The creation of sophisticated audio and video content was once the reserve of professionals with expensive equipment and facilities. This has changed dramatically in the past few years: people now carry in their pockets the ability to record, edit and deliver high definition video and broadcast quality audio.
This is not to say that everyone is now producing professional quality media, but simply that cost and physical size are no longer hurdles that must be overcome.
No amount of tools can turn someone into a creative genius. What tools can do, however, is to simplify and democratise the creative process. This can shorten the journey from concept to product for learning resources. It also means that the teaching practitioner needn’t have their ideas filtered through a third party before being ready to present to the learner.
There are many apps that facilitate the creation of different types of content. Here are some examples:
- Audio recording: Voice Record Pro
- Video editing: VideoPad, WeVideo
- Audio editing: WavePad
- Image editing: Photoristic HD, Handyphoto, Luminance
- E-book creation: E-book Creator, Pages
Some practitioners encourage students to create content as part of their learning. Others have taken this one step further by creating apps that can be used to create content. Here are a few examples of each approach:
University of Bath - developing the 'app factory'
Keith Brown developed an 'app factory' that is designed to enable academics or students to easily create apps for both iOS and android. The main idea is to establish a university-wide eco-system whereby apps can be created and shared for teaching and learning, or for any other purpose that enhances student life.
Apps have a number of distinct benefits:
- Familiarity – apps are second-nature to students
- Immediacy – the material is local, so there no delays
- Availability – can be used even in situations where there is no wi-fi or phone signal
- Reduction of printing costs.
The app factory project is a work-in-progress. However, the latest prototype has been used by an academic to create an app in about ten minutes, using existing materials such as PowerPoint files, videos and quizzes.
To date, students have created apps for peer assisted learning purposes, including:
- Kidney and diuretics
- Over the counter remedies
- Quizbank for MPharm year three clinical unit
Two more will be released shortly. In addition, apps have been created for programme units of the MPharm degree:
- Introduction to microbiology
- Introduction to pharmaceutical analysis
There is also a campus map and a timetable app.
Apps currently in development, in collaboration with the widening participation office, include those for prospective pharmacy, physics and management students. These include learning materials aimed at sixth formers.
Keith also worked on a distribution infrastructure - an internal app store called the 'app centre' which enables installation of iOS and android apps by staff and students within the university. He has recently evaluated the impact of the use of these apps with students.
University of Nottingham - delivering course presentations to the web
E-Lecture Producer HD is a web based slide converting and editing tool that can help teachers to produce an auto-played online presentation with voiceovers and transcripts. It can import PowerPoint presentation files or pdf slides files, and convert them to the web slides (e-lecture) format. The final product will be exported and is ready for web publishing.
This app provides a simple solution for teachers to deliver their course presentations to the web. The final e-lecture easily integrates with Moodle, WebCT or any other website. Video recording is not required and teachers just need to record audios slide by slide. As the final e-lecture resources are all saved in a web folder, it is also easy for teachers to update the e-lecture by just replacing several slide images and audios.
Lecturers at the University of Nottingham have used this app to produce many e-lectures for their Moodle modules and training courses. The e-lecture supports desktop, tablet and mobile browsers. As there are no video files in the e-lecture, it can be loaded very quickly even under a poor network condition.
Bath Spa University - developing an interactive visitors app
Creating content for mobile platforms is an essential skill. Developing concise content and a dynamic engaging reading experience are digital literacy skills that benefit from alignment of learning, teaching, and assessment to professional standards.
Students from Bath Spa University worked with Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution and No.1 Royal Crescent Georgian House Museum to create an interactive app for visitors to the redeveloped museum.
This cross-disciplinary project with students from BA (Hons) heritage and history and BA (Hons) graphic communication courses produced an informative and educational app explaining the history and background of ‘cabinets of curiosities’ and the grand tour. More specifically, the app looks in detail at objects a typical eighteenth century gentleman would have collected on his tour.
The project raised confidence in using and being able to talk about technology. It also linked finding and managing information with professional presentation of solutions and outcomes. Students develop a deeper understanding of a medium in which they are often a consumer, but do so from the perspective of being a creator. The ability to develop content and immediately review and share this leads to more discussion and iteration, both of which are key to student learning.
In addition to using key authoring software (Adobe Creative Suite), the students used Google Apps for Education. This enabled them to collaborate between Bath Spa University campus sites for art and design at Sion Hill and heritage and history at Newton Park, where they shared documents and images using Google Drive and screen sharing in Google Hangouts.
Download the app from the iTunes store.
University of Brighton - designing an interactive treasure hunt
BSc business top-up students designed a treasure hunt quiz as part of their induction programme with help from Maggie Garabedyan, Students’ Union, vice-president (academic affairs). Using the Scramboo Playmaker app, the quiz is aimed at students who are new to the university's business school. The quiz enables students to learn about the Moulsecoomb campus.
- Consider a diverse range of students with different needs and expectations
- Identify what you think they need to know
- Find out the answers yourselves
- Plan the quiz/hunt
- Prepare materials for each step
Participants can attain badges as they progress (level one: blue, level two: green, level three: purple, level four: gold). Those with a good score can elect to enter a prize draw to win a selection of vouchers.
University of Lincoln - using video for differentiation
The University of Lincoln has made use of video tools for differentiation. Alisdair Houser, programme manager and senior tutor says:
"We create teaching points via short videos (five to ten minutes) either by screencasting via Camtasia (and presentation software PowerPoint/Prezi) or through the Swivl app (iPad) and Swivl camera mount (automatic recording 'robot'). These videos are edited in Camtasia to include Shareable Content Object reference Model (SCORM) quizzing and hyperlinks to further learning.
They are then uploaded to You Tube specifically to utilise the closed captioning feature and then embedded in Blackboard.
Some of the video content may also be captured through the Fuse app”.
Students are then assigned videos as homework (with accompanying worksheet) so that when they come to class they are already prepared to engage in the same class topic ie, the flipped learning approach.
The main benefit of this teaching and learning style is that students can engage in some of the passive aspects of learning at home instead of in class. This also allows for a degree of differentiation in that students can learn at their own pace and utilise features like the closed captioning and playback speed designed to benefit 'non-traditional' and 'traditional' learners alike.
Employing various techniques in class can ensure collaboration occurs between teacher/student and student/student.
During summer 2015, the university began trialling this with bring your own device (BYOD) so students can access this material in class.
St John's College - creating content for learners with learning disabilities
Learners can create very rich e-books that have a range of content. Learners at St Johns College have a range of learning disabilities and autistic spectrum conditions so being able to create this kind of content with minimal language is very useful and powerful.
One learner for example curated a dance themed book. He adds videos of his favourite dancers from videos and even adds videos of himself dancing. This learner is non verbal and uses signing (Makaton) to help him understand language. He also adds videos of him signing into the book.
Making video CVs
The college also explored the use of Book Creator to make video cv's. Book Creator allows users to export an e-book as a video. Due to the intuitive interface and ease of use compared to more complicated apps, learners can be more independent in their use rather than relying on staff to support them in content creation.
"The use of these apps allows the learner to be autonomous in their learning, as they are the person guiding the process. This element of independent learning is also massively beneficial in terms of allowing for cognitive dissonance which is such a precious part of the learning process; the learner solves their own problem, and uses their own knowledge to produce an end result that is visible by all.
The use of these is also so valuable in becoming used to computers and technologies in working environments. There is also wide scope for peer mentoring with all abilities.
Using the in-built camera enables them to get a picture straight into what they are creating without having the need to use a PC which often requires a lot more staff intervention. Once again reducing the amount of support needed and increasing independence”
Another app used is Kaleido. This was used with learners within a sensory art session. The learner used this touch sensitive app to create layers of the kaleidoscope and to change the colour and stylistic features. The learners were then able to view their work in video format with screenshots of their work taken.
It was beneficial to the learners as they could engage with the app at a very basic level and understand the process of cause and effect, as well as to appreciate the more astute stylistic aspects.
Watch the video: