Sunday, June 22, 2008

DIL: Taking Stock

I am a participant in a research project looking at digital literacy. We are now half way through the project and I have been asked to review what I have achieved so far using an action research framework.

General Plan
The first part of the plan has been to learn more about editing audio and become more familiar with Audacity ( a free program that allows you to record and edit audio). The second part, and for me the greatest challenge, is to learn how to make and edit videos. I particularly want to focus on becoming comfortable with making screencasts using Camstudio. This is a free program that allows you to video what you are doing on your computer desktop, which you can then use to show people how to use a particular computer tool.

The other tools I have been encouraged to look at for making video are Animoto and Windows Movie Maker. My criteria for the tools are that they are free to download, relatively easy to use and be accessible at work (not blocked by my institution) as well as home.

First action step
I'm finding it difficult to isolate specific tasks and steps because I have been dipping in and out of all sorts of things, so I probably have lots of action spirals going on at once. But I have decided to concentrate on learning about video as opposed to audio. Another member of the project is focusing on audio, so I know I can always go to her and ask me for information as and when I need it. And there are some excellent videos on YouTube that I can consult when the time comes for me to utilise Audacity.

Making a screencast
I feel that I have 'more or less' completed this particular cycle. There are probably a few rough edges I need to tidy up but I now know how to use Camstudio and feel confident enough to be able to show colleagues how to use it. It's difficult making a screencast for the sake of it, so what I am waiting for is 'valid' topic to develop. Probably I should revisit the screencasts that have been made on using Elluminate - they could possibly do with being remade - what do you think?

The other thing that I can address is how to use Camtasia, which is the upmarket (and not free) version of Camstudio. I have access to Camtasia at work but did not want to include it in the DIL project because it is not a free tool.

Making a video with Animoto
The first step in this process was to investigate Animoto.
Animoto is great fun and very easy to use. I think it is a great tool to introduce to students because of its ease of access and use. This spiral is finished except that at some stage I will register to use Animoto for teaching - I just have not got an opportunity for that at the moment.

Making a video using Windows Movie Maker
The first step in learning how to use WMM was to 'have a go' by myself, seeing how intuitive the program is and identifying where I need extra help.
Where I am at now is wishing to improve my abilities and investigate WMM further. I had planned to do that at the last DIL workshop but didn't get on very well for one reason and another.

One of the problems has been that my ideas for how I would use video are scattered all over the place ranging from making family videos for personal use, to capturing midwives' stories for posterity, to making educational instructional videos. For example, I have just been inspired by this wonderful example of digital story telling by Robert Lloyd - I am sorry, but I cannot remember who drew my attention to the video in the first place. Robert tells the story of his climb on Fox Glacier in New Zealand.

So it has been difficult to focus because I have not known what to focus on, if that makes any sense.

Making use of my time
I have to be mindful of time constraints - at this stage I don't want to take on too large a project eg making a video on how to carry out perineal suturing, which is badly needed because there is nothing available on YouTube. On the other hand, I do not want to 'waste' my time and make a video that is not a time priority eg making a family video will be great fun but not the best use of my time at the moment when I have a number of midwifery courses to develop and re-assess, PhD, a book chapter and so on.

Killing a number of birds with one stone
So I have decided to concentrate on making a video for a new midwifery course that I am developing. I am not 100% sure what to do, but I think it will be about professional portfolios - interviewing various midwives about their use of portfolios. This video will:
  • be a resource for the students taking the course;
  • introduce the students to a social networking tool (YouTube) that can be used for learning;
  • meet the goals I am trying to achieve in this research project;
  • give me an opportunity to model to my colleagues how video and YouTube can be used in education.
Theoretical perspective
The other aspect of making a video that I need to address is the theoretical underpinning. By that, I mean that I need to look at the theory of making video:
  • what makes a good video;
  • how music and narration should be used;
  • what captures the viewers' attention and sends them to sleep.
Up to now, all I have been focusing on is how to use the tool. Now I need to think a little more carefully about how to use the tool to engage the viewer/learner.

What do you think makes a good video? What guidelines would you suggest I use?


Claire Thompson said...

Hi Sarah, I have done very little video, but I've been reading Dan Myers' blog lately and he has some interesting anaylsis of video. In addition, he is doing a series of posts every Wednesday on video, here's the link to the first one. Well worth checking out.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you very much for that, Claire.

susane said...

as I come to comment and I have to keep on scrolling through your subsequent posts the words from a song that I know come to mind.

shes supervidec
shes faster than light
and she goes in to the warp

what was I going to comment. somthing about how I like your structure and the good orderly direction with which you make your way throughout your action reflection account.
I'm wading through and getting bogged down in the minutae of the trails of logical steps digital processing and problem solving -think i will try your way with the headings and the order.
One thing that may help me is knowing what the researchers questions are.

Sarah Stewart said...

I wouldn't worry about answering the researchers' questions - they should do that when they look at their raw data. Just concentrate on answering your own needs/questions.