In recent PD on supporting students for whom English is not their first language, one of the suggestions was that where you're giving a very information-rich class (the kind given in a traditional classroom or lecture theatre) recording it can be very useful for them. They can take this home and review it, look up words they don't understand, and more.

[Doing this has other benefits too, like allowing students who've missed class to catch up, or for all students to revise before an end of unit test.]

I've done this myself, especially when I've put a lot of effort into resourcing a lesson. I've tried a number of methods, and the one I've found most useful recently is to video myself delivering the class but also capture the screen (I use Screenflow, but you could easily use Quicktime, or if you're presenting from keynote, just record the presentation timing in Keynote).

I then put the video from the two streams into final cut pro and cut between them. It takes a LONG time to do this, even for a 10 minute lecture.

Our IT boys do similar things with important PD we have at the school. Again, it's great, but it's very time consuming.

You will also notice a lot of universities doing this with all of their lectures. Many share them freely on iTunesU. And it fits with that blended learning buzzword that's going around now - lessons living both online and in the classroom.

echo_360.jpegSo I was interested to know if there were any automated systems which wil do this for you, and cut out all that editing and set-up work that is involved at the moment. I asked the researchers at Melbourne Uni, and they put me onto Echo360, a system which does just that.

Do we want something like this at MLC? How would we go about using it? Well, if we're going to have some experimental spaces, I think this could be cool technology to try out, and perhaps we'd put it in an everyday classroom first so we're testing the technology away from the new space. I can imagine a fixed point camera being pointed toward the front of a class (harder to imagine in a circular class!), and automatic capture of anything going through the projector/smartboard/whatever at the front. Nice audio from a wireless mic. Easy set up that the teacher just has to hit "go" and record. Watch the demo video (not the one about the product, that's useless marketing, I mean the demo of the actual software interface) on the website.

The classroom in question might be one that any department can book into casually (ie very few regular timetabled lessons) to come and teach in when they've prepared a lesson they'd like to record for posterity, or it could be targeted toward classes who have many ESL students in them as an easy way to assist them. Would you use it?