I spent my 7th of February hanging out with my brothers in arms in the weblecture scene. The day started with Werner Degger giving a general overview of the state of weblectures at the University of Amsterdam. He stated that the main reasons for using weblectures are to make studying easier and to raise the image of the university. Weblecture policy focuses on three workmodes: “Do it yourself”, “Do it together” and “we do it for you”. For each of these approaches to facilitating weblectures, the university aims to have the necessary infrastructure to support the staff and the teachers.
Thus far the UvA weblectures have about half a million of unique views, and naturally this figure is expected to keep growing. As part of this growing interest in and usage of weblectures, a site and community have been established about weblectures and other uses of video in education. Right now about twenty lecture halls have an automated recording system installed and the plan is to add another forty over the next few years.
Eventually the university wants to go public with its lectures, but in a specific way. Unlike MIT’s Open Course Ware, we will not dump our classes online wholesale; the intention is instead to use a “best of” as a kind of display case. Both iTunes U and YouTube Edu will be used for this purpose.
Jaap Tuyp followed Werner, explaining why the university chose for the Mediasite platform: He had formulated a list of 64 criteria with his colleague Paul ‘t Hoen, and mediasite was the most suitable compared to about eleven other competitors.
After Jaap we met Sabine Rummens, who heads the lecture hall infrastructure. She gave more information on which (kind of) lecture halls had cameras, and which rooms would get one in the nearby future. One thing of particular interest was that she reaffirmed the ownership of recorded lectures: namely the educational institutes employing the teachers. Though no news to us, this is helpful to assure our own management that they have the final say over what happens to these lectures, and that they don’t have to answer to any legal team further up the chain.
After the lunch, where the audio-visual department of the UvA proudly displayed their outrageously professional equipment once again, Frank Thuss took to the podium to talk about mobile learning. His assignment was to explore the available mobile applications for education, which he has aggregated on this site. The interesting projects related to video were about teachers videoconferencing with students at locations via mobile devices using Coach’s Eye (saving traveltime) and knowledge videos (using the ShowMe interactive whiteboard app). These projects are a work in progress and the experiences of the teaching staff will be published on a project blog, though where this blog can be found is unclear to me.
Next up was Leo de Jong, who had the audience discuss the process of setting up weblectures with eachother, during which time I had a fun discussion with two colleagues and John Kleinen, a social science teacher with an interest in visual anthropology.
The day ended with Koos Winnips, who presented research done on the effects of weblectures. Two points of interest: (a) there was no evidence that the lectures that were recorded suffered a significant attendance drop of students and (b) unfortunately, students who watched videolectures did not significantly score higher than students who did not (but who did attend the lectures).