Today I made a short video demonstrating how to submit application for Fellowship of Higher Education Academy (no use outside the University of Brighton).
To embed a youtube on a website is simply a matter of clicking 'share' then 'embed' then copying the code into the html part of the website.
Until last year Youtube contained an option to 'embed old code'. Until today I didn't really know why this was necessary, but some websites and software still require the old code. The Brighton CLT website is built in Concrete 5 (or at least the version we have), which does not support the new youtube embed code.
Giving feedback to students on html files can be a nuisance, whether on websites or on eportfolio software. This video shows how to convert html files to pdf files with the Firefox plugin 'Print pages to PDF' which can be annotated using the Foxit Reader to give feedback to students.
I first came across Xtranormal on the Chronicle of Higher Education forums where people were making videos recreating favourite (that is humorous) conservations with students. Xtranormal enables you to create films using stock actors and sets, but typing in a script for the dialogue. The actors are comical looking and 'robotic voices' which encourages its use for humorous purposes. However, I have been using it as part of Getting the Most out of Feedback (GMOOF) project which is a sub-project of the Sharing Practice in Assuring and Enhancing Quality (SPEAQ) project.
The free service offers a fairly limited range of stock characters and scenes. This is good to get started with, but a subscription unlocks a lot more characters and functionality. Xtranormal videos can be made online, but I would recommend downloading the desktop versions which I found was faster and enables the user to have up to 12 characters in their movie. (I understand this is only available for Windows at present). The videos are saved in .slate format. These can then be exported to other formats which enable the videos to be viewed in video player software or uploaded to the web.
I have uploaded the videos I made from the feedback project to youtube. The videos will form part of the resources on the GMOOF website. One of the videos in the GMOOF Youtube list is below.
For the past few months I have been working on a British Academy funded online book to introduce humanities students to statistics. The website is under development and is not public at present. If any readers are interested in providing feedback, please get in touch (j.canning[at]soton.ac.uk) and I can give you an access password in the next few weeks.
Why is this website/ book/ resource is needed?
There are thousands of introductory statistics texts on the market, and I’ve only looked at a small number of them. In my view a majority of them go too far too fast. For some disciplines this may be appropriate, but introducing the normal distribution in Chapter 1 is frightening to students who have not studied mathematics since the age of 16, and many humanities students are in this situation. Just to give an example I have the Second edition of Statistics in Geography by David Ebdon on my desk.* I bought it when I was a geography undergraduate in the mid-1990s, by which time the text was almost 20 years old. I actually think it’s a good book on many levels and I frequently refer to it, but the first chapter introduces data types, probability theory, the normal distribution, hypothesis and significance. As a geographer without an A-level in Maths I found all this a bit much. In the sense of getting good marks I did well in statistics at as an undergraduate, but I can’t claim I really understood what I was doing. For non-mathematicians, especially those in the humanities and social sciences, statistics is very much a ‘hurdle’ to be overcome. Surface learning is the order of the day. With this book I take slower approach whilst hoping to make statistics seem interesting and relevant, but using humanities type examples.
We have become so used to the idea that “everything” is available on the World Wide Web that we take it for granted that anything we want to know is out there online somewhere. Searching for anything to do with statistics leads to seemingly random pages put up to support undergraduate-level statistics courses. Some of these are very useful of course, but on the whole these relate back to a face-to-face course of which we have no knowledge. Some of these websites are among the oldest pages on the World Wide Web. In many cases this is not a problem, but there is no shortage of webpages with references to pre-‘Windows’ versions of Minitab . Wikipedia is useful for many things but statistics really isn’t one of them, as discussion of the statistical tests is highly theory bound. On the plus side there are any good videos elsewhere. As I’ve mentioned before Daniel Judge’s youtube videos are particularly excellent.
Two annoyances (or surprises)
Surprisingly, although the World Wide Web has been with us for nearly 20 years, displaying mathematical notation online is still a problematic area. I have managed to resolve it to my satisfaction and made this the subject of my last post.
A second surprise (annoyance) lies in in my attempt to find critical values tables in a useful online format. Every statistics book contains them and they are available online in various formats—I’ve seen some in tables on webpages, scans of tables from books, pdf etc. etc. I have yet to find the tables I need in one place. It strikes me as surprising that Neave’s Statistics Tables: For Mathematicians, Engineers, Economists and the Behavioural and Management Sciences is not available as a website. Copyright warnings are printed on the amazon preview, but I’m not sure the tables themselves are under copyright. Copyright and critical values tables are not something I expected to have to think about. If anyone could point me in the right direction about this I would be very grateful.
*This 1985 second edition is still in print. Not sure what today's undergraduates would make of the 17 computer programs written in BASIC.
For £25 you can buy a pdf copy of my 2005 article “Placing Quebec nationalisms: constructing English identities in Quebec’s Eastern Townships,” which was published in the British Journal of Canadian Studies. The article is just 16 pages long, but costs more than most 200 page books. I have no idea how many people have actually paid £25 for my article, as I do not receive royalties and I did not receive a one-off fee. The University of Southampton was not paid for my contribution and neither were the two peer reviewers. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) which funded the research on which this work was based (with money from the UK taxpayer) won’t get any of that money either.
This is well known within academia, but those outside academia are mostly surprised to learn that neither we, nor our employers receive any payment for our work. This youtube video produced for open access week shows a conversation between a researcher who has been asked to assign copyright to the journal publisher and the publisher himself. (In practice these conversation do not happen—we just sign the form and stick it in the post).
Open access journals allow anyone with Internet access to have access to research. In some cases the researcher can pay the publisher a fee to make research open access, though this form of open access is scarcely really in the spirit of open access to research.
The aims of the open access movement are honourable. The researcher, reviewers, universities and government don’t make any money from putting research behind a paywall. This also means that the public, whether they be interested amateurs, independent scholars, advocacy groups or academics in universities without the funds to pay thousands of pounds a year for journal subscriptions—this is a key issue for academics working in poorer countries. The Open Access Pledge reads
I pledge to devote most of my reviewing and editing efforts to manuscripts destined for open access. For other manuscripts, I will restrict myself to one review by me for each review obtained for me by an outlet that is not open access.
Here, manuscripts destined for open access mean those that the authors or journal post on institutional or university repositories, or those that are made open access by the publisher within 12 months. Because I believe that access to publicly funded research should be free, I will also support open access in other ways.
At first glance it appears that the only winner in this process is the publisher. Therefore, why not just publish research on your own or your employer’s website? The answer is that academics and universities do gain from publishing research in good and prestigious journals in terms of reputation, prestige, potential for further research funding and promotion and rewards for the researcher him/herself. It is not the just the research that matters, it is where it is published. A pile of bricks in my garden is a pile of bricks—a pile of bricks in the Tate is art.
The reputation of journals is the principal barrier to Open Access. As long as academics and their employers want to publish in the ‘best’ journals (of which few are open access) journal publishers will continue to make their profits from the labours of academics and taxpayers’ money.
I've never written a top 5 list before, but here is a "top 5": list from me.
Emeritus Professor at Leeds Metropolitan University and Educational Development Consultant Phil Race has shared lots of his materials on his website. The compendium of his writings on assessment is ideal for experienced teachers as well as lecturers starting out. He also shares his thoughts on the National Student Survey and his page “If I were in charge…” motivates reflection on the way universities operate.
Lots of great resources here on almost everything you can think of from assessment to plagiarism, internationalism to course design. I’ve found its page on writing learning objectives with its extensive list of appropriate verbs valuable on numerous occasions.
I found the website of David Hopkins, Learning Technologist at Bournemouth University when trying to find out what a QR code was (I’ve yet to feel that the purchase of smart phone is justified, but all the students seem to have them). The poster downloads on topics like using blackboard are helpful as so are the tips on making effective use of blogs and Twitter (lots for me to learn here.)
Ok, I might be a bit biased here as some of my colleagues at the Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies led the project to build this teaching resource repository. The HumBox describes itself as “…a new way of storing, managing and publishing your Humanities teaching resources on the web.” The beauty of Humbox is its remarkable simplicity of use. Once you have set up an account you can upload and download resources in virtually any format, as easily as is technologically possible. I really started appreciating HumBox when trying (often unsuccessfully) to use some other repositories (no names will be mentioned here).
A mixed bag as you might expect, but some great material and good production standards. As I write I am listening to a round table discussion on “Why French Matters”. A highlight for me is Dan Judge’s statistics lectures which succeed in making a difficult subject (for me) so engaging.
It was always the intention that the Discover American Studies CD could be modified. Academics and others involved in student recuitment could add in their own slides, delete slides, add logos etc. in order to promote their own American Studies courses.
However, in practice you do need to be able to find the files in the first place to be able to modify them. Today I set up a youtube account and made a video using BB Flashback Express recorder (a screen recorder which is available for free download) in order to show how to access the powerpoint files so they can be modified.