Changing the way we teach lectures

I attended a seminar yesterday about “Putting Lectures Online”. It looked at how three Schools at Cardiff University had approached recording lectures and putting them online. Before the seminar my idea, and probably that of many others, was that recording lectures meant having a recording device in a lecture theatre and recording the session.

This is a simplistic view of lecture capture and this approach was demonstrated by one of the Schools giving a presentation. They were able to highlight many of the negative implications of recording lectures in this way, such as non-attendance at the actual lecture and therefore using the recording to catch up on the missed lecture. All this because the students new they could rely on the recorded material.

The other Schools had more success with different approaches and showed how recording lectures can be used with positive effect.

The main issues that need to be considered when recording lectures (as well as those already mentioned) range from; what is the purpose of the recording, will the recording add to or reinforce the lecture content, when will the recording be made (before, during or after the lecture), when it will be available to the student and how does this enhance or improve their learning? Thinking through these points properly should avoid the problems highlighted early.

So lets look at some of these points. Firstly, what is the purpose of the recording. The recording could be used as a resource for revision or feedback. Or it could be used to introduce the student to the subject matter of the lecture, before the lecture has happened.

This last example can be referred to a ‘pre-loading’ information, and this is what interests me most. By pre-loading the student with information before the lecture, the traditional lecture time can be turned into a different teaching and learning experience.

Lets remember that the content of many lectures does not change a great deal from year to year. So instead of the lecturer repeating themselves in the lecture theatre, why not record some of this material beforehand and make it available to the students a few days before the lecture. Then instead of ‘lecturing’ the students, turn that lecture time into a discussion of the pre-learnt subject material.

The time spent in the lecture theatre can become an active, engaging learning experience, reinforcing learning and expanding on the subject matter where it might not have been possible in the traditional lecture format.

A key point to consider here is that the content of the recording and the lecture should not be identical. The recording should introduce basic concepts or key points. The lecture should review this content but build on the concepts with more information.

I used this method of pre-loading information myself when teaching audio skills on the Online and Mobile Journalism module this year. The online lessons were made available a few weeks before the class was due to submit a multimedia project. By making the learning material available outside of the classroom time, it meant that more of the time in the classroom with the lecturer was spent discussing the project work rather than skills training.

As a result of the positive feedback from the student following their use of the online lessons I intend to make similar learning material available to cover the other key skills of photography and video creation for next year.

 

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Using online lessons and encouraging independent learning

During the autumn semester 2011 a trial looking at changing the way skills are delivered in a practical module took place.

The Online and Mobile Journalism module, taught by Glyn Mottershead, experimented with delivering some of the course content online. The results have been encouraging and will lead toward more use of this method. I provide teaching support to the module and planned and designed the online material. I discuss the reasons and results of the trial below.

The Online and Mobile Journalism module aims to introduce the skills required to produce online content but with 90 students, 30 computers and less equipment it is always a challenge to teach these skills effectively in the timetabled sessions.

Typical issues encountered were:

  • Lessons were repeated 3 or 4 times to accommodate all the students
  • Repeating classes meant less time to teach and spend in class
  • A limited amount of kit shared during class
  • Less practical experience gained by the student
  • No account of the student previous knowledge or experience

When reflecting on the module we knew the delivery of these skills could be done better and that both the teaching and learning experience could be improved. It was decided to try a new approach by delivering skills training online.

The module required the students to write a blog and produce multi-media content for an assessed project. It was therefore in the students interests to take advantage of the online lessons available to them.

The initial learning takes place outside of the classroom, in the students own time, when learning online. That learning was backed up by using classroom time to assess how they had done, troubleshoot problems and encourage further learning.

“Working with Audio” was the first skill to be made into an online lesson. This lesson would normally require two class-based sessions; recording and editing. When planning and designing the online lesson it was important not to let it become too long and so the lessons were split into five smaller lessons; audio basics, recording, editing basics, further editing and improving audio quality. Usability and accessibility were also key considerations.

The lessons were built using software called Adobe Captivate which allows all sorts of content and media to be used. The finished products include narration, text, closed captions, audio, images and video. Assessment is also included in the form of an interactive quiz. These lessons were then uploaded to Learning Central so the students could access them at any time and statistics on usage could be collected.

The feedback received from the students was very positive, with comments such as they enjoyed listening to the lessons, they could replay what they didn’t understand or skip bits they already knew. The statistical feedback from Learning Central is also encouraging with the lessons getting 188 hits to date. Interestingly it shows that the lessons were accessed the least on Thursdays but have also been accessed since the project!

Benefits achieved were:

  • Students were able to learn in their own time, at their own speed.
  • Further guidance and troubleshooting could be given during the classroom
  • Tutor time was more effective
  • The student could gauge their own learning needs based on previous knowledge and experience
  • The student learnt independently encouraging a mature approach to learning

Since creating the lessons it quickly became apparent that these lessons would also be of use to other modules. To make them available to everyone the lessons are also hosted on my blog How do I…? You can do.

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Creating an interactive document in Word

Do you use documents with tick boxes? Have you ever wondered why the tick boxes won’t let you tick them? Would you like to create a document (or form) with interactive tick boxes?

Well the answers to these, and possible more questions are answered below.

Firstly, why won’t the tick appear in the box when you click on it? Its probably because the document you are working on has been designed to be printed and filled in by hand rather than on a computer. The boxes on the page are graphic shapes and are not interactive in any way. You can click as much as you like but it won’t tick.

So how do you make the boxes tick-able and interactive? It’s very easy but first you need to add a new tab to Word before we begin. Click on the Office button and choose Word Options. With Popular selected tick the Show Developer tab in the Ribbon option. Click OK and you should see a new tab named ‘Developer’.

Select the Developer tab. We will be using the functions in the Controls and Protect groups.

Now lets get started and create a tick-able interactive document.

  1. Delete any boxes you have on your page.
  2. Place the cursor where you want a tick box
  3. With the Developer tab selected click on the Legacy Tools function in the Controls group.

    Legacy Tools

    Legacy Tools

  4. Select the Check Box Form Field option. A tick box appears on your page.
  5. Your tick box may be shaded grey (or not). To remove or add shading of the box, click Legacy tools again and choose Form Field Shading.
  6. Continue adding tick boxes to the rest of your document.

You may have noticed that the tick box still doesn’t act like a tick box. We have to do one more thing to activate the interactivity.

  1. With the Developer tab selected click the Protect Document option and choose Restrict Formatting and Editing
  2. A panel opens on the right hand side.
  3. Ignore the first section

    Restrict Formatting and Editing

    Restrict Formatting and Editing

  4. In the second section (Editing Restrictions) tick the box to ‘allow only this type of editing’
  5. Choose Filling in Forms from the drop down menu
  6. In the third second click Start Enforcing Protection.
  7. An Enforcing window opens. At this stage you could enter a password. If you do, anyone who opens the document will need a password to use it. Normally you wouldn’t need to use password protection, so in the instance leave the password boxes empty and click OK.

Try clicking on your tick boxes. Ticks (or crosses) appear inside the boxes.

What we have done by protecting the document is only allow areas of interaction to be altered. No other areas on the page can be changed. This is great if the document is complete and ready to be used as a form. But if you need to make changes to the docment, the protection must be removed.

Notice that the panel on the right hand has changed. Click the Stop Protection button. The document is now editable again.

Before I finish, check out the other interactive functions you can add to a page in Legacy Tools. You can also create text fields and drop down lists. Once added to the document, double click the item to reveal the setting options, such as the items for the drop down list or the type of text or data to be written in a text box. Its pretty simple to set it all up. Just remember to Protect the document when filling in and Stop Protection when editing.

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How do I redirect my mail to another email account?

The instructions below refer to redirection of email from a Cardiff University email account. The process will differ if you are using a different email system/software.

To redirect (or auto-forward) all incoming mail two Rules must be created. The first rule sends a copy of the incoming message to your other email address, and the second rule deletes the original message from your CardiffMail mailbox.

If you would prefer to keep a copy of your mail in your CardiffMail mailbox then only the first rule is necessary. In doing so, your mail will still be forwarded to your other email address and the original message will remain in your CardiffMail mailbox. However you will still need to access your CardiffMail account to delete any messages you no longer need to avoid exceeding your mail quota.

Please note that if you forward mail from your CardiffMail account to another address, you do so at your own risk.

View in Full Mode

  1. Open your CardiffMail account.
  2. Make sure you are viewing your email in Full Mode

Rule 1:

  1. Click the More button on the Toolbar and choose Mail Rules from the menu
  2. Click New Rule
  3. Enter a Rule Name such as ‘Forward all mail’
  4. Make sure that the Enabled status is selected
  5. In the Specify Conditions area select All documents from the first drop down box.
  6. Click the Add button to add the condition to the box on the right hand side
  7. In the Specify Actions area select Send copy to from the first drop down box
  8. Enter the email address that you want to forward your email to in the text box
  9. Select Full from the second drop down box
  10. Click the Add button to add the condition to the box on the right hand side
  11. Click Save & Close on the Action bar to save the rule.
  12. Make sure this rule is at the top of the list of rules.

Rule 2:

  1. Click the More button on the Toolbar and choose Mail Rules from the menu
  2. Click New Rule
  3. Enter a Rule Name such as ‘Delete mail’
  4. Make sure that the Enabled status is selected
  5. In the Specify Conditions area select All documents from the first drop down box.
  6. Click the Add button to add the condition to the box on the right hand side
  7. In the Specify Actions area select Delete (don’t accept message) from the first drop down box
  8. Click the Add button to add the condition to the box on the right hand side
  9. Click Save & Close on the Action bar to save the rule.


How to stop redirecting your mail

  1. Click the More button on the Toolbar and choose Mail Rules from the menu
  2. Select the ‘Forwarding’ rule from the list and click the Not Enabled option
  3. Click the Save & Close button on the toolbar

Repeat this process for the ‘Delete’ rule.

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Understanding Audio – Recording and Editing (lesson 5 – Improving audio)

There is a lot to consider when working with audio; what recorder to use, which file type to record, how to hold the recorder, adjusting record levels, how to edit the recording and much more. In this last lesson in a series of five you will learn how to improve the quality of your audio with the normalize function and removing noise.

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Understanding Audio – Recording and Editing (lesson 1 – The basics)

There is a lot to consider when working with audio; what recorder to use, which file type to record, how to hold the recorder, adjusting record levels, how to edit the recording and much more. The lesson below is the first in a series of five lessons which will guide you through the processes of working with audio.

Go to the next lesson (lesson 2) to learn the basics of recording audio.

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Understanding Audio – Recording and Editing (lesson 4 – Further editing)

There is a lot to consider when working with audio; what recorder to use, which file type to record, how to hold the recorder, adjusting record levels, how to edit the recording and much more. In this fourth lesson in a series of five you will learn how to edit multiple audio files on separate tracks (multi-track editing).

Go to the next lesson (lesson 5) to learn how to improve the quality of your recording.

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