20 October 2009

The way we should manage video

For some time now I've been talking about this idea on how an organisation should handle video (or all media it produces for that matter), I think I may have blogged it before - I know I tried to use the Heywire 8 meeting as a venue to bring it forward, and I had high hopes that NZ Telecom would show interest, or that Digital NZ would make it possible, but I haven't heard anything back from any of them. Perhaps those secretive Kiwis are forging ahead without me.. just like they did to some poor old Australian with the pavlova.

Recently my colleagues as University of Canberra have asked me to write the idea up in a one pager for use in a proposal. If you have any pointers on the idea, please comment in a link.

The way we should manage video

Someone wanting to upload a video at UC goes to the UC website and clicks upload. The select the file they wish to upload and then go through an extensive list of servers to send that file to. (UC website, Moodle, National Archives, Youtube, Internet Archive, Blip.tv, Facebook.. add their own server). When they click upload the file is pushed across the selected platform carrying with it a link to UC, and when finished they receive an email with a summary of file locations and embed codes. They use whichever one they like in their own sites, or leave it at that. The point of this is getting content out across the Internet in ways that suite the preferences of both the individual publishers and the viewers, as well as establishing a strong UC presence across popular media platforms. This is also a good form of backup, especially considering the addition of the Internet Archive and the National Archives.

A free web service that does most of this already exists at http://tubemogul.com. The thing that is needed on such a service however, is the ability to add other servers.

Given that most organisations use a Proxy server to manage Internet use, it is possible to use this file distribution idea to manage bandwidth use. For example, if someone on campus requests a file it is delivered from campus servers. If the request is from off campus somewhere, then the file is delivered from off campus servers thus saving UC outgoing and incoming data costs.

Leigh Blackall comments on the Second Life for Education in New Zealand project

Click to Play MP3 (14Meg)
Michael Winter of CORE Education interviews Leigh Blackall about the Second Life for Education in New Zealand project (SLENZ). Michael is interviewing all the project team as an evaluation of the project. This audio is raw and unedited.

Very late Milestone Report to AKO, regarding the Measure of Otago's Open Education

Terry Marler alerts me to an over due milestone report for the Ako Aotearoa project where we are attempting to evaluate the impact of open educational developments at Otago Polytechnic. Up until now, I expected that the my blog postings on the project and the wiki that documents the project, were acting as continuous progress reports. But it turns out that there is a word processor template that needs to be filled in! Blogging is beyond what is required, so this post is for me and you I guess, and I will attempt to squeeze it into the template provided.

Progress so far:

All reports are categorised and fed through RSS on the tag word project-ako
15 September 2009
Measuring our open education, finishing stage 1: Usage
Reporting initial findings on the costs, savings and gains of using social media platforms. Comments from peers were left, resulting in minor changes to the equations, and a finished stage 1 evaluation published on the project wiki.
16 comments to date from peers.

13 August 2009
Models of open education
Reporting on the talk given in Vancouver for the Open Education 2009 conference. Includes a video recording and key points and links made in the talk:
  • 4 stories
  • 4 models
  • Policy and support
  • Questioning
2 comments to date from peers.
17 July 2009
Measuring open education: How we value it?
Reporting on the second meeting with ethnographers being engaged to assist with evaluating the impact open education has on staff values and perceptions of performance. Report includes confirmation of a research plan.
0 comments to date from peers

7 July 2009
Measuring open education
Reporting on research direction after meeting with external and experienced ethnographers.
14 comments to date from peers.
Since the conference, stage 1 of a 2 stage evaluation was completed finding that:
It costs $4000 to train one person how to use social media to source, produce and publish open educational resources for their teaching practice. That person will go on to return $4542 per year worth of brand awareness for their organisation, $1031 per year in quality gains by sampling and reusing free content, and up to $3615 per year worth of savings in infrastructural and support costs by using free media publishing services.

How this approach to teaching practices impacts on senses of job satisfaction, motivation, and perceptions of teaching and learning performance is yet to be determined. We are waiting for reports from an ethnographic study to be conducted by external researchers. We also hope to gain insight into subjective perspectives on the impact the practice has on learning outcomes and satisfaction.

If it is agreed that these returns are tangible and useful, it will be recommended that a committed training regime (one that compensates for teacher time) be implemented, and that incentives and rewards be put in place for teachers that go on to use popular social media for open educational practices.

Mobile videos-Youtube, web-based editing Kaltura

Click to Play
How to email video clips from your phone to Youtube, then import the clips from Youtube to a Kaltura web based video editor

17 October 2009

Thoughts about ANU #gaggle, institutional learning vs networked learning

I attended a forum that is held regularly around Canberra, called Gaggle. It is an edtech forum generally, and I was excited to go, expecting to meet several of the edtech people I have been following for several years. Unfortunately they didn't attend this #gaggle, but I was still interested to see what ANU would bring to the discussion...

Unfortunately I was a little disappointed, leading to some frustration over there being no time allowed for discussion after each 10 minute presentation, seeing me tweet spiky comments and questions instead. Perhaps that lack of discussion is a good thing though.. we have the technology to carry on a discussion here, and maybe the face to face is better used to cover as much ground as possible in terms of ideas and content... I dunno, I tend to think the other way around would be better. Presentations online, face to face for discussion.

One of the presenters, Tom Worthington has been gracious enough to ignore the tone of my tweets and respond to each, at length on his blog. I should have tagged my questions according to the presentations I was referring to though, because not every one was to Tom. My frustration at the time was only added to by the 140 character limits, typing on an android with only one bar of signal and no open wifi in the room. Even more frustrating was the 4-10 seconds for a question or comment after a presentation, just as everyone is told its time to leave.. all of which is hardly conducive to discussion.. especially for someone like me who is yet to develop the virtue of patience.

Tom's come back to my main question:

LB Tweets: What if anyone could pick and chose anything from anywhere to make a degree? Why limit it to institutions?

Tom blogs: You can pick and choose anything for your education. But it may help to have someone help you pick and choose. That is part of what institutions do. They also provide a form of quality control for you, and for others, to say what you studied and what you did with it was worthwhile. This particularly applies to education for professions which effect on people's lives.
Tom's point is one that is often cited to refute Connectivism or networked and open learning, similar in ways that schooling refutes deschooling. That some professions require quantifiable skills and assessment, and that institutions provide that is a fair point in the context of "higher education" becoming more like vocational training, and a point that is exactly what is being challenged. Do the institutions really provide effective guidance and quality, or are they simply enjoying a governed monopoly over the idea? Many parallels have been made here with recent challenges facing newspapers and journalism - one being the institution, the other being the social value it keeps. What happens when that social value is more effectively found (or realised) in places outside that institution?

It would surely be a possible point of agreement that formal education and curriculum does more than simply guide and make quality. There is much more to the formalised learning experience than that. If we then extend that line into questions of what institutions displace in people's learning, and what those institutions might do if faced with evidence that their social value is being met elsewhere, then I think we would be having a discussion on something that is what Gaggle should be about. But this argument perhaps puts me in one historic camp and Tom in another. The argument is impractical to here and now, decades long, with my camp having become absent from most public dialogue within the institutions (Illich, Frier, Holt, McCluhan, Chomsky, and more recently, a medium sized network of blogging educational commentators).

Even in the areas of simple quantifiable education and training, we can find evidence of efficiency gains in self directed and networked learning - largely thanks to recent communications media reawakening old social ideas and the willingness of a % of people to try those ideas again. The values of guidance and quality Tom refers to, is it being diluted by inflated fees, bureaucratic overheads, open educational practices, open courseware, and more broadly - efforts to add value opportunities for learning through social media and connections? If this dilution continues, perhaps the only value left in institutions will be assessment and credentialism, and the learning that credentialasim rewards, finds more opportunities to take place everywhere else but the institutions. The rise in the practice of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), and Assessment of Prior Learning (APL) for example.

To be honest though, I am relatively inexperienced with the Higher Ed sector, having spent 8 years on the vocational training sector, and a few years in secondary. Even there, are threads of philosophical wonderings about competency based curriculum, assessment, and the wider stuff generalised as critical, ethical, social, creative and analytical learnings. All of it leading to what I think ought to be an identity crisis for institutions, and a massive topic of consideration at forums like Gaggle.

There was one presenter positing these questions at ANU #gaggle, Megan Poore. I would have liked to ask her the nagging question I have inspired by reading Illich. Do the utopian ideas of networked learning and socialism through these new technocratic devices actually displace more people than it empowers? Are we utopians watching that ball?

15 October 2009

On the trouble with scientific measures and accounting

A friend in NZ sent me this story recently. Posting it here for others to see, and so I don't lose it in email history:

A small story by Lobsang Rampa in his book Chapters of Life (strongly recommended for reading at least once in life time)

…………. Einstein dealt with theories. He theorized according to the facts available at the time, but you see, we must not always be led astray by what appears to be the obvious, because the obvious is not always so obvious. For instance, a scientist was studying the behavior of fleas, he thought he could correlate the behavior of fleas' psychosomatic patterns with that of humans. After all, fleas thrive exceedingly well on human blood, so our scientist went in for the study of fleas, an itching process, if I may say so. With great care and the expenditure of much time, he trained a medium-sized flea to jump over a matchbox every time he said, ‘Go.’ Then when the flea had the idea, the scien- tist pulled off two of the flea's six legs. ‘Go,’ he said. The flea jumped again, and was able to repeat the performance although not so successfully as before. The scientist grunted, with satisfaction, and pulled off two more of the six legs. ‘Go,’ said the scientist. Feebly the flea did so, and the scientist nodded his approval. Reaching for the flea he pulled off the poor creature's last two legs. Unfortunately now that the flea no longer had legs the scientist could shout ‘Go’ endlessly and the flea would not move. The scientist, after many tries, nodded his wise old head and wrote in his report, ‘A flea's hearing is in its legs. When it loses two legs it cannot hear so well and so does not jump too high. When it loses all six of its legs it becomes completely deaf!’

13 October 2009

GAGGLE Program: Educational Design at the ANU

Why these things go out on email where only a few can see I dunno. It said all welcome, so I've put it up on my blog so I can easily link others to the info.

GAGGLE Program: Educational Design at the ANU

16 October 2009 4-6pm

Australian National University, Canberra. Sir Roland Wilson Building, Short Course Room 1 (on the left at the top of the stairs), here's a map to ANU.. you and me both will be lost finding the building.

The ANU has educational designers, developers and technologists in every College, each engaged in activities with a College-specific focus. This group meets regularly, but while there are common themes to their work, each area is using a slightly different approach to the issues. In this session, representatives from each area will speak briefly about their work, their professional practice, and the current focus of their operational activity. Each speaker will make a 10 minutes presentation, and then there will be a panel discussion about the issues and implications.
Session A: 1 hour

  1. Megan Poore, College of Arts and the Social Sciences: New media literacy in the new knowledge space
  2. Aliya Steed / Jonathan Powles, College of Law: The development of a simulated professional learning environment for law
  3. Lauren Kane / Debbie Pioch, College of Engineering and Computer Science: Online management of course information / CECS and the hubs and spokes project with UniSA
  4. James Meek, College of Asia and the Pacific: The Conference Model (and alternative to lectures) and Hidden Treasures (archival source material)
  5. Paula Newitt, Colleges of Science: Research experiences in the undergraduate curriculum
  6. Deborah Veness, College of Economics and Business: Finding a way to make standards descriptors useful to a University teacher in the business disciplines
Session B: 1/2 hour

Each speaker will finish with a provocative question, which will lead into a group discussion.

Session C: 15-20 minutes

Finally, Tom Worthington will give us a brief presentation on his Green ICT course, which is delivered without lectures or examinations.


Everyone is welcome, so please pass this invitation on to any of your colleagues not already on the mailing list. Please remind them to let me know if they are coming ... by 12 noon on Thursday. deborah.veness@anu.edu.au

12 October 2009

UC Health Faculty Website

One of my first projects here at The Uni of Canberra has been assigned by Diane Gibson (Dean of the Faculty of Health). It is to develop a plan for the Faculty's web pages within the University Website. My thinking is to add these initial notes here, in the hope of connecting with other interested parties within, and even outside the University were there is a chance for collaboration and advice. At the same time, good old word of mouth is working, and I am getting around various people in and outside the Faculty who have experience with the website.

The UC website is theoretically user generated, meaning that staff can obtain rights to edit and manage the website. I am yet to meet a staff member who edits and manages pages that relate to their work, it seems most people prepare information offline and then work with someone to get that information onto the website. I know there are people in Health who have big and small ideas for their website, and everyone seems to agree that it is a very important channel for attracting and supporting people engaged with teh University and the Faculty. So one of my first steps is to get to know everyone who is involved, interested or has responsibility for the website at the moment, and to collect their ideas and concerns. If anything immediate and urgent comes up, I'll work to addressing those straight away.

These are the notes I have from the staff in Sports Studies. It has been recommended that I make contact with Pharmacy and Physio as well.

So far identified as urgent
  1. Some courses are not listed accurately, or linked from the Faculty or Discipline pages
  2. Updates needed asap, in time to meet inquiries for enrolments in 2010
  3. Not enough information relating to facilities, research, partnerships
  4. Staff pages are out of date
General issues and suggestions
  1. Everyone commented on the difficulty to navigate existing information, or to locate known information.
  2. Some commented that information is very text heavy and unengaging, lacking a human face, needs plain English-ifying
  3. One suggested a FAQ page, as well as study advice like part time study options, from where to where pathways. Sports has someone working on a Pathways diagram.
  4. Interesting to note the page within Sports: "Australian Sporting Industry Short Course, 6th-25th June 2010", suggesting that all Unit or Course pages might have a welcome page along the lines of this. A suggestion was to create welcome pages that include more information - including resources, photos, class notes etc.
  5. Sports Studies submenu should include pages for Staff, Partnerships, Research, Consultancy, Honours and further research, testimonials, tweets..
  6. Suggestions to include videos (or audio with images) of staff describing their research areas and interests, as well as course descriptions.
  7. Comment that the web page information is weak, with no verifiable or supporting links outside the website itself, or no presence in other information channels outside the University.
If you have ideas for the Faculty of Health pages, or any of the disciplines within the Faculty, I would love to hear your suggestions, or alerts to urgent fixes.

A course of action roughly proposed for Sports Studies with a view to scaling through to other disciplines:

  1. Due 14 Oct @ 6hrs: Leigh to receive training on the website's content management system (appointment made with Fran for Wednesday 14 Oct at 10am, and with Judy Friday 7 Oct at 10am)
  2. Due 23 Oct @ 12hrs: Correct and update errors and absent information immediately, inserting images and addressing basic layout improvements along the way
  3. Due 26 Oct @ 6hrs: Meeting with staff to gather suggestions and follow up gathering content. Suggestions requiring content or significant work - listed for scoping.
  4. Due 1 Dec @ 24hrs: Implement changes based on suggestions and new content
  5. Due 11 Dec @ 6hrs: Another staff meeting to review changes, and train volunteers to assist with further maintenance and additions in future.*
  6. Due 18 Dec @ 24hrs: Begin spreading content, information and resources across wider web (Youtube, Wikipedia, Slideshare, perhaps even Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and Wikiversity etc)
  7. Due 18 Dec @ 12 hrs: Regather that distributed content back into the website via RSS, widgets and other content aggregates.
  8. Due 21 Dec @ 6 hrs: Another staff meeting to review distributed content exercise, and to get volunteers for developing new practices that compliment the ongoing endeavour.*


*Should volunteers step forward for this steps, extra hours needed for training and support (approx 10 hrs each volunteer, for each step)

09 October 2009

In Canberra - OpenUC

Its been a couple of days in my new job at the University of Canberra. I have been busy meeting people, and taking on my first task of planning a development of the Sports Studies web pages (update next post). My new boss Keith Lyons is a lovely man, full of energy and generosity, and we share a passion for new possibilities in this media age. I really appreciate Keith's effort to bring me over here. My new colleagues are all welcoming and friendly, with interesting research interests that will that will no doubt develop in me a new appreciation for sport - especially the social dimensions. The people in the UC support services I have met have been very helpful and responsive (so far nothing blocked, can install software, forwarding email, quick and human replies, happy as larry).

There is however a noticeable separation between traditional and contemporary practitioners at UC I think (as there has been everywhere I have worked), so I'm sure I will soon find challenges.

UC has a mixed bag of technologies that have been trying to get off the ground and woven through the culture here for quite a while. Jabber is used instead (and as well as) Twitter, and that has a handful of devotees. Confluence as a sort of social networking, content sharing platform - again with a handful of devotees (I'm trying to work out how to stream in a presence there without double handling from here). Moodle is the official learning management system, and the website is user generated to a degree, but with only 1 or 2 faculties taking ownership it seems. As usual I'm asking the questions - why reinvent wheels, just use (in a smart way) what's popular at the time. I haven't found any UC presence on Youtube, Flickr, or Blogger etc.. that's a worry - still looking.

Sunshine and I are still looking for a new home (we are close), we have a car, phones, bank accounts.. as soon as we have a home we can settle the other stuff about health, insurance, connectivity, and fly the dogs and cat over.

It was sad to leave Dunedin. We sold our house and a lot of our belongings. Already, looking at photos causes a pang of loss in the heart. The team in the Educational Development Centre bid me a lovely and prolonged farewell. I got to feel that some were sorry to see me leave. I think I can say that I caused some positive change there, prefaced by disruption. Veronique even read my books before I left and we had a nice conversation about that, I was very grateful to her for doing that :) I was pleased also to see that the idea of enrolling in courses at completion rather than at the beginning, was starting to take hold officially by some up in "Leadership", and on the day I left I even received the perfect email request from a staff member asking for advice on how to develop and market her courses and topic though social media. The wording was informed and enthusiastic. Sadly my Otago email has already been shelved and I can no longer access a copy of it, lost for ever.

I've been talking with a kiwi researcher here about what I might do for research. He was particularly encouraging about the idea of diarising and forming up a program for staff development in the use of media and communications in their work.. I'm thinking seriously about a PhD in it.. a DIY PhD of course ;)