Welcome to Diploma of Sustainability Project Page

Monday, December 13, 2010

Summing up our journey over 2010

The project is now complete, we had quite a lot of interest at our display at the ConVerge Showcase (26 November) and everyone involved has been reflecting on the project.
We’re really excited about the end result – our 3 videos are up on The Gordon’s You Tube channel (& have been delivered to Howard (our Victorian e-learning coordinator). Our 2 Articulate lectures have been delivered too and have been added to The Gordon’s online unit (in TAFEVC).
Links to all 3 Videos were in our last blog post but here they are again:
Reducing your personal carbon footprint - a case study
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgEZqdU0gLs  
Program for workplace behavioural change & sustainable practices-Case Study (2 videos)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THknLodAHj8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8sYvM_JLjQ

Reflecting on our journey:
Our original aim was to develop 4 units in Gordon Online (our Training VC/Blackboard LMS) because the Sustainability course has had such rapid growth & so much interest from people well outside our region. The way it was being delivered couldn’t cater for this.
We wanted to use the funding to develop some unique components that could be included in our online course (and delivered as learning objects back to the Framework). The teachers had tapped into some great guest speakers & other people from the Geelong area whose stories were inspiring. Plus the teachers involved had their own great stories and wealth of knowledge. So we wanted to put those people, telling their own stories, online.
Early in the project we investigated different techniques to do this & we settled on filming some of those stories/speakers plus using a tool to present some of the key workshop lectures (delivered by the Gordon teachers).

Key Concept Lectures – the journey:
Some key strengths of the resulting online lectures: “Ray (Dr. Ray Black Sustainability teacher at The Gordon) was experienced in recording his lectures and comfortable being recorded. He has a lovely deep speaking voice with easy listening, friendly style.”

Articulate was chosen as the software tool to deliver the 2 lectures online. Vicki (our Articulate developer) comments: “The software chosen was effective for the project. Articulate Presenter was reliable and the file compression did not distort the sound noticeably. The generated output products (zip) loaded onto the web or WebCT OK. The slide properties manager enables an auto run or user controlled (click to advance) options. The technical support available from Articulate was excellent (overnight response from US) and the user forums also worthwhile.”

Some of the problems we faced in creating these online lectures:
“Ray had had recorded many of the audio tracks before the project started, so there was no agreed naming convention. This made it extremely difficult to match audio to specific lectures or slides.”
“A major technical problem was the poor quality of the source audio files. The microphones Ray used were substandard and most sound tracks had numerous clicks, p-pops and clunks plus a background hum. Some tracks were recorded in mono only. In Audacity, I worked at the millisecond level to remove as much of the offending noises as possible without the speech becoming clipped. I was able to remove the background hum fairly well from most tracks using the noise removal feature. It was also easy to remove deep sighs and coughs etc.”
Overall the project team (& teachers) are happy with the result but we are aware of the inconsistency in the audio quality.
In retrospect, it may have been more effective use of time and resulted in a better end product, if we had recognised these issues early enough and had Ray re-record his audio in a better environment & with better equipment. We got too far down the track, had too much work already done and persisted with the poor quality audio recordings, which in hindsight was probably a mistake.

Our 3 Videos – the journey:
We were all pleased with the final three videos. The end result was different from our original plan – the key industry speakers weren’t able to participate. Instead one of Ray’s students had a beautiful story to tell and she was happy to be involved and tell her personal story – great stuff. The workplace behaviour change project case study did go as planned and will be a valuable resource for students in that unit – giving them good ideas and prompting their thinking about their own project.
Some of the key things we learnt from the video /filming process:
  • You need to tell a visual story – this is basis of video & the subjects of the video don’t always understand this.
    So the filmmaker needs to feel free to educate everyone involved about the importance of this. 
  • The project manager/team need to make it clear that the video production expert has the final say – Mark (our film maker) knew ‘better’ what would work and what wouldn’t so the teachers & students (who were the subjects of the films) had to take his direction.
  • The Importance of excellent audio – if the audio isn’t high quality, the best images are diminished. The easiest way to record high quality audio is in a studio, not on location. So Mark’s technique was to record the interview in a studio. The location footage was then edited into the studio footage, which produced a better end result.
So this was a learning experience for us all and we’ll be able to take this experience to other teaching teams. We’ve already had other teaching areas at the Gordon hire Mark to do short videos for their online delivery which has been a great side-product of this project. They’ve seen the videos we developed (at institute Professional Development days) and realised the power of video & how easy it is to embed it into an online course.

Overall?
The online units are being trialled and we know that this will result in tweaking and improving, but the big leap into online delivery has been made by this teaching area, as a result of this project.
Along the journey, the teachers involved in this project have learnt how to use many of the tools in the LMS (they hadn’t previously delivered at all in the Training VC environment); they have learnt how to use Respondus (our quiz building software); they are experimenting with podcasting (via the Wimba podcaster in Training VC); they are being supported in their online teaching journey. They are excited about the possibilities and keen to keep improving. All of these are fantastic results due to this project.

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