Below you can find some background information about streaming media technologies and their applications within the partner institutions:
Over the last four years University College London (UCL) has achieved a remarkably successful rollout of ‘Lecturecast’, an automated system for recording lectures. Lecturecast is the internal service name for the UCL installation of Echo360. The initiative developed rapidly from a small pilot to a mainstream service, driven by demand both from students and academic colleagues. The Echo360 boxes have been installed in 39 of UCL's centrally bookable teaching spaces with another 20 available in departmental areas. The response has been extraordinary with an estimated 8-10.000 hours of recorded material currently on the system. In the last academic year UCL had almost 250.000 views of content. The heaviest user is the medical school, accounting for over 30% of all views, followed by the division of bioscience and department of economics with 18% and 13% respectively.
Much of the motivation for the growth has been the initial demand and subsequent very positive response from students. This was first identified during a student survey in the pilot stage;
As is typical of such systems Lecturecast captures all material that is sent to the room's projector from any connected device (e.g. PowerPoint slides from an attached laptop, hand written notes or objects held under a visualiser); audio is captured from the room's microphone system via a lapel microphone and video of the presentation area (i.e. the lecturer or presenter) is recorded via a small fixed position camera. All the lecturer needs to do is book a room where the system is installed, book a recording, turn up and make sure he/she uses the clip-on microphone. The recordings themselves are then released as streamed and downloadable versions though UCL’s Moodle virtual learning environment (VLE).
UCL believes the Lecturecast-Moodle link has contributed to the, now almost, universal uptake of the VLE across the university and 20-30 thousand ‘hits’ on Moodle per day. UCL is monitoring the patterns of student access to Lecturecast and notes peak viewing time is between 14:00 and 17:00 but access remains consistently high until 23:00.
Building on this success UCL is now expanding its desktop recording facility based on EchoCapture Personal. The software is available to any UCL academic staff member with an existing account on the Lecturecast service at UCL. The software allows a personal computer/laptop to be used as a recording device to capture anything that is happening on the computer screen along with an audio commentary and optionally a 'talking head' recorded via a webcam.
Once recordings have been uploaded to the Echo server they can, like recordings made in lecture capture equipped theatre spaces, be made available as streamed and downloadable versions. The availability of this service has fuelled interest in the idea of ‘flipping’, e.g. encouraging students to view pre-prepared video clips before seminars and tutorials in order to engage the students and stimulate discussion, and this academic year several of the academic colleagues are experimenting with the approach and trying to ‘flip’ some of their lectures. Website of University College London: www.ucl.ac.uk.
Using web lectures in the first year of health studies (PACES)
To date University has 5 equipped amphitheatres and about 125 professors are involved. The university involves 8 assistants in the process who check students’ involvement in the sessions, turn on/off audiovisual equipment, and assure safety and discipline.
All first years in health courses (medicine, pharmacy, odontology etc.) take the same compulsory basic course in health studies called PACES. At Université de Lorraine it is usually aimed at about 2,500 students. In order to cope with these numbers, the university has put in place two systems which use media to support the provision of these courses; these are to implement a system of supporting face-to-face courses with web lecture recordings and the second is to put in place a video-on-demand service without the face-to-face aspect in amphitheatres, a form of enriched web lectures.
Université de Lorraine is using a mixed approach to teaching in the PACES course which combines lectures broadcast from the auditorium and a flipped teaching format.
In the case of the face-to-face courses (called ‘web lectures’) the lecturer is located in a “master” amphitheatre in the morning and gives his lecture in face-to-face mode to about 300 students while his lecture is synchronously transmitted to 4 other distant amphitheatres where the farthest is located about 80 km away. For a second group of students the courses are recorded and displayed in the afternoon in all of the amphitheatres. According to the member of staff who is in charge of the organisation “It is like organising and recording a concert every morning”. All the courses are podcasted and available for students when and if the professor agrees (normally about 55% of professors give their agreement).
We recently carried out a study into the flipped teaching aspect which aimed to replace the traditional auditorium-based approach with an online enriched video course which could be synchronised with a specific calendar on-demand. In addition, groups of 50 students worked face-to-face with one teacher. Students also had access to tutoring, a special forum and a Frequently Asked Questions service. Teachers recorded themselves using their PowerPoint presentation as a starting point. In this way the recording was very easy for them to make, no extra resources were needed and the post-production cost was very low. The software used was ISpring, which is a commercial programme that allows you to create Flash & HTML 5 presentations from PowerPoint.
Website of Université de Lorraine: www.univ-lorraine.fr.
VU University has 4 sets of Mediasite to record its live lectures in a classical way and to record screencasts, both are done in the college rooms. The screencast is a fully automated process, the web lectures are captured by a cameraman. The infrastructure is ready to serve 2.500 current users simultaneously. Further on lecturers are capturing (enriched) knowledge clips (see example case study below) and tutorials with a semi-professional camera. Some teachers are also producing there own "user generated screencasts" via programs like Camtasia and screen-cast-o-matic. Sometimes they are editing there clips with Windows Moviemaker. Since 7 April 2011 the VU is connected to iTunes U. Further on Mediasite is also used to stream live webinars with teaching staff from the VU and external speakers to discuss the latest developments in learning and teaching technology. For more detailed information about the technology and process for recording, (in Dutch) please visit http://www.weblectures.nl/content/techniek-vu-0
Flipping in Rome: using knowledge clips and interactive tools
Media can be used in a very engaging and innovative way, that’s what a case study implementing videos and interactive media tools during a 14-day study trip to Rome shows. During this study trip by the VU University in Amsterdam, art students are first given an intensive introduction to cinematic Rome. Students analyse film material, investigate places where movies were shot and contextualise the locations in time and space. In Rome, students then work with iPads, Geoplaza and Google Maps. At the end of the course students show their outcomes via a self-made interactive presentation.
Prior to their visit, students are given an introduction via what is termed "enriched knowledge clips". These arevideos of max. 5 minutes where the teacher explains a theory. The enrichment is provided by literature andextra content from the web. By using these knowledge clips beforehand, students can increase their knowledge in an independent manner up to the standard that is required to follow the course. They can test themselves via 3 questions after each clip. In this way the teacher doesn’t waste time giving long lectures during the city trip, but can propose other more engaging activities instead as the theory has already been explained beforehand. And even more important: the quality of the interaction will rise, as the students are better prepared (flipping the classroom).
Furthermore, Geoplaza (a database with digital geographical files) is introduced in this course in order to analyse the recordings of films and contextualise them in time and space. In Geoplaza maps are visualised via layers, so students are able to see the geography of a place over different periods of time (e.g. growth of the city). This helps them to analyse changes in the location based on information contained in the films.
In the first week the teacher guides students through Rome, but in the second week students have to find their own way. The places where films have been recorded are marked up in Geoplaza and this helps students in their assignment. To teach students how to work with Geoplaza, “instruction clips” are available online before the trip, in this way they have the possibility to develop skills, which are needed during their visit in Rome.
At the end of the course students give an interactive presentation of their findings. They have to create their own location-based materials (stills and movies) that underpin their findings in the context of the location in terms of time and space. Students have the possibility to integrate their materials in Google Maps. Again an instruction clip is available to teach them “how to do this”. In this way it is possible to go from their PowerPoint into the interactive environment of Google maps.
Website of the VU University Amsterdam: www.vu.nl.
The new educational paradigm due to the Bologna process, presents a teaching model in which the professor acts as facilitator of learning and the students assume an active and autonomous role. Based on these points the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) has developed and implemented a number of tools (POLIMEDIA, POLITUBE and POLICONECTA) and a Virtual Learning Environment (POLIFORMAT), in order to adapt to the European Higher Education Area and to improve teaching quality.
POLIMEDIA is a system designed at the UPV for creating multimedia content (videos, instruction clips, knowledge clips, etc.), and POLITUBE is a free access portal enabled by the UPV to store educational videos that are used to support and complement classroom teaching. The materials and resources available in POLITUBE and POLIMEDIA, after a rigorous review, are recognized as learning objects and become part of Riunet (UPV institutional repository). Riunet provides access from the Internet to the scientific, academic and corporate production of this university following the international movement of Open Access.
POLIFORMAT is a tele-education platform used in the UPV. It is based on Sakai and it offers a standardised interface for accessing to a Web 2.0 toolkit. It facilitates autonomous and collaborative learning to students. Each subject has its own space in POLIFORMAT and it is accessible only to teachers and students enrolled in the subject. The tools available include news, calendar, repository of resources, tasks, contents, on-line exams, chat, internal mail, discussion forum, wiki and student's personal space. Some of these tools can be activated during a specified period of time, according to the needs of the subjects.
POLICONECTA is a videoconferencing tool developed at the Lifelong Learning Center of the UPV for distance learning. It is based on the use of commercial software Adobe Connect, and allows virtual meetings, video conferencing and remote lectures, which can be recorded. It also includes the ability to share documents, applications or a whiteboard. For the delivery of courses or seminars at a distance UPV makes more than 30 classrooms available which are properly equipped with multiple cameras, microphones, projector, monitors, and interactive whiteboard. Some classrooms also have "Paper Show" (a special notebook that records what you write or draw with a pen in a computer). The only equipment required by students is a broadband Internet connection, headphones and a microphone.
All tools and platform described have already been used with a high degree of acceptance by more than 250 lecturers and approximately 36000 students at the UPV. In the last six years more than 3000 videos have been produced using these technologies and actual experiences show that the use of lecture captures results in a substantial improvement of teaching quality. Find out more.
Website of the Universitat Politecnica de Valencia: www.upv.es.