Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Is there an echo in here?

copyright Graham McElearney 2012
We’ve recently made some changes to our lecture recording service, myEcho, which I’ve been involved for some time now.   We recently upgraded to version 4 of Echo360, the underlying hardware and software we use to run the service. It means that we’re now able to take advantage of some of its new features, like its new “player” which has received  bit of an overhaul, and also the new EchoCenter portal, which makes recordings available to students via a graphical calendar-like interface. We’re also looking at using some of the other new features, such as some new collaborative tools, and the ability to stream directly to IOS devices, which is a good enabler for being able to deliver resources in a more flexible way. Integrating the service with MOLE, our VLE, based on Blackboard Learn 9.1 is another area we are interested in developing. This should be quite do-able with the Building Block that’s available to tie the two together - basically we give the myEcho system the unique ID’s generated for each course by the VLE, and whenever lectures are recorded for that course, they should be automatically published to the VLE. Anyway, I'm in danger of digressing into technicalities...

In moving from a pilot to a generally available “service”, there are of course many steps that have  to be sorted out along the way. So some of the above represent some of the basic functionality we need to enable so as to make the system worthwhile and attractive to use.  Many other components of the service are a lot less obviously technical. These entail sorting out sensible business processes and workflows that are palatable to our colleagues, but also sustainable and scalable for ourselves as service providers. Sometimes it might look like the two have divergent interests.....So some of the things we’ve had to address along the way are for example processes for booking recordings, and providing sufficient support and guidance on tricky issues such as copyright. The latter is a whole topic unto itself, and one I may return to in future postings.

One of the biggest issues that’s exercised me over the last year or so, and still does, is that of getting buy in and engagement from our academic colleagues. We’ve tried some fairly standard approaches like running awareness sessions, and also publicising the service through various newsletter articles and websites. We’ve also borrowed another approach that we picked up from Jason Norton  from UCL, during a webinar he did last year as part of a series offered by the Video In Teaching And Learning (VITAL) special interest group. What Jason and his colleagues did was to look through their room booking system to pull out a list of all their lecturers who had been booked in to teach in rooms that were equipped with their lecture recording system. They then emailed this group and offered to record all their lectures, proactively  recruiting  them to become users of their service without them having to do anything extra.  We have adopted the same approach here for the last year. Looking at our usage figures for this semester. where we’ve used the approach again, we have recorded about 250 hours since the end of January, which is the highest amount we’ve done so far, with the majority of these being done by colleagues we’ve brought on board using Jason’s approach. Not only was this a neat little strategy to adopt, but it also illustrates another very important point - we have a fantastic network of fellow practitioners out there, and due to the activities of JISC, the ALT and other special interest groups there are some great resources and events going on out there that we should all be drawing upon.

Next time I’ll have a look at some feedback on the service, from staff and students, and talk a little bit about “Creative Lecture Capture”, and the role of this kind of technology in the broader pedagogical spectrum.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing Graham - looking forward to 'creative lecture capture' ideas!



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