ICTP Workshop 2007/BlogNotes - Lode Lecture

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{{#titlehere:}} Please note that the present pages on the ICTP workshop were obtained from a mediawiki used during the workshop. There may be a number of links that go to missing pages, and other inconsistencies. Much of it is also very informal, and should be seen as workshop notes!From: User:Mathe/BlogEntry: 2007 December 06 08:15:19 UTC

I am attempting to vigorously take notes on this morning session by Marco from university of Trento. He is a physists now turned computer scientists. His main interest is in e-learning One of the highlights of where he comes from is that the place is scenic and offers hiking oppotunities.

Now moving to the core of his presentation.. He has just introduced video streaming and bandwidth requirements. His perspective on use of video on the web stems from his interest in e-learning. He advocates for a goal-driven approach not a technology driven approach. In essense, he says we should always keep our eyes on the ball by focusing on the goal, which is to teach with videos.

1 History on teaching with videos[edit]

  • idea introduced in the 80s in the form of lectures on TV and on videotapes
  • did not gain momentum for a number of reasons including: cost and boredom. Cost resulted from production costs (camera crews, make up, etc) and boredom because of the lack of audience during the recording..

Given the above, the next question is can the internet do any better? Answer is yes! The internet reduces the costs and certainly allows student teacher interaction. Videos also in the era of the internet brings other oppoturnities that include:

  • Enhancing traditional teaching by for example providing online supplement to students. In a sense this also helps to break the time constraint i.e. the need to be in the same time space.
  • Allow remote interaction which means I can attend a seminar from Lesotho hosted at Trento.


2 Details of the experience from use of webcasting in Marco's university[edit]

  • Build cognitive interface
  • Investigate thoroughly the bandwidth requirements for their students
  • Performed a survey of whether the students would be interested in the system. The results reflected general enthusiasm from their students. (I hope the students were not thinking I can skip school and have a blast since I have a means to review lectures at a later stage). According to Marco, this idea captured in the brackets is called 'elective absence'.
  • Analysis of the results from the survey reflected some of the following advatanges:
~ Provides a means for students to catch up with their work after forced absence
~ Allows elective absence
~ Enhaces the university's e-learning portfolio
~ Allows better understanding

3 Summary of requirements that brought success[edit]

  • Portability - System should work on all platforms (e.g. should work for all operating systems and all browsers) and support low bandwidths.
  • Cognitive focus must be more controllable
  • Multiple iterations were done to ensure that all would be users were comfortable with the system. The users included both the technical and non-technical. Issues addressed in the iterations included maintainability and users comfort with the environment (a migration was needed from Linux to Windows environment at one iteraction). Without going in much detail on the iterations, I think it is worth stating that the last iteration is based Flash. Flash is regarded as 'Ubiquitous' see the statistics for flash penetration http://www.adobe.com/products/player_census/flashplayer/. (Do not that the statistics don't capture the developing nations, which means the flash solution might not be a viable option for such nations.)
  • Assessment of costs for implementing the system.

4 Implications of the Portability requirement[edit]

Portability being an encompassing term also includes small devices such as mobile devices. The question then is: Is video streaming really suitable for m-learning?

m-learning refers to mobile learning for more see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-learning

The answer to the above is a resounding YES! The trick is to first acknowledge that the value of m-learning lies in utilising the 5 minutes that one may have whilst waiting for a train or perhaps a doctor (in my country doctors have made it a point to make us understand what it means to be a patient). Using this knowledge, chunking techniques can be used to avail info(video lectures) on such devices.

5 Implications of the Cognitive focus control requirement[edit]

The main idea behind the control of cognitive focus is to ensure that focus on the screen is on vital components of the lecture that would benefit learning. For example, focus may be placed on slides but the question is: are those slides important to the viewer (student) or the presenter (lecturer)? This question is important because it is possible the presenter created slides that make sense more to him or her than anyone else.

6 When all has been said and done![edit]

  • Define your goals clearly
  • Define your process
  • Ensure that the users (and in particular the students) are able to navigate to the content they need i.e. the find their way through the maze. (This is a subject of a whole lecture which will be done at a later time.)