York Minster by chez_worldwideJane and I participated in a one day in-house symposium at the University of York this week. The audience were made up of both academic and support staff interested in learning from other universities about lecture capture, audio and video content production and Second Life. We were asked to talk about audio and video content production and so showcased some of the video & audio that’s produced here. We focused on lecture capture momentarily as although it is the most prolific output of media at the LSE, with 909 lectures having been captured in just one term this year, two other universities: Birmingham and Newcastle had already given extensive presentations on this subject. Instead, we wanted to highlight the idea of audio and video as a part of teaching, not just as a means to capture the teaching that’s already going on. We played examples of interviews & discussions, role playing scenes, groupwork, screencasts, video and audio podcasts as well as highlighting some of the Wimba tools and audio feedback. We also talked about the issue of scaling up to meet increased interest in media, professionally produced video vs the DIY approach and touched on the copyright issues involved.

It was an interesting day with good discussions both formally and over coffee/lunch and it was really nice to meet people in similar roles. The most lively debate came from the lecture capture sessions. It seems that across the board, the majority of students really value lecture capture (no real surprises) and staff are cautious about the educational benefits and fears about attendance. There were certainly many parallels between the student and staff surveys at both Birmingham Medical School and Newcastle university and the LSE. Rob Jones’ findings from Birmingham were particularly interesting because they compared the relationship between usage stats and grades. The findings look promising where the mean rose from 51% to 55% and the failure rate dropped to 2/69. The quality of answers also improved with students indicating a greater breadth of knowledge and looking at a wider set of resources.

The Second Life talks in the afternoon reminded me that Second Life is good for simulation and specifically designed educational activities but that perhaps we should be looking at other virtual worlds for better communication, movement, role play etc. Sheila Webber from Sheffield and Steve Warburton from King’s College agreed that Second life is probably not sophisticated enough for a young gaming audience; the average age of SL users is apparently 33. Steve flagged up MetaPlace, OpenSim (open source) and Blue Mars as potential Virtual World’s to explore, so perhaps another pilot project is due. Read Jane’s Social Software, Libraries and E-learning blog for more information on the lecture capture and Second Life presentations.