The 11th DIVERSE (Developing Innovative Visual Educational Resources for Students Everywhere) Conference, held at the Dublin City University Campus, Eire, is intended as a showcase for excellence and innovation in the field of video and videoconferencing in education: teaching, research, management and so on.
This year saw presentations around the themes of Digital Video Projects, Visual Literacy in New Media, E-health, and Social Media and saw contributions from academics, learning technologists and other interested parties from Europe, Africa, North America and Australasia.
It was to be a special conference for me because I was presenting a poster for the first time – more of that later. After being serenaded by a close harmony quartet (surely every conference starts like this, doesn’t it?) we kicked off with Professor Roy Pea of Stanford University introducing the revolutionary DIVER camera. This was an eye-opening and exciting piece of kit that had evolved out a dual need to capture panoramic video of a single event, and to be able to select areas of that video for re-editing. The camera uses a simple but high-quality panoramic lens and has advanced software that ‘undistorts’ the resulting image into a full panoramic video recording. Sections of the captured video can then be highlighted as separate ‘Dives’, which can be annotated too. The cameras are being successfully used in all manner of teaching environments, not least teacher training, and I’d certainly like to investigate their use here in the near future. There’s even an iPhone lens attachment that allows panoramic recording straight onto your phone!
While some of the sessions may not have trodden the new ground that they could have done, there were plenty of interesting presentations to be had. Mike O’Donoghue from the University of Manchester gave a very pertinent talk on creatively designing video for teaching and learning which was very interesting to practitioners like me and a wider teaching and learning technologist audience alike, referencing his 20 or so years experience in this field. He has some very interesting guidelines and educational videos which have been formulated for the MA in Digital Technologies, Communication and Education at Manchester.
Over in the e-Health arena, there was a good presentation by Aoife Ni Mhuiri from the Institute of Tralee about how screencasting can be used to provide a reusable learning object to support teaching and learning of Anatomy and Injury Management. It uses video clips of injuries to players/athletes during major championships, races or games for analysis along with interactive anatomical images/graphics to provide a short DVD or interactive web-based courseware. It was a very impressive and comprehensive teaching package that is already showing great successes in teaching and treatments alike.
The time came for me to present my poster about how Media & Learning Technologies support final year Spanish Language students in a module which requires them to write a dramatic script and make a short film. I opted to make something that was different from the traditional A0 paper poster; instead coming up with a video poster. This was a good way of incorporating both the explanatory text and plenty of video clips that documented the production process and compared materials from before and after our interventions. It went down very well and plenty of debate arose about some of the technical proficiencies and artistic abilities which we ascribe to Digital Natives, that may not actually be present in the first place.
All in all, a good conference with plenty of food for thought.