Editing with VLC Media Player

As we have had a couple of enquiries via FMS Enquiries about audio and video, we have added some information to the FMS Community on how to edit using VLC Media Player. VLC media Player is a free application which allows you to play and convert videos. You can save in many different formats.

You may be looking to add new audio to an existing video, or remove audio before commencing adding a new narration. For example a demonstration of a practical session in a laboratory, or a tour around a building. You can also extract audio only from a video.

See the guide on how to do this here: https://ncl.instructure.com/courses/30988/pages/editing-with-vlc-media-player

Welcome to the FMS TEL Team Blog

This blog will show you regular posts from the FMS TEL team, as well as contributions from the rest of FMS. You can explore blog content by scrolling down the page, or selecting categories or topics of interest from the right hand side of the page. You can also offer your own contributions via the Contribute page above. We hope this blog will be of use to you, and look forward to hearing your feedback.

Ethical Framework for Digital Teaching and Learning

In December 2020 I had the opportunity to attend the Association for Learning Technologies’ Winter Conference. One of the presentations at the conference really struck a chord with me and I would like to share a synopsis of what was discussed.

Presenters Sharon Flynn, Natalie Lafferty, John Traxler, Bella Abrams, and Lyshi Rodrigo sat on a panel discussing an Ethical Framework for learning technology. They discussed what they perceived as the biggest issues around ethical teaching and learning digitally.

One of the primary concerns driving the development of an Ethical Framework is the inevitable power relationship learning technologies create between teachers and their students. For example, how can monitoring work in the right way, where it is not there as a policing tool, but rather as a tool for aiding engagement and learning. One of the panellists suggested a simplified form of terms and conditions could go a long way to pacifying student concerns over any form of monitoring.

There are inherent principles about trust and reliability in the digital world. This is evident in many sectors but likely not more than in the surveillance culture of the digital world. We have, therefore, the responsibility to help protect students, and colleagues, as we become more aware of ethical challenges in the digital world.

Another concern relates to fair access. What ethical role does the institution have in ensuring all students have access to the digital tools, such as laptops and broadband internet? What is considered adequate and equitable? How logistically can this be accomplished? And, this is not simply a problem for students. Some teachers will also experience digital tools poverty. This would also include training for students and teachers in the systems, programs, and tools they would be expected to use. (Something that Newcastle University is working hard to ensure exists to support students and teachers in the unique set of circumstances following of from Covid-19.)

Another question brought up was what constitutes harm? This question would be at the heart of an Ethical Framework. How do we as institutions identify harm caused by digital teaching and learning and mitigate it? For example, how does proctoring and the use of e-resources impact students. What about productivity measures? These could potentially be arbitrary and misrepresent what really matters. Some people think these are easy solutions for the current challenges, but they invite the need for an Ethical Framework.

The implications of GDPR and its potential successor also impact the need for an Ethical Framework. Professional bodies are not necessarily thinking of the problems related to approaches like proctoring. So, any Ethical Framework must be rooted in context of principles and be ever aware of the needs and where importance lies withing various other cultures.

This all leads to the need to develop an Ethical Framework for teaching and learning digitally. The panellist suggested that we start from a position of respect and use our values to build an Ethical Framework including student voice.

This summary of the impetus and content of what may be needed in an Ethical Framework for teaching and learning online is certainly worth considering as we enter into the new normal that will likely contain more online teaching than we had pre-Covid. I would be interested to hear (reply below) what you think about what the ALT panellists had to say and what your views on such an Ethical Framework should and could be.

Animated GIFs for Instruction and Demonstration

Animated GIFs are a great alternative to short videos or sets of screenshots. They can be used to display short moving images that can be looped to play repeatedly. The example GIF below takes the place of a series of screenshots demonstrating how to access a menu in Canvas.

Making your own GIFs

To make your own animated GIF, first record your screen as you perform the steps you want to illustrate. You can use Zoom for this, or any other screen-recording software you are comfortable with. Once you have your video, upload this to a video-to-GIF converter online. The best choice at the moment is ezgif – it has a wide range of features and good terms of use. They don’t store your file or claim any intellectual property rights over anything you upload, and your file is removed from the server in an hour. It’s always worth double-checking these online tools to make sure the terms are reasonable.

Using ezgif it is possible to crop the screen recording to show the specific part you are focusing on, and you can trim the clip to start and end where you need it to. Other settings include changing colours and setting how many times you want the animated GIF to loop.

Once you have created your animated GIF and have saved it, you can add it to a Canvas course in the same way as any other image.

The advantages of using GIFs

  • Compared with video, they minimise the storage space needed for the content, reducing data needed and loading times.
  • They can replace long sets of screenshots to show stages of a process. Often these screenshots take up a lot of space, and text can get lost amongst the large images.
  • They can be made quickly with no need for specialist skills or software.
  • Recently a change in Apple software made some other types of video and animation – those displayed in iframes – impossible to access using the Canvas app on iPhone. GIFs are a very accessible format and don’t require iframes to work, so using them where possible avoids this issue.
  • Some older formats of animations have become obsolete – animated GIFs have been around for over 25 years and show no signs of disappearing.

Uses for GIFs

  • To illustrate a couple of steps in using some software.
  • To show a series of improvements or changes to a document or file.
  • To show consequences of changing parameters in a simulation.
  • To illustrate the differences between a series of images, such as diagnostic scans.

Technology in your pocket

We have had a few enquiries via FMS Enquiries about getting tasks done without specialist equipment we would normally have on hand in our offices.

We have recently added some information to the FMS Community on how to use mobile devices to produce learning materials. A kind of Do It Yourself guide for producing materials from home or on location.

Create video, audio, images, presentations, conduct meetings, and communicate with students and staff. Set students tasks to do on their own devices. Check it out here: https://ncl.instructure.com/courses/30988/pages/technology-in-your-pocket.

Your device may not have all the features identified, but it may give you some ideas.