Screencast with Warpwire

icon-warpwire-circle-blueMany of our faculty and courses use the institution’s online streaming service Warpwire. Together with the combined effort of hundreds of faculty, Warpwire houses over 2000 video, image, audio and related media assets, placing, securing and delivering each and every one of them using Amazon’s global content delivery network (CDN) to help all our students make content connections around the world.

Not many of our faculty know however, that Warpwire is a continually evolving platform, and since it’s adoption in 2015, has continued to up the ante of services and features available without increasing the cost to use it.

Most recently Warpwire released two new features: screen capture and live broadcast.

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Screen capture – enables users to use a Chrome browser plugin to record a portion of a desktop or laptop screen along with audio and then include it in a course.

Live broadcast – provides a way to stream live sessions via web-cam and audio within a specific course.

Each of these features offers unique and interesting opportunities for online, hybrid and even face to face courses.  Some faculty are looking for a way to create short lecture or instructional videos ahead of time. Use of a screen capture platform enables an instructor to pull up a presentation in much the same way many instructors present in face to face courses, but be able to record it. Live broadcast enables instructors to hold live sessions with students, record them and make them available to students afterwards. Live broadcast even includes a means by which faculty can tell how many people are watching the broadcast and can include a live chat during the broadcast. While this may sound a lot like Google Hangouts or even Skype, the benefit here is that it’s all secured and held in an institutionally backed and recommended service.  Some students may be wary of attending Hangout or Skype sessions and may violate FERPA regulations.

How else could you use screen capture? Here are some ideas:

  • Use it to record an overview of the course syllabus (actually screen capture the syllabus and guide students through it, especially the complex parts).
  • Provide an alternative course resource that can be made accessible through a captioning service. (Most PowerPoint presentations don’t follow appropriate formatting and alternative text requirements to make content accessible to all learners – creating a video and pairing it with captions can make the presentation far more accessible than say the canned presentations from course text publishers.)
  • Use an internet-based screen capture available to students – for students to record their own video-based presentations to share with the class. (Again, securing this kind of asset with Warpwire verses having students post their speech assignments publicly to YouTube demonstrates better cohesion to FERPA regulations.
  • Screencasts could be used in a language course for assessment or assessment prep. Create a video with language vocabulary displayed while the instructor pronounces the word. Warpwire will even track which students watched it and when, which can inform your instruction or how well students as a whole did on a unit assessment.
  • Record a session where you and a colleague discuss or share conversationally about a course topic – knowing you’ve covered all the content the way you want and delivering that content to students consistently every time the course is offered.
  • Create specific videos for specific assignments as reminders or as quick “60 second helps – in much the same way advertisements create breaks or logical interruptions to television shows.

How else could you use live broadcast? Here are some ideas:

  • For students taking courses with a lab – such as a science course, schedule and conduct a live broadcast of a complex lab procedure, asking all participants to ask a unique question in the chat about the session’s content or steps (for you to answer during the live broadcast).
  • In a speech course – provide a chance for students to deliver their speeches asynchronously (live) to others in the course, while the watchers (other students) provide during-broadcast feedback about the quality of the speech.
  • Bring in a guest speaker located somewhere – anywhere, who can inform or add additional credibility to what you’re already sharing.

What are some other tips in creating these kinds of video assets?

  • If it’s a screen capture – don’t be afraid of having the video be less than super-polished. Students like to see you in your ‘element’ – you’re not a robot teaching the course you’re a person. Maybe you sneeze, or your cat jumps on the keyboard – those things create a contact point with students.
  • Keep screen capture content to less than 15 minutes.  If you think about it, your tension span at this point in this post is beyond bearable, in fact I’m surprised you’re still reading this. Shorter videos of six to seven minutes are easier to digest and keeping it shorter may help you distill the best of what the “normal” 45 minute lecture may disclose.
  • When used discretely, creating videos providing feedback to students directly (one per student) on an assignment may be better than just giving a student a letter or percentage grade.
  • Use screen capture or live broadcast to provide a wrap up or weekly summary of the week or unit’s content.
  • Use screen captures as a means of introducing discussion forum prompts or questions.

Check out the following tutorials from Warpwire on the use of each of these features for use in your classes:

For more on these and other course tips and tools, contact the folks at the Department of Online Education.

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AWS Reports Issue Resolved

According Amazon’s Dashboard (screenshot below), the issue which affected some portions of access to course sites in Sakai has been resolved (5:08 EST).

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Faculty and students are encouraged to continue to working in Sakai normally. If you experience any issues logging in, accessing course content, submitting grades or assignments, to contact the HelpDesk. Students experiencing issues related to submitting assignments, discussions, tests or quizzes late should contact their course instructor for direction on how to proceed.

 

What’s Coming in Sakai 11?

In just over two weeks – the Fall 2016 term will end.  At almost the same time, Sakai, the learning management system used by Johnson University (Tennessee, Florida and Online) will undergo an upgrade from Sakai 10.2 to 11.2.

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Sakai 11 Interface for Johnson University

This upgrade has been planned for well over 6 months and as with any upgrade hopes to bring better continuity and usefulness to a tool as used by both faculty and students within the context of face to face, hybrid and online courses offered by Johnson University.

So what are the biggest changes you can expect to see?  Apart from reading through the detailed list of changes and new features here’s a simple bullet point list:

  • Gradebook upgrade providing spreadsheet grade entry
  • Clean, modern interface
  • Significantly improved mobile functionality (responsiveness)
  • New and improved features in the Lessons tool
  • Favorite and better organize sites

If you’d like to see an overview provided by New York University – you can see it here. Other videos and tutorial information will be made available in the coming weeks.

Changes in Sakai (from 10 to 11)

Here are just a few of the coming changes you can expect to see in the upgrade of Sakai 10 to Sakai 11:

  • Responsive Design: How it works and looks on different devices
  • Gradebook Improvements
  • Lessons Enhancements
  • Additional Tools (Attendance for example)
  • Font Awesome Support
  • Tool name and actions refinements
  • And more!

Sakai 10 and 11 have a similar visual structure, but there’s definitely something to be said for understanding how to get around and where to find things.  The left-hand navigation per-site or course remains, as does the access to course and project sites across the top.  Beyond this standard web-site design (even Amazon uses a similar structure) there are some definite changes. You can see them below in a screenshot of the same course in Sakai 11 and 10 respectively:

My Workspace gets traded off for Home, but mostly as a change in naming, not function.

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Home in a course in Sakai meanwhile also gets updated, but again just in naming not in function, to Overview (see above image).

The whole set of icons used throughout Sakai is updated to use Font Awesome icon set, instead of the famfamfam set.  This is most especially notable in the left-hand navigation that appears in the Home (11) and Overview (11) areas of Sakai.  These icons can also easily be used in any content development by using the Font Awesome button in the rich text editor, in any tool that accesses the rich text edit window (which includes Lessons, Assignments, Tests and Quizzes, Announcements, Messages, etc.):

image4There are as yet other changes including, but not limited to:

  • More Sites to just Sites
  • Overall look and feel to facilitate access on any type of device (referred to as Morpheus)
  • Move of View Site As from top right to left just atop the list of tools for any course site
  • Move of Publish Now manage access option to the center from the left hand navigation area
  • Inclusion of profile image in the top right, which also doubles as the Log Out menu
  • Updates to the ‘sites drawer’ location
  • Inclusion of easy method for marking sites as “favorite” for quicker access in Sites area
  • Update to use of ‘elfinder‘ from old file browser when locating and  uploading new resources to a site
  • Inclusion of Windows 10 directions for upload/download multiple resources to a course site
  • A huge number of visual and functional changes to the Gradebook (thanks to NYU), which are covered in another post.

While there are as yet, still other changes and the possible addition of some really interesting features contributed by University of Dayton, be sure to stay tuned.

Taking it to the Next Level

Sakai 11 has long been a work in progress and is scheduled to launch later this summer bringing a wealth of new updates, features and some changes.  While most faculty hate change associated with technology, it’s important to keep in mind that some changes come at the suggestion of faculty and most changes benefit all faculty who use the institution’s LMS.

Sakai 11 on Mobile iPhone
Sakai 11 employs a responsive design.

The first thing you’ll notice is the look of Sakai.  Sakai 11 employs a responsive design that’s meant to provide access to your courses regardless of what kind of device you’re using.  While earlier versions of Sakai were accessible on mobile and tablet devices, doing so required a lot of zooming and scrolling. Sakai 11 changes all of that by adapting to just about any type of device you’re using.

One distinct part of the visual update are subtle changes to tool titles, actions and icons. The set of images representing the various tools in Sakai has been refreshed Sakai-wide to use scalable vector icons.  These icons are used throughout Sakai and can be used right in your own content development by using the new Insert Font Awesome button in the rich text editor.  Some tool titles and actions have also been changed to better reflect their functions.

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The second thing you’ll notice as an instructor is the improvements and changes to the Gradebook.  While the Gradebook is meant to provide automatic calculation of student’s grades, it’s not been as easy to interact with, especially when using the spreadsheet view – where you can see all students and all gradebook items.  Now in Sakai 11, for items created in the Gradebook, you can enter grades right in the spreadsheet view, just click a cell enter the grade, and tap enter to go to the next student.

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There are several other additions to the gradebook which include: private student grade summary view, easier entry of gradebook-wide zeros and category color coding, drag and drop gradebook item sequencing accessibility improvements and much more.

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Another significant improvement is in Sakai’s lessons tool.  Lessons not only gets refinements as part of the responsive design of Sakai 11, it also adds functions for designing content in multiple columns, highlighting or calling attention to content with point and click color choices and other features. What’s more, lessons retains all the great add content functions from Sakai 10 including use of the rich text editor, add assessment, discussion, assignment and question features and granular settings setting thresholds for student lesson advancement.

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There are still other features and improvements you’ll see in Sakai, and because Sakai is open source it draws from the wealth of innovations and collaboration that come from educators just like you.  Check it out:

See more about Sakai here.