Archive for the ‘Library 2.0’ Category

Reading on screen and on paper

September 1st, 2019 by Graham Attwell

Do you read books and papers on screen or do you prefer paper. I am conflicted. I used to have an old Kindle but gave it up because I am no fan of Amazon. And I used to read books on firstly an ipad and latterly an Tesco Huddle tablet – both now sadly deceased.

Like many (at least if the sales figures are to be believed) I have returned to reading books on paper, although I read a lot of papers and such like on my computer, only occasionally being bothered to print them out. But is preferring to physical books a cultural feel good factor or does it really make a difference to comprehension and learning?

An article in the Hechinger Report reports on research by Virginia Clinton, an Assistant Professor at the University of North Dakota who “compiled results from 33 high-quality studies that tested students’ comprehension after they were randomly assigned to read on a screen or on paper and found that her students might be right.”

The studies showed that students of all ages, from elementary school to college, tend to absorb more when they’re reading on paper than on screens, particularly when it comes to nonfiction material.

However the benefit was small – a little more than  a fifth of a standard deviation and there is an important caveat in that the studies that Clinton included in her analysis didn’t allow students to use the add on tools that digital texts can potentially offer.

My feeling is that this is a case of horses for courses. Work undertaken by Pontydysgu suggested that ebooks had an important motivational aspect for slow to learn readers in primary school. Not only could they look up the meaning fo different words but when they had read for a certain amount of time they were allowed to listen to the rest of teh story on the audio transcription. And there is little doubt that e-books offer a cost effective way of providing access to books for learners.

But it would be nice to see some further well designed research in this area.

 

How to live stream events

September 5th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I talked in previous posts about our work with the European Conference on Educational Research to ‘amplify’ the conference, recently held in Vienna. This involved setting up various social media channels including a Twitter stream and a iTunesU page, producing a series of video interviews with conveners of the different networks which organise ECER and b9radcasting three live radio shows from the conference.

We also undertook to stream four keynote speeches, run in two parallel sessions as well as the opening. Easy, I thought. Like many of you I have live streamed from different events, pointing a camera or even a MacBook at the speaker and linking in to  uStream or Justin.tv or one of the other social video platforms. It turned out not to be so simple.

We were working with a community not generally used to social media. And quite simply, the idea of pointing them to a platform advertising poker, acne treatments didn’t seem a good idea. Plus we had an issue with the reliability and quality of the free services. Livestream looked a better idea especially though their premium accounts. This allows you to have your own channel and remove the adverts.but a single channel on Livestream costs 350 dollars a month, with twelve months billing in advance. And we needed two channels. Back to the drawing board. We discovered that Ustream has set up another service called Watershed and indeed for a time were tempted by this. Watershed offers per view payments, but the prices are relatively high. And the terms and conditions of service for the monthly or annual contracts was impenetrable. No problem, we thought, we will ring them and clarify the conditions. Then we discovered there was no telephone number on their site. All you cold do was ask questions on a bulletin board, largely filled with complaints about the service and the total lack of technical support.

OK – so that didn’t seem such a good idea. Last resort – ask a friend. I twittered out for anyone with ideas of a service we could use. And somewhat to my surprise, no-one could come up with a solution, other than the services we had already looked at.

Back to searching on the Internet. Of course there are many companies offering professional streaming services but they all seem geared towards corporate or media organisations, not towards education or for relatively low numbers of live viewers.

I finally stumbled on a web site from a Canadian company called NetroMedia. Their prices were not clear but they said that for one off events you could fill in a query form. So I did, not with any great hope. To my surprise about half an hour later, I had an email reply asking for more details about the event I wished to stream. And to my even greater surprise, some forty minutes after returning this a person rang me. Yes, a real live person!!!

She calculated how much bandwidth we would need and offered us a service for 100 Canadian dollars, plus 20 dollars for unlimited technical support. (Note that if you buy into this or a similar service, it is important to buy sufficient bandwidth in advance, extra bandwidth per view is relatively expensive). Woo, away we go. Even better some twenty minutes after paying them, Darren, the technical support man rung us. This was very helpful, because although the set up is relatively simple, we required two video streams going out simultaneously, and that required a little fiddling.

NetroMedia do not offer a portal for streams. Instead they provide a streaming service and you embed a Flash video player in your own web site. This suited us just fine. The up stream was encoded through the free Adobe Flash Media Encoder, which worked well on both a PC and a Mac. The only thing I would like is to have more direction control over what we were streaming – e.g to be able to switch between a feed from the data projector and the video but I am sure we can work out how to do that. I am very happy with the quality of the streaming (you can view the recordings by clicking on read more on each of the channels on the ECER video streaming web page) although we were helped in this regard by the kind loan from Helsinki University of two very good video cameras.

Of course, if you are working in a University or large organisation, you may be able to run your own streaming server.But such an investment is beyond Pontydysgu, or I guess many small organisations. Yet video streaming is going to be an important part of Amplifying future events. And we need a reliable and reasonable quality of service.  I would certainly go to Netromedia again. But I also wonder if there is some way we could collectively organise resources for streaming in the educational technology community to both share know-how and expertise and infrastructure.

Viral Education

February 13th, 2009 by Cristina Costa
I just came across this video today. And I think quite captures the essence of learning today… The ideas are not new…we have all been talking about this…Some of us have been doing it, but it is never to much to remind people of this issues…realities. I was also ver intrigued by the final question: ‘why do [...]

Viral Education

February 13th, 2009 by Cristina Costa
I just came across this video today. And I think quite captures the essence of learning today… The ideas are not new…we have all been talking about this…Some of us have been doing it, but it is never to much to remind people of this issues…realities. I was also ver intrigued by the final question: ‘why do [...]
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    Open Educational Resources

    BYU researcher John Hilton has published a new study on OER, student efficacy, and user perceptions – a synthesis of research published between 2015 and 2018. Looking at sixteen efficacy and twenty perception studies involving over 120,000 students or faculty, the study’s results suggest that students achieve the same or better learning outcomes when using OER while saving a significant amount of money, and that the majority of faculty and students who’ve used OER had a positive experience and would do so again.


    Digital Literacy

    A National Survey fin Wales in 2017-18 showed that 15% of adults (aged 16 and over) in Wales do not regularly use the internet. However, this figure is much higher (26%) amongst people with a limiting long-standing illness, disability or infirmity.

    A new Welsh Government programme has been launched which will work with organisations across Wales, in order to help people increase their confidence using digital technology, with the aim of helping them improve and manage their health and well-being.

    Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being, follows on from the initial Digital Communities Wales (DCW) programme which enabled 62,500 people to reap the benefits of going online in the last two years.

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    Zero Hours Contracts

    Figures from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency show that in total almost 11,500 people – both academics and support staff – working in universities on a standard basis were on a zero-hours contract in 2017-18, out of a total staff head count of about 430,000, reports the Times Higher Education.  Zero-hours contract means the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours

    Separate figures that only look at the number of people who are employed on “atypical” academic contracts (such as people working on projects) show that 23 per cent of them, or just over 16,000, had a zero-hours contract.


    Resistance decreases over time

    Interesting research on student centered learning and student buy in, as picked up by an article in Inside Higher Ed. A new study published in PLOS ONE, called “Knowing Is Half the Battle: Assessments of Both Student Perception and Performance Are Necessary to Successfully Evaluate Curricular Transformation finds that student resistance to curriculum innovation decreases over time as it becomes the institutional norm, and that students increasingly link active learning to their learning gains over time


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