100 ways to use a VLE – #72 Streaming live video

July 30, 2010

It is getting easier and easier these days to stream live video over the web.

Using services such as Qik, Ustream and other free services (and paid services) you can capture an event live and stream it over the internet.

These services allow you to stream video to lots of people even if all you have is a simple internet connection, 3G, wifi or similar. The way they work is, you stream your video to their server, and then they serve the video to the multiple clients who want to watch.

So where does the VLE come into this?

Well, you can provide the URL of the page that has the streaming video on, but that does rely on learners either remembering the URL or having access to it or having written it down. The problem with live streaming is that it is very time sensitive and really don’t want learners struggling to find the URL and then find the live event is over.

A lot of these streaming services do allow you to embed the stream output into a webpage and so you could embed the coding into the VLE.

Most of the free services are supported by advertising, you can use other services such as Bitgravity that offer a paid for streaming service.

You can also obviously embed the video stream from any institutional streaming servers.

You can then use the scheduling or calendaring functions of the VLE to let the learners know when the live video event is happening.

Photo source.

University Website

July 30, 2010

University Website

via xkcd

It had all gone horribly wrong…

July 29, 2010

Sometimes you make a wise decision and sometimes you make a mistake.

When I ordered my iPad back on the 10th May when it was announced that it would be delivered on the 28th May I made the decision NOT to order the iPad Camera Connection Kit. My reasoning would be (based on previous experience) was that if there were problems with the delivery of the iPad Camera Connection Kit then my iPad would be delayed and I didn’t want that to happen. I also thought I wouldn’t have a problem getting one in my local Apple Store…

So how wrong was I?

Way wrong!

Both the local Bristol stores had sold out pretty quickly, basically within a day of the release of the iPad.

The online Apple Store suddenly went to a 4-6 weeks delivery time.

It had all gone horribly wrong…

I did consider ordering one from the online store, I could wait… but they wanted to charge me £5 for delivery that I wasn’t willing to pay.

I thought, I’ll wait four weeks and get one from the Apple stores in Bristol.

I waited…

I waited…

I checked with the Apple stores a month later and still no luck and no joy.

I checked the online Store and, still 4-6 weeks delivery and still going to charge me £5.

I waited…

So in the end I thought I really do want this connection kit for ALT-C, that’s at the beginning of September and that’s just under 4-6 weeks away.

On the 20th July I placed my order for the iPad Camera Connection Kit. By my reckoning it should arrive just in time for ALT-C.

First surprise was that I wasn’t charged for delivery, free delivery for the kit. That was nice.

Then in the e-mail confirming my order it said:

We estimate your order to be shipped by 5 – 7 business days.
I thought that’s not 4-6 weeks! Quick check of the website saw the 4-6 weeks had been reduced to 2-3 weeks.

Well that’s nice.

Then on the 24th July I got an e-mail stating my order had been shipped. It arrived on the 28th July.

Of course I needed to test it, so out with the DSLR and a quick picture later I connected the camera via the USB.

It worked a treat imported the image, I could then upload it using Osfoora HD to TwitPic via Twitter.

Well pleased and impressed.

Pity it took so long!

Using my iPad

July 28, 2010

Today I was in London for a Becta TEN event at the Apple offices. I decided that I would rely on just my iPad and not take a laptop with me. The lighter bag was certainly welcome.

On the train up I did some writing on the iPad using the on screen keyboard, which considering the small tables on the First Great Western trains means the iPad is not too big and certainly usable over a large or even a smaller 13″ laptop.

At the event itself I easily joined the Apple wireless network and decided to switch to my Bluetooth keyboard.

It was then very easy to add to the event via Twitter and check URLs and websites.

The battery lasted the day and the train to and from the event.

Overall another successful outing for the iPad.

Making a choice

July 28, 2010

Today I am in London for a Becta TEN event at the Apple offices. As you might guess the event has a real Apple focus and will be looking at iLife, podcasting, the iPhone and the iPad.

Anyone who knows me will know that I do use a fair bit of Apple stuff. This doesn’t mean I am an Apple fanboy

Yes you are!

It just means that I use a wide range of stuff…

But if you have the choice you would rather use Apple gear than anything else!

On my desk in my office at work I do have a 27″ iMac, however alongside I also have a standard college build Windows PC. For a lot of administration I use the Windows PC, for any web or creative work I use the Mac.

At home I use Parallels to allow me to use Windows 7 and Windows XP simultaneously with OSX.

So what about phones?

Well yes my phone of choice is the iPhone 4 even with the antenna issues. Thats not say I don’t think highly of my other phone, a Google Nexus One.

Music players, yes it’s an iPod, but I do quite like the idea of the Zune however that’s not available in the UK.

I am not fanatical about Apple gear, it just works for me. Other people who have bought Apple stuff after seeing and listening to me have also been quite happy. I am though aware of some people who have bought Apple stuff and then got rid of it very quickly.

I know it appears to be a lot more expensive than stuff from other manufacturers however in every day life do we always buy the cheapest stuff?

At the end of the day technology should be and is a very personal thing. The same applies not just to me, but also to our learners. Learners will want to use their personal devices for learning, they will have different devices, different operating systems, different devices for different things.

There will be some learners who won’t have devices or choose not to use their devices; ink these circumstances institutions probably provide a standard device or PC. That does imply that all learners are standard.

They’re not!

At this point we do need to consider the service provided by IT departments when it comes to standard equipment. Standardisation ensures that it is much easier to support, repair and maintain equipment.

So a multiple range of devices means unacceptable support costs.

However there are many numbers between one and many!

In my Library at Gloucestershire College we give learners a real choice when it comes to computing. They can choose from:

Their own devices, we are putting in lots of power points and we already provide a student wireless network.

Micro Laptops, these are the EeePC running Linux

Standard Windows XP Desktop on a 17″ monitor

20″ iMacs, which can either run OS X or Windows.

Not a huge variety of choice, but certainly much better than no choice. Its also not extraordinarily difficult to provide effective support either.

Giving learners choices about their learning is important if we are to to get the best out of them and ensure they succeed.

Location:London,United Kingdom

Dragon Dictation – iPhone App of the Week

July 27, 2010

Dragon Dictation – iPhone App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone and iPad Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive. Though called iPhone App of the Week, most of these apps will work on the iPod touch or the iPad, some will be iPad only apps.

This week’s App is Dragon Dictation

Dragon Dictation is an easy-to-use voice recognition application powered by Dragon® NaturallySpeaking® that allows you to easily speak and instantly see your text or email messages. In fact, it’s up to five (5) times faster than typing on the keyboard.

With Dragon Dictation you can also update your Facebook status, send notes and reminders to yourself, or Tweet to the world….all using your voice. So when you’re on-the-go, stop typing and start speaking – from short text messages to longer email messages, and anything in between.

Dragon Dictation currently supports both U.S. and U.K. English. Dragon Dictation will start supporting German language later this month, and will add support for French, Italian and Spanish languages later this year.


I’ve had this App for a while now, but it has only been recently made available in the UK iTunes Store.

The version I was using only (really) responded to US English, this recently released version now supports UK English, so I no longer need to use a “fake” American accent!

What I like about this App is that is very quickly and easily transcribes what you are saying. It does require an internet connection as the transcription happens in the “cloud”.

This is very much how many people see the future of computing and the internet.

Your own device is quite simple, but is always connected. All the hard work and computing is down in the cloud, on other more powerful computers elsewhere.

This has advantages in terms of speed, but of course the main disadvantage is you will need to be connected to use this. Fine if you have free wifi or a decent 3G connection, obviously less so if you live in rural areas or all the wifi you can find costs money! In those kind of user scenarios you will need to probably buy a package for a laptop that does the transcription on the laptop.

So what of the actual transcription, well lets transcribe that previous paragraph. All you do is click the red button and say what you want transcribed.

This has advantages in terms of speed and of course the main disadvantage is you will need to be connected to use this fine if you have free Wi-Fi or do some freaky connection obviously less so if you remember when areas or all the Wi-Fi you can find cost money in this kind of user scenarios literally buy a package from laptop does this transcription on the laptop

If you speak slower, you do actually get a better result.

This has advantages in terms of speed, but of course the main disadvantage is that you will need to be connected to use this. Fine if you have free Wi-Fi or a decent 3G connection, obviously less so if you live in rural areas or all the Wi-Fi you can find costs money! In those kind of user scenarios you will need to probably buy a package for a laptop that does the transcription on that the laptop.

I also “spoke” the punctuation. As you can see there are only one or two errors. I also did in this quite a quiet room, so less background noise, try doing this in a noisy classroom and I suspect the results would not be as good.

At this stage you can go in and edit any errors or add text you forgot to say!

There is also an iPad version, and as this is an Universal App you only need to download one App to have both versions, one for the iPad and one for the iPhone.

If you want to use this on an iPod touch, you will need an external microphone.

Getting the text off is quite easy, either send as an SMS, e-mail it or copy it so you can then paste into another application or website. You can also link the App to social networks so you can use it to post Twitter and Facebook updates if you wish to.

This is a very good App and works really well.

Hairdressing Video

July 26, 2010

If you are learning about hairdressing, reading about it is okay, but doesn’t really show how to do things even with nice colour pictures. Video is a much better way to reflect on a process, to prepare for a process or learn about a new process.

Worcester College of Tech and Hairdressing Training have placed a series of short, useful videos on different hair cutting techniques on YouTube.

See more videos.

Hairdressing Training is run by Mimas (http://www.mimas.ac.uk). It provides you with a range of resources to help with your teaching. These include a suite of web resources with photographic step by step guides combined with lessons and handy tips and techniques, suiting a variety of learning styles. Hairdressing Training is also available via mobile devices.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #055: Gordon’s alive…

July 25, 2010

We’re talking about Flash this week and the impact that devices like the iPad will have on existing educational resources, development of new resources, tools and importantly the impact on learners and learning.

With James Clay, Dave Foord, Rob Englebright and Ron Mitchell.

This is the fifty fifth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Gordon’s alive…

Download the podcast in mp3 format: Gordon’s alive…

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes


Photo source.

Behind the scenes

July 24, 2010

A few days ago I posted a blog entry with an embedded YouTube video parodying the Old Spice viral video about how cool the Library is.

I found today a video of the behind the scenes, sure took a lot of work and takes.

Read more about how they made their film.

e-Learning Tech Stuff #003 – BBC News App

July 23, 2010

This week’s e-Learning Tech Stuff is looking at the BBC News App.

Download the iPhone version in M4V format.

Get the latest, breaking news from the BBC and our global network of journalists.

By downloading the BBC News app you can view:

News stories by geographical region

News by category including business, technology, entertainment and sport

News in other languages including Spanish, Russian and Arabic

Video including one minute news summaries to keep you informed on the go

You can also personalise the app to suit your interests and download content for offline browsing

The BBC News website is a wonderful resource and place for news on the web. The mobile version is okay too. Both versions do work on the iPhone and the iPad.

However the BBC News website does rely on Flash for video. The obvious solution would be, as other news providers have, build an App.

So the BBC did build a BBC News App…

UK media companies complained, so the BBC Trust said that the BBC News App would not be available in the UK, but they could make it available overseas!

However today the BBC Trust having delayed the UK launch has now said that the App would be available in the UK.

The UK launch was delayed while the BBC Trust, the corporation’s governing body, assessed the proposals and their impact on the rest of the industry.

The apps do not “represent a significant change to the BBC’s existing public services,” ruled the BBC Trust, meaning that further scrutiny was not required.

So what about the App itself?

Basically it is similar to the website, the news is divided into sections.

The advantage over the website is that any video is in h.264 format so it plays!

The user interface is much more iPhone like than the website so making it much quicker and easier to use.