Category: Open education

ALA on MOOCs and Open Education Resources

The American Library Association just published a report by Canadian librarian Carmen Kazakoff-Lane called “Environmental Scan of OERs, MOOCs, and Libraries: What Effectiveness and Sustainability Means for Libraries’ Impact on Open Education” (pdf).

Of particular interest is the 6-page bibliography (which I will reproduce in the comments section of this post).

The anatomy of a YouTube tutorial

I am happy to announce the launch of a new batch of tutorials on YouTube, the first of which is on PMB, the print measurement bureau:

This video follows a new template I have devised for my blended learning initiative to bring information literacy to my students. I want to replace my in-class lectures with self-mediated learning at home and hands-on exercises in class.

I often get asked about how I create these so I want to share my process with you. I currently have an earlier set of videos on my personal channel but I want to reshoot all of them following the process I outline below. These will be available on a new dedicated YouTube channel.


I have been a business librarians for over a decade and I have delivered hundreds of library training sessions on locating valuable information. My main community is comprised of students taking the Entrepreneurship class at Concordia Univeristy’s John Molson School of Business. Seeing that there are over 30 sections a year of the Entrepreneurship course and only one of me, I was not able to meet the demand for dedicated instruction on locating business information.

I created a step-by-step 4-page research worksheet, which is included in the student’s course packs as well as the Library’s Business Research Portal.

For more information on the background of this project, please watch this 45 minute lecture I gave in April 2013.


I have bought some gear to test various methods of creating tutorials. Of all these toys, I find that two are essential: my 15-inch MacBook laptop (actually, any Mac will do as long as there is enough disk-space and processing power) as well as a professional-grade table-top microphone, the Yeti from Blue Microphones in my case. On my Mac, I find all the software I need to produce the videos and I find that one needs an external microphone as the one included on the Macs sounds poor on a higher quality system such as one using a public announcement (PA) system in a classroom.

Also, I use an external keyboard and mouse when shooting my video. I find that taping on the laptop’s keyboard or using the track-pad makes the screen wobble. Because that is where the video camera shoots from, it makes the video seem like you are on a boat. I prod my laptop on an old dictionary and work from an USB keyboard & mouse.


No, I do not use any special software to screen-capture, I just use good old QuickTime. If you look at the “File” menu on the software, you find that you can launch a “New screen capture” and “New video” right from QuickTime. I just do both at the same time! I shoot a “High” quality video of my talking head with the MacBook’s camera and the Yeti mic as well as a soundless “High” quality screen-capture video. Both with QuickTime, at the same time.

This gives me 2 video files, which I then mix, match and edit in iMovie, also included for free on my MacBook. In iMovie, you have to go to the preferences to enable the advanced tools and then, you can create the image-in-image effect by draging one file to the other in the video editing screen. I also really want to experiment with blue-screens, which I will do with a 5 dollar tarp from Canadian Tire…

The trick is to “merge” the two video files in iMovie and then to edit the scenes from this main stream. I try to say out-loud when I click somewhere, to help learners follow what I am doing on-screen. This also assists with post-production. If you want to edit a part out, you can right-click on the spot you want to cut out to “split” it, you just have to do it at the same spot for both files… I will probably do a training video on how to do this soon…

Another trick is to go to your Mac’s preferences and change the size of the mouse cursor. I find it is easier to follow if your pointer is huge. In the preferences, access the “accessibility” options and you can toggle the size of the cursor.

Tone, look & feel

It took me a while to experiment with the look and feel of my videos. I got much help from Concordia’s Center for Teaching & Learning on my first set. Then, I tried different venues and modes to shoot them myself. I tried to lecture-capture in the classroom, but I could never get the sound or the lighting right. Also, the flow was off – there is nothing worse than a 60 minute lecture, with bad sound and lighting when FaceBook and other digital distractions are just a click away.

I find the best ones come from a relaxed and personal tone. I try to be myself and imagine I am explaining this to a distant friend or colleague. Warm and close, but still professional. Some personality is good, as you want your learners to feel they are interacting with a person.

I shoot the videos in my home office as I find the backdrop much nicer – those are my graphic novels and other fun readings I keep there. I also have better lighting with 2 windows on the corner of my home, which I supplement with 2 inexpensive LED reading lamps, one aimed at my face and a closer one pointed on my table in front of me. I find that my neighborhood a better and quieter place to shoot my videos than a bustling university library located in downtown Montreal. I also feel comfortable and relaxed, which helps.

I don’t fully script my videos, but I do prepare a summary or plan of what I want to cover. Reading text in a video sucks, feels and looks awkward. I’d rather jot down a few reading notes and ad-lib the rest. If I stumble or stater during the shoot, I usually signal to myself to exclude that bit by covering the camera – this trick makes it easy to pick up these error in the post-production.


I divide my videos in multiple parts.

First, I have a “pitch” where I explain what we will be covering in the video. This cannot exceed 30 seconds. If it does, I cut it down.

Then, I have a “first title” screen. It provides for my credentials and link to the library’s business research portal. This is about 6 seconds long. The text is fixed on the screen for that period. Should students want to read it further, they can pause it then.

Immediately following the title screen, I have a “second title” screen where I name the video and provide a more specific link on the library website to a specialized guide. This is also about 6 seconds long. The text flies from left-to-right with the link on the bottom.

During the two title screens, I play a loop of music a really awesome colleague of mine donated from his DJ console.

Then, I usually have a screen focus on my face for about a minute, to give more details of the resource I will explain. Then, I turn on the image-in-image feature and I guide users in using a resource. I may leave the image-in-image mode during the body of my video to mix things up a bit and break the flow. I aim to provide 2 or 3 topics for a maximum of 2-3 minutes each.

The last 30 seconds of a video are used to quickly recap what we have covered and perhaps offer an option to offer links to additional videos on my channel. YouTube allows you to add links to videos from the Dashboard of a video.

I then have my credentials on the screen again for about 6 seconds, followed by another 6 seconds with the video title and dedicated link on the library website. I make sure to paste the link to the dedicated page on the library website about the resource in the first line of the video’s description. YouTube makes that link active, so YouTube always points to the library website. I have another music loop during this part, slightly different from the one in the introduction, thanks to my awesome DJ-librarian friend.

I then have an “extro” screen branded to Concordia University, a few seconds long. A little branding goes a long way!

My videos will never exceed 10 minutes. It it must, I split the video – it is better to have two 8 minute videos than a long 15 minute one.


It takes me about 30 minutes to shoot a video, and anywhere from 2 to 4 hours for post-production. That means that I can whip out a video in half a day, including rendering time as well as uploading it to YouTube. I could make longer videos, but I find that 10 minutes or less is probably an unwritten rule for keeping an undergrad’s attention on the Internet.

I organize a stream of videos through playlists on YouTube.

Next steps

I hope to work closely with course coordinators to further integrate these videos in the curriculum for capstone courses. For example, they can become part of assignments or additional materials included on the course’s online management system. I am focusing on a few course for now, to maximize the reach, but I can certainly roll the videos out to more niche courses. Or, I can use the time I free up from servicing the core courses to provide for more presence for higher undergrad or grad courses.

I feel this is a new way to service our communities while allocating resources more efficiently. It is also fun and motivating to see your statistics rack up. I may not reach the status of KPop stars, but I will certainly reach more students.

UNESCO on info lit assessment

Composite concept of Media and Information Literacy from UNESCO's Global media and information literacy assessment framework: country readiness and competencies 2013 p. 31

Composite concept of Media and Information Literacy from UNESCO’s Global media and information literacy assessment framework: country readiness and competencies 2013 p. 31

UNESCO, it seems, is quite interested in media and information literacy (MIL). It just released an “Assessment Framework for Media and Information Literacy” to assist countries in devising effective MIL strategies. According to the United-Nations agency:

A central component of UNESCO’s Media and Information Literacy strategy, the Global MIL Assessment Framework would enable Member States to carry out comprehensive assessments of the information and media environment, and to monitor at the regional and national level the extent to which citizens have acquired MIL competencies, particularly targeting teachers in service and training. This evidence-based information will subsequently help Member States monitor the effectiveness of the implementation of education and ICT policies in developing 21st century capacities, and help to design new strategies and action-oriented plans that fit best within country-specific contexts and conditions.

The publication presents an overall assessment framework composed of two tiers: country readiness, and assessment of competencies. It also includes a plan for national adaptation as well as concrete suggestions for data collection, analysis and application. It is intended as a living document to be further tested, adjusted and adapted to national needs and circumstances by its users – policy decision makers, teachers and local professional communities in information, media and education.

The 150+ page document is available for free in PDF format from UNESCO .

In fact, UNESCO has launched an open repository under creative commons licences for all of their publications and more !

Beyond the MOOC, the DOCC

DOCC Interesting press release from the FemTechNet Commons about a new approach to open education: do it in a network! From their press release:

FemTechNet, a network of feminist scholars and educators, is launching a new model for online learning at 15 higher education institutions this fall. The DOCC, or Distributed Open Collaborative Course, is a new approach to collaborative learning and an alternative to MOOCs, the massive open online course model that proponents claim will radicalize twenty-first century higher education. FemTechNet’s first DOCC course, “Dialogues on Feminism and Technology,” will launch fall 2013.

The DOCC model for 21st-century higher education recognizes and is built on the understanding that expertise is distributed throughout a network, among participants in diverse institutional contexts. This model explicitly departs from the typical MOOC approach organized around the delivery of information from an “expert” faculty (or a pair of instructors) to the uninformed “masses.” The organization of a DOCC emphasizes learning collaboratively in a digital age by enabling the active participation of all kinds of learners (as teachers, as students, as media-makers, as activists, as trainers, as members of various publics and/or social groups). By virtue of its reach across institutions and learning sites, the DOCC also enables the extension of classroom experience beyond the walls, physical or virtual, of a single institution.

Their own version of a DOCC in 2013 is called “Dialogues on Feminism and Technology” and calls upon a team of “nodal” contributors.

I have to admit that this model speaks more closely to what I have in mind with my video lectures about business research and copyright, particularly as I aim to embed them in the classroom.

And my new RSS reader is… Feedly

Google Reader is dead. Long live Google Reader. I’ve presented on RSS feeds before on this blog, but now I have a new feed aggregator. See also a presentation I held, in French, on blogging as a doctoral student (slides here).

After much investigation, I have settled on Feedly to manage my daily information feeds. I like the interface and the multi-platform support. I tried the Old Reader and NetVibes but the former was too slow when switching categories on my phone and the latter, I just could not get used to the interface.

Let a million Apps Bloom

A random RSS item sent me to Allan Carrington’s interesting blog post on applying Bloom’s taxonomy to Apps, called the Padagogy Wheel (as in using iPads in pedagogy).

See a high-resolution version of this image on a poster padwheelposter[1]

Also, here is a short video that explains how the Padagogy Wheel works:

As Allen writes :

During my research I saw lots of great work done by others using Bloom’s Taxonomy including the Revised Taxonomy which has now become the Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. However when I discovered the excellent pioneer work done by Kathy Schrock with “Bloomin’ Apps” I got the idea for the Padagogy Wheel. Dare I say it but it is the next version for mobile learning of the ongoing importance of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bloom’s is still fundamental to good teaching and learning.

I’ve visited all the links mentioned in this paragraph and they provide great information about Bloom’s taxonomy, its revisions and applicaitons to the digital world. How interesting!

Talking at the e.Scape conference today

I will be giving my talk shortly this morning at the e.Scape conference at Concordia University on the topic of :
The unexpected journey from a 60 minute lecture to a MOOC: a librarian’s mid-way report
I’ll be talking about how my use of technology has changes my professional practice.
I’ll briefly discuss MOOCs also, positioning them as the extreme end of the elearning continuum – both in terms of structure and pace. More on MOOCs here:

Mostly, I’ll discuss my training videos as well as the development of a business information literacy curriculum as part of my employment, most of which are in various stages as pilot projects or drafts.

We, the learners…

Petra Dierkes-Thrun launches a “A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age” on her blog this morning (hat tip to the Chronicle and University Affairs for the link).

I love these statements from the preamble:

The Internet has made it possible for anyone on the planet to be a student, a teacher, and a creative collaborator at virtually no cost. Novel technologies that can catalyze learning are bubbling up in less time than it takes to read this sentence. Some have emerged from universities, some from the private sector, some from individuals and digital communities. In the past year, Massive Online Open Courseware, or MOOCs, have become the darling of the moment–lauded by the media, embraced by millions–so new, so promising in possibility, and yet so ripe for exploitation.

We believe that online learning represents a powerful and potentially awe-inspiring opportunity to make new forms of learning available to all students worldwide, whether young or old, learning for credit, self-improvement, employment, or just pleasure. We believe that online courses can create “meaningful” as well as “massive” learning opportunities.

We are aware of how much we don’t know: that we have yet to explore the full pedagogical potential of learning online, of how it can change the ways we teach, the ways we learn, and the ways we connect.

Our broad goal is to inspire an open, learner-centered dialogue around the rights, responsibilities, and possibilities for education in the globally-connected world of the present and beyond.

The document itself presents a set of rights and another of principles. With regards to the former, they include the right to: access; privacy; create public knowledge; own one’s personal data and intellectual property; financial transparency; pedagogical transparency; quality and care; have great teachers; and to be teachers. While for the latter, principles include: Global contribution; Value; Flexibility; Hybrid learning; Persistence; Innovation; Formative assessment; Experimentation; Civility; and Play.

I find that these statements are important reminders of the issues that underpin our daily activities. Congratulations to the drafters and this will certainly help me orient my online endeavours.