Have you ever recorded an interview or captured film and then found that in the editing process your audio file is distorted? This MeLT hot hint will take you through some basic steps to help you clean up your distorted audio file.
The first point to make is that it’s always a good idea to firstly check all your recording equipment and microphone to ensure that they are setup correctly, so that clean audio is captured in the first place.
Sometimes it’s not that simple, you may be in a hurry or you may have forgotten to get a set of headphones to monitor the sound.
How to use Audacity to remove distortion
To try and make this easier, I will make available an audio file that I recorded with distortion that you can download yourself and have a play with to clean up.
(Please note that this isn’t perfect and the aim of this blog post is to provide a relatively quick and simple solution – if your audio file needs to sound professional, you’ll need to potentially re-record it)
To begin with, please download the following audio file: http://bit.ly/2mudRAO(note the content is irrelevant, please ignore what I am talking about!)
Open up Audacity, then go to File > Open > Select the downloaded audio from the location you saved it on your computer.
You should see a small waveform, play it and just listen to the distortion in my voice.
You need to firstly zoom into the waveform a bit because we’re going to select a small sample of the waveform for analysis – so go to View > Zoom in. (you may wish to zoom in two or three times)
Next click with the left mouse button and drag it over a small section of the waveform.
With the selected section, go to Effect > Noise Reduction. This will open the Noise Reduction pane and you then need to click on ‘Get Noise Profile’.
It may appear that nothing happens, but that’s okay. Now this time, go to Edit > Select all.
Go to Effect > Noise Reduction > At this point you’ll need to be wearing headphones so that you can listen to the audio previews. Leave the standard settings in step 2 and click on Preview.At this point you may think that it still doesn’t sound too good. You’d be right! The advice I can give is to play with the settings in step 2 and keep previewing your audio file. It took me about three minutes to get the preview to sound acceptable and my settings can be seen below.You may well be able to further improve this track by tweaking the settings and previewing the sound.
Have a go and when you’re happy click the OK button and it will process the changes.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year from the Marjon eLearning Team. Before we get stuck into what is already looking to be an exciting year of TEL, I wanted to take a quick look back at some of the things the team have worked on in 2017 to enhance the student experience across campus.
The biggest launch for our team across campus this year has been the CheckIn attendance system. This was rolled out in September 2017 across campus and we have worked hard between then and now to make the system as reliable as possible and to make the data useful for staff.
We have has some really useful feedback about the system and are working on regular updates to add new features. We are encouraging all staff to engage to ensure the data we receive is accurate and that it is useful for staff in monitoring attendance and retention.
For more information on the CheckIn system and access for staff to the data dashboard please follow this link.
Since the launch of CheckIn in September we have had 46,129 CheckIns across 90% of the students studying on our main campus. This is a great initial uptake of the system. Other Universities who have implemented similar systems have had as little as 10% uptake by students. This does, however, also highlight that there is 10% of students on campus not engaging, and staff should be encouraging students to CheckIn.
Recording indicator lights were successfully installed in teaching rooms across campus over the summer. These lights allow staff and students to see when a session is being recorded by our content capture system REPLAY. Staff are then able to pause or stop recordings from the teaching room computers. These lights have received really good feedback from staff and students.
We are really happy with the usage of REPLAY this year, and both student and staff engagement. Although we are still not recording all content on campus, which is something we would like to improve on to make our content more widely accessible, we did record and make available 45,000 hours of lecture content across 160 modules last year.
Continued support for staff and students using LearningSpace
In 2017 the Moodle activity logging system in LearningSpace recorded a total of one million two hundred and seventy two thousand one hundred and ten (1,272,110) student activity events.
This is a huge number but the system doesn’t keep these logs just in order for us to grab these numbers, their primary purpose is to feed data to the ‘Reports’ section of your course administration block. This means Module Leaders can assess how often and by which students, resources and activities on their module are being accessed. There was also 326,412 recorded events of other activity, such as tutor or administrator activity on course pages.
We are always keen to discuss with staff ways they might want to enhance their course pages, any questions or queries do get in touch.
Panopto Assignment Folders
There was a large update rolled out to the Panopto system last last year which has given us access to some exciting new features, we will be looking at rolling these out over the next month.
Over the last year we have had several staff members taking advantage of Panopto’s Assignment folder feature. This allows students to add their own recordings or videos to a folder specific to the module. Staff can then access these videos securely. This has got round issues previously found with trying to share large videos files from students to staff.
TELKit and updated Academic Skills Site
The TelKit was launched in September as a one-stop resource for tools and software which can be used by staff and students to enhance their learning and teaching. This site has been accessed 2000 times since September, which is a great initial number for a new resource. We are continually adding to it so do check back for new tools.
The Academic Skills site had a large overall overhaul the summer, with an updated look and feel and new content. This site is a great resource for students on academic skills matters with resources about referencing, academic writing and researching. Since the update the site has received over 12,000 page views. This has shown an increased level of traffic since the update was rolled out which suggests that the students are finding the resource useful. we are always looking to update the content available, if staff have any suggested content please get in touch with the team.
Expanded use of Edublogs
We had 25,932 visits to our Edublogs sites in 2017, this highlights the increased use of the network across the University. Including use by students as part of their modules and assessments and sites such as our TEL help site and the new Marjon community blog which will be officially launched later in the new year. If you would be interested in finding out more about using Edublogs within your teaching or in other ways at the University please get in touch.
We have recently launched the new ClickView system for staff to use, ClickView is a cloud-based video learning platform created for educators, featuring HE-relevant video content to support lectures and assessments. It is available for all staff at the University to use.
For more information of using ClickView, check out our guides available on the TEL Help site.
Looking into ways to use 360 technology
We have been investigating various ways that we can use 360 video in learning and teaching and are hoping to expand this in the near year. The team have put together a quick video below showing the transformation from the old lecture theatre set-up to the new flexible teaching space.
Changes to the team
We have also had some changes to the team this year, with Zac moving on, and Matt being brought in as our new eLearning Technologist. Matt brings with him a wealth of knowledge from his time working elsewhere, including working at JISC.
What is currently in the pipe line…
A few of the exciting upcoming projects the team are working on;
Recording more content on campus
We have received feedback from staff and students that they would like some sessions which aren’t lectures automatically captured by REPLAY. As a result we are in discussions to record content such as seminars and practicals. We are really pleased with the response from students this year showing how much they are engaging with the system.
Updates to Panopto – New Features
Following the update of Panopto mentioned above we will be launching some of the new features for staff, these include a new and improved editor, ability to download PowerPoint files from recordings and 360 videos. Keep an eye out for more information on this soon.
Student Feedback through the Marjon Mobile app
We are working with marketing, student support and the SU to roll out the ability for students to give quick feedback on particular areas of the University through the Marjon Mobile app. This will link into other projects being run across the campus to allow instant feedback in specific locations.
Finally we are investigating Google’s newest tool for collaboration. These interactive boards link into the google cloud services to allow for collaboration digitally in and out of the classroom. Have a look at the video below for a taster.
As ever, any questions or queries please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team we are always keen to discuss any ideas staff might have.
To start off this new blog blast for hot hints of the week, we want to focus on sport and feature mobile apps that may be of interest to coaches.
What apps are great for analysing sports technique and performance?
Coach’s Eye – allows players to be captured on video and motion can be slowed down. Video can be annotated to track technique – videos can be contrasted side by side. Including audio commentary and more. (Apple download) (Android download)
Dartfish – Capture video or import from your device. Video can be slowed, contrasted side by side with two videos. Drawings and labels, angles with voice and text notes. (Apple download) (Android download)
Soccer Coach – Team Sports Manager – Manage football teams, create coaching sessions. Player profiles, practice and training, team management and statistics. (Apple download)
Coach Tactic Board: Football – Create tactics and drills, training modules and exercises, drawing tools, create teams and players and more. (Apple download)
Gym and fitness
MyFitnessPal – log your exercise, track steps, extensive food database, recipe importer, calorie counter, goal setting, diaries and more. (Apple download) (Android download)
Fitness: Workout for Gym-Home – provides workouts and routines and effective plans for power workouts, interval, crossfit and home. (Apple download)
Ultimate Stopwatch – enables the use of multiple stopwatches in one place. (Apple download)
Educreations – interactive whiteboard and screencasting tool – easy to annotate and narrate and save/record instructive videos. A very versatile app and it’s free! (Apple download) (not available on Android)
Visual Anatomy Lite – Interactive anatomy referencing app with images of every aspect of anatomy. Features quizzes, highlighting tools and more. (Apple download) (Android download) (Windows)
The above apps are only a small selection that could enhance training & development as well as management. What do you use, what’s your approach?
Mobile devices have often worked well with a flipped learning class and can provide an extensive range of options in terms of analysing performance and tracking health.
Flipped learning and its definition are described quite well by the Flipped Learning Network as:
Flipped Learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter.
The more the team uses the REPLAY system the more impressed we become with its features and what opportunity this brings for enhancing the learning of students. Alongside the features we are more familiar with, including automatic and ad hod recordings and the ability editing them afterwards, the team have been investigating some of the REPLAY systems other features.
REPLAY has a live stream option that enables both ad hoc and scheduled sessions to be live streamed to students enrolled on the module or specific individuals during the session, which opens up the opportunity for engaging with students outside of the lecture environment. REPLAY also has some very good built in discussions tools, including a live Q and A feature, which can connect students unable to attend the session with the learning experience.
At the moment it is possible for staff members to request sessions to be webcast on a module or session basis, however, starting in September it will be possible to request modules to be live cast through timetabling.
The Panopto app allows students and staff to access REPLAY recordings from their mobile device. It gives easy navigation between modules for students, as well as allowing them to search recordings for specific content.
For staff members, the Panopto app opens up the possibility to capture content where ever you are using your mobile device and uploading it directly into a module or your own folder.
The system has a setting that allows students to record content into a specific module assignment folder. This folder is specific to the module and the recordings can, by default, only be viewed by the tutors. Students can therefore record content using the desktop application and upload content directly to REPLAY.
This feature could be used by students who film their own presentations and allows them to upload to REPLAY to be marked by tutors. There is also an option to make recordings visible to other students on the module afterwards.
The online editing tools with REPLAY allow you to remove and add all kinds of content, including other videos, presentation files or merging of sessions. It is also possible to add built in quizzes to a recording. You can add quizzes to specific points in the recording and they can be particularly useful for testing student knowledge.
As we begin the new year we wanted to take a quick look back at some of the projects the team have worked on in 2016.
elearning & TEL Help Site
In Spring 2016 the elearning and TEL help site was set up using Edublogs to provide an easily navigated and searchable collection of help materials for staff and students on the technologies, software and systems used at the University. The majority of these guides also contain a short screencast and are all downloadable in a pdf format for printing.
This has grown hugely over the last year and now contains over 130 guides covering everything from Turnitin for staff and students to setting up blogs using Edublogs and accessing the VPN.
The site is accessible from the homepage and top links section of LearningSpace and new support material will be added regularly throughout the year.
In September 2016 the new Marjon Mobile app was released. This bought with it a big visual overhaul alongside new and updated features including dynamic news feeds, notifications and quick access to important sites including LearningSpace and Academic Skills.
The app allows students and staff to quickly access their customised timetable, navigate around campus with the interactive map, view library items and print credits.
The updated app has been very successful and we have received great feedback, which has allowed us to update features such as showing 4 week timetable information. If you have any feedback about the Marjon mobile app, please let us know. You can send feedback directly to us through the app itself.
We have seen an increase in the use of tools such as Socrative in teaching at the University in 2016. This includes its use as a formative assessment tool and also as a tool for engaging students with lecture content.
Socrative is one of many tools available which can enhance learning and teaching, however, as with any tool it works best when used in a purposeful context to compliment teaching.
To try and share good practice and give examples of how tools can be used within teaching we have started getting together with academics to record short videos demonstrating how TEL tools have been used in their teaching. Have a look at our video below with Vicki from the Sports Faculty and keep an eye out for more videos in the coming months.
If you have a tool you use in your teaching we would love to hear about it, equally if you feel that an area of your teaching could be enhanced by using a new tool then we can help you achieve this.
Use of Edublogs in modules and assessment
Edublogs is a blog and web creation platform designed for education using the WordPress interface. It is hugely versatile and can be used to create anything from simple blogs to complete websites, for example our elearning & TEL help area was created using Edublogs.
Marjon gives students and staff the opportunity to create their own blogs and by using the built in Classes feature blogs can be set up for students which are private and accessible by the lecturer and other students. Edublogs can help students gain practical skills using an industry standard interface, as well as encouraging them to develop their digital presence.
During this year we have started to see Edublogs used as a tool within integral areas of modules and they are currently included as part of assessment in both Sport and Education programmes. As a result we have been delivering sessions on the use of Edublogs for students and have also worked closely with staff members to get the sites set up for students using specific templates.
If you are interested in knowing more about the use of Edublogs in modules or are interested in setting up your own Edublogs then please have a look at our guides or get in touch with the team to discuss it.
File encryption for students on placement
In October of 2016 we were asked to look into the use of encryption for the transfer of sensitive files for students on placement. This was something a little different for our team and involved testing software and hardware based encryption methods, including encrypted USB memory sticks (which was the method finally decided upon).
During the testing stage, we came across various challenges when trying to create a robust system with few steps involved, which could also work seamlessly between student computers (including PCs and Macs) and Marjon systems.
It proved to be an interesting project for the team and included us providing support materials for students using encrypted USBs. If there is anything that you would like to achieve within your teaching using technology but aren’t sure what to use or if it can be done then please do get in touch for a chat.
Introduction of Mendeley
More recently we have helped with the introduction of Mendeley at the University. Mendeley is a web and desktop application which can help with finding and collating references, as well as correctly inputting references into documents.
It has a lot of great features and we have put together a large number of guides on the software with the help of Ben Jane from the Sports Faculty. Ben has used Mendeley within his own research and with his students. We also helped Ben put together the video below showing the main features of the software.
This is only a quick round-up of some of the projects the MeLT team worked on in 2016. If you would like to know more about using any of the tools mentioned here (or other TEL tools you are interested in), then please get in touch. We are always keen to chat to staff about how technology can be used to enhance their teaching.
Contact MeLT – firstname.lastname@example.org | ext 5673 | A Block Room 108 and keep up to date with the work of the team on this blog.
The team have been engaging students and staff in the use of the learning technologies at the University through a range of new posters and postcards displayed around campus.
We have put these together with the aim of raising awareness for a range of TEL tools, as well as the support provided by MeLT, through eye catching and simple posters utilising the QR reader functionality in the new Marjon mobile app.
This collection of posters will be continually added to throughout the year, and currently include information on REPLAY, Edublogs, Socrative and Google Slides. The most recent addition to the collection is a poster almost entirely covered in QR codes, leading students to important online resources and guides in relation to TEL.
This has been a really enjoyable new project for the team utilising and developing a range of skills, including design and photography skills. All our posters are also currently on display outside the MeLT office, A Block Room 108.
If you have any queries or questions relating to TEL at the University or simply want to know more, then please do pop in and say hello or contact us – email@example.com | ext. 5673.
A couple of months ago the MeLT team were approached by a member of staff from Speech and Language Therapy to create guidance on the use of PGP encryption for encrypting video files recorded by students within hospitals. These files were of a sensitive nature and needed to be transported from the hospital to Marjon securely using encryption.
The team initially looked at PGP encryption, as this was already used at the University. PGP encryption is a very popular form of encryption which uses a public and private key system to ensure that it can only be opened by particular individuals. We began our investigation by using a software called GPG4USB, which is free to use and provides a high level of encryption. We did, however, hit a few barriers while looking at using this software for this specific purpose.
Mac/PC compatibility issues
Encrypted files would need to be opened on any computer system which posed a problem as the GPG4USB software was for PC only. After further investigation we found a similar software for Mac (PGP Tools) which would encrypt using the PGP system. This software was ideal for encrypting files on a Mac and both encryption programs worked fairly seamlessly allowing files to be encrypted on a Mac and decrypted on a PC and vice versa.
File size issues
The next issue we were presented with related to file size. The files students would be encrypting were likely to be large HD video files, but the PC version of the software would only encrypt files up to around 70mb. We found a solution for this, which would require the students to use a free file conversion software (Handbrake) to compress the original files to a size which would allow the software to process it.
File Type issues
The final hurdle we came across was the file format the HD video cameras recorded in. A large number of HD video cameras now record in a format called AVCHD, and although this can be changed it is often a default setting. This file format creates very large files which are stored within a complex file structure, some computers also struggle to read these files. Our concern was that students had already been given their cameras and that some of these would definitely record in this format. This would pose a problem when trying to encrypt these files as they would be very large and would require the entire file structure to be encrypted. Luckily handbrake and Quicktime on a Mac are able to convert these files into MP4 files, however, this could take a longtime for large files and added another step to an increasingly long and complicated process for students.
After a lot of testing as to the feasibility of using the PGP encryption software we began to look for other alternatives which would be quicker and easier for students, this included using encrypted USBs. Chris from computer services was able to lend us a SafeXs encrypted USB and also an example of a USB encrypted using freeware software (Veracrypt). Both of these already worked much better than attempting to use PGP encryption for this purpose, as the entire file, and file structure, could be transferred to the USB with no need for compression or conversion.
The freeware version, although still pretty good, had issues with compatibility across Mac and PC, with a Mac requiring software installed on the computer to open it. It also required a more complicated start up procedure and also struggled with some large files. The SafeXs USB in comparison to all the other options we had tried for encryption was a breeze to use, the software opened as soon as you plugged it into a Mac or PC and simply required a password to access the USB and use it as you would any normal storage device. We also discovered that the SafeXs encrypted USBs were actually used within the NHS for storing and transferring sensitive files, and as a result it was agreed that this would be the best option to go with for the students and staff.
The lovely new USBs have now arrived handsomely decorated with Marjon engraving and we have put together supporting material on how to use them and this has been distributed to the current placement students.
If anyone would like any further information on the using encryption software or the SafeXs USBs please do get in touch with MeLT: firstname.lastname@example.org | ext 5673
Mahara, our on-line ePortfolio, journal, weblog and résumé building system, has recently been upgraded and has some great new features.
File space warnings
Mahara now sends an email to administrators when a students file space is nearly full. In most cases this should allow us to take action to increase the student’s file space before it becomes a problem for them.
Resizing uploaded images
Uploaded images are automatically resized to smaller ‘screen friendly’ sizes. Students can disable this for individual uploads if necessary.
Students can install an app on their iOS or Android devices which will allow easy and quick upload of photos or other files directly from their phone or tablet to Mahara, in the same way as they might upload them to any other on-line service. Students can later organise the new uploads and add them to their journal or portfolio if required.
New themes are available. Students can choose from a range of different themes for their portfolio.
Submission of Mahara portfolios to Moodle assignments
The integration between Moodle and Mahara allows for the setting up of an assignment on a module page in LearningSpace which accepts a Mahara portfolio as the submission. When students go to the submission page on LearningSpace they see a list of their Mahara portfolios and collections. They just have to select the page they want to submit. Once submitted the page is then locked for editing in Mahara until it has been marked and the marks released back to students. Marking tutors automatically have access to the submitted portfolio page via a link from the Moodle assignment. Tutors can insert comments into individual elements of the submission in Mahara and into the feedback area of the Moodle assignment. Marks are applied directly to the Moodle assignment where they are made available to students on release.
With the recent update to Replay (Panopto) the Smart Search feature is now better than ever.
Smart Search gives you the ability to instantly find and fast-forward to any word spoken or shown on-screen, in any recording. Simply type in a word of interest in the search for all your recordings or within a recording itself and jump straight to where it was mentioned.
When recordings are created Replay (Panopto) automatically indexes ever word displayed on screen or spoken using Automated Speech Recognition and Optical Character Recognition. These systems will pick up any word written in a presentation, spoken or typed during the session, shown on a webpage and even hand written on a screen or whiteboard.
This adds incredible search-ability to recordings without the need for manually entering information or tags. The Panopto website has some great FAQs on the Smart Search feature.
Have a look at the video below to see this great feature in action.
There are various help guides and videos available on the TEL Help Area for using Replay, if you would like additional support please contact MeLT.