Flip’ping Pilots

May 26, 2010

There were many interesting and informative papers and presentations at EdTech 2010.

One that caught my eye, was a paper on the use of Flip cameras brought to the fore the issue of technical barriers to the successful implementation of a new technology. Even despite these barriers, enthusiasm and perseverance paid off. The project demonstrated the importance of effective communication between all stakeholders.

After the presentation I was discussing cameras with some of the other delegates, I had my Kodak Zi8 and a Sanyo Xacti with me and we were looking at the merits of these compared to the Flip. One of the delegates did say that she was interested in running a pilot in her institution.

Here’s a question how many Flip projects and pilots need to be run before we can accept that there is value in using these “cheap” cameras to enhance and enrich learning? How many duplicate lessons need to be learnt? How many learners need to experience the use of video before it is accepted that this does contribute to the learning experience? I can accept that every institution is different, but how different are they? We are in fact much more similar than we think.

If only a single small pilot has been run in the country, then yes there is probably sensible to run a pilot. But when we are talking about Flip cameras, hundreds of institutions have run pilots and projects involving these cameras, and other similar cameras. Papers have been written, presentations given, case studies disseminated.

Southwark College: The impact of low-cost video cameras across the curriculum

Gateshead College: Successful staff coaching through video footage analysis

West Kent College: Dance and IT capture evidence using pocket video camcorders

The Production of Generative ‘fly on the wall’ Mini Documentaries Capturing a Physiotherapy Students’ Personal Experience of their First Practice Placements

ESOL Students Interview Staff

Flip Cameras arrive at Wisewood

Basic guide to using the Flip Digital Recorder

Move industry into the classroom and the classroom into industry Flip It

Web Video & Healthcare Case Studies & Best Practices

How many pilots do we need? Or is it more a question that we need to run a pilot at our institution before we think about “rolling” it out across all curriculum areas. I am also aware of successful pilots in one curriculum area which have been followed by virtually identical pilots in a second curriculum area… Why? Well the learners are different! Really! How different, they have two heads or something? That actually raises a question on any pilot, well successful pilots have resulted in a roll out across the whole institution?

We do see institutions that use tools such as Powerpoint across the institution, similarly we see some institutions have embedded the use of the VLE. However was this via projects and pilots? Or was it something different?

Do pilots actually help institutions move forward in using learning technologies or are they causing problems rather than solutions?

If we don’t learn from pilots that others do, is there any point in talking about pilots?

So is there a use for the pilot? I believe that we can use the lessons learned above to change how we use pilots in institutions and use them for staff development to improve the use of learning technologies.

Though it would appear from talking to delegates at EdTech and elsewhere that most institutions do not have consistent use of the VLE or other tools. This is down to many reasons, some are fear and apprehension.

However prejudice, lack of training, lack of understanding, lack of knowledge play their part too. Some staff perceive that some tools or technologies are “not suitable” for their learners. Some staff don’t have the skills to fully utilise the tools. Many staff have a lack of understanding about the capabilities and potential of technologies. Others have trouble transferring activities from say face to face to the internet.

Whenever I run training sessions at the college or as a MoLeNET mentor I often talk about a range of learning activities, new gadgets, tools and services; and I know for many this is overwhelming. I will usually tell the participants that they should take “just one thing” away with them and embed that into their practice and make a difference to their learners.

This brings us back to the pilot!

Generally in a lot of institutions pilots are run by the e-learning team or an enthusiastic individual. They try one pilot after another…

This doesn’t always get the holistic results they intended, very much seen as a get the project done, then move onto the next new technology… “…did I say I was going to get my iPad this week?”

Why not get all staff to run a pilot, everyone runs a pilot of some kind, evaluate the results, embed into their teaching and then start another pilot…

There is plenty of ideas, guidance and case studies on the web and from other institutions, so support is much simpler than it was say ten years ago.

Staff don’t need to be restricted to the pilots, but for many staff it will be a way of using a wider variety of learning technologies than they were before.

So next time you suggest a pilot, think is this necessary, is this going to work? Maybe we should get everyone to pilot something.

Photo source.

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When Cheap and Simple Is Just Fine

March 4, 2010

This was an interesting article from Wired about the development and start of the humble Flip camera. I am not a great fan of the Flip camera; I much prefer more sophisticated video cameras. As it says in the Wired article:

The stripped-down camcorder had lots of downsides. It captured relatively low-quality 640 x 480 footage at a time when Sony, Panasonic, and Canon were launching camcorders capable of recording in 1080 hi-def. It had a minuscule viewing screen, no color-adjustment features, and only the most rudimentary controls. It didn’t even have an optical zoom.

You would have thought such a “rubbish” specifcation would mean that this camera wouldn’t sell.

Within a few months, Pure Digital (the makers of Flip) could barely keep up with orders. Customers found that the Flip was the perfect way to get homebrew videos onto the suddenly flourishing YouTube, and the camera became a megahit, selling more than 1 million units in its first year.

Just shows that though I might like decent high quality gear, the market prefers what Wired calls good enough technology.

This same preference is probably what also accounted for the growth of the netbook, another good enough technology.

Now having said I want a decent camera and a decent laptop, when it comes to software… well I don’t need Microsoft Office, for most things good enough Google Docs is just fine for me. I have noticed over the last couple of years that I am using more and more web tools. Why?

Web tools are succeeding because they’re Good Enough.

Yes I can use Photoshop or Fireworks for image editing (and I do) but for some image editing I have been using Picnik for some simple photo editing, as it is good enough. I use it in the main for images taken with my phone, which are good enough!

Wired says that the reason why I and others are happy with good enough is for the following:

The attributes that now matter most all fall under the rubric of accessibility. Thanks to the speed and connectivity of the digital age, we’ve stopped fussing over pixel counts, sample rates, and feature lists. Instead, we’re now focused on three things: ease of use, continuous availability, and low price.

You have to wonder if education will now follow a similar path?

Will our learners no longer worry about many of the best features of educational institutions, but start to look at learning experiences that fit in with their busy social and online lives, is available at a time and place to suit the learner and will be cost effective?

Enhanced learning experience using a range of technologies, online services and third party Web 2.0 tools and services can improve the learner experience, but does it need to be complicated and expensive? Sometimes cheap and simple is just fine.


e-Learning Stuff Podcast #010: Let’s take a note

December 7, 2008

So what is it about Google Docs and Evernote and other online office type applications? Why are they useful for learning? What can we use them for.

This is the tenth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Let’s take a note.

Download the podcast in mp3 format: Let’s take a note

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

In this show, James is joined by Dave Foord and Nick Jeans.

Shownotes

Let's take a note


13 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute

September 17, 2008

The Official Google Blog has a really insightful and interesting posting on the future of internet video. One interesting statistic is that thirteen hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute!

What Google think is that:

In ten years, we believe that online video broadcasting will be the most ubiquitous and accessible form of communication. The tools for video recording will continue to become smaller and more affordable. Personal media devices will be universal and interconnected. Even more people will have the opportunity to record and share even more video with a small group of friends or everyone around the world.

I am not even sure it will take as long as ten years!

The new compact MP4 Flip’esque cameras that are now available make it even easier to shoot and upload video.

At ALT-C I was broadcasting video live from my phone over the internet, I recorded, edited and uploaded a video in 30 minutes in a workshop.

I wanted to share my video of the ALT-C and I was very able to do so and in HD!13 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute


Flipping heck!

August 2, 2008

One of the devices that many MoLeNET projects found really useful for creating video for mobile devices was the small pocket flash based MP4 cameras such as the Flip video camera.

Flipping heck!

These small, low cost devices allow practitioners and learners to quickly create video clips which can then be easily uploaded to a VLE or blog or similar.

In a recent Guardian column, Stephen Fry wrote about the merits of the Flip:

Video. Your mobile phone might be capable of it, your compact digital camera almost certainly is and there are dozens of dedicated camcorders available that can write moving picture information to all kinds of media at all kinds of qualities for all kinds of money. Why, then, a basic handheld video camera that can do nothing else? a) What is the point? and b) Where is the market? The answers, refreshingly, are a) Fun and b) The young.

I don’t have a Flip, though I know others that have similar devices and echo Stephen’s comments. Personally I have been using HD cameras such as the Panasonic HDC-SD5 which takes some excellent quality video which is captured to an SD card.

Key question is one HDC-SD5 worth three to four Flips?

The answer depends on the use of the video you shoot.

For quick video capture which needs to be uploaded quickly online, then the Flip wins out.

If you need to edit the video, or want to show the video through a data projector then the HD video has to the first choice.

Which would you choose and why?

Photo source.