Rich Media Content Construction Kits
Where the vlog tools focus on the power of the video, this is primarily used with the 'talking head' as the main vehicle. Historically, most academic work has concentrated on augmenting the talking head of the teacher with a set of bullet point slides and other assets that is in keeping with the simplistic pedagogy of the "presentation'. However, there is some evidence that learners using such tool-kits can create useful learning experiences for themselves. Rich media content creation, using video, audio and images as teaching tools are increasingly common place, with many tools available in the market place. These tools are largely targeted at teachers, trainers or lecturers who wish to capture their material for publication on the internet or via CD-ROM. The tools typically take a PowerPoint presentation, or slide sequence generated by PowerPoint and then allow audio/video to be synchronized to the presentation. More complex tools require skills unlikely to be mastered by a Professional Learner and won't be considered here.
Scenarios of learner centric professional rich media
Example 1 - a professional learner working in the Water Industry has recently been on a course detailing new regulations. As a result revised work practises are developed for his company and he wishes to ensure that the new practises are widely disturbed across the company. In addition to detailed advice that might be included in documents and websites, the Professional could create one or more presentations that highlight specific areas, these could then be posted on a website and ensure a consistent message is given to all workers.
Example 2 - a professional learner working in the airlines industry has recently been on an engineering briefing for a new aircraft. The learner adapts this new knowledge to create a mission state on how it will impact his company. He gives a presentation to a top level engineers in his own company, which is recorded and then synchronized with his slides, so that it can be referred to at a later date by engineers unable to attend, or those not initially privy to the briefing.
Example 3 - a doctor in a medical practise having been on a course on new good practise wishes to pass this knowledge on to others in his practise, however due to pressures of work it is not possible to give a single presentation to everyone at once. Instead the doctor creates a presentation, including video and images illustrating the new practise, and places it on their intranet network, allowing the other doctors to view it in their own time.
Professional learners may in the first instance make use of Rich media tools as a way of demonstrating their own knowledge within a course context (i.e. as an assessment tool). However, these tools provide an ideal way for Professional learner to take new knowledge, adapt it to their specific business needs and subsequently distribute that knowledge within their own organization. The exact process of using these tools varies, but common elements remain. A slide presentation, typically derived via PowerPoint is synchronized with either audio or video. The resulting presentation typically ends up as a collection of files that are published to a web server, or can be published to CD-ROM.
One of the simpler of these rich media tools is the XO Stage player and XO Editor tools that have been used in the Open University in the UK since 2001 (http://cnm.open.ac.uk/projects/xo/). In this simple example of this form of presentation, users can take pre-recorded video and synchronize it with slides, or flash animations and publish it as a QuickTime movie. An entirely web based version of this tool, XO Lite has been used by members of the Prolearn community. XO Lite was developed to address the issue of allowing remote users in multiple organizations to contribute to Prolearn TV. It has been used by a few partners to make a Prolearn TV contribution but has latterly made a contribution to the Prolearn Academy through the use by students at the 2005 Prolearn Summer School in Turkey. The variety of student interactions with rich media tools during the Summer School has revealed inadequacy of a Publishing model, which at present focuses on use by a teacher. The teacher-focused model requires an administrator to create an event that a user can then associate with their presentation. By changing this so that the end-user can both create the event and the presentation to go with it, is much more student-centric as it provides a way for the end-user to have complete input over the final publication while reducing the workload on the administrator, who is then only involved in approving publication. We have adjusted the management system for this work and look forward to trialling it further with Prolearn students and learners.
Blogging CMS's are another potential way for systems like XO Lite (or any of the many similar tools eg Visual Communicator 2 or RealPublisher) to publish their content to the web within a context that a Professional Learner can control without resorting to building a web site.
The use of lightweight rich media technologies which depend on server-side capture and hosting does have it's limitations. The quality of video is dependant on the clients bandwidth and plus codec technologies employed - in XO Lite's case Flash is used and this produces rather poor quality even over LAN connections to the server. Transcoding of the captured source material into other formats may also pose problems, as again a technology like Flash uses a proprietary audio codec, so using XO Lite to create for example Video Podcasts directly would not be possible.
SlidesNow (Mac OS X only creation)
Videocue 2 (Mac OS X only creation)
Camtasia Studio (Windows)
(includes Case Studies)
(can integrate with PowerPoint)
Impatica for PowerPoint and OnCue
(java replay engine)
(OnCue is a XO Editor like tool)
Visual Communicator 2
Learner centric use of rich media kits
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