Our Virtual Reality Journey

So I’ve been looking forward to this for aaaages !! (Since 2016 to be exact)

In last year’s budget (2017 – 2018) we decided to put a small pot of the e-learning money aside for small scale Virtual Reality (VR) to be trialed with 1 group of students over a full academic year (2018 – 2019), starting with a 360 camera and then working our way up to headsets.

After talks with other digital and e-learning professionals, based on previous work and shared best practice from European projects, we sourced a 360 degree camera which was cost effective – lowest price for best recording. As the camera had to be flexible enough to work with the e-learning team, students and teachers – it had to be easy to use and the 360 video/images stitch themselves, rather than having to learn and understand another software package to stitch it all together. From here we put the tester footage into our video platform. After looking into this as a stand alone 360 video for students to review online, it didn’t seem to be much different than using a standard video. Though in hindsight this could be due to ineffective application, as it was a tester. So we wanted to explore using 360 video/photos as an immersive experience, with interactions.

To do this we needed to create interactivity and have an immersive way for students to experience the packages. We set our sights on wireless headsets for ease of use, which can be used online and offline, so we waited for the right device to come along. Which we left to the last minute, admittedly, as we heard about the Occulus Go coming out in May/June 2018.

In the meantime this amazing thing happened, in early 2018 with the up and coming T-levels, which as a college we are involved with (find out more here) we realised we’d like to work with Industry to get the best for the students. As well as get them involved in something a bit different with the Virtual Reality. However we wouldn’t be able to do this without a full time person working on the project. So we took a punt and won a bid from the AoC (Association of Colleges) funded by the ETF (Education Training Foundation) to help fund a full time person to work on it. The title is ‘Using VR to enhance Land-based Skills’ and the premise is to involve employers in the curriculum, and the VR offered a new take of how to involve them for the up and coming T-levels. This meant that we could widen the scope through the areas involved to be Agriculture, Equine and Sportsturf, rather than just one class from one area as there is a full time person working on it to co-ordinate. Keep your eyes peeled for the full report on that and the impact in March 2019 from the OTLA Phase 3 site.

As there was a lot going on pre-project I thought it’d be good to share everything learnt about VR so far as a checklist you can apply to your own institutes:

Keep it simple: 

Software: 

  • Think of your audience – who will be using it? Tutors, students an e-learning team?
  • What technical skills will they need?
  • Is it a simple UI (end user and creator)?
  • Can it be used across different devices?

Headset/Devices: 

  • Does it need to be wireless? – Most places seem to have fallen into a trap of being stuck with wires when they needed wireless devices.
  • Does it work offline?
  • What is it powering?
  • Is it compatible with your institutes systems? Does it need to be?
  • Can it be used via an app?

 

Cost Effective:

  • Don’t go for the most expensive – this might not be the best for your institute! (Gaming kit is brilliant, but might not work for you)
  • Will it last?
  • Does it do what you want?

 

Plan it:

  • How will it be used? (student, staff, e-learning team)
  • Strategy for the implementation (Practically)
  • Strategy for the implementation (Pedagogy)
  • Consolidated approach

 

Collaborate: 

  • Talk to peers – sharing best practice with others is key – don’t be scared to share.
  • Consolidate information from other projects you may have run (both teaching/learning and technical based) There is a wealth of information which you may not realise relates but does!

 

For most general FE Colleges or HE institutes this may already be second nature, but as a Land-based FE and HE institute which does not have an IT or media lead curriculum, this has been a massive breakthrough.

~ LP

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V.R in Education

V.R is hailed to be the educational technology trend of 2016, with the introduction of wearable V.R gear and V.R apps on Smartphones (across any device: Andorid, Apple or Windows) becoming more accessible to a wider audience. Now that it’s widely accessible, how do you use it?

Equipment needed for V.R?

Software:

                 – Viewing Software –For the majority of V.R videos you can upload them to YouTube or a V.R specific app.

                    – Recording Software – Depending on how you’re going to stitch the V.R photo together you would need an online tool like Thinglink or a V.R stitching specific tool.

Hardware:

                 – Viewing Equipment –such as V.R headsets or smartphones which can be used through the B.Y.O.D schemes (which can be cheaper for colleges)

                    – Recording Equipment – Need to have a camera created specifically for V.R and for getting a full 360°  angle multiple

A few examples of V.R  uses in education:

Introductions/Tester sessions – Use a 360° video to show potential students what an average hour/day on a campus would look like, or show a sample/taster class. The 360 view allows for the viewer to experience the environment as if they were there.

Instructional – Using 360° video/photos of an environment, then layering over graphics to create instructional videos/photos of step by step processes.

Assessment – Video of the 360 environment means that those assessing classes can get a realistic view of the class environment. The 360 view leads to a wider scope of analysis.

 

 

There’s a lot of uses for V.R in education which could shape the classroom of the future. With the fact that V.R can be accessed in a variety of ways (Wearable tech or Smartphones)  it means that no one is excluded in the classroom experience and with enough funding educational facilities can include V.R within equipment that can be loaned out to staff and students.

I know I’d look forward to having V.R tech on our booking systems – both recording and viewing equipment!

 ~ Laura

I.T and TEL – What’s the Difference?

After a few days of dealing with various people asking I.T related questions, and reading articles online which seem to be muddled in what they expect from an e-learning team and an I.T team, it’s safe to say that there is some confusion as to what I.T and TEL are…

I.T stands for Information Technology and refers to the study or use of systems (especially computers and telecommunications) for storing, retrieving, and sending information.

TEL stands for Technology Enhanced Learning and refers to the use of both physical hardware/software based on educational theory.

Simply put if you want to know what/how to use tech in education to help enhance learning (whether with students or sharing best practice with staff) or ways to create interactive learning materials with educational theory to explain why we use them, then ask a member of the TEL or E-learning team. As a rule we’re based in both learning theories, innovation and the latest technology. If you need to know how to get your computer fixed as something is broken with it or it’s not working, or you need a recommendation or solution for hardware/software ask I.T professionals.

Summed up I.T is not TEL, but TEL involves aspects of I.T.

NB – Please bare in mind this is an overly simplistic view of the differences and it is slightly more complicated than this. Anyone working in these areas trains for years in their subjects and has different/specific skill sets and shouldn’t be considered in anyway less or more tech savvy or knowledgable than any others.

 

Now is the Summer of Our New Content?

With the implementation of the college’s new LMS (Canvas) our minds turned to content for it.

This college has a lot of online courses so we use a lot of different e-learning materials at the college currently, and over the last few years these have progressed and developed into items which work well as interactive learning packages. A main thing for this year has been moving the materials of the first year students onto Canvas.

So naturally we had to test the old learning materials out for the new system….

This turned into a trip down the rabbit hole – some items worked but only if used in a specific way, others acted like a blanket response but were temperamental and others worked on the computer and browser options of the LMS but not in the app versions of the apps… not going to lie it was a slight nightmare purely from a presentation aspect.

(Note – We’ve reported back to Canvas and they’re currently working on their systems to improve. They’re brilliant at taking on ideas and have an amazing community in which to get support, the system itself is also brilliant.)

However we found a solution……H5P!!

H5P is the answer, after testing (currently the college and members of the e-learning team have been working on a funded project using H5P for instructional videos) and having a look through all the options and the interactive materials available we found that it can be used as an embedded file on a content page or simply link to it through the external link tool. Presentation and functionality wise it is helping us solve a lot of issues and even develop how we view and use multimedia interactive learning materials.

Realistically we won’t be able to fully explore the potential of these learning material in relation to Canvas, LMS analytics etc till midway through next year, potentially even at the end – around the start of the new academic year 2017/2018.

However we look forward to the time we can fully get stuck in and we’ll keep searching for the latest and most up-to-date learning material creation suites possible. To make it easier for the tutors to do their job and create a blended-learning environment for their students.

~ Laura

A.R in Education – case and point?

This year has been publicised to be the year of Virtual Reality (V.R) in education, and we fully agree with that with the amount of V.R headsets being released and the development of educational apps.  However this has led to education technology leaving Augmented Reality on the side line.

This may have been a bit of a premature detour from A.R to V.R.

Why?

Case and point – Pokemon Go!

I have to admit I got the app myself, so may be slightly biased – I’ve been ridiculously lucky so far and it’s somewhat addictive, walking to hatch eggs and find Pokemon it takes me back to my childhood….but back on point and most importantly (well from an edtech perspective) it’s all Augmented Reality (A.R). It’s mainstream Augmented Reality that people have taken to, there are very limited instructions with the game and are in fact more intuitive and based on a social aspect of users sharing information with each other through social media to learn what to do and how to do it.

So why is this important to education and education technology?

Not only is the game Augmented Reality based, but it’s a worldwide tech that has been greatly accepted by various people on various devices without question. There are a few teething issues, which you would get with any new technology, but it proves that with the right amount of funding (time and money)  and drive creating a worldwide interactive Augmented Reality (A.R) educational application is possible.

The benefits of A.R in education are boiled down to the following:

  • Social Learning – the lack of instructions with Pokemon Go! Have led to users collaborating with each other to learn how to play. This can be applied to most courses of learning.
  • Interactive lessons – makes any lesson practical, learning theoretical physics you can use
  • Portable learning Materials – Depending how the AR works (GPS, 3D mapping, Marker based, Projection based etc)
  • Versatility – you can view the embedded information through any device, whether that’s wearable tech which is the current trend (think smart watches and Google Glasses)  or your smart phone. It can also be used for any subject from science to art.

 

Now think about the educational benefit to having A.R, and expand it to a global scale.

With the recent break through of Pokemon Go! maybe the idea of global A.R in education isn’t too far away?

~ Laura

 

NB – For a more in depth look into A.R there are the two links below:

Types of AR

5 reasons for Augmented Reality

To Augmented Reality and Beyond!

 

 

 

Multimedia Teaching

What is Multimedia?

Multimedia is the combination of different media components such as text, sound, image and video. It is mainly used to present information in different formats:
“Multimedia can be used to convey information to people effectively. It has brought fundamental changes to the way people learn, play and find information.” (BBC Bitesize)
Text: A great tool for tutors to act as an inclusive mechanism and increase resource accessibility for those who have hearing issues by clear and concise information in a written format,embedding literacy skills. It’s also another way to engage students on a different level, allowing for different learning styles.

Images:  A great tool for tutors to act as an inclusive mechanism and increase resource accessibility for those who have hearing issues. It’s also another way to engage students on a different level other than simply verbally communicating, allowing for different learning styles. Here are a few examples of uses of images in education.

Audio:  A brilliant tool for tutors to act as an inclusive mechanism and increase resource accessibility for those who have visibility issues. It’s also another way to engage students on a different level other than simply visually. Here are a few examples of uses of audio in education.

There’s a few general formats out there for end product Multimedia, anything from interactive learning packages and videos to simply audio layered on top of an image.

Video killed the audio star…

After our recent visit to the BETT show 2016  we noticed there was a higher preference to using videos in learning over simply adding audio or audio only podcasts, which have previously been used. Not only were videos used to demonstrate ideas, used as a student and tutor content creation tool or simply put on for students because they were having a lazy afternoon, but it was shown about how to use them effectively in blended learning.

One of the talks that stood out to us was the ‘Mooc videos in blended learning practices by Laia Albo’ where it was highlighted that flipped classrooms were not necessarily the way forward but instead a more blended learning hands on approach would be the best way to engage students and increase student progression. This is due to the Multimedia use as an autonomous, flexible and significant learning tool. Videos were used in practical classroom sessions as an instructional aid, where the students followed the instructional videos at their own pace, while replicating the task and the tutors acted as floating facilitators who guided and assessed the students work. To us this rang true of supporting vygotsky’s zone of proximal development theory and Bloom’s taxonomy

But also brought up the idea of, if the tutors are to act as guides, for elearning or mlearning, could it be possible to incorporate the questioning assessment side of the teachers role into the video themselves?

interactive videos?

Previously interactive packages have been designed in complex, time consuming software which may not be compatible with all devices (Apple and Microsoft) This can be  off putting for teaching staff, due to time constraints, but these packages have been widely successful in their use, and though now may be dated, the concept of having interactive packages, which include multimedia components, to be used in blended learning or flipped learning seems to be the future of multimedia use in education.

Now with the introduction of HTML compatible software and websites which lets you easily create, share and reuse interactive HTML5 content online, the prominence of interactive multimedia and it’s uses in education has become much clearer. It’s the way forward, the mix between video and interactivity reflects the cultural norm of being in front a device screen and the pedagogical benefits of video learning It also allows for teachers to be able to use these platforms without having to spend hours creating the resources.

So what does this mean for teaching?

Multimedia is a way of conveying information to people, and to do that effectively it needs to be communicated through storytelling in all sectors, from primary to H.E from onsite to elearning. As teachers, this is part of what they do. Physically teaching itself is a form of multimedia, giving the media of theatre, verbal, written and live action storytelling mixed with interactive questioning through being there to communicate and teach students, to convey the information and encourage learning on the subject at hand.

The introduction of interactive videos could possibly include the assessment side for teachers/tutors to include hands on blended learning  classrooms which allows for more guided learning to occur. Helping students progress through the use of multimedia to engage different types of intelligences in learners. With this in mind teachers should embrace new multimedia technology to encourage their students to learn and be engaged with the course content.