Saturday, 30 January 2010

How I made a slidecast....with a twitter support team.

At the end of last year I took delivery of a Zoom Q3. It's a little video camera with exceptional audio.... stereo condenser microphones. In January I gave a lecture to second year students and decided to record the audio. I had the vague notion of sharing it somehow on Blackboard. I decided to have a go on Thursday night and tweeted the following:

Solutions suggested were

  • Camtasia .... either as powerpoint plug-in or by exporting ppt as images and importing to Camtasia
  • Slideshare
  • Garageband (for a Mac and with benefit of possibility of publishing as a podcast from @nlafferty)
I was working on a PC so ruled out garageband. I had downloaded a trial version of Camtasia and spent a while trying to figure out if I could manage it. It seems to be a great product and I should spend longer with it, but I couldn't see how I would be able to do this without very carefully changing slides in time to the recorded audio. It's worth noting that Powerpoint itself doesn't seem to have an option to add existing audio to a presentation.

So I started investigating Slideshare in greater detail. @jobadge had sent me a link to this slideshare presentation explaining the process. It suggested I download Audacity, so I did and 'crunch down' the file.I couldn't see what I was actually to use Audacity for as I already had an existing audio file, and I wasn't clear about how to do the crunch down. I got very confused at this stage. I was trying to figure out how to reduce file size, then looked at the Slideshare's own latest guidance and saw that they would host the mp3 and it didn't matter what size the file was. Yay! But how did I convert .wav to mp3. Cue lots more confusion on my part!

Several people suggested that this was possible in itunes. But could I get it to work? No! (here is a screentoaster documenting my frustration! And to follow-up. Yes, you can convert to mp3 in iTunes. I searched help this afternoon and found the solution. Here is a screenr explaining how.) Special thanks to @egrommet and @paul_cooney who suggested that Audacity and the (poorly named) LAME plug-in would word. It did! I had an mp3 file.

The actual process of linking the audio to presentation in Slideshare is joyously simple! I set Slideshare to divide my 50 minutes of audio equally between my 16 slides and then adjusted them to the correct points.

The quality of the audio is high, and students can fast forward to hear the points that I made in different sections of the lecture. I think that it sounds more dynamic than if I had just recorded it sitting at my desk. So I will do it again.

Working with a twitter support team is always fun. I got there in the end, even though it was well after mid-night and my patience had grown a little thin.

For all your help and encouragement, a very big thank you to @stujohnson, @cathellis, @nlafferty, @jobadge, @bonnycastle, @clairebrooks, @keithunderdown, @adapeck, @suzanakm, @birdiecanfly, @doc_rob, @inimitablyfree, @ohsuneuro, @paul_cooney, @thelongmile, @jobrodie, @caspararemi, @acmcdonaldgp, @welshitgirl, @sboneham , @mrgunn who are all part of my twitter support team!

So in summary:

  1. The zoom q3 records very good audio.
  2. Slideshare is  the easiest way to synch existing audio to a presentation.
  3. Slideshare needs an mp3 file. iTunes will do the conversion. 
  4. You can upload the mp3 directly to Slideshare. No need to host elsewhere.
  5. Synching is a doddle!

Oh.... and here is the screenr explaining how to convert to mps in itunes.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

How to sign up to Diigo from a group invitation.

Diigo could make responding to a group invitation easier.

Inviting students to Diigo was a bit of an effort. But what was it like receiving an invite? I invited myself. The answer is confusing. Above is a screen-shot of the email. It looks like I should click to join the group, but then the note tells me that I should join Diigo first. But how? Where is the link to join diigo???

I'm a Diigo education pioneer!

diigo education pioneer
Last year I started an account on Delicious for the Family Case Study, my main responsibility in Cardiff's undergraduate medical course. I used it to save links which I shared with students through Blackboard, particularly in the dicsussion forums there. But I was also keen to have them join a network with me.

I was a little bit frustrated by Delicious because of
  • not knowing who students were... they tended to use their Cardiff Uni ids which I didn't know.
  • not knowing what students looked like... no avatars on delicious
  • not being able to send them a message, to say thanks or query how they might use a resource 
There are a few posts on this blog discussing the relevant merits of delicious and diigo. Although I established a Diigo educator account last year, I hadn't got round to using it as I found Diigo quite clumsy to use. It seemed to be trying to do too much. So for my own personal social bookmarking I stayed with delicious too.

2010 rolls round, and the next set of students are about to start the project. I was going to record a screencast explaining delicious, but realised that I couldn't bring myself to ask them to sign up for a Yahoo ID. So I decided to look at the Diigo account again.

Diigo Educator Accounts
These allow educators to set up private areas for their students. I had the choice of generating accounts for all students or inviting them to join by email.

Generating accounts
Accounts can be generated by uploading a .csv file - infortunately the link which specified the format of the file Diigo would like was broken, so I uploaded  just names. This generated 320 accounts and passwords, which I guess I could have put on Blackboard, but it didn't seem a great option. So I set about deleting those accounts to try a different way.

Inviting by email
220 of the 320 students told me their preferred email address when completing a google form last December. For some reason it wouldn't let me copy and paste that many email addresses in to the box. And there was not the option to upload email addresses from a .csv file. But it was possible to import contacts from an emai account. So, I set up a new gmail account. Imported the email addresses from a .csv to the gmail account and then imported the contacts in to Diigo. The complexity of this sequence makes me think that I must have been doing something wrong!

What happened next?
So far 6 (six) students have signed up in the first few hours. The very first student tweeted about the sign-up and I found her when searching twitter for diigo! Another of my students has sent me a message on twitter too which makes me wonder if it is worth trying out the twitter account I registered for the course.

Then... I wondered what the sign-up experience was like for the students. So, just as I had with google docs I invited myself. That's the next post......

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Why I am starting an EdD

On Thursday I started the first module of a Doctorate in Education in Cardiff University School of Social Sciences.

Why a higher degree?
I'm been working in Cardiff University since 2002. I completed a Masters in Public Health and considered pursuing a PhD in a clinical area. But.... it was not the right time in my personal life and instead I took on increasing teaching responsibilities and found myself enthused.
Having a higher degree is not necessary for or a guarantee of promotion on the basis of excellence in teaching, so  this is not the reason I am committing myself to another 5-7 years of study. Some would argue that pursuing a PhD is unlikely to develop the skills and expertise necessary for an excellent teacher and I struggled with this myself.

Why an EdD?
I came across the professional doctorate programme last year. This seems to me to provide a better structure for personal development for someone who aspires to excellence in teaching. I will complete 8 taught modules over the next two years, on a range of topics related to education, and research design. The Cardiff course is unusual in that it is within Social Sciences rather than education. The first module 'Changing Modes of Professionalism" had students from the education, health and nursing streams which I found a considerable strength.
After 2 years I will have 3-5 years to complete a doctoral thesis of 40-60,000 words. I am not yet sure what the subject of the thesis will be and will use the next year to refine ideas. I have already had tentative supervisors allocated and will meet regularly with them throughout the course.

What do I expect to gain?
  • high quality learning opportunities
  • to join a local network of professionals engaged in doctoral study
  • the challenge of studying within a different discipline
  • a qualification
I hope to share much of my learning through social media so I hope you will join me on my journey.