Category Archives: Information

New tutorials on finding video and audio resources

JISC Digital Media in conjunction with the Virtual Training Suite have launched two new online tutorials: Internet for Audio Resources and Internet for Video and Moving Images.

Screenshot of the Internet for Audio tutorial

The free-to-use tutorials have been designed to assist staff and students within the education sector to locate audio and video for use in teaching and learning.

The existing Internet for Image Searching tutorial has also been refreshed and moved into the new template design.

Full details are available from the JISC Digital Media blog.

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CaRILLO: Information Literacy and repurposing learning objects

Carillo was a one day event for developers of information literacy teaching and learning material organised by the University of Birmingham Library. It featured a range of talks on the issues around creating, finding, sharing and re-purposing learning resources in the area of Information Literacy.

Some brief notes about each of the sessions are below:

Rebecca Mogg, Senior Subject Librarian, Information Services, Cardiff University – The Information Literacy Resource Bank (ILRB)

The most widely used parts of the ILRB relate to:

  1. Citations and referencing
  2. Plagiarism
  3. Evaluating information

Rebecca spoke about how they had demand from academic departments to develop materials about the pros and cons of Wikipedia, something we need to tackle explicitly the next time we redevelop the Judge section of the Virtual Training Suite.

Katy Wrathall, former SMILE Project Manager and currently Academic Liaison Team Leader, University of Worcester – The SMILE project: repurposing IL material

This overview of the SMILE project included some valuable lessons about the potential obstacles to re-using learning objects:

  • Licensing and permission issues – academics do not always want to share
  • Students expect subject specific resources, limiting the potential for re-use
  • Without teaching guides, how-to use information or readme files, it isn’t easy to figure out how to re-use a resource

Katy made great use of her image archive on Flickr and one point she made was how we shouldn’t be “information knowledge motorbikes” flying through the air waving at new students about information literacy, but need to get beyond first years to staff, researchers and others.

Tom Boyle, Director of the RLO-CETL, London Metropolitan University – Using GLO Maker to create learning/teaching material

GLO Maker is a free, Open Source piece of software for creating learning objects. It maps these objects to appropriate areas of learning design via in-built templates that:

  • Orient the student – show them what they are learning and why
  • Understand the issues – demonstrate what they need to learn
  • Use the knowledge – test them on what has been learnt by applying it

Tom also made a broader point that feedback in learning objects needs to be rich – more than just right or wrong – as these interactive points are often where students are paying the most attention and where learning can occur.

Nicola Siminson, Jorum Community Enhancement Officer, Mimas, at The University of Manchester – JorumOpen and IL: finding and sharing resources

As someone who has catalogued many resources for JorumOpen, it was interesting to see the other delegates try it out during the hands-on session in the afternoon. They wanted to get to the resources themselves and were often frustrated when a Jorum record was only a web link – similar to the frustrations users may feel when using databases or repositories that only provide the metadata of a resource, rather than the full text.

Catherine Bruen, NDLR Manager, Trinity College Dublin – Community aspects of the National Digital Learning Repository

The NDLR aims to “support greater collaboration in developing and sharing of digital teaching resources and associated teaching experience across all subject disciplines and communities of academics”. They do so via a a repository of resources, providing a space for academic Communities of Practice to grow and by funding development projects.

Repurposing learning objects

The afternoon featured hands-on workshops and the session on repurposing learning objects brought together some issues from all of the talks.

A key selling point for learning objects and Open Educational Resources generally is their supposed re-usability, saving people from reinventing the wheel. However, the practicalities of reusing learning objects can sometimes be insurmountable. Licensing restrictions, proprietary file formats (Flash), making items generic without dumbing down or having to insert / remove branding – all these things can get in the way. So some important questions remain.

  • If a learning object is perceived as being useful, then perhaps it is more important that it is easy to customise or personalise, than to change its purpose?
  • Is it enough to be inspired by a good quality learning object, to produce something yourself or to link to a good example from elsewhere?
  • Where does re-purposing stop and recreation start? Is changing the content and structure of a learning object a bit like replacing the brush and handle on a broom?

An excellent and thought provoking day – many thanks to all at the University of Birmingham Library for organising it and hopefully there will be a CaRILLO 2 in the not too distant future.

Library day in the life project – Monday

So I’m taking the plunge for the Library day in the life project – Round 5 – the idea being to log your day / week and share with the world that librarians do a lot more than you may realise – a laudable aim indeed – so here’s Monday

I should start with introductions – I work on the Virtual Training Suite, a set of free Internet tutorials to help student develop Internet research skills for their university course, but this is not a typical week – it’s the last week that I work for Intute, the database of academic website – I’ve been with Intute (nee SOSIG) for the last 5 years specialising in the Social Sciences (Economics and Education) and learning technologies.

The day starts abruptly at 8 AM with a loud and unwelcome alarm – ah, the joys of rampant insomnia. My day will be full of inputs, media, screens and other stuff screaming for my attention, so I deliberately begin the day quietly – no TV, radio, e-mail checking, just a silly comedy podcast like The Now Show or Answer Me This to accompany me on the short walk to work, and put me in a good mood.

The communications catch-up from the weekend usually takes longer, but it appears that it has been fairly quiet since Friday, so I can concentrate on my “Informational Nerve Centre” or Google Reader to normal people. I track mentions of Intute and the Virtual Training Suite across the web, repost some items to the VTStutorials Twitter channel and keep a few things unread to return to later.

Next week I’m off to an event on Creating and Re-using Information Literacy Learning Objects (CaRILLO) which looks very interesting. One of the things we will be looking at in the coming year, is making the Virtual Training Suite more relevant to the Information Literacy community, so this is a great opportunity to learn more about their needs and what they are doing already.

As background reading I plough through the JISCmail Lis-InfoLiteracy list and a call for contributions to the development of a UK Online IL Assessment Question Bank has a nice summary of Information Literacy issues – a quick copy and paste to Wordle, helps me get to grips with the key topics …

Time for lunch before an afternoon of meetings, but not before a wondrous distraction in the form of Jane Austen’s Fight Club – very silly indeed!

The afternoon is dominated by our last ever Intute: Social Sciences meeting – an audio hook-up with our colleagues at the University of Birmingham who we have worked with over the last few years.

There’s little actual business to discuss, just a few odds and ends, as we hand over the Internet Resource Catalogue to the gang at Mimas, who will be maintaining it during the final year of Intute. Much more importantly we get the chance to pool our knowledge about what our colleagues at the seven Universities that made up the Intute consortium are getting up to in the future – it seems as though most have found lifeboats of one form or another, which is a relief to know.

The afternoon ends a little earlier than normal, as our boss takes us out to the Hope and Anchor, an idyllic pub with a great beer garden to mark the passing of Intute: Social Sciences (nee SOSIG). We are joined by a few “friends and family” who have worked on the service over the years, including the original project director who got the grant for the pilot service back in 1993!

It’s a nice send-off to mark the end of an era – more of a fond farewell, than a wake.

As for this librarydayinthelife stuff – I think it will have to be edited highlights for the rest of the week!

Follow Intute on Twitter

Loyal readers may well have spotted that Intute has been experimenting with Twitter for a while, now we are going to be Twittering on behalf of the service as a whole.

Up to now we have been providing a range of subject based updates and some of these seem to have been quite successful – for example the Intute: Economics, Intute: Visual Art and Intute: Psychology channels.

Some analysis of the first 500 followers for our economics channel shows that some of our users are already on Twitter, talking about Intute and kindly spreading the word about some of things we are up to.

In the past, I’ve written about different ways of using Twitter – passive Twittering – sending existing content to Twitter via a service like Twitterfeed – and active Twittering – where a real person provides updates and tries to become a guide on a topic or to a particular service.

A few weeks ago, the Intute channel on Twitter was set up as a passive feed of existing Intute activities, now we are going to take on a more active role and as an experiment for the next few months, we’ll be actively Twittering during what will be a very busy time for Intute (but more of that later).

… if it is good enough for organisations such as Copac, the British Library and even the FBI, then it’s about time that we played our part.

So now we are actively joining the conversation, what should we be Tweeting about?

  • The best or most interesting new resources added to Intute
  • News and updates about the Intute service
  • Some of the best bits from the library and information blogosphere
  • Re-Tweeting some key information from HEA Subject Centres, JISC Services and others
  • Responding to your comments, queries and feedback

… or anything else that may be of interest to Intute users – but hopefully you will be using Twitter to send us new websites to add to Intute, let us know if you want to know more about how we work and what we do or just to stop by and say hello.

So if you don’t want to get in touch via our email Help Desk, let us know your thoughts via our rolling feedback survey or even by leaving a comment on one of our blogs, you can now follow Intute on Twitter.

Why create metadata

Which is a better summary of the content?

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Genesis 1:1 first 50 words

The Bible is the central religious text of Judaism and Christianity. The exact composition of the Bible is dependent on the religious traditions of specific denominations. Modern Judaism generally recognizes a single set of canonical books known as the Tanakh, or Hebrew or Jewish Bible. It comprises three parts: the

Wikipedia entry for The Bible first 50 words

The Bible is the central religious text of Judaism and Christianity. The Jewish Bible comprises: the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings. The Christian Bible consists of the Hebrew scriptures or Old Testament, and later writings known as the New Testament which includes the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Summarised from the Wikipedia text

A Bakers Dozen of Practical Podcasting Tips

Audio podcasting may seem to have taken a bit of a back seat in comparison to video based resources recently, but there are still plenty of people interested in the possibilities of sound based resources.

I was recently asked to pull together my Top Ten Tips for producing an audio podcast – alas 10 soon became 12 and then I added one for luck … but they are presented below:

Beware the audio phile – audio recording can get very involved – feedback from those who spend weeks mastering a track may not be relevant – ask yourself is this good enough for someone listening on an iPod or at their PC?

Beware the audio file – investigate the quality settings on your chosen recording / editing software – in general record in as a high a quality as possible, mix it down so that final file sizes are about 1MB per minute for the audio.

One voice or two – listening to a monologue can be monotonous over an extended period of time. It is much easier on the ear to listen to a conversation, preferably with a male and female voice.

Be natural – use your normal voice while recording, as any affectation will be picked up by the sound recording and will be difficult for you to maintain over time, so get used to the sound of your recorded voice. Pause, don’t ummm.

Prepare for your podcast – either script every word or have a detailed running order for your recording and notes of what you want to say, as this enables you to concentrate on your delivery.

Read it out loud – words that make sense on a page, may not do so when read out loud. Keep sentences short. Allow for breathing. Similar sounds seem silly in the same space. Check it by reading it out loud yourself.

Sound quality – record the best quality sound you can, use a pop filter if you are recording at a desk, be careful where you place the microphone and avoid setting your recording level too high as the sound will clip or distort.

Music – fade in/outs, stingers between segments and a theme tune can make your podcast sound more professional, but will add to the editing time. Resist the temptation to use a track from your favourite album, as you don’t own the copyright.

Be aware of your environment – a high ceiling in a large open room will create an echo, similarly a small bathroom will produce sound reflections, so scout your potential locations in advance and take a test recording.

Noise is everywhere – there is a lot of ambient noise in the world around us that we get used to – computers whirring away, traffic going past etc. – this may be useful colour in some podcasts e.g. a sound-seeing tour, but not for others.

Practice with your equipment – don’t waste your own time by not knowing how to work your recorder, or by setting the level on your microphone is too high, know how your kit works.

Take two – try to get more than one take of a recording, as this gives you more choices while editing. Re-recording later will be very tricky, as you won’t match the sound levels exactly.

Test your results – the sound levels on your PC or recording kit are not the same as those elsewhere – once you have a finished a recording, listen to it on another PC or an mp3 player to see if it sounds OK.

Further Reading

Secrets of Podcasting / Bart G. Farkas ISBN: 0321369297
Podcasting Hacks / Jack D. Herrington ISBN 0596100663
Podcasting for Learning in Universities / Gilly Salmon ISBN 0335234291

Online resources

The Science of Listener Attention
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCWdIRgPXsg#t=6m06s

My Podcasting life … or the reverse Obama effect
http://www.slideshare.net/cfbloke/podcast-presentation-775791

Intute: Social Sciences podcast archive
http://www.intute.ac.uk/socialsciences/podcast/

Delicious links on podcasting
http://delicious.com/cfbloke/podcasts

A Bakers Dozen of Practical Podcasting Tips

Beware the audio phile – audio recording can get very involved – feedback from those who spend weeks mastering a track may not be relevant – ask yourself is this good enough for someone listening on an iPod or at their PC?

Beware the audio file – investigate the quality settings on your chosen recording / editing software – in general record in as a high a quality as possible, mix it down so that final file sizes are about 1MB per minute for the audio.

One voice or two – listening to a monologue can be monotonous over an extended period of time. It is much easier on the ear to listen to a conversation, preferably with a male and female voice.

Be natural – use your normal voice while recording, as any affectation will be picked up by the sound recording and will be difficult for you to maintain over time, so get used to the sound of your recorded voice. Pause, don’t ummm.

Prepare for your podcast – either script every word or have a detailed running order for your recording and notes of what you want to say, as this enables you to concentrate on your delivery.

Read it out loud – words that make sense on a page, may not do so when read out loud. Keep sentences short. Allow for breathing. Similar sounds seem silly in the same space. Check it by reading it out loud yourself.

Sound quality – record the best quality sound you can, use a pop filter if you are recording at a desk, be careful where you place the microphone and avoid setting your recording level too high as the sound will clip or distort.

Music – fade in/outs, stingers between segments and a theme tune can make your podcast sound more professional, but will add to the editing time. Resist the temptation to use a track from your favourite album, as you don’t own the copyright.

Be aware of your environment – a high ceiling in a large open room will create an echo, similarly a small bathroom will produce sound reflections, so scout your potential locations in advance and take a test recording.

Noise is everywhere – there is a lot of ambient noise in the world around us that we get used to – computers whirring away, traffic going past etc. – this may be useful colour in some podcasts e.g. a sound-seeing tour, but not for others.

Practice with your equipment – don’t waste your own time by not knowing how to work your recorder, or by setting the level on your microphone is too high, know how your kit works.

Take two – try to get more than one take of a recording, as this gives you more choices while editing. Re-recording later will be very tricky, as you won’t match the sound levels exactly.

Test your results – the sound levels on your PC or recording kit are not the same as those elsewhere – once you have a finished a recording, listen to it on another PC or an mp3 player to see if it sounds OK.

Further Reading

Secrets of Podcasting / Bart G. Farkas ISBN: 0321369297
Podcasting Hacks / Jack D. Herrington ISBN 0596100663
Podcasting for Learning in Universities / Gilly Salmon ISBN 0335234291

Online resources

The Science of Listener Attention
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCWdIRgPXsg#t=6m06s

My Podcasting life … or the reverse Obama effect
http://www.slideshare.net/cfbloke/podcast-presentation-775791

Intute: Social Sciences podcast archive
http://www.intute.ac.uk/socialsciences/podcast/

Delicious links on podcasting
http://delicious.com/cfbloke/podcasts

Friends, fans, followers … lend me your clicks

Recently the issue of digital identities has been invading my consciousness  – not so much what do we mean by an online friend, but how do we acquire or stumble into different groups of people online – so I thought that I’d do an inventory of the various Web 2.0 sites and the groups that have coalesced round me.

Facebook – possibly my least favourite Web 2.0 app – I can’t say that I have ever had a period when I was really into it – the creeping agglomeration of personal information about me and the very closed walls somehow discourage me from doing any social networking there – however the reality is that it is the big beast on the block, the friends are all people that I know and there are people there, who I’m not in contact with any other way.

Twitter – possibly my favourite Web 2.0 app – it has disarmed me into sending message to complete strangers – or at least those that choose to follow me first – even the term – follower – is light-touch and non-threatening – in the beginning I weeded out people I did not know, whereas now only an easy to spot spammer or marketeer will get blocked – I only know 20% of my followers in real life, but I’ve interacted online with a much higher proportion of them thanks to Twitter.

Delicious – there was quite a long time when I did not even realise that there were networking features on Delicious! But I eventually discovered my network and the fact that I had fans! A lovely phrase and a complement in that these people seem to think that what I’m bookmarking is worth watching – while I know about half my network there, the fact that strangers like what I come across, makes me feel good.

Flickr – there’s a real point to Flickr – I’ve just collected people if I like their photos, and some of them have reciprocated, though many were already known to me and the social side of just wanting to keep up with what people are doing – in photo form – is what has pulled me in – not very far, but the pictures give you an instant hit and a clearer idea of what people are doing.

So what do all these different groups mean? There’s nowhere the groups match exactly, so there are different people for different sites – despite the recent attempts to start bringing these groups together – with one Web 2.0 service talking to another – that should come as no surprise, we go down a pub with a different group of people we might go out to the cinema with or out clubbing or even social bookmarking.

Ideally a Web 2.0 site with social networking facility should have the low bar and friendliness of interaction of Twitter, the actual sense of doing something you get with Flickr, the surprise of fan-dom of Delicious and the comprehensive pool of people of Facebook – too much to ask? Probably!

Perhaps my view will change once I get round to reading Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody