Learning Technology jottings at Goldsmiths

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Our learn.gold (Moodle virtual learning environment) interactive audio tours and guides

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Our learn.gold (Moodle virtual learning environment) interactive audio tours are scripted and recorded by me, in squeaky but enthusiastic tone. I decided to create audio tours because learn.gold is in many ways a space in which users need to understand how to get from A to B and carry out C.

  • so there’s an interactive hands-on learn.gold audio tour and transcript for students
  • and a tour and transcript for staff

We have just upgraded, so it’s time to check them again – update Aug 11th 2009: all checked and ready to use now. They’re designed to be as future-proof as possible, and there is a balance to be struck between pedantic tweaking and wasting time updating the recording, transcript and navigation timings, and getting these uploaded via the Web Team.

But I think there are enough improvements to be made to justify making some changes.

The Student one:

  • Reset the Demo area to Guests Not Allowed, so that audio tourers see the Participants block. But since there has been interest in this area from other institutions, might be better to change the script to direct audio tourers to the Enrol Me In This Course link, and then reset the Demo area to Allow Guests.
  • Wondered about putting Support alphabetically in the Course Categories page, instead of at the bottom; decided against it but this means that the instructions are a little inaccurate, but not critically so.
  • When discussing the Blocks on the Demo area, might be worth explicitly mentioning that there are many others

The Tutor one:

  • Throughout, change “adjacent to” to “close to” (for smaller screens)
  • Getting to the front page –  httpS://… (omitted the ‘s’)
  • Finding the Beyond the Obvious course area – currently assumes that tutors have not enrolled in anything else, and that the Course Categories are displayed on the front page. Needs amending to get them to click on All Courses. (This is made explicit later, so no need to explain at that juncture).
  • Entering the course area – similar to students it might be better to set the area to Allow Guests, and change the script to direct audio tourers to Enrol.
  • On Compose A Web Page,
    • would be good to mention that the meaningful title also appears in the Index of Resources (which is mentioned in relation to the Summary, a little later), which is why it should be short and differentiate that resource from others.
    • There is no “Show Settings menu next to the world Window” any more. Change this to “the menu next to the word Window”
    • “Then click Save” should be “Then click Save and Display”
  • Change “You can see your test Web Page” to “You can see a link to your test Web page”
  • Choose or Upload a File
    • “you’ll notice that underneath it” for the Choose or Upload a File button needs to be “close to it”
    • “File uploaded successfully” add to this “and you should see a link to your file”.
    • “The click Save” add “And Display”
    • “Since this podcast only covers the basics” should be “Since this recording only covers …”
  • “Glossary exists to” – add that it can be used to FAQ.
  • Get rid of LAMS – no longer exists
  • Add something on Questionnaire.
  • The most famous Wiki – also mention OpenStreetMap
  • Groups “will not be able to see what other students are doing” change to “will not be able to see what other groups are doing”
  • Settings “takes post you make on your area’s News forum and shows them on the front page” change to “and links to the most recent ones on your front page”

Now need to change the script, record, re-do the timings, send changes to the Web Team. When I recorded in Audacity I bookmarked the different sections, so it should be easy to find the relevant parts redo the navigation timings.

Update Aug 11th 2009: all done.

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Written by Mira Vogel

August 6, 2009 at 12:36

Posted in how-to, learn.gold

Back to basics – searching the Web

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Microsoft’s Bing search engine is upon us, and Twitter is a search engine for the here and now, prompting me to tie a string round this small bouquet of suggestions for educational searching:

  • Edublogs.tv’s short How To films on basic and advanced search with Google.
  • An interesting post of indeterminate age which, while it’s almost certainly not adequate for your purposes or mine, is a helpful way of conceptualising the range of different objectives scholars might have for a search. I’m going to use it as a template for a personal signpost to reference sources, replacing the various search tools and repositories it suggests with ones which better suit my needs.
  • How to search Twitter
  • I get a steady trickle of requests about how to find academic blogs on a given subject. As far as I know there is no definitive resource, and anyway academics don’t necessarily blog as academics while some non-academics blog academically. Might be better to come at your search from a different direction than the professional identity of the blogger. But maybe not – if you need to find a blog which is overtly academic, try:
    • a directory, portal such as the AcademicBlogs wiki directory, BlogScholar.
    • search an educational blogging host such as the Edublogs domain (on Google, put in your search term followed by site:edublogs.org) or WarwickBlogs (blogs hosted at the University of Warwick)
    • searching for blogs by subject area e.g. ScienceBlogs.
    • Try to find lists of prominent academic blogs, for example UniversityReviewsOnline, Currency Trading (economics blogs), and fan out from there
    • Or find somebody else who is looking, like Scott McLemmee at Inside Higher Ed, and fan out from there.
    • Any more ideas?

Written by Mira Vogel

August 4, 2009 at 16:54

Posted in how-to

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DIY video – Steve Hull at DIVERSE 09

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Kris Rogers, learning technologist at LSE (I think of LSE as a kind of nature reserve for learning technologists – they are supported, enabled to experiment, and they get a lot done) blogged his experience at the 9th annual DIVERSE conference in Aberystwyth last month.

Lots of links out and – naturally – on the conference site you can get video, audio and slides for any of the presentations captured, with questions, via the Echo360 system, including a screen-reader version.

Kris recommends:

“… today’s most entertaining presentation was by Steve Hull from JISC Digital Media who gave a talk on the basics of producing good quality films using basic equipment, such as a Flip camera.”

Hull’s talk was titled ‘Improving the quality of visual media in education, or anyone can make a movie‘. Aided by some amusing examples of not-so-great practice (these aren’t quite optimised for Echo), he deals with technical, practical and theoretical aspects of DIY video, including: making the speaker stand out against the background; a bit of mise en scène, techniques for steadying the camera without a tripod); interviewing techniques, eg eradicating the ‘barnyard sounds’ of the interviewer through the development of non-verbal acknowledgement e.g. smiling and nodding; simple editing on freely-available software or, at a pinch, in-camera .

(Tangentially, this is DIY but is it edupunk? I can’t imagine a self-respecting punk would have been caught dead in a discussion about developing the quality of their self-expression. Maybe I’m too literal…)

JISC Digital Media is an advisory service and well worth a look – it’s FREE, FREE, FREE (and there is consultancy, with a view to embedding skills, which you can submit a proposal to get).

Written by Mira Vogel

July 9, 2009 at 11:17