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Projector vs Monitor Face Off

The Educational Media Center Production Team created this video to do a side-by-side comparison of display quality between a projector and monitor to answer the question: What type of display would you recommend for my classroom/conference room?

This video displays what a user would see under nearly identical viewing conditions. The capture camera (user) was placed 25 feet from the displayed image. The camera was set to capture a full screen projected image using a Christie LW 400 (4000 lumens) projector with the lights on then off. The same setting was used to record the monitor image on a 85” Panasonic Plasma Industrial display.

Three tests were conducted:

  • Spreadsheet (for text & numbers)
  • PowerPoint (for graphics)
  • Movie (for motion graphics)

Conclusion
Based on this experiment, if displaying legible text and numbers is your primary objective, you are best served by a projector, even though you sacrifice image brightness and contrast. Displaying PowerPoints is a toss-up because PowerPoints display both graphics and text and you have the ability to create text intended for legibility at distance. Therefore, both projectors and monitors can be successfully used with PowerPoints with a small edge to the projector for legibility and an edge to the monitor for image quality. Finally, for movies, monitors are the clear choice.

Gratitude Gratifies, Can It Help Student Achievement?

ImageAs 2013 comes to an end, it is a good reminder for me to be grateful for all that I have been blessed with. This article, “Gratitude gratifies, enhances well-being” by Stacey Singer of Cox Newspaper shows that it isn’t only beneficial for the person on the receiving end of the thanks, but also the person doing the thanking. In personal relationships, there was a measurable positive change in perception of one’s partner if one takes the time to write down specifically what s/he is thankful for in the other person. Taking it one step further, I believe in all relationships, whether it is work-related, church-related, friends, or other communities, it is a beneficial practice to express thanks to others and receive thanks from others.

The article goes on to say individuals who went through a 21-day program in which s/he kept a gratitude journal, wrote letters and shared those letters in face-to-face meetings felt more optimistic, connected to each other and had better moods. Additionally, “higher measures of gratitude were significantly associated with better academic performance.” This leads me to my final thought. Can I incorporate the ideas of a 21-day grateful program into my class and how can I do that? My initial thoughts would be during the team and self-reflections where team members share their team log or other written comments with each other. My hope is this would promote a more optimistic, connected community of learners which will achieve higher academic performance. Doesn’t hurt to try!

Image source from http://etherealwellness.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/being-grateful-for-what-you-have/

Video Comparison of iPad vs iPhone vs Camcorder vs Professional Video Camera

The Educational Media Center (EMC) created this video recording to do a side-by-side comparison of the overall video quality produced from an iPad 2, iPhone 5, Vixia Video (consumer-level compact camcorder), and😄 Cam (professional video camera). The purpose of this video experiment was to answer the question: What type of camera do I need to capture and post a decent video for my class activities?

First, we need to define “decent” since it means different things to different people. We will be defining decent as “acceptable visual and auditory quality to receive the information.”

Second, the environmental conditions were controlled. These segments were shot in a studio with studio lighting and professional video producers.

The following section describes the equipment and pros and cons for classroom use:

iPad 2

ipad-2-black

The iPad 2 was held at shoulder height using the built-in camera and microphone.

Pros: iPads are becoming more and more available to the classroom instructor. Most instructors either have one or have access to one therefore it is a convenient and easy to use device. No special apps or software was needed for this recording.

Cons: In our opinion, while the video quality (for this purpose of capturing a lecture) was acceptable, the quality of the audio was poor. Another concern was holding the iPad for a period of time at shoulder height was tiring.

Conclusion: If you are demonstrating something that doesn’t require audio or has minimal audio, the iPad is a sufficient recording device. However, if you are recording content that needs good audio quality, we recommend you use an external microphone with and iPad Camera Connection Kit to record good quality audio. You also need to consider the length of your presentation and may have to consider purchasing or constructing some form of stable camera platform.  You also have little control over focal length (essentially zooming in or out).

iPhone 5

iphone-5-pngThe iPhone 5 was held at shoulder height using the built-in camera and microphone.

Pros: iPhones and other SmartPhones are even more widely available to the classroom instructor. Almost all instructors have one and therefore these are readily available at a moment’s notice.

Cons: Similar to the iPad, the video quality was acceptable and surprisingly, the audio quality was better using the iPhone than the iPad. This is where it is a judgment call by the instructor on whether the video and audio quality is acceptable.  Like with the iPad, you have limited ability to control focal length.  As small as the iPhone is, it still is difficult to hold it steady for an extended period of time.

Conclusion: In our opinion, both the video and audio quality (for this purpose of capturing a lecture) was acceptable and because the iPhone  and other SmartPhones are so widely available, this is a good option for a spur-of-the -moment video capture.

Consumer-Level Camcorder

Canon-HV30-front-leftThe Canon Vixia HD camcorder was mounted on a tripod using the built-in microphone.

Pros: There was a noticeable increase in the quality of the video and audio producing a quality product.

Cons: You need to plan ahead and borrow a camcorder and tripod equipment (many people, especially if they have small children own one of these).  You will also need to set it up prior to your class or activity.

Conclusion: In our opinion, this is the best option if the instructor wants to do-it-him/her-self. The quality of the video for classroom demonstrations is very good and the equipment is easy to setup and operate.  The audio quality is also superior to the “I” devices.

Professional-Level Camera

sony-pdw-700-xdcam-hd-camcorderThe Sony XDCam is a broadcast quality camera mounted on a professional tripod. The speaker was wired with an omnidirectional lavalier microphone.

Pros: Of all of the videos produced, not surprisingly, this was the best in quality. Using studio equipment, special effects can be added such as a background image (chromakey).

Cons: Instructors cannot operate this equipment on their own. Therefore, the video productions need to be planned ahead to make sure studio time and a video production crew are available.

Conclusion: In our opinion, this is the best option if the instructor requires quality videos for his/her class demonstrations or for broader professional sharing and display

Summary

We started this experiment asking the question What type of camera do I need to capture and post a decent video for my class activities?  We used lecture as the video content since this is commonly used in classroom instruction. Although subjective, because “decent” quality means different things to different instructors , we found that the iPhone 5 is a good choice if you need to capture something on the fly for a spur-of-the -moment video. However, if the video content is a detailed demonstration, contains action, or relies on audio to get the message across, you are better off using a consumer level HD camera or making an appointment to have your video professionally recorded.

 

Great Innovation is motivated by the desire to make meaning

After  viewing “What I Learned About Innovation” Keynote Speech by Guy Kawasaki on October 11, 2013 at the Dedication of the Sullivan Center at Iolani School, I found his speech to be interesting and motivating. Given the audience are some of the most gifted students in Hawaii, the great innovators of tomorrow could be sitting in the audience.

From his keynote, what stood out to me was when he said:

“Great Innovation is motivated by the desire to make meaning (that is to change the world). If you look at the huge changes in innovation, it is typically not motivated by the desire to make money; it is motivated by the desire to make meaning. One of the natural consequences of making meaning is you make money, but if you start off with the goal of making money, you very seldom succeed”.

As someone who has worked in higher education for a number of years, I have never heard or delivered the message to students that they should desire to make meaning. Instead, higher education (in general) inundates entering students with data like the graph below from Evolve the Issues blog which shows students how much more money they can make if they complete an Associate’s, Bachelor’s and advanced degrees. educationincomechart

Is this the best approach?  We tell students they will earn more money with more education degrees and will be less likely to be unemployed. Should we instead be encouraging our students to follow their passions, seek ways to change the world, and make meaning out of their lives? Or is that a message only for great innovators? What about for the average college students?

Applying Academic Coaching

Yesterday, I attended an all-day workshop on Academic Coaching Skills with Maureen Breeze from LifeBound. The purpose of the workshop was to teach educators academic coaching skills that promote critical thinking, problem-solving, initiative, and follow-through so students are able to reflect, inquire, persist, and ultimately take action in their lives. The workshop was very well done with information presented on what Academic Coaching is, why it is necessary, and how to go about doing it. It seemed grounded in educational research and current education statistics. The workshop was highly interactive and participants had the opportunity to practice the coaching tools.

There were six coaching tools introduced with the most important being Asking Powerful Questions. This is an art that I would like to practice and perfect. From “Practicing the Art of Asking Powerful Questions” (June 1, 2012) by Maureen Breeze, she shared four tips on how to practice question asking. These being:

1. Remind yourself to resist giving solutions

Often times, as a teacher or supervisor, students or colleagues come to me with a question. It would be simple to tell them the answer and off they go. However, what learning has taken place? Nothing. However, if I ask questions like “What do you know about this problem?” “Where can you find resources that could help you solve this problem?” “What is your next step?” then I can encourage the student/colleague to troubleshoot, problem-solve, and come to a solution where real learning occurs.

2. Remember to listen

Before asking powerful questions, it is important to slow down and take time to listen. Just as much could be learned from what is said as what is not said. Listening is a valuable tool that can give me insights to guide my asking powerful questions.

3. Challenge yourself to embrace different perspectives

Since the goal in academic coaching is to help students/colleagues examine their challenges from multiple points of view, I can facilitate this process by stepping into different perspectives and asking questions from these different perspectives.

4. Be curious

My best tool is to simply be curious and approach the coaching session with a curious mindset rather than I am “responsible for solving the problem”.

Applying to Online Teaching

Given that I teach online, how can these new skills I have apply to online learning? Can you do academic coaching online? I believe with technology, most of these coaching tools I recently learned can be done in the online environment. The most difficult one to overcome will be the No 2: Remember to listen. Body language provides key insights when meeting face-to-face with students. These cues are missing online, but using technology tools such as Blackboard Collaborate and Skype can help to bridge the gap with the functionality of video and voice to see facial expressions and hear voice intonations.

Academic Coaching can be done online by:

  1. Using web conferencing technologies such as Blackboard Collaborate or Skype with the video capability to interact with students. These tools will allow me to see students’ facial expressions and hear intonations in their voices.
  2. Allowing students to schedule appointments allows for 1-1 private conversations.
  3. Steps 1, 3, and 4 (Reminding myself to resist giving solutions, Challenging yourself to embrace different perspective, and Be Curious) can all be can be done just as effectively online as f2f.

In summary, the Academic Coaching Skills workshop gave me valuable skills to coach students (and colleagues) to promote critical thinking, problem-solving, initiative, and follow-through so they are able to reflect, inquire, persist, and ultimately take action in their lives. The most important of these skills, Asking Powerful Questions is an art that takes practice, but can be used both face-to-face and online.

Responding to Authentic Learning Isn’t More Common

Thank you, Jim, for your thought provoking response to the question of “Why isn’t authentic learning more common?” with your post “Authentic Learning Isn’t More Common – Because It’s Too Common?” (10/10/13). 

I agree with your conclusion that people (and we as educators) don’t know what “authentic learning” really is. We can come up with a common definition, we have models (some really great ones were shared this week) which are a sliding scale/continuum of elements, but when we come down to it “authentic learning” means different things to different people. Something authentic to me, may not be for you.

You stated, “Perhaps a better way to approach authentic learning is to say that it’s an attitude toward teaching that makes the most of the instructional environment to simulate real-world conditions.” and I agree, but would like to add that perhaps it should involve more than attitude. Shouldn’t authentic learning be a movement in teaching where the instructional environment approaches real-world conditions? Just a thought…

Moving Toward Authentic Learning

I enjoyed reading Marilyn Lombardi’s “Authentic Learning for the 21st Century: An Overview”. I thought it was very well written and agreed with the points she made in the article. One question she raised toward the end of the article is “Why isn’t authentic learning more common?” She goes on to state “The reliance on traditional instruction is not simply a choice made by individual faculty – students often prefer it”. If students prefer traditional instruction, what are key motivators that would encourage faculty to move toward authentic learning? How do we foster an environment where authentic learning is the norm?