Digital media in HE event – podcasts, screencasts, digital video

A superb one-day event focussing on podcasting, screen-capture and screen-casting, eZines and digital video. This was run by the Media Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group (MELSIG) and held at the University of Salford. Below are some highlights of the day including some great examples of simple, innovative practice, some new bits of kit (shiny! shiny!), some new apps and some interesting projects (with online games for l&t prominent).

Here’s the full schedule for the day. In the morning we heard from Andrew Middleton considering audio spaces as learning environments – for listening, discussing, thinking, developing and articulating ideas, for acting together or individually, for recording and reporting. We’re generally within reach of simple and powerful audio recording devices and there is no need for our audio artefacts to be hi-fi masterpieces. Lo-fi is quick, manageable, is seen as more ‘authentic’, captures immediacy and the personality of the creator, both learners and tutors. Andrew ranged over a multitude of use examples of audio files and podcasts (the two terms tend to elide) including some described here.

Helen Keegan then took us down the rabbit hole, describing a Masters programme module she had run as an Alternate Reality Game, the mystery of who is Rufi Franzen?! The essence of the module was about acquiring creative skills, developing creative curiosity, and becoming literate in digital tools that can facilitate this. Read her blog linked to above for more on this fascinating, head-spinner of an adventure (for staff and students).

Next up was a World Cafe style event, ‘What Makes a Great Podcast?’ In our groups we each discussed a specific question on elements of podcasting, from the ideal duration of a podcast to interview techniques. Super-useful and great way of breaking down any barriers and get talking to each other into lunchtime.

There was a general interest in the room in how all of these tools can be turned to innovative and engaging ways of offering feedback to students, individually, in groups and whole cohorts. In the screencasting session I attended after lunch we were shown how one lecturer offers feedback to students on their assignments  using the free Jing screencasting software. Lots of advice, kit and resources to explore in this session.

Even at a small event I then managed to mistakenly attend a different session to the one I had planned, but am very glad that I did end up in the Open Floor Thunderstorm (!) in the final session of the day run by Alex Spiers from LJMU. Here anyone could get up and talk about a relevant project they were involved in, for a maximum of ten minutes, using the time how they wanted, either to present, ask the room for help, ideas and feedback, or just to stand up and talk. We heard ‘thunderstorms’ on: using ShowMe on the iPad for feedback on student work; using podcasts with trainee nurses on placement abroad to tell stories of their experiences; a lecturer asking for advice on using video and screencasting to create revision aid resources for her students; using alternate/mixed-reality games in a PG Cert Academic Practice module to explore play as a medium for learning.

If you are interested in any of the above items then I will be happy to talk through them in detail with you and I highly recommend signing-up to the MELSIG mailing list for regular updates and notice of events (the next is planned for March in Derby). The MELSIG wiki is open to all and is packed full of guides, ideas and resources, from 100+ ideas for podcast uses to free audio sound effects libraries.

As a bonus item from the day, have a watch of this demo video of a system called PaperShow which I heard about from Dragos Ciobanu at the University of Leeds. It has proved so popular with some lecturers that they have abandoned more ‘traditional’ PowerPoint presentations for lecture sessions (actual demo starts 20 seconds in if you don’t want to hear Phil Jupitus’ jokes…).

Dan Roberts

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