Digifest 2020: Bears, Holograms and Gen Z

This year’s Digifest transformed the Birmingham ICC into a futuristic looking Blade runner set with Holograms and VR at every corner. I’m not sure we are quite there yet at the RAU but it was still interesting to see. I was there as a community champion but still had time to browse the programme. The opening video was amazing.

AI Hologram presenter

Hearing from Gen Z

Two of this year’s plenaries were delivered by representatives from the Gen Z generation.

Jonah Stillman (co-author of Gen Z Work: How the Next Generation Is Transforming the Workplace) shared some thoughts on the differences between Gen Z (born between 1995 and 2012) and Millenials (born between 1980 and 1994). While the talk didn’t go down too well with the audience (Generational talks rarely do, too much generalisation) I found many of Jonah’s observations rang true. Gen Z are realistic, driven, and exist in a state of survival mode (given the state of our environment and economy). They are also the first generation to grow up with digital, making it nearly impossible to dazzle them with technology. Some have begun to refer to them as the ‘phigital’ generation because they don’t differentiate between the physical and digital worlds and are comfortable in both. These traits have significant implications for how we deliver learning and teaching and the boomers in the audience should listen up!

Jonah Stillman presents

Jonah Stillman presents

In her talk entitled ‘The hidden filter’ Hayley Mulenda shared the inspiring story of her struggle with mental health issues: “I found my degree but I lost myself“. Hayley spoke honestly about her, and her friends’ difficulties in navigating the modern world and student life. Her advice was that we be aware of other peoples hidden filters and don’t aim for perfection, aim for progression. She also appealed to educators to be honest and open with their students: “We don’t need more role models we need more real models“. As institutions we need to be directing people to professional help and support and the sector needs to explore how we can ensure early intervention and engage parents and guardians (when possible).

Here’s one I made earlier

I’m always looking out for ideas I can take back to the RAU. This year my favourites were:

  • Catriona Matthews and the team at the University Warwick have been experimenting with delivering academic skills (those important skills you need students to learn that don’t relate directly to their discipline) in innovative ways. They’ve begun to refer to an ongoing induction and have found 20 minute lecture interventions to work really well, especially when the interventions are practical and contextualised. Also the students attend the session because it is tagged on to a core lecture.
  • Worcestershire council shared their SCULPT framework to help staff create accessible resources. An incredibly useful resource and I’ve already linked to it from our VLE.
  • In his talk on Climate Control on the journey to zero waste Jamie E. Smith, executive chairman, C-Learning talked about how we should making sure the right procurement (and other) policies are in place to make sure we make the best environmental choices in our organisations. Jamie’s suggestions included a move to cloud technology, recruitment processes that included assessment of digital skills, strategic workforce development and flexible working. I enjoyed his story on how he removed all the printers from a previous place of employment! Sometimes radical is the only way!
  • The main coffee break conversation topic was (unsurprisingly) Coronavirus. We compared business continuity plans and shared tales of internal Covid-19 committees. The Microsoft stand was busy with people asking how they could rollout Teams in under a week. The Teams webinar series and the Enable Remote Learning Community could prove useful.
  • The AbilityNet session on accessibility came up with some useful tools including Call Scotlandmy computer my way and my study my way. I also love the idea of microkindness (the opposite of microaggression), it’s really just another name for inclusive design
The accessibility panel

The accessibility panel

The closing plenary on day one was delivered by Lindsay Herbert, Author of Digital Transformation. Lindsay introduced us to the idea of the bear in the room – those problem that drain all your time and will rip your organisation apart. This is contrast to the elephant in the room which of course people chose to ignore. You need to get to the heart of these problems and progress and the rub is that you can’t adapt to major change without technology.

Lindsay presents

Lindsay Herbert presents

Lindsay’s key thoughts and examples were:

  • Real transformation starts with a problem worth solving (that aligns to a mission)
    • Danish oil and natural gas applied their experience to wind energy after asking themselves what was their core mission? Selling oil or providing energy for Denmark?
    • Rijksmuseum decided to go down the no tech in galleries route, but images of all their collections are released as highres on their website, copyright free.
  • Real transformation needs lots of people from lots of sources – it will be too big to solve alone
    • Netflix’s mission is entertaining the world, hence original content. They work with independents, they don’t decide on next big thing by analysing past behaviour, they need expertise from a lot of sources.
    • The Guardian don’t put their content behind a paywall, online is their priority and they have a two tier sponsorship model
    • The United nations refugee agency website wouldn’t display on a mobile phone despite most of their clients using a mobile.
  • Real transformation is learned and earned and not purchased – We tend to outsource when there could be a better way.
    • Ecolab made water purification systems but ended up merging the company rather contracting out work.
    • Harvard had a new tool but university policy dictated a minimum of 5 years experience and it might have been easier to hire freelancers. Instead they c changed the hiring policy.

There was a lot of valuable stuff in Lindsay’s talk and I’ve actually ordered her book. My plan is to get the highlighter out, mark it up and leave it on random senior leaders’ desks! She left us inspired by encouraging us to build wide support for the change want:  “You might not have the seniority to go right up the ladder, but you definitely have the influence to go right across.”

IMG_3883

Creating 360˚ virtual tours

Using H5P, one of the tools available on Gateway (Moodle, our VLE), you can easily create 360˚ virtual tours: a collection of 360˚ photos, which you can add texts, videos, pictures, links and multiple choice questions to. A 360˚ photo is a photograph which allows you to look in each direction.


Virtual soil, air and water tour

virtual tour

An example 360˚ virtual tour, developed by Dr. Felicity Crotty and Chantal Schipper for Catalyst module “4410 Making a positive impact on the natural environment and rural economy”, can be tried out via the link below:

Creating a virtual tour is surprisingly easy to do. All you need is:

  • A smartphone with the free Google Streetview app installed
  • A tripod with smartphone grip (can be borrowed from ITS if needed)
  • The H5P virtual tour content builder, which is already available on Gateway (our Moodle Virtual Learning Environment – VLE)

Check out the steps below to learn how to create a virtual tour.


Step 1: Planning your virtual tour

Before you go out and take photos, take a moment to think about:

  • What do you want the students to learn from this?
  • What 360˚ photos will you need to take?
  • What information (text, images, videos or links) will you need to give students to be able to achieve the learning outcomes?
  • What questions could you ask to allow students to check their learning?

Check your diary to select a time when you want to take the photo(s) and ask a Learning Technologist if the kit is available. A Learning Technologist may also be able to take the photo(s) for you. If you’re taking photographs outside, check the weather beforehand so it’s not raining.


Step 2: Taking the photographs

streetview

Once you are on location to take your photo(s), set up the tripod with the smartphone rig and insert your smartphone. Note that your smartphone must be kept in portrait mode (upright) for it to work in H5P.

Open up the Google Streetview app and click on the Camera icon on the bottom-right. Follow the instructions on the screen – you will be asked to point the camera at a collection of dots on the screen. Make sure you do not move the tripod until the 360˚ photo is complete, as this may cause odd seams in your 360˚ view.

Once the icon at the bottom turns green, click on it to save your 360˚ photo to your smartphone. You will be able to check your 360˚ photo once it has finished processing. There is no need to upload the photo to Google Maps – just save it on your smartphone.

You are able to combine multiple 360˚ photos together to create a tour of an area.

A video tutorial on using Google Streetview to create 360˚ photos can be viewed below:


Step 3: Creating your tour with information and questions

Before opening up Gateway, hook up your phone to your computer to copy the 360˚ photo(s) from your phone’s photo album (most modern phones have a USB plug in the charger). Alternatively, you could email the photo(s) to yourself from the phone’s photo album, then save them on your computer.

Then, log in to Gateway and go to the module you want to add your virtual tour to. Click on “Turn editing on”, then “Add an Activity or Resource”. Select “Interactive content” (black H5P icon) and click “Add”.

From this step, you will be able to follow the instructions on the H5P Virtual tour tutorial available here:

Once you have finished creating your virtual tour, scroll down to the bottom of the page and select “Save and display”. Do a run-through of your virtual tour to check for any mistakes. If you need to edit your virtual tour, go to the Administration block on the right and select “H5P > Edit settings”,

For any support, please don’t hesitate to contact one of the RAU Learning Technologists (Chantal Schipper, Aurelie Soulier or Marieke Guy).

H5P – Everything you ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask

Yesterday the RAU Learning technologists participated in an all-day training session on H5P led by moodle and H5P expert Dan Jeffries.

H5P is a free and open-source content collaboration framework based on JavaScript. H5P is an abbreviation for HTML5 Package, and enables users to create, share and reuse interactive HTML5 content. It integrates well with our moodle VLE and Chantal and Aurelie have been using it to build activities for the Catalyst Programme.

Dan Jeffries and our LTs

Dan Jeffries and our LTs

Due to our differing ability levels in using H5P Dan started off with a general intro to the tool and then focused on a couple of activities that will have maximum impact.

We spent time looking at:

  • Course presentation – an activity that comprises of many other smaller activities and with some skill could result in development of complete online learning course. Some of our key learnings here are:
    • Make the most of templates and copying content.
    • Use active surface mode for jumping around a presentation (be careful to not accidentally turn this on as you will have to rebuild content).
    • Create layers for putting over images and setting up hotspots.
    • The image background uses a 2:1 ratio – avoid stretching.
    • Hide the toolbar to avoid confusion to users.
    • End with a summary slide (or set of statements to chose from).
  • Interactive video – an interactive video content type which allows you to add things like multiple choice and fill in the blank questions and pop-up text to your videos. Some of our key learnings here are:
    • We need to look at if it is possible to get Panopto to work with H5P.
    • Title screens don’t work on YouTube.
    • Grades go to the moodle gradebook automatically.
    • Crossroads allows branching.
  • Documentation tool – allows you to create form wizards and outputs a document when the user has reach the end of the wizard. Some of our key learnings here are:
    • There is a lot of potential use for reflection but the goals pages are a little odd as they ask you to come up with goals and then think about how you have achieved them. Needs to be used at the end of a task.
    • Links with gradebook but unless there is a grade it can be difficult to see if the student has completed. Maybe better to use with activity completion.
    • You can export documents and get students to submit through Turnitin.
  • Speak the words – a fun test activity that uses voice recognition – teachers ask a question that can be answered with the user’s own voice.
Dan Jeffries demonstrating interactive video

Dan Jeffries demonstrating interactive video

Other useful tips from the day:

  • You can store all your H5P activities in wordpress and then link directly to them. This really helps with centralising and reusing activities.
  • Use the reuse option and download and import content.
  • Get snippet on your moodle site – great for reusing code.
  • Lots of other moodle tips that we are going to have a think about for our site!

Thanks to Dan for sharing his wisdom with us. Lots of fodder for our Friday TEL tips.

Touch screens and digital learning spaces

At the RAU we have plans to improve some of our learning spaces and make them more student-friendly and better equipped for the type of teaching our academics would like to do. We have been exploring the options available and you may have seen our recent post on the Jisc digital classroom .

This week we have set up a rather large (72”) touch screen in the IT Service Desk area. The screen is on loan from Clevertouch and earlier today one of their team, Ashley Helm, gave us a demo of the main functionality.

There is lots to get excited about: from the interactive whiteboard screen which allows you to create varied notes using content from a variety of places (your devices, students’ devices, the cloud, the web), to the use of countless android apps, such as Google Earth.

Ashley Helm demos Clevertouch

Ashley Helm demos Clevertouch

Our academics seemed genuinely impressed and could see the potential of the screen for their teaching, especially some of the the annotation features, the split screen option and the the ability to use and freeze-frame video. The screen can be controlled using the touch screen but also through a remote control and devices if mirroring – so the person leading the teaching doesn’t need to stand at the front at all times. This new generation of touch screen could definitely make for much more innovative teaching approaches (such as using a visualiser and bringing class content up to the screen) and collaborative working among students.

I have also been discussing digital learning spaces on the HELF (Heads of eLearning forum) list and have been pointed in the direction of some useful resources including:

We’re really keen to move towards classrooms that are flexible and inspiring, and that allow our academics and students to fully reach their potential. Thanks to everyone who is helping us with our research.

Valuable lessons from our visitors

This week we had some visitors to campus to help us with our digital plans.

ABL, ABW and sensemaking

Professor Ale Armellini, Dean of Learning and Teaching at the University of Northampton, came to talk to members of the IT Services team about the recent activities at Northampton. Northampton have consolidated a number of their campuses and moved the vast majority of staff and students to their new Waterside campus. This process has not just about rethinking physical space, it has involved a rethinking of the way they work and teach (‘Waterside ready‘). Academic staff have redesigned their courses using a new Active Blended Learning approach and staff are now working in an Activity-based working way.

Ale talks to the ITS team about developments at Northampton

Ale talks to the ITS team about developments at Northampton

Ale explained that a course follows an ABL methodology if it:​

  • Is taught through student-centred activities to develop knowledge and understanding, independent learning & digital fluency. ​
  • Has a core, collaborative face-to-face component, explicitly linked to learning activity outside the classroom. ​
  • Helps to develop autonomy, Changemaker attributes and employability skills.

The approach offers a new way of looking at dimensions in ‘the blend’ in blended learning. The most important aspects are pre-session exposure to content and sense-making activities.

Ale’s insights were incredibly helpful for our plans for our Catalyst blended learning courses and at the Cultural Heritage Initiative. We spent some time talking about working with Barco and the classroom set up they have at Northampton.

You can see a version of Ale’s slides from last year’s Digifest.

Video, assessment and feedback

Later on in the week Jennie White gave an excellent presentation to our academics on ‘Using video to improve student learning and support assessment and feedback’.

Jennie is a Senior Lecturer and Marketing Programme Coordinator for the BA Marketing, BSc Digital Marketing, MSc Digital Marketing at the University of Chichester. She is a passionate advocate of the use of video to facilitate the learning experience and an award-winning lecturer. She gained 4 awards whilst at Bournemouth University for making an outstanding contribution to student learning, with online seminar delivery, online lectures via video and MP3, interactive discussion boards and research support. Jennie was awarded Lecturer of the Year by the UCSU, 2017, and the Innovation in Teaching award 2018. Jennie shared her experience of using Panopto in teaching and gave some really great tips:

  • Create micro-lectures – bite sized (10 minute) chunks of content
  • Explain the rubric – videos on how you will be assessing
  • Dissertation support – videoing dissertation supervision meetings
  • Flipped classroom – sharing a prerecorded version of the lecture and checking which students have watched it, those that haven’t can’t attend!
  • Pencasts – videoing chalk and talk using paint or other tools, or even just drawing on paper
  • Marking – videoing yourself marking

Our academics were genuinely excited by the session and there are already signs of increased Panopto use.

Jennie presents to our academics. The session was recorded and will be available through Panopto.

Jennie presents to our academics. The session was recorded and will be available through Panopto.

Huge thanks to both our visitors, it is always great to catch up with people just as excited about learning technology as us!

Making MoJo Movies

In order to develop really great blended learning courses for the Catalyst Programme we will be relying heavily on a variety of multimedia content. Creation and use of relevant, good quality video resources is probably top of our list. However within our Learning Tech team we have varying levels of ability when it comes to video filming and editing skills so it makes sense to get some support from the experts.

Using a hand held rig

Using a hand held rig

Yesterday we had a visit from Cassius Rayner, award winning film maker and media training expert. Cassius spent the day showing us how to use our phones like pros (we are pretty much an all iphone house) and master the art of mobile film making and mojo.

It was a really fun day and we are far from experts but there were some very clear tips that we will be sharing with our wider academic community.

Cassius Rayner setting up a tripo

Cassius Rayner setting up a tripod

General phone filming tips

  1. Always film in landscape – 16×9 is the standard option here.
  2. Don’t zoom on a phone – zooming is a lie, you are just reducing the quality of your video. If you want to be nearer get up and walk, or if your phone has a second telephoto lens use it!
  3. Newer iphones have 2 lenses (tele and wide angle) – if you want to zoom this is one option but be careful about getting in too close and your picture distorting.
  4. Iphones need lots of light so if you can pick light locations. If not there are some features (the AE/AF lock) which can help.
  5. Using a hand held rig can be a huge help in stabalising your phone and connecting it to other kit (like a tripod).
  6. Add a grid to your camera (Settings > Camera > grid) so you can line things up. Use the rule of thirds for interviews (interviewee eyes should be at the intersection of the first square.
  7. When you film an interview always film a cut away shot (like footage of their hands), you never know when you might need it. Extra cutaway shots can also include recorded interviewer questions, nodding, someone thinking, walking etc.
  8. Get good at gliding along as you film people walking. Bend your knees and walk whilst keeping the upper part of your body stable.
  9. Buy some core kit. You can bring in extra light using a reflector. A gimbal is great for counteracting shaky hands. A back screen will allow you to film great interviews with no distracting background and a microphone is essential in noisy areas as a the smart phone mics are normally not great.
  10. Keep your phone charged up and ready to go. Filming will drain your battery. Take a portable charger.
A hand held rig with mic and flash

A hand held rig with mic and flash

Just before lunch we had a break from the hands-on work and were visited by Ben McCammick-Copley, media production manager from UCEM. Ben spent time talking to our academics about the video opportunities that are out there and will support their modules.

Interview filming - photo courtesy of Madeline Paterson

Interview filming – photo courtesy of Madeline Paterson

Filmic pro filming tips

In the afternoon we spent time using the Filmic pro app. which gives you lots more control over your phone camera than your standard set up.

  1. The usual number of frames is 24 frames per second for film and 25 frames per second for video.
  2. Set your white balance – you can use auto but also do manually. Click to lock.
  3. Set your presets in advance. We went for 16.9, HD 2K, filmic pro for standard filming, and also created a slo-mo setting.
  4. Don’t save your videos to the photo gallery as this will cause loss of quality – load them directly on to your computer for editing.
  5. If you want to learn about more ways to use FilmicPro, you will find detailed tutorials on the Filmic pro website.

We ended the day by creating our own little promo and editing it on iMovie.

I think we are feeling a lot more confident about our filming ability, now we just need something to film!

Aurelie works the slider

Aurelie works the slider

Interactive maps using ThingLink

I’ve been having a play with Thinglink – which allows you to create interactive online images for education. My first effort is an interactive virtual map of the RAU campus. The image can be integrated into a web page (see below) or linked to directly

The ThingLink education blog gives lots of information on potential for use in learning and teaching. Their main focus is on 360 virtual tours.

I’m sure RAU could make use of this technology for virtual farm and factory tours. Definitely one to investigate.