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Instead of flipping – maximize!

November 18, 2015

be wise, digitize, maximize

That was the title of a five-minute “lightning talk” by Amanda Dills at the 2015 POD Conference. An Instructional Technologist at Oklahoma City University, Amanda started with the premise that face-to-face classroom time is the most valuable commodity instructors have, and our goal should be to make the best possible use of it. The heart of her talk was an original three-part strategy for moving class time usage away from content delivery toward active learning.

Be wise: carefully determine what kinds of activities are most worthy of class time. Amanda had us take a BuzzFeed-style quiz to help start that process.

Digitize: use technology to move other activities out of class. Amanda suggested a few ways to do this and provided a more detailed list of 40 Ways to Digitize Instruction.  For me, this strategy was the takeaway for the session — it’s much more comprehensive than replacing lecture with videos (what flipping boils down to for many folks).

Maximize: the ideal results will be more effective class time with students and more free time for you.

Learn more about Amanda’s technique by reading What is Maximizing? at her new blog.

[image created at Imgflip]

What you can do in a sound booth

November 16, 2015

vocalboothThis fall we purchased a VocalBooth sound recording booth for the Learning Technology Lab. We chose a 4-by-6-foot space that has room for one person, a chair, and a small table. My colleagues think it looks like Dr. Who’s Tardis …

Our booth is a tightly sealed space that greatly deadens – but does not eliminate – outside sound. Its egg crate foam lining takes care of any echoes and minor noises inside, while an outside fan quietly brings in air and circulates it throughout. We also purchased a Blue Yeti microphone (~$110) for the booth. It’s a favorite of podcasters and produces a truly warm sound. We’re very pleased with the results.

Read and learn why YOU might use sound booth >>

Data on faculty ownership of technology

November 12, 2015

In October Educause released the 2nd annual ECAR Study of Faculty and IT in the USA. One of the interesting bits of data in the report deals with device ownership. Below, the ECAR data is lined up against Pew’s data on the general population. The numbers are very different.

ECAR Pew (all adults by age)
Faculty 30-49 50-64 65+
Tablet 80% 57% 37% 32%
Smartphone 89% 83% 58% 30%
Laptop* 93% 81% 71% 55%

The Pew data was gathered from telephone interviews with adults randomly selected from the general US population, while the ECAR sample are faculty at selected institutions who responded to a survey. Maybe only people interested in technology filled out the survey (12% response rate), but the higher ownership numbers are more likely due to the higher income level of faculty members, as compared to the general population. With that said – and even if the data is off by 10% –  the tablet and smartphone numbers are higher than I would have expected.

*Pew data – laptop OR desktop ownership

A grid for evaluating student media

November 11, 2015

video-imageMany faculty members know a great deal about writing. They feel confident giving students detailed grammar and composition feedback on an essay or other text-based activity. But what about media? How would you feel if you had to evaluate a video?

It’s easy to tell that an episode of “Breaking Bad” is more polished than a homemade YouTube video. Most people, however, can’t list many reasons why one is technically better than the other.

Learn more and check out the grid >>

POD’15.4 – What I took from a safety video

November 7, 2015

pod tree logoYesterday I went to an excellent session at the 2015 POD Conference titled “Creating instructional videos that actually work,” where Judy Brooks and Chad Hershock of Carnegie Mellon shared how they consult with faculty who want to produce videos. Their methods include asking the faculty member to use a rubric to assess a video’s effectiveness.

If you have flown recently, you probably saw an instructional video instead of watching a flight attendant give a safety briefing. On my way to San Francisco for the conference I saw the United Airlines video shown below; it’s clever, humorous, and engaging.

Comparing that to a live briefing is like comparing a flipped class video to a live lecture.

Let’s be clear: video is inherently neither better nor worse than live lecture. What’s an advantage in one situation can be a disadvantage in another. In this specific case, there are some definite pluses for video as a medium:

  • The content is carefully crafted. There are no mistakes and nothing is left out. Travelers can watch the video on every flight and the message will be exactly the same.
  • It’s efficient. While the video plays, flight attendants are able to get other work done.
  • The sound quality is excellent. It’s loud enough and not garbled. The speakers enunciate and none of them has much of an accent.
  • Subtitles are included for individuals with hearing difficulties, and they are provided in two different languages.
  • Visual effects – animation, zooming, arrows – allow the video to convey meaning in ways that a live human being can’t.

So why would United ever ask another flight attendant to give the safety spiel? For one thing, lots of small commuter planes don’t have video screens. For another, producing the video cost them a LOT of money; it may not turn out to be worth the expense in the future. We’ll see.

My point – and the point of the POD presentation – is that educators need to understand the affordances that video provides. Most professors don’t have the skill, time, or resources to regularly make productions like United’s, but they can make good videos. And if they deliberately take advantage of what the medium does well … they will make better videos.


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