Friday, 11 April 2008

It has to start somehwere

I have just arrived in the blogosphere after much deliberation about whether or not I have anything useful/interesting to say. This should become clear over time. I aim to write on my work on screeencasting, e-learning, GIS, urban things to do with my work as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Urban Policy Studies at the University of Manchester and anything else I want to. Perhaps other people with similar interests with their own blogs will find me and we can compare notes. So, what to write about today? For my first post I've decided to talk about my current work developing screencasts (eh?) for teaching here at the University of Manchester. A screencast is a video demo of some kind of computer activity. Read on...

Screencasting - Being in Two Places at Once
A lot has been written about
screencasting. It's not new. Neither is e-learning. Yet the two are not as well acquainted as they ought to be. In any class where software is taught there is only so much time that you can spend helping individual students, so having a back-up is ideal. This is where screencasting comes in. You just record your screen activity and then save it for playback later by ultra-keen, interested students (just like the ones at the University of Manchester). Host it on a virtual learning environment (a fancy term for web pages for university classes) and let students go wild learning all about it. Here's an example (reduced in size):

video

Essentially, it allows you to be in two places at once demonstrating a piece of software, or in the case of the above showing how to download data from an online data store. I suppose it really allows you to be in as many places at once as there are people using it. Isn't this the whole point of e-learning? As a result of my enthusiasm for screencasting, my interest in e-learning and the fact that I teach a range of different software skills at the University of Manchester (including GIS), I have embarked on an ambitious project which aims to produce lots of screencast content for students in the School of Environment and Development here.

There's not really much more to say about it at this stage but I'll be writing more in the near future.