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The multiple uses of video in elearning

What role does video play in elearning? What role does AV or video play in digital communications?

A simple question shared on Linkedin and picked up by a West End Production company led to my joining four producers for what became a two hour conversation yesterday. I based this conversation around a mindmap created in Bubbl.us, something a fellow MAODE student introduced me to over a year ago. (We were comparing tools, such as Compendium, for creating visualisations of learning designs).

I had thought about dripping ink into a glass of water to make a point: that digital content dripped into a digital ocean quickly dilutes, that binary code of text, images, video and sound can be melted down and mashed up in many ways. I wonder if an ice-cube in a G&T would have served the same purpose?

It is of course a metaphor, the suggestion that anything goes and anything can happen.

(I find these mind maps a far easier way to share ideas. It is non-linear. It is an aide-memoir. I’d put it online in Picasa and in a blog rather than printing off. I had expectations of calling it up on a huge boardroom screen, instead we struggled with a slow download in an edit suite. Sometimes only a print out would do. There wasn’t an iPad amongst them either).

We discussed the terms ‘e-learning’ and even ‘e-tivities‘ acknowledging that as digital activity is part of the new reality that online it is just ‘learning’ and that an ‘activity’ is best described as such.

Video online can be passive, like sitting back and watching a movie or TV. To become an activity requires engagement, sitting forward, and in most cases tapping away at a keyboard (though increasingly swiping across a touch screen).

‘Sit Back’ or ‘Sit Forward’ are phrases I recall from the era of ‘web-based learning’ a decade ago, even interactive learning on Laser Disc and DVD in the early 1990s.

There is science behind it, that learning requires engagement if stuff is to stick: watching a video, or a teacher/lecture is likely to be too passive for much to meaningful. The crudest activity is to take notes (and subsequently to write essays and be examined of course).

Here I am saying ‘anything goes’ that a piece of video used in learning may be short or long, with limited production values or ‘the full monty’, the kind of conference opener or commercial that are cinematic with production values and costs to match. We differentiated between ‘User Generated Content’ and ‘DIY’, between the amateur working alone and someone being guided through the craft skills of narrative story telling using video. I cited various examples and our our plans to bring alumni together over a weekend, to introduce TV production skills, hand out cameras and a sound kit (though some would bring their own), then based on responses to a creative brief, a synopsis and treatment, even a simple script, they would go away and shot then edit something. These pieces should have a credibility and authenticity as a result.

The kind of outputs include the video diary and the ‘collective’ montage with contributions from around the world linked with some device. A recording (with permission) of a web conference may meet the same criteria, embedded on a dashboard to allow for stop, stop, replay. A couple of other forms of ‘user generated content’ were mentioned, but neither taking notes nor recording the meeting I have forgotten. I use the negative expression ‘corporate wedding video’ for the clips that can be generated by teams who haven’t had the training, or lack the craft skills.

For the presentation I had spun through a dozen video pieces and grabbed screens as I went along, key moments in the presentation or some trick or approach that I liked to illustrate a point: text on screen, humour, slip-ups denoting authenticity and so on. Put online and embedded in a blog these images were a form or mashup. The images could be collated on Flickr. Whilst a piece of video on YouTube can be embedded anywhere a person wants it, this content in various ways can be reincorporated. Not a bad thing if links of some kind are retained. Providing a transcript and stills are ways to facilitate quoting from the piece, for getting the conversation going on a social platform. This depends of course on the client brief, whether there is a wish, let alone permission, supported by the right Creative Commons choices, to see content shared.

We discussed external and internal communications, the difference between content for the Internet or an Intranet.

We also discussed the likelihood of people to participate in this way. I like the simple split between ‘Digital Visitors’ and ‘Digital Residents’, between those who look and those who touch, those who observe from time to time, compared to those who take an active role. I quoted Jakob Neilsen and his 95:4:1 ratios between those online who simple browse or observer (what used to be pejoratively called lurking), those who rate, like or comment and the 1% who create the content.

Forrester Research have taken this further though this isn’t something I took them through:

  • Creator
  • Conversationalist
  • Critic
  • Collector
  • Joiner
  • Spectator
  • Inactive


Salmon, G (2002) The key to active learning online. (accessed 24th March 2012) https://tojde.anadolu.edu.tr/tojde8/reviews/etivities.htm

(This is one part of a larger mindmap. Things missed out here might be included elsewhere. Do please offer your thoughts. I have webcasts and webinars elsewhere. Then of course there is PowerPoint with voice, animations and ‘movies’ and many ways of presenting linear video in a non-linear dashboard).

Digital brain or digital ocean?

Does your e-portfolio get in the way or support what you do?

Whoever you are?

Whoever has a stake in it.

I recommend the use of e-portfolios, whether or not they are packaged as such.

Often the affordances are there either way. An assemblage of tools and services to store, collate, elaborate upon, develop, select and share all that can be digitised. Text for the most part, but images too, still and moving. And numbers, as stats or formulae. Assets in polite society, ‘stuff’; for a Saxon word and something in Latin for anyone trying to pull rank.

Whatever definition we come up with for ‘e-portfolios’, someone else has another one.

And why not, this is but functional flotsam-and-jetsam on the Digital Ocean?

Forget ‘clouds’, for me this is a ‘digital ocean’; an ocean that is nothing more than binary code, but forms into ‘bits’ that do things and ‘bits and bites’ that have things done to them. My first blog in September 1999 covered this.

Perhaps I should shift my thinking and take in ideas of both oceans and clouds, the binary code the water molecules that form the water cycle? (Google this for a trillion images)

Oceans and clouds of digitised products and processes

Now there’s an idea. Fluid, changing, responsive … predictable to a degree … other times chaotic anre not so.

All e-portfolios are squirts of ink into this ocean. All content is drips, drops and an occasional multi-coloured deluge.

Though pre-empting bespoke consultative decision making on behalf of a client, real or imaginary, my simple advice regarding e-portfolios is – do it all.

1) Your own – that does the business and ought to be the final repository for e-materials that are being shared or assessed, that is easy-peasy to link or upload for those who are expert in these things or have a system that they play well and with which they can ‘sing.’

2) A smorgasbord of off the shelf e-portfolios that people may get free, or as part of their trade or other association, or be happy to subscribe for (after all, there’s a good deal that can be done with them that is personal, off-campus and away from work).

3) Their own. The end result, the content and where and how it is finally presented is all that matters. In any case, there is every chance that your students are more e-literate than you are, speak the code like their Mother Tongue and will do what so many students have done before them and re-invent the digital wheel. The content is its own subject matter expert – it is out there being freely exchanged and wikified to the ‘nth’ degree of finality.

4) With institutional, administrative, management and support from academics and tutors that alsos encourages peer support and so enables 1, 2 & 3.

And miraculously for me … under 500 words.

Though the first edit pushed this to 800. And if I care to reference and quote the dozen shoulders I’ve stood on to get here …

I’ll ruin it.

Perhaps I will. (Perhaps I have?)

I keep dipping my toe in and changing stuff. Then losing the sense of it. Give me a real-time conversation in a tutor group any day.

As I child I was taught to draw; my mother gave us all kinds of advice, a key moment being knowing when to stop. I can do this with a drawing or painting, with words, they just keep spilling into consciousness. You over draw or paint and you end up with mud and no way back. We were not allowed to use a rubber. We had to commit, make a linear journey (literally) and know went to stop.

Wherein lies the skill of the editor, the skill and advice of the agent and the commercial nose of a publisher.

Email is a snowball fight, a wiki is a snowman … I guess a blog is an ice-sculpture

Fig. 1. A massive snowball fight

I’m taking copious notes from Collaborative Learning in a Wiki Environment: Experiences from a software engineering course. Minocha and Thomas (2007)

I made this note at the bottom of the third page:

  • Email = snowball fight
  • Wiki = building a snow man.
  • Blog= ice-sculpture

What do you think?

Requires a cold climate. I like any metaphor to do with working online to the water cycle … oceans, currents, clouds, precipitation and so on. Why not snowballs and showmen?

I’ll share my notes in due course. I consider this to be a significant paper for H800, indeed for the Masters in Open and Distance Education.

I does a great deal more than study wiki best practice, its strengths and weaknesses, blogs get a look in (a wiki, and an e-portfolio are after all variations of the same thing).


New media, old thinking …

Courtesy of Google and on the hunt for a quote that goes something along the lines of ‘analogies taught the world to think,’ I stumbled across the Quote Garden.

What strikes me is my feeling that the time engaged with the medium of the Internet is not a boast that it is wise to make, that it is counter-intuitive, that the best ideas are more likely to come from someone who got access to a computer with a broadband connection for the first time a few months ago and is bouncing out ideas like a sparkling Catherine-wheel that’s come un-nailed.

Wherein lies the dilemma for every creative working in this field – or pond, or my favourite analogy … in this ‘digital ocean.’

If the likes of Google and Facebook have gone from minnows to sharks, to leviathans worthy of the era of the dinosaurs, when does something new come along like a water-born virus and kill them off?

Or are Google, Facebook, Amazon an eBay vast shoals, even a branded variety of species now that are less vulnerable to such attack?


Faced with three deadlines over the next ten days what do I do? Something else.

I like something else, these sparks.

Where was I?

Working on a piece about wikis. I wish this were a wiki. I like them. They suit me. I will be an engaged participant, a catalyst, a stirrer-upper … though not necessarily an initiator or completer, because serendipity engages me and distraction takes me off again.

What does that make me in this digital ocean?

One of these?

Who are you?

Go fishing and post your fishy-self image in the comment box!

Cybserspace is an ocean

My abiding image of cyberspace is of an ocean.

A product, a collection of tools and services, such as an e-portfolio, is but a few drops in such a digital ocean.

There are no barriers, except artificial ones … the movement between desk-top, smart-phone, VLE, e-portfolio, picture album, music gallery or whatever else should be seamless.

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