Tel Tales

Adventures in Technology Enhanced Learning @ UoP

Author: Jerry Collingwood

UbiCast Lecture Capture

https://www.ubicast.eu/en/products/campus-automated-lecture-capture-elearning-moocs/

Jerry Collingwood

The University has selected the UbiCast Lecture Capture system for producing high quality recordings of lectures. The system has been designed to be seamless to use, with your only input being to start and stop the recording, or to request in advance that the lecture is recorded – in which case the entire process can be automated for you! You then need only do what you would normally do in that room to begin your teaching, such as ensuring the microphone is switched on and can be heard by the audience.

The system captures audio from the desk and/or tie microphone depending on the room configuration and plays it back to users alongside the content you have projected for the students and/or the output from a video camera. To make the video of your presentation more engaging, the camera can digitally track you as you move within the presentation area. The compiled output will also sense when it is appropriate to display either the camera or the presented content in full screen mode to draw the viewer’s attention.

Although the high definition camera is fixed in each room, our editing software automatically recognises upper-body shapes within the defined presentation area and frames (tracks) these as they move about, hence the final output is similar to that achieved by a camera crew filming the event. To achieve the best results, we recommend wearing clothes that will contrast against the backdrop in the room. If possible you should also remove any ‘shapes’ from the presentation area which may interfere with the recognition process such as empty chairs.

Once the recording has been stopped it will automatically render and upload to our Media Server, which is accessible at https://mediaserver.capture.port.ac.uk/ using your UoP login details. You should then contact the TEL team at elearn@port.ac.uk with details of your presentation (title, date, time, room) and we will make your recording available to you. Ultimately, we hope that all you will then want to edit on your recording is to trim it, though  before you actually trim anything we recommend that you watch through all the parts that you intend to use and let the TEL team know if there are any issues with camera tracking as we can fix these first. You will have access to trim the recording yourself, whether this is just top and tailing or cutting out sections from the middle is up to you, you can then merge all of your parts together as one recording or split them into separate videos should you wish. Once you are happy with your recording, let the TEL team know and we will ‘publish’ the video making it accessible to other users on the server. Should you wish you could also then embed the recording within Moodle.

UbiCast is currently only available in a limited number of rooms across campus – Eldon West 1.11, Park 2.23, Richmond LT1, Dennis Sciama 2.02 and The Graduate School 4.09 in St Andrews Court. We also have a mobile unit that the TEL Team can set up in suitable rooms around campus –- but please contact the TEL team well in advance to check room suitability.

If you like UbiCast spread the word, as we can then look at an investment proposal to expand the service.

 

TechSmith Relay

Jerry Collingwood

Many of you will be aware of the TechSmith Relay service as the University has been using it for a number of years, but are you making the most of it for your students? The service is available on all UoP machines via MyApps and you can also download the software free from our TechSmith Relay server (log in with your UoP details) for use on any other compatible machine – see https://relay.port.ac.uk/relay/ClientDownload.aspx

TechSmith Relay allows you to record your screen with an audio voiceover, which is currently considered suitable to meet the requirements of the Disabled Student Allowance. Incorporating TechSmith Relay into your teaching need not be just about meeting these requirements however, as all of your students can benefit from being able to hear what was said during contact time. Students’ attention can be disrupted while making notes during a lecture, and knowing they can refer back to the recording rather than having to rely on their own notes afterwards means students can concentrate fully on the lecture.

To use this software in a lecture theatre you will require a microphone to be connected to a PC, in some rooms the desk microphone has been linked up in this way, but not all. To ensure you can record your session in this way we recommend the purchase of a USB microphone which you can quickly set up in the various teaching rooms.

This can take the form of a simple USB wired microphone if you do not stray too far from the microphone during your lecturing, such as:

http://support.logitech.com/en_gb/product/usb-desktop-microphone

Or, if you like to wander around the presentation area, a microphone such as the RevoLabs X-Tag could prove useful although it will cost significantly more:

https://www.revolabs.com/products/microphones/wireless-microphones-systems/usb-wireless-microphone-system

Of course, rather than recording your entire lecture, if you do have time at your desk to create a lecture summary suitable for revision then this may well prove more effective to complement your teaching. Research has shown that short recordings of 5–15 minutes are far more effective for student engagement and learning.

PLEASE NOTE that it can take a few minutes to upload your recording (particularly at the end of a lecture) so allow 3–4 minutes before logging off the PC otherwise your recording will not complete uploading even if you receive a message saying it has been ‘submitted’.

You may also find Relay a helpful tool for providing feedback. When marking an essay you could have the essay on screen and use the mouse as a pointer whilst talking about an assignment, thereby providing audio feedback in addition to written feedback. Why not check out the Assessed Video tool!

 

Assessed Videos

Jerry Collingwood

Assessed Videos is a solution developed by the TEL Team to simplify the administration processes of recording a student (or group of students) for assessment. Recordings are shared privately between the assessor and the student just as a written assignment would be. The process is so simple it has been used in class whilst students have given short presentations one after the other with the recording available to the student for review before the end of the session.

Utilising our TechSmith Relay Server (formerly Camtasia Relay) and the TechSmith Fuse mobile app (available on Android, iOS and Windows devices), a video is taken by the mobile device and uploaded to the central server where metadata such as the student’s ID number and details about the recording are stored in a database and used to assign viewing rights. As a lecturer on a really basic level, all you need to do to use this service is start a recording, stop a recording, select the appropriate profile from a dropdown list when uploading the recording and enter the student’s ID number in the description field. After five minutes (longer for high definition video, longer recordings and at peak times) the recording is available for both you and your student to view at http://relay.port.ac.uk/assessed/ where you can both log in using your standard UoP details. All of your videos will be available from one simple navigation page, so no need to remember lots of URLs or save numerous emails.

Whilst working closely with early adopters of this technology/solution, it has become clear that sometimes we can save you even more time by batch processing some of the metadata for you. For example between X and Y dates you might like all of your recordings to have similar titles .e.g ‘U12345 Assessment 1 – student number’. This can be arranged for you so that all you need to do is enter the student number in the description field as described above, rather than completing the title field each time in addition. We can also ensure that all of your recordings are shared with a colleague and vice versa – particularly useful if you team teach. Have an external examiner? No problem, we can create an account for them and share either all or just a selection of your recordings with them.

For each recording, the owner (and any markers) have space to enter a numerical grade out of 100 and also complete a comments box, but that is no reason to limit yourself with the type of feedback you could be providing. Why not film yourself talking to the camera? Simply enter the ID number for the student you are providing feedback to in the description field. Or if you are a little camera shy you could use Relay on your computer to record your screen, perhaps allowing you to add an audio comment alongside a marking grid that you might be completing for the student? If you make a number of recordings throughout the year, you can even set a written reflection exercise with your students who can reference each recording with the direct URL – their recording is still private between you and them as nobody else can view that URL without permissions.

There is both a ‘quickstart’ and a more detailed user-guide available to download from http://relay.port.ac.uk/assessed/ but if you have any questions or would like a demonstration of the system please contact the TEL team at elearn@port.ac.uk for assistance.

 

Flipping the classroom

Jerry Collingwood

Over the last few years the convenience of creating a multimedia recording has improved to such an extent that it is now very feasible to enhance the interactivity of contact time with students by recording content that can be passively consumed by students and providing it to them in advance of the valuable timetabled contact time. It requires an initial investment of time but with a bit of careful planning the recordings can be used for a number of years without the need for revision, potentially saving you time in the future as well as removing some of the stress of trying to squeeze all your teaching content into a finite number of lectures and also creates a resource for students to revise from and a reference you can use when providing feedback.

The concept is that you can pre-record content that would normally be presented as a lecture. This can be done without the audience of students which can be a stressful environment, with large lecture theatres, disruptive murmurings in the audience and  audio-visual equipment not always performing as expected. This content can then be viewed by the student at their leisure, at a time when they are receptive to learning, fitting in around part-time employment and other commitments. Time that would normally be spent lecturing can then be repurposed as an engaging student-led session, affording the students time to ask any questions that may have arisen from consuming the content or by working through examples in class – important reflective aspects of learning which are all too often sacrificed in order to cover the all the content of the curriculum. Some may argue that lecture time is not saved as it is invested early in the process to make the recordings, which is true. However, producing a recording of a lecture that is presented multiple times (for example, in large courses), which can also be reused in the following semester or year, can save time on delivering content.

Here at the University of Portsmouth we have a variety of technologies that can assist you with ‘flipping the classroom’ and making your content more engaging, which will both enhance your teaching, and more importantly, improve the students’ learning.

New for the 2016 academic year we have a full lecture capture system for the first time. The UbiCast system is available in a limited number of venues and is now fully operational in the big lecture theatres of Park (Room 2.23 and Eldon West (Room 1.11). It is also available in the Grad School (Room 4.09, St Andrew’s Court) and there is a small seminar room equipped in Dennis Sciama (Room 2.02) where it is intended that content could be created in a ‘studio’ environment without the audience, i.e. for a flipped classroom. DCQE also have a mobile recording unit that can be requested via: elearn@port.ac.uk.

Members of Technology Enhanced Learning will setup the equipment in a suitable venue (please note 30 minutes setup time is required). The UbiCast system will record audio, the content of your screen and video of you presenting – which in the large lecture theatres of Park and Eldon will track you as you walk around the presentation area.

Well established at the University but often underestimated is Relay, a system for capturing screen and audio. In many cases this is all that is required for flipping the classroom – a video of the presenter does not always add value to the content. Relay is available on all standard build PCs via the MyApps portal or can be downloaded from: http://relay.port.ac.uk/ to your personal PC or Mac.

Please note to use Relay you may require a microphone (if the one in the classroom is not connected to the PC), we recommend a simple USB microphone that is easy to carry around. If you need to walk around whilst presenting try a wireless USB microphone such as the RevoLab X-Tag. If you have a webcam, then this can also be incorporated into the Relay recording as a picture in picture (appearing over the content in the bottom right-hand corner) although we would not normally recommend this as it can block some content and may be distracting to the viewer.

Fuse is a free mobile app developed by TechSmith (the developers of Relay), compatible with Android, iOS and Windows mobile devices. Fuse utilises the camera and microphone of your mobile device to record video and upload it to the Relay server where it can be processed and hosted in Compass to easily embed into your Moodle unit(s). If you don’t need a visual from your computer screen or document camera to get your message across why not utilise Fuse to add an introductory video or an interview of a subject specialist to your Moodle unit?