OERs by Video

I am preparing for a project in which I will need to make video open educational resources (OERs). I will be creating split-screen video clips of lectures showing the presenter on one side, and whatever she is demonstrating on the computer on the other side. I am trying to imitate some Open Yale lectures I have seen here. I’m pretty sure Open Yale is using some sort of hardware and software lecture-capture solution which I don’t have. My solution will be low-cost: I will film the presenter, and capture whatever she is presenting via some screencast software such as Quicktime Pro or Camtasia, and use the split-screen wizardry of Final Cut Express to create the final product. If you want to learn more about how that is done, see my blog post from last week.

The next wrinkle in the video OER saga is that some of the footage will contain unsavoury language, and some may contain images of vulnerable adults and minors. Therefore, I need to bleep out words and blur out faces. I found a great tutorial for the face-blurring here, and I embed below a very helpful tutorial on bleeping out unwanted words.

Final Cut Pro Tutorial: How To Bleep Out Words So Your Mama Doesn’t Hear It from Andy Coon on Vimeo.

These are new issues for me in the realm of creating OERs. These learning materials will be created for a very specific medical-related audience (I will reveal more when I have something to show), but because they will be open-access, they should reach unknown audiences and unforeseen uses. That’s the beauty of OER!

Terese Bird, CMALT

Learning Technologist and SCORE Research Fellow, University of Leicester

The Learning Futures Festival 2010 and OERs

It’s been roughly six months since our very successful (even if I do say so myself!) Learning Futures Festival. Since then, as part of our OTTER project, I’ve been busy beavering (ottering?) away on converting the presentations into OERs (open educational resources).

The OTTER team have taken a while to make sure as many presentations as possible fall under the Creative Commons licence; this has meant replacing slides or editing audio so that there isn’t any infringement. I’ve blogged more about editing video here:

It’s been great to learn how to edit video, however basic, and I’m still on a quest to find the perfect open source cross-platform software.

With copyright cleared and the video edited and uploaded we been able to release over 35 out of approximately 50 keynotes, workshops, presentations and daily addresses. That’s a staggering 70% of all presentations out of our festival which are available for you to download and listen to again.

Now for the really important bit; you can find and download the presentations here:

This is just one way we are helping to contribute to an open future. In addition, publicly releasing these presentations helps make the Learning Futures Festival 2010 a year long event, continually impacting and benefiting new people every day.

Emma Davies
Learning Technologist

In anticipation of HTML 5

I have a feeling that HTML5 might not get everyone excited but it should.  At least a little bit.  Before I explain why you should get excited, I’ll briefly explain what HTML5 is.  HTML (HyperText Markup Language) in simplest terms is the language behind the webpage, you don’t see it when you view a webpage but it’s there. If you’d like a more detailed understanding of HTML and HTML5 have a browse through the links below:

Now for why you should get excited: HTML5 has a new part of its language which enables video to be shown in browser without any additional software e.g. Flash, Quicktime, Windows Media Player.  There are some details about this still to be thrashed out by the W3 Consortium mainly which format of video will be used as it needs to work across all browsers (e.g. Chrome, Internet Explorer, FireFox, Safari).

But, if this does happen, it will make it easier for video to be included in websites and so in the content that is on websites e.g. OERs (Visit OTTER for more information on Open Educational Resources), teaching and learning material etc.  Rather than having to provide multiple video file formats and video player options, the video will play directly in the browser without the need for the user to download any additional software or to keep updating their software.  While there will still be issues of file size and storage, easily embedded video in a browser will hopefully enable easier addition of creative, open, educational video resources.  

Emma Davies
Learning Technologist

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly?

The Good

It’s been one of those weeks where I have initially despaired of being able to find the open source software that ticks all the boxes of what I am trying to do.  I’ve been looking for free, easy to use video editing software that allows you to overlay either an image or another video.  Naively I thought this would be easy to find.  Turns out there is a lot of great free photo editing software out there (GIMP anyone?), but video editing software is thin on the ground. Finally I found the answer in VideoSpin, which is free open source video editing software from Pinnacle.  Pinnacle are part of the Avid family and I’ve seen their programs used in professional video editing suites so felt that VideoSpin could be a little gem of a program.  It is incredibly good as it makes editing video a lot easier but also means that with the videos from LFF10 we can overlay new images to block out any that infringe copyright or, if necessary, block out entire frames of video. 

The Bad

While editing these videos has become an enjoyable challenge (thanks to the discovery of VideoSpin, and honestly I’m not working on commission), there is the matter that an hour’s worth of video means a large file size.  Not necessary a problem if you are planning on keeping these files to yourself but when trying to place these files in an OER repository it can become a not-so-enjoyable challenge and one that we are still working on.  While using a friendly file format (MP4) and a smaller screen size (320 x 288) helps reduce the amount of megabytes in the video files we are still looking at 40-60MB worth of footage. But the finished video files are well worth a watch and will help us extend the impact of LFF10 so file size and storage remain high on my (and the other learning technologists) to-do list.

The Ugly?

I was going to use this heading to make unnecessary jokes at the Zookeeper’s Skoda, but since I’ve driven this beast myself I do have a new found respect for it. So I have decided to pick up on a news item that has been around for a while: broadband connection speeds.  The BBC has a couple of current news stories about this:

With the amount of photos, audio and video that are uploaded, downloaded and shared on the Internet, the need or want for everything to be faster to keep up to date with all the new developments in browser-based technologies, e.g. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, could become a real problem.  The first news story highlights some innovative ways of getting broadband, but it looks like maintaining and improving these speeds and connecting the entire UK could be tricky.  Perhaps this is an ‘ugly’ future?

Emma Davies
Learning Technologist

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