Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Extremely Agile VideoBlogging (for teaching)

To efficiently and easily produce and publish a short video for teaching-support purposes (for example, to answer a student's question from remote, or for clarifying a difficult concept), I typically go through the following light-weight process:

needed tools:
a) a working webcam
b) an account on

1. prepare your flow of thought, and - if necessary - readable paper sketches as support
2. log in to hipcast, turn on your webcam and start recording "online" your video
3. review and save your video
4. publish it through hipcast by sending it to your blog (e.g. on blogger)
5. if you want to have it visible on your blog, fine. Otherwise, if you want to use it as "mesh-up" anywhere else, copy from the blog post the generated code and paste it in the place to want to embed it (in a forum, or in a webpage or in a HTML mail message that you can send to your students).
6. the job is done! wait for your students' feedback.

Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool - Public Launch, NOW Online!

Yesterday night at 7 pm in the very fine artistic and noble setting of the Chandos House in central London, CancerBackup and MacMillan - large and important UK charities active in cancer support - have presented the launch of OPERA (Online Personal Risk Assessment Tool), the first online instrument to enable a personal and tailored risk assessment of breast cancer.
We enjoyed the event very much, and we are happy to see a great support from the people active in the cancer support field.

The development of OPERA has been funded by CancerBackUp, and design and realized by the TEC-Lab (our team!!!) and by the Institute of Health Communication of the University of Lugano.

Our teams in Lugano have done a great job!

OPERA is officially online starting from today, and it is now accessible to the general public for use.
OPERA is accessible from the MacMillan website and
from CancerBackup website .
We hope for further development of OPERA for other types of cancer risk assessment and for widespread usage.

>>>> Try OPERA yourself here >>>>>

Monday, April 21, 2008

Videoblogging for teaching and learning: my initial experience

I'm having a great deal of fun and excitement in experimenting the potential of videoblogging for professional purposes.
In particular, I have discovered in my own experience how easy and straightfoward is to publish homemade videos (YouTube had already taught us that, somehow), even when these videos might serve professional purposes, such as teaching and (formal or informal) learning.

Here is one of my latest experiences:
A master student sent me an email asking to clarify a technical issue on information architecture, to solve a design problem in his own design project. Instead of spending a great deal of time and energy in writing down the technical solutions, or editing a navigation scheme with the proper tools, I decided to send him a VIDEO ANSWER, which consisted in a 3 minutes video illustration of the proposed solution, with me talking over the shooting of a home-made paper sketch.
Efficiency for the instructor: preparing, shooting, (no editing), publishing a 3 minutes video took me 20 minutes (surely much less than a traditional technical email and subsequent asnwers for further clarification).
Learning reward for the student: the student wrote me the next days with an enthusiastic replay, thanking me for the clear and complete answer to the issue: he found the explanation helpful and illuminating to solve his problem.

On the basis of my limited experience, I am more and more convinced that:
* short videos can be very effective for explaining complex concepts (in brief) or for giving the big picture (setting connection). They may be effective for technical solutions (although more difficult) only with other kind of support (paper drawing, sketches, etc.) - see the experience of SciVee as example.
* the professional quality of the videos is not a necessary precondition for the effective communication of the message. Even "office-made" quality (SHORT - 2-3 mins) video can get the message through, as long as the student is committed and motivated to understand the content.
* videos make the communication with the students more lively and human - no doubt about that
* the effort for the teacher is minimum, with respect to traditional way of answering issues
* the learning effectiveness can be high, if content is relevant and well explained.

I'm eager to establish more short video-like material for our traditional and especially online courses, such as forums to post video-answers for the students's questions.

For shooting and publishing videos at low cost, I am finding HIPCAST a very useful online toolkit.

Lugano Communication Forum 2008

>>> Comunicazione, Sanità, Ambiente e Tecnologie: Idee forti per un Ticino forte al Lugano Communication Forum 2008 >>>