19. December 2013 · Comments Off on Relevance, Accessibility and LLN · Categories: LLN, My personal learning journey
I spent a week creating two really lovely, pretty shiny learning objects that are irrelevant. Don’t let this happen to you!

Accessibility – ensuring content is Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust. Zooming in on the U part of that and considering the cross over of supporting learners to upskill Language Literacy and Numeracy skills has been a big part of my thinking and reading as of late.

It should be. There are some surprising statistics about Australia that shows about half of our working population needs some sort of help with LLN. It’s not that people cannot read or add up numbers – it’s that sometimes their work environments make demands that even the most educated can find challenging. Consider doctors who may not be native English speakers or a recently retrenched factory worker having to go back to school and learn how to learn again – or me, who is hopeless with the metric system when it comes to weights and measures!

To help crystallise my thinking and to address a stated need by my colleagues, I set out to research what online resources existed. I was looking for ones that would provide a level of interactivity, good, useful information and would meet standards of accessibility for people who are differently abled and across various devices. I didn’t find much quite frankly.  

Some colleagues asked me to create learning objects on formal and informal writing and writing complete sentences. I worked very hard on them and finally published them yesterday (YAY me!).  

But today, I find myself not as pleased with my efforts. 

The Queensland VET Development Centre’s Symposium report “What’s happening with language, literacy and numeracy in vocational education and training (VET)?” was a bit of a wake-up call.
Specifically this: 

‘Built in, not bolted on’

While learners with very low level skills can benefit from stand-alone delivery to prepare them for vocational learning, at most AQF levels, contextualisation in VET makes LLN skill development more meaningful and effective. As Skills Australia point out in their discussion paper on the future of VET:

Connecting LLN to a student’s core VET program enables the student to address their poor LLN skills in a meaningful and relevant context. 

Oh damn. What I should have done is explored what sort of writing these people are going to be doing in their work and drawn from that – report writing, emails, filling in forms – and created my learning objects based on THAT. What I’ve created isn’t bad, it is just unplugged, a thing apart.

In creating resources for students, I need to create resources that would go into their courses – not sit in the Help Centre on their own. I focused on the output, not the problem, and in doing so created two pretty,shiny things that will in all likelihood rust away unused and unloved.

So glad I learned it now before I churned out more pretty, shiny things that are completely irrelevant. Don’t let this happen to you!


16. December 2013 · Comments Off on On recording audio · Categories: My personal learning journey, video
""If you’re new to audio recording for tutorials or video voice overs, or, like me, you’re always looking for ways to refine your practice, here are some practices and preparations I’ve found to be useful:

General advice

  • Record everything on the same day with only short breaks.
  • Be conversational. Pick one person to talk to and talk to him or her. If you sound like you’re reading, you’re going to bore your audience.
  • If you fluff a line, start at the beginning of the paragraph/scene and start again. Vocal quality and intonations change every time you read – you cannot just drop a sentence into the middle of a paragraph after the fact and have it sound like it belongs there.
  • Give three seconds of silence before and after everything you record.

Recording environment

  • Find a quiet room with a low ceiling and lots of drapes, carpeting and soft furnishings to record in.

 If recording straight to computer

  • The easiest to use audio recording software is also free – Audacity.

 If using a mic on a stand

  • use the highest quality USB mic possible. Many laptops now take a single plugin like a mobile phone earpiece so pin mics don’t function well if at all with them.

If you cannot get a room as above

  • grab a couple of sofa cushions and put them in a V behind the mic being used. Ensure the mic stand is resting on something soft so it doesn’t pick up desk vibrations.

 If using a lapel mic

  • the very best thing to wear is a soft t-shirt with no jewellery – especially no necklaces, bangles or jangly earrings.

 SPECIAL NOTE:

If using a Toshiba Satellite laptop, to charge it up before and NOT try to record with it plugged into power as Toshies plugged in can cause issues.

If using a camera to record the audio

  • If not using a tripod, ensure the camera body is resting on something soft.
  • Position yourself with your back up against a wall. If you can get those aforementioned sofa cushions and can put them behind you to deaden sound, all the better.
  • If using the mic off the camera, see if you can adjust the mic’s “cardiod” pattern. Some cameras allow you to narrow the focus of the mic to cut down on background noise.

Workflow

  • Get a copy stand for whatever it is you’re reading – like the ones used for typing . I use my computer’s second monitor.
  • Read through a few times and mark up script to allow for pauses, breaths, word combinations giving you trouble, etc.
  • Hit record and say nothing for 30 seconds. Play back and eliminate what background noise you can. If the volume of the background noise increases during your recording, chances are you may have “auto gain” on. This pumps up quiet sound. Turn it off. Record your 30 seconds of silence again.
  • Record the opening few sentences and ensure that you’re not recording too “hot” (loud and distorted) or too low. Adjust volume, seating positing, etc.
  • Check that you have adequate “pop” and sibilance barriers or strategies.  Record the following sentences “Sammy the snake confesses his desire to see some sea snakes.  Then “Popcorn, big boy, peanuts, people.” Play it back and adjust. If you have a pop filter, ensure it isn’t touching the mic. If you don’t, back away from the mic.
  • Once you’ve adjust for background noise, sibilance and popping and you’ve checked all your levels, start recording. 
  • Record in coherent chunks or scenes.
  • Drink a small bit of water after recording each scene. Avoid milky, viscous drinks.
  • Play back what you’ve recorded and fix any errors before going on to the next scene. Label as you go.
  • When you are finished, save your work.
  • If you take a break, take a mental note of where you were in relation to the mic before you get up.
  • When you return from a break (even a short one), play back your earlier recording to pick up the rhythm and timbre of your work so that you can match it.
  • Record a test phrase and compare it to your earlier work.
  • Save as you go.
  • If you do multiple takes, mark on your script which bits you did second and third takes for. Say what your favourite one is.
  • Play back the finished recordings in sequence to ensure it sounds like one piece, that all scenes match in terms of pace, quality, timbre, pitch, etc.
06. December 2013 · Comments Off on Video games, playing and wellbeing · Categories: Gaming, My personal learning journey

I have been interested in the use of video games for education and training across age groups for the past several years.

I am currently involved in a research project that involves a group of young people exploring what sort of support tool/resource they could develop for other young people with gaming issues.

Whether you work with young people, are a young person who games or are a concerned adult – here are some great resources

The Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre is exploring gaming as are other organisations that serve young people to determine what role it plays in the wellbeing of their young clients.

Dr Daniel Johnson from the Queensland University of Technology (love their work!) alogn with Dr Michael Carr-Greg and researcher Rori Hancock make an engaging panel. And love the kitteh!

There is also a research report: Videogames and Wellbeing: A Comprehensive Review that is well worth reading in association with watching this webinar recording. The report specifically seeks to identify links between video game play and models of flourishing in mental health.

And the Susan Granic article in American Psychologist November 2013.

Finally, the TED talk by Dr Stewart Brown is also very, very worthwhile watching. Favourite quote: the opposite of play is not work – it’s depression! The basis of human trust is established through play signals! And he mentions neoteny – the playfulness we can retain and why my blog is called “Neotenous Tech”!