Tel Tales

Adventures in Technology Enhanced Learning @ UoP

Tag: communication

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.

 

Digital Capabilities?

Adrian Sharkey

Why do digital capabilities matter?

In 2015 the House of Lords published a report on the need to improve the country’s digital capabilities, Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future. It was an eye opener and didn’t pull any punches. Among the findings, the report stated that 35% of existing jobs would be automated over the next 20 years and that higher education had not responded to the urgent need for re-skilling. The report goes on to outline that digital skills are all encompassing, affecting all areas of the economy including industry, agriculture, health care, financial services as well as public and consumer services.

Added to this is the expectation of students now paying £9,000 a year in tuition fees. Higher education is seen as much more of a transaction and students expect to be given the skills that make them employable. With expectations from government and students, higher education has a large responsibility in providing the relevant skills for a successful digital economy, to both staff and students.

What are digital capabilities?

Higher education agencies like UCISA and Jisc have come up with a definition and a framework for digital capabilities:

‘Digital capabilities are those that fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society.’

 

 

Digital capability covers a wide range of areas and is embedded in all teaching and learning. There is a big assumption that students these days are computer ‘savvy,’ and while they may spend a lot of time online and be comfortable with different applications and devices, that doesn’t necessarily translate to being able to evaluate information, analyse data, having a credible online identity etc.

The six elements of digital capability:

ICT Proficiency

Be comfortable using different devices, applications and services and know which ones to apply to particular tasks. An ability to keep up to date with ICT and deal with problems when they occur.

Information, data and media literacies

Being able to evaluate information, analyse it and present it in different settings, use data in applications like spreadsheets and databases to query it and run reports. An understanding of laws around data, like copyright and data protection. An ability to interpret and a critical approach to media messages.

Digital creation, problem solving and innovation

Present work and ideas using blogs, web pages audio and visual tools etc. Understand different digital research tools, analyse and present the results. Use digital tools in different settings to present ideas.

Digital communication, collaboration and participation

Effectively use forums, social media and other digital communication tools. Collaborate on projects and work with people from different organisations and backgrounds using productivity tools like G-suite. Use digital tools, social networking etc. to participate in online learning, professionally and personally online.

Digital learning and development

Be able to learn online, monitor progress and showcase achievements. To teach and design online learning opportunities.

Digital identity and wellbeing

Be able to project a positive digital identity across different profiles and understand the reputational risks and benefits of participating online. Use digital tools to pursue personal goals, manage work life balance online.

What next?

  • Digital capability needs to be seen as an institute wide responsibility, across all departments.
  • One of the first steps is to assess your own digital capability, this can be done using the Jisc Digital Discovery Tool, while this is aimed at staff, some institutions have used it with students also. There should be a student discovery tool in early 2018.
  • All opportunities should be taken to embed digital capability into the curriculum, staff and students should be encouraged to co-create digital resources.
  • Example digital capability profiles for staff (including support staff) and students. Jisc have made a start on this.
  • Make digital capability part of everyone’s Continuous Professional Development (CPD) and Performance Development Review (PDR).
  • Look at certification and accreditation.
  • Encourage digital good practice, offer rewards for innovative digital teaching and for student achievement.
  • Provide the digital infrastructure and university wide tools to allow students and staff to develop digital capability.

Further resources

Technology Enhanced Learning Team in DCQE

The IT Training Team in IS

Jisc – Building digital capability

The 2017 UCISA Digital Capabilities Survey Report

Jisc – Student digital experience tracker 2017

Dame Martha Lane Fox – Richard Dimbleby Lecture

@adrianjsharkey

Save

 

Is your team ‘slack’ing when it comes to communication?

Alana Aldred

So we all know that good communication is a pretty important element of any productive team – why, then, is it so hard to get it right?

One of the most frustrating points about communication at work can either be the lack of it … or, possibly, too much of it in the form of hundreds of back-and-forth emails with threads as long as your arm, all talking about the same topic!

Well, the TEL team were definitely feeling this pain! So we came up with a plan to investigate a new method of communication. As a team it was very important that whatever form this took it wouldn’t be invasive to our workflow – it had to fit in with us as a team and as an individual.

So, after a little window shopping we found the Slack app!

So what is it? In very simple terms Slack is a messaging app for teams. It is available to view on iOS and Android mobile devices, and from your Mac & Windows Desktop. The platform allows you to create Channels (groups) which you and other team members can join and contribute to.

Slack interface

Slack, as with most packages, offers a free service. However, it is limited compared to the paid fee package. The TEL team is a fairly small team and we find that the free service is enough for us. The free package is also unlimited unlike so many others where you only get to trial for a short period of time and then have to buy in!

So how do we use Slack? Just to give you an example, we have a news and announcement channel which is used by the whole team; it’s here that we can all view and share information that is important across the team. Then we have project channels which are used by those working on a specific projects – the really useful thing about this is that if you come in late to work on a project you can view all previous dialogue and associated documentation from when the channel was created – Instantly (pretty much) in the loop! It’s also worth mentioning that if you are working on something confidential than it is possible to set up a private channel. My advice would to avoid using private channels unless really necessary as it can create barriers to collaboration and the sharing of ideas and knowledge.

However, Slack isn’t just about messaging! You can upload and share files and it also has some fantastic integrations both practical and fun!

Add media options

Lastly, no one wants to be distracted at work. There are a couple of ways to overcome this issue. First, get your notifications set up! There are loads of options on how and when to get notified! Second, set up a social channel for general chit-chat (and the overuse of /giphy!) … this should prevent work-related channels drifting off topic!

I’m not afraid to say I’m a big fan of Slack. In fact I love it, as it’s so easy and simple to setup and use! Personally I think it’s enhanced our ability to collaborate more freely and its facilitated us in being able to support team members because we are now much more aware of what is happening within the team.

If this sounds like something your team could benefit from using then why not check it out – See https://slack.com/

 

Why Blog? Good question, why blog indeed?

Marie Kendall-Waters

As you can see the TEL Team have a brand new, shiny blog! We’re hoping to share all our news and exciting discoveries with you all and we would like you to contribute too by leaving comments and feedback to our blog posts that interest you. With this in mind, I’ve started thinking about blogs and blogging.

Blogs are a great platform for communicating to a wider audience, sharing good practice and building up a community amongst others who have similar interests to your own. Blogging is a great way of learning, it challenges you to sit down and write and reflect on your experiences on a regular basis, which can often be scary putting your thoughts out there for all to read! However, by embracing this, you learn and grow as an individual, perhaps even become an expert in a certain field and in turn you are helping others to learn too! For some people having an opinion and voicing that opinion online comes as a natural process for others it can be a terrifying prospect, and by overcoming that it can become empowering – so perhaps it’s worth thinking about, even if it is a little scary!

So what makes a successful blog?

Okay, so here are a few things that I think are important to remember when blogging…

  • Purpose: so why blog? What are you trying to say to your audience? By giving a blog a purpose, a reason for its existence, you are giving your readers something memorable to grab onto. They have something to engage with, comment on, and share.
  • Audience: who are your lovely readers? Are you talking to a specific group of people? If so, do you need to tailor your posts to their needs? Also, do you need to think of the wider audience?
  • Tone: conversational tone – blog posts tend to be more informal and chatty.
  • Structure of blog posts: as with any writing, structure is very important. Writing a blog post is no different! Organise your thoughts and ideas before embarking on the task. Use headings to signpost your readers. Include a clear introduction so that the reader knows what is going to be discussed. Break down your post into well structured paragraphs and always finish by adding a conclusion.
  • Length of posts: It shouldn’t really matter – keep the content to the length that it is required to discuss your chosen topic. However, keeping content clear and to the point will help to keep the word count down and keep your content focused and your reader engrossed.
  • Unique content: write something with a different spin/take on it, rather than writing something that someone else has already written. Include punchy headlines and humor to grab the reader’s attention – doesn’t always have to be serious!
  • Media: include videos and images in posts – why?  It makes it more interesting and engaging for our readers rather than reams of text.
  • Frequency of posts: by blogging on a regular basis you will keep your readers’ interest!
  • Internal linking: linking related posts within a blog by #hashtags is a great way of enhancing the learning experience for readers. It not only provides themes throughout but also searchable keywords which are useful for when reflecting and also for the reader when searching.
  • Documenting and reflecting: a way for you and your readers to have a learning experience through blogging.
  • Spelling and grammar: there is nothing worse than reading a blog full of mistakes and typos. Have a process in place. Write the post, go back and edit and then get someone else to proofread with a fresh pair of eyes and only then publish!

Sounds good, right?

Yes it does, however, blogging has never come naturally to the TEL Team and to be honest this isn’t the first TEL Team attempt at having a blog – we’ve tried and failed in the past – we’ve just never seemed to get it quite right – why? Well, how can I put it, we are pretty good at setting up a blog but we’re not so great at blogging, which is pretty crucial when owning a blog, I think you’d agree!

So as a team we have decided to give blogging another go – yippee I hear you cry – and this time it’s going to be different! Please wish us all the best with our little blogging adventure and I’ll reflect on how we are doing over the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you have any experience of blogs or are a keen blogger yourself and have any useful tips then please share them with us 🙂

Image credits: Background image created by Valeria_aksakova – Freepik.com