing the core courses to provide for more presence for higher undergrad or grad courses.

I feel this is a new way to service our communities while allocating resources more efficiently. It is also fun and motivating to see your statistics rack up. I may not reach the status of KPop stars, but I will certainly reach more students.

Assessment Bibliographies Blended Learning Information literacy Read Me

Measuring web tutorials

This just in:

The MAGIC of Web Tutorials: How One Library (Re)Focused its Delivery of Online Learning Objects on Users
Amanda Nichols Hessa
Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning
Volume 7, Issue 4, 2013
pages 331-348
DOI:10.1080/1533290X.2013.839978
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1533290X.2013.83997
Abstract
Oakland University (OU) Libraries undertook an assessment of how to leverage its resources to make online tutorials more focused on users’ needs. A multi-part assessment process reconsidered Web tutorials offerings through the lenses of faculty and staff feedback, literature review, and an analysis of other universities’ online tutorial offerings. From there, OU’s e-Learning and Instructional Technology Librarian developed the MAGIC guidelines (Manageable, Available, Geared at users, Informative, Customizable) to resituate OU Libraries’ online tutorials and place users at the center. Putting MAGIC into practice meant integrating Web tutorials at points-of-need, identifying and sharing essential information, and engaging students in the learning whenever possible.
Keywords: Web tutorials, online learning objects, university libraries, online learning, library services, information literacy

Blended Learning Gamification Read Me

Fuller on the future of education – 30 years ago!

On a whim, I purchased access to a bundle of technology articles from the New Yorker, enjoying these long-form essays from the past years and decades. One of them, “In the Outlaw Area” by Calvin Tomkins (The New Yorker, January 8, 1966, p. 35), presents iconoclast architect and all-around scientific great Buckminster Fuller, whose work is fully visible from the Montréal skyline since the 1967 World Expo. Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/theolaphoto/1704545920/lightbox/ Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, ShareAlike

I was surprised to notice that Fuller had written about the future of education back in the 1960s & 1970s, and sounds like his vision fits with the broader lines of experiential & blended learning:

20130809-110805.jpg

20130809-110825.jpg
(Images taken from screen shots on my mobile device of the text as displayed, from The New Yorker, January 8, 1966, p. 35)

Definitely worth a read!

Blended Learning Gamification Inspiration

Scratching the surface of video games

Through the TED Talks iTunes feed, I watched last evening this talk by Mitch Resnick on teaching kids to code:

Here is the link to Scratch, the kid (and neophyte) friendly video game builder.

I’ve been thinking of using video games or gamification for library & information literacy instruction and the Scratch tool seems like a fun and easy way to test some prototypes.

A different thread lead me to the strange case of David S. Gallant, who was recently let go from the Canadian Revenue Agency. He apparently developed a simple game about his day job which seems to put him in hot water. Here is his video presentation you Youtube:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOJ0oUaDL0U&w=640&h=360]

I like the simple game dynamic, it reminds me when I first learned how to code on Hypercard on an Apple II way back in the early 1990s. Essentially, you are placed in a situation and the system prompts you for a few options. I also really like the idea of putting the player in the shoes of a call center operator.

So, here is a simple concept of my game: You are the libarrian ™ in which you play a (maybe) stereotypical librarian that is faced with questions from users. That way, the player would need to learn what we know in a role-playing, cognitive dissonance inducing on-the-spot way. It is like taking a multiple-choice test, but with (possibly) jokes and a dynamic kitch-spartan interface. What more could you need ?

Actually, the goal would be to also start the game at the lever of the user. Too many library-related instruction starts by presenting the library (books on this floor, here is the library catalogue, etc.) – I find this turns most people off. We should start to discuss the learner – what are their learning/reading/seeking habits. Then, talk about their need – what it means to do research (at any level) in a university. Confronting the two is a great way to generate interest in library resources while having an open conversation about the tools that constituted their info seeking habits (i.e. watch my videos on Google & Wikipedia):
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries?list=PLaqfn26UOsX-k3NLTFgGTJGUY6BLjj4D_&w=640&h=360]

Blended Learning Inspiration Open education

We, the learners…

Petra Dierkes-Thrun launches a “A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age” on her blog this morning (hat tip to the Chronicle and University Affairs for the link).

I love these statements from the preamble:

The Internet has made it possible for anyone on the planet to be a student, a teacher, and a creative collaborator at virtually no cost. Novel technologies that can catalyze learning are bubbling up in less time than it takes to read this sentence. Some have emerged from universities, some from the private sector, some from individuals and digital communities. In the past year, Massive Online Open Courseware, or MOOCs, have become the darling of the moment–lauded by the media, embraced by millions–so new, so promising in possibility, and yet so ripe for exploitation.

We believe that online learning represents a powerful and potentially awe-inspiring opportunity to make new forms of learning available to all students worldwide, whether young or old, learning for credit, self-improvement, employment, or just pleasure. We believe that online courses can create “meaningful” as well as “massive” learning opportunities.

We are aware of how much we don’t know: that we have yet to explore the full pedagogical potential of learning online, of how it can change the ways we teach, the ways we learn, and the ways we connect.

[…]
Our broad goal is to inspire an open, learner-centered dialogue around the rights, responsibilities, and possibilities for education in the globally-connected world of the present and beyond.

The document itself presents a set of rights and another of principles. With regards to the former, they include the right to: access; privacy; create public knowledge; own one’s personal data and intellectual property; financial transparency; pedagogical transparency; quality and care; have great teachers; and to be teachers. While for the latter, principles include: Global contribution; Value; Flexibility; Hybrid learning; Persistence; Innovation; Formative assessment; Experimentation; Civility; and Play.

I find that these statements are important reminders of the issues that underpin our daily activities. Congratulations to the drafters and this will certainly help me orient my online endeavours.

Bibliographies Blended Learning Read Me

Some books about online/blended learning

Here are some books that a colleague from our Center for Teaching and Learning has recommended:

Call Number LB2361 P6813 2009eb
Author Power, Michaël
Title A designer’s log [electronic resource] : case studies in instructional design / by Michael Power
Publisher Edmonton [Alta.] : AU Press, c2009

Call Number LB 1027.23 C24 2011
Author Caulfield, Jay, 1949-
Title How to design and teach a hybrid course : achieving student-centered learning through blended classroom, online, and experiential activities / Jay Caulfield ; foreword by Alan Aycock
Edition 1st ed
Publisher Sterling, Va. : Stylus Pub., 2011

Also found this one through the xEDBook blog:
Teaching and learning at a distance : foundations of distance education by Michael Simonson … [et al] atPearson/Allyn & Bacon (the 5th edition seems to be the most current one).