What and How to Teach with Video – Week 1

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The Digital Accessibility course I took on FutureLearn is very useful. It took my spare time but I enjoyed to learn new things that I can bring into practice immediately. I noticed a course “What and how to teach with video” on EMMA, another MOOC platform. I think it will be interesting and useful too as using video is so popular nowadays. Thus I decided to register. Although I was far too late, it’s still good to have the opportunity to learn it.

Firstly, I list some of the comparisons between EMMA and FutureLearn in terms of my experience.

  • Both websites are easy to use.
  • EMMA is beta version, so loading the course pages is slow.
  • EMMA provides blog functionality. However, this blog area is not course-based. It is a public blog opening to all EMMA users.
  • EMMA blog does not have spelling check feature.
  • EMMA blog – Add New Post – New Post Content – does not support Font and Colours settings.
  • EMMA comments do not support paragraph spacing, so make comments hard to read.
  • EMMA does not have ‘like’ feature option for comments, and can’t reply to a reply.
  • Both websites provide Progress for me to check. EMMA provides more details in one picture so I can see which one I have done, which one I haven’t easily.

The course has a clear structure and it uses videos in an excellent way because it’s topic is Teaching with Video.

The first week is about what to teach with video, leading to robust learning outcomes. It’s presented as four domains: Cognitive, Experiential, Affective, Skills and 33 Potent pedagogic roles. I watch videos every day and make videos occasionally, but never really summarised what I use video for. Taking this chance I will learn it systematically from Jack Koumi.

I really like that it has been separated between techniques (you facilitate learning by using video and you use video to provide realistic experiences) and teaching functions (what you try to teach by using video). At the beginning I was a bit confused between some of roles and a video example could play multiple roles. However, after using the guideline to check some of the videos I watched on Youtube, the 33 potent pedagogic roles do make sense.

Also I quite like the handout for each lesson, and the video in each unit was broken down by explanation and examples. As I registered late, reading other people’s comments are interesting. However, there are other languages in it, which is difficult for me to understand. I don’t know if EMMA can provide automatic translation for these non-English languages.


Digital accessibility course – week 3

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If I say the Internet has allowed me to connect people all over the world, then I’d say mobile devices have allowed me to keep the connections any place any time (I know this is ideal). I really like this week’s learning as mobile phone has become an essential tool in my life. I learnt how mobile technologies have helped impaired people’s daily life (like telling the colours and road navigation), and what’s the constraints of the technology. I can’t imagine how inconvenient my life will be without the Internet and mobile phone.

Mobile devices request people to use fingers and eyes a lot when interact with the screen, therefore people who have certain disabilities face many interactive difficulties when using mobile devices. Thus input and output methods matter very much.

I have learnt to consider the accessibility features on mobile devices from four aspects: vision, hearing, physical- and motor-skills, and cognitive. I have learnt Switch Access Scanning technology and speech input built-in technology like OK Google can help people who have mobility and dexterity difficulties to operate touch screen to search information. The screen reader technologies (e.g., TalkBack, Text-to-Speech (TTS) and Magnification gesture built-in options) can help people who are visual impaired to read information on mobile devices easier. Braille input/out technology like Built-in Braille Keyboard on iPhone, Google BrailleBack and Bluetooth braille display can help blind people who are able to read Braille.

I have learnt some very useful apps:

  • VoiceOver is a gesture-based screen reader (iPhone app).
  • I was amazed by these people who have a disability themselves developed very useful mobile apps, for instance ColorVisor is designed for colour detection; WalkersGuide is designed for blind pedestrians to access routes easily.
  • iBeacon-compatible-apps are something I’d like to explore more. I can see it will be very useful for elderly people who are losing memories.

There some useful resources for me to learn the assistive technology:

The other day I came across the Alibaba Warehouse video which shows how technologies (e.g., TTS, recognition labels, robots) have changed the work process. I think when more and more people aware the accessibility issues, mobile technologies will be developed better and better to meet people’s needs.

Digital accessibility course – week 1

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I registered the “Digital Accessibility: Enabling Participation in the Information Society” online course, which started on 6th February.

With my previous experience of a software engineer, I knew that the good or bad of an application is largely related to how much the designers/programmers know their users. I took an “Interaction Design” course as a part of my degree many many years ago. I learnt how our own brain illusion can affect our understanding and designs. Although in my work I haven’t been involved in creating/developing products/applications any more, I see many examples of learning content delivered without thoughtful design and users complaining about the difficulty and inconvenience when use a system (including myself!). I hope through this course, I refresh my knowledge; learn this topic systematically, especially considering the disabled/elderly users, which I may not have enough knowledge of; and start to improve my practices.

This is my first MOOC experience. Because it doesn’t have a blog area in the course, I decide to write down my experience here.

First, I noticed the course itself is a good example regarding to digital accessibility. I list some.

  • It clearly presents online communication etiquette and content copyright.
  • It provides transcript for each audio/video clip. The transcript is easy to read and searchable. I can access to it at any time.
  • It provides a glossary (downloadable) which helps us to check the vocabularies used in the course.
  • The comments field supports editing and spelling check, which is very useful to avoid typos.
  • I can check my comments and progress quickly.
  • Video materials are downloadable.
  • Audio materials can be set to play with different speed.

Second, the most mind-opening statements for me are:

  • Professor Mike Wald said “Everybody can think of themselves as only temporarily not having a disability, because at some point in their life as they get older, they will have some sort of disability.
  • “… disability is caused by the way society is organised, rather than by a person’s impairment or difference. … An impairment is defined as long-term limitation of a person’s physical, mental or sensory function.” from Scope
  • The term ‘Usability’ is normally used to refer to the actual use of the technology by a particular target group of users and contexts (e.g. including whether they find it easy to learn to use). The term ‘Accessibility’ is normally used to refer to the use of the technology by everyone rather than just a specific group of users (e.g. including whether blind people can also use the technology).”  from section 1.6.
  • Up to one in seven people in Europe may have speech, language and literacy difficulties at some time in their lives.” from section 1.15.
  • As Neil Milliken said that “everyone in an organisation should have some knowledge of the issues that affect one in five of the population”. I think I never even asked myself what is the issue?

Third, the new knowledge that I knew little about:

  • I realised how little knowledge I have about the UK law/legislation. I learnt that “…only Accessibility has actual legislation making it illegal to disadvantage a disabled person through an inaccessible product or service.” In the UK, it’s the Disability Equality Act (2010).
  • Everyone can influence their organisation. However, to be able to do so, it needs a hub and spoke, effectively, and champions. More importantly, it needs an executive sponsor who is higher-up enough to support companions.
  • Subtitles and captions are different. I now know why Blackboard Collaborate product uses the term ‘captions’.
  • Seeing the examples of people who have dyslexia, hearing impairment, deaf, visual impairment, and cerebral palsy, and the discussions about the challenges they face daily, I appreciate what I have. I started to see more of people’s needs and learn the existing technologies that they are using but I haven’t heard of.

Fourth, the course opens many resources to us. I am starting to think how much work I have been involved in has met the Accessibility standard, and how many of our current web resources follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. The new tools/resources that I can immediately use in my practice are:

Finally, I list a few inconvenient points.

  • The learning resource links are not opened in a new window/tab. When click on a link, it opens in the same window, which if you are typing some comments and click on a link accidentally, you will lose the unpublished comments. You need to type again.
  • It does not support ‘searching’ in the course.
  • It suggests that 3 hours/week studying time are needed. In fact, I have spent much more time on learning course materials, reading people’s comments, posting comments, and digesting what I learned in this week. Is it because I haven’t been a student for too long? I guess if the learner has already had the background knowledge, they can learn much quicker than I did, but still 3 hours/week seems impossible.

Transfer mp3 files from old phone to Google Nexus 5

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I wanted to move all my .mp3 music from an old phone to Google Nexus 5. After a couple of hours trying based on my available resources, I worked it out as follows:

I copied all my .mp3 files to a PC. It’s so easy with the old phone. Connected the USB cable between the phone and the PC, and copy/paste the files from a phone folder to a folder on the PC.

Then I plugged in the Google phone into the PC. However, it didn’t not work, it showed battery charging, but didn’t see the phone storage. Well, I followed this fix advice to try it again. Unfortunately, it did not work.  Thus, I tried Google USB Driver and it clearly did not help.

Afterward, I thought it should work if I copy the files onto my Google Drive and then on the phone I can download them to the phone. In this way I can play music offline in case I don’t have the Internet access.  It’s a good idea, but it didn’t work like the way I thought.

I uploaded the files onto a Google Drive folder. I used this instruction to set up offline access. I checked Google Drive on the phone and saw the files were there. I played each single file, it played without problem. However, it didn’t auo-play like the media players do. Then I used the Google Play Music app and see if it will read my library and play the music files. No. it wouldn’t. The file needs to be on the phone devise. So I used the File Manager app to search where the Google drive files were stored after I had saved them on the devise. Yes, they were under …/com.google.android.app.docs/… I then moved these files to a “Music” folder. However, the Google Play Music found my Music folder and all music files, but it returned  “Couldn’t Play the Track You Requested“.

Well, I had the music files on my devise and I could play them through File Manager. However, I was unable to use Google Play Music to play them. What could I do? I then tried a few apps, such as Folder Player, Music Folder Player, VLC and Android Music Player. They were all the same – have the music file name listed, but the mp3 files couldn’t be played.

Now, I deleted my files on the phone and clear its cache. I started it again by trying transferring files using WiFi or FTP.  I tried  a few apps but none of them allow me to copy/paste all my files as some files are quite big. (NB: it’s recommended to not save files on your mobile devise. Use the Cloud service.)

Finally, this FTP app “WiFi File Transfer” allowed me to copy/paste all files from the PC to the “Music” folder on the phone.  Plus, the Google Play Music recongnised all the .mp3 files and played as I expected.

Last point, there is a bit help for you to use FTP transfer. (You may learn it from this guide)

  • Use WiFi File Transfer app to get the phone FTP address. (looks like ftp://**.***.**.**:****)
  • Go to your PC, click the “Computer” icon and key in the phone FTP address to the devise location bar.
  • It will show you the phone storage. Find the folder where you want to paste the files to (e.g., “Music”). Leave this window open.
  • Open a new local disk window on your PC and go to the folder where stored your files.
  • Select the files and drag them onto the FTP window.
  • Now it has completed the transfer.
  • Go to the phone and check the “Music” folder and use a music player to play.

There are may tips online about Google Nexus 5. My tips here are particularly for this requirement and worked in a way I wanted:

  1. There are many ways allowing us to transfer files between phones, such as directly connect PC and mobile, Bluetooth transfer, and Wifi transfer. Choose the way that works for you.
  2. If you want to connect Google Nexus 5 to a PC, you need to use the original cable that came with the phone! It’s likely a standard USB cable will charge the phone but the computer won’t recognise the phone and therefore you are unable to see data  on the phone.
  3. If UBS connection does not work, use wifi or ftp to transfer files.
  4. Some free wifi file transfer apps will only support small file (e.g., smaller than 6M) transfer. They ask you to upgrade to a Pro version with a little charge. If you want to save time, it’s quick to do so. If you want to play with Android phone and apps, you’d better uninstall it and try another app.

Two SSL checking tools

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Two SSL certificate checkers:

Mosamic – to create mosaic images

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I was searching travel information of Taiwan for my parents and saw this image “Smiling Taiwan, Feel it! Love it!” by chance. I like it very much and thought it would be cool if I make one similar for my parents.parents_mosamic

I started to try a few tools. Mosamic is good enough for my purpose. It is a free mosaic software which can be used to create mosaics of any image. It’s easy to use and I made my own image in a few minutes.

8 comic strips and animation tools

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Comic Strip Creator is a freeware, standalone application for making comic strips and has been developed by CoSy-LLab at the Department of Digital Systems of the University of Piraeus in companion with ITisART.Ltd.  ComicStripCreator.org is a non-commercial electronic community established and hosted by ITisART.Ltd. This community encourages registered users to download and use the Comic Strip Creator freeware tool to create and share digital comic strips.

Open-Sankore is a free, open source interactive whiteboard application. This is a guide on YouTube.

Pencil is an animation/drawing software that allow people to create traditional hand-drawn animation using both bitmap and vector graphics. It is free and an open source tool. However, it does not support Windows 7/8 and not update since 2009.

PowToon is a Do-It-Yourself animated presentation tool. You can create animated explainer videos up to 5 min long in the free version. This is a guide on YouTube.

Stripcreator is a web-based story creation in comic form.

ToonDoo is a web-based comic strips and story books creation tool. Users can share, print and even sell their works. This is a guide.

VideoScribe is a whiteboard animation/Fast Drawing tool that help people create amazing marketing videos, instructional talks, add a visual to your talk or story.

 wizScriber is a unique plugin to create engaging whiteboard animated video messages quickly and easily without technical or design skills.

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