Archive for the ‘Presenting a message’ Category

WiDi – Wireless access to your monitor

Monday, July 13th, 2015

Following on from Fridays post relating to teleprompters.

If you are using Ultramon, think about getting a WiDi enabled monitor for the teleprompter, that way you won’t need to trail a cable.

I’d also look into WiDi if you are putting large screens in your training or meeting rooms.

Looking for the best time to tweet?

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Buffer is a platform that allows you to manage communications on multiple social media platforms, so they see a fair bit of Twitter traffic.

Best Times to Tweet for Engagement USA

They have put together a report on the most popular times to Tweet in your region.  It also looks at reTweets and favorites.

I use it with IFTTT to distribute my blog.

Online video on the verge of becoming completely unreliable – ‘Photoshop’ for your voice

Monday, May 25th, 2015

This isn’t available yet but it’s just a matter of time.  Misinformation for the masses.

“A recording of someone saying “clean swatches” for example, could be redubbed to say some 9,000 different phrases all while fitting quite well with the way their lips originally moved. Not all 9,000 phrases make sense, of course; in fact, most of them are gibberish. You get everything from “need no pots” to the fairly creepy “like to watch you””

bad lipreading

Betwixt and between – Alt-J and traditional lectures

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

I saw the band ALT-J with my sons on the weekend, and despite liking their music I left the concert a bit nonplussed.


The problem is they play quite intricate and quirky music, but they are not performers.  Perfect for a smaller venue like a jazz club with a good sound system.   But in a stadium the sound is too loud and harsh, and you loose their main attraction.  You’re left with 4 guys just standing there on stage with some nice lights behind them (they must have taken less than twenty steps in the whole hour and a half).   I think the only attraction for the fans was just seeing them perform in real life.

Pink Floyd were kind of similar, they just stood there and played, but what they provided was a stage production, an enveloping audio visual experience.  They knew how and when to get an audience on their feet (and they turned the volume down a bit).


For me, ALT-J’s problem is they are too big to play small venues, they don’t have the skills for big venues and are not big enough to afford a stage production (or perhaps not interested).

Which brings me in a round about way to traditional lectures.  Recognizing that all analogies break down at a particular point, let me explain.

Like ALT-J,  in traditional lectures all we are doing is delivering a compromised version of the content.  Content students can get somewhere else, at a time that suits them, and of a better quality.

Like ALT-J, academics are about quality and intricacy and are better suited to smaller venues where that can be communicated (and yes teaching is about constructive activity and two way communication etc, the analogy had to fall over somewhere).

On the other hand, like Pink Floyd, good lecturers know that a concert hall needs something different from a small room.  Good lecturers do more to prepare, they arrange activities, they select interesting media, they frame the content in engaging narratives and scenarios.   For big room lecturers it’s about delivering a message and the setting the scene for what is to follow.  They don’t just stand and deliver.

(Note: If a student is showing up just to watch you and get close to you, call campus security.)

So I suppose the message is, if you’re going persist with big room lecturers be Pink Floyd not ALT-J.

Wonderwoman and the history of EdTech (from Audrey Watters)

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Audrey Watters (one of the few EdTech journalists worth reading) recently presented at the Center for Teaching and Learning at Davidson College.

woderwoman watters

It’s an entertaining read – admirable considering the subject matter.

From a presentation point of view it’s worth looking at how she uses pop-culture references to talk about the history and culture  of Ed Tech.

There’s no audio (unfortunately) but the text is here

Use a HD Camcorder as a webcam (for streaming lectures)

Thursday, April 16th, 2015


I’ve been looking for a simple way to stream lectures and presentations, something simple enough for the average novice to set up and run with on their own.   Ustream and Livestream are a bit too complex for our purposes.   Google Hangouts are simple enough, but webcams aren’t really up to the job, and I didn’t want to buy (and loan out) a lot of new high end cameras.

What I have tracked down is a Magewell USB3 to HDMI Capture dongle.  You run the HMDI cable out of your camera into the dongle and the USB3 cable out into you computer.  The computer sees the camcorder as a webcam.  It’s not a dirt cheap solution ($450 AUD), but it’s small, doesn’t need any drivers installed or extra software, and I a lot of people already have HD cameras, all I have to do is loan out the dongle.

The downside of lecture capture

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Monkey, Captivity, Zoo, Imprisoned, Grid, Cage, Eyes

There’s nothing particularly new in this article, by Mark Smithers, but it’s worth a read.  The underlying notion is that live lectures (i.e. dull, didactic yacks, delivered by a uninspiring presenters) are not suited to video.  And he’s right, but they are also not suited to learning in general, which I think is the core problem.

Based on past experience and conversations with numerous students, I think the upside significantly outweighs the downside.  I think some lecturers could make a considered case for not recording or at least delaying the release of recordings  But usually the decision not to record, when you strip it right down to the pedagogical bones, is an ego issue.

The best stuff is in the comments.

I found this via Stephen Downes

Learning Spaces and learning results

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

I am a fan of flexible teaching spaces that allow for collaboration and active student participation, but this article highlights a common problem in learning and teaching research i.e. the lack of standardized detailed definitions of teaching approaches.

How can we comment on the effectiveness of the room or technology without a commonly understood description of what was being done and to whom.

In this case we are talking about “active learning, multimedia-enabled classrooms and swivel chairs”  !!?!?

To be fair the article does provide more detail particularly around demographics, but it still doesn’t give us enough information to identify if the outcomes are due to the room, or the teaching approach, or the charisma of the teacher (among many other things).

The company responsible for the equipment in the rooms found “a statistically significant correlation between classroom configuration and student engagement” (vendor results should always have a grain of salt added).

Ball State found their students “believed they were more likely to attend class, engage with their classmates and finish with better grades, but their academic results haven’t necessarily matched their enthusiasm.”

If engagement aids retention, then this could be a good outcome regardless of results. Maybe students are getting the same results but understanding more. Maybe they are getting the same results with less effort.   Maybe the assessment does’t focus on the things that an active collaborative environment fosters.

Anyway, the article is worth reading.

Desktop video conferencing – Hangouts vs Zoom

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

At Monash all staff and students have access to Google and all it associated bits like Drive, YouTube, G+ and Hangouts.

I have had a bit of a play with Hangouts to give staff access to meetings and for interviews.  I’m fairly impressed.  I find it more reliable than Skype.

Recently a few people have started looking at Zoom.

My first reaction was, why, we already have Hangouts.  But I’m starting to think it might be worth looking at.  Both products appear to be largely the same.  Zoom can handle 25 people to Hangouts 10, but the free Zoom account is limited to 40 minutes.  Hangouts are better if you are actively collaborating and want to share files, but Zoom is better for creating teaching resources as it has a built in recording function.  Zoom also works on IOS and Android devices.

There’s more info here is another desktop and mobile video conferencing application that is gathering some attention.  It’s browser based so there’s nothing to download.  It handles up to 8 people.  It doesn’t seem to have as many features but is very simple and easy to use.

Anyway, I’ve downloaded Zoom.  If I find anything dodgy I’ll let you know.

(It looks like Monash has a Zoom trial site on the AARNET backbone so the quality in Australia should be pretty good)

10 tips for improving your lectures

Monday, November 10th, 2014

This is from the Presentation Zen site.  Not all are particularly relevant to our situation but they are all worth considering.

Here are a few of my favourite bits.

Don’t waste time at the beginning with formalities or filler talk. Start with a bang. Get their attention and then sustain that interest with variety and unexpectedness, built upon structure that is taking them some place.

What is your key message? What is it you REALLY want people to remember? What action do you want them to take?

Put the Audience first. The message or the lesson must be accessible and useful for your particular audience.

Cutting the superfluous is one of the hardest things to do because when we are close to the topic, as most presenters are, it *all* seems important. It may be true that it’s all important, but when you have only ten minutes or an hour, you have to make hard choices of inclusion and exclusion.

Go here to read the whole 10 (plus one bonus)