STEEPLE Unconference

STEEPLE Unconference / Assembly – 7 October 2009

This was a very successful event. It was hosted by Oxford University (STEEPLE) and attended by representatives of ELTAC (Coventry University), Cambridge University, Reading University, Nottingham University, Oxford Brookes University, University College London, Harper Adams University College Shropshire, the Open University and the Executive Director of the Sakai Foundation. Twenty five people attended the event.

Participants were invited to an unconference (see here). The purpose of this informal approach was to facilitate discussion and open sharing of project progress, expertise and issues related to the development and implementation of Lecture Capture and Podcasting. Participants were invited to jointly determine the structure of the day according to topics of personal interest, which led to a mixture of whole group and breakout group sessions during the day.

STEEPLE and ELTAC

The day started with short introductions to the work of STEEPLE by Bjoern Hassler (Cambridge University) and Peter Robinson (Oxford University) and ELTAC by Imran Ali, Juliet Hinrichsen and Amanda Hardy (Coventry University).

STEEPLE’s project focuses on the back end coding technology of podcasting, considering how to process the metadata, store huge amounts of data, publish in a variety of formats and legal policies. STEEPLE uses their website and wiki to disseminate information about their project.

ELTAC’s project focuses on enhancing lectures through automated capture, making use of Echo360, a commercial product, to compress and distribute lectures in three formats, an online version, mp3 format and an enhanced podcast. This has already been trialled in the Health and Business faculties and in the second year will be rolled out across the institution. Many complex issues have been identified including intellectual property rights and staff training. Some further associated issues, such as room layout and identification of student voices in question and answer sessions in lectures were illustrated when we were shown an example of a lecture capture.

Impromptu presentations and group sessions

There was some discussion about who owns video and audio materials. At Oxford and Cambridge academics usually own their materials, but in other Universities the materials are owned by the institution. A short presentation by Rowan Wilson (Oxford University) on podcasting, licensing and copyright highlighted the complexities around consent for recording and performance rights, and the need to inform senior management about these.

Bjoern Hassler showed STEEPLE’s streaming media service uploader and led a discussion on what metadata should be collected, the interface between iTunesU and RSS feed and the need for an institutional strategy.

Peter Robinson, Juliet Hinrichsen and Sally Hanford (University of Nottingham) shared examples of their work and led group discussions on lecture capture experiences, which included technical issues, pedagogical considerations such as the impact on teaching, and exploring synergies between the work of Oxford, Coventry and Nottingham.

Michael Korcuska from Sakai gave a short presentation on developments in Sakai, an open source VLE (Sakai 3.0), and discussed the need to keep to a minimum distance between the end user and developers.

Ben Hawkridge from the Open University talked about search engine optimisation, traffic links, analysing web traffic and attracting students. He illustrated this by showing the Open University’s podcasts on iTunesU. The iTunesU project at the Open University has been very successful,

Lessons learned

An informal unconference is an effective approach for organising an assembly and disseminating information within the constraints of limited time and resources. An assembly will typically draw a diverse group of participants, who are interested in institutional, pedagogical and/or technical issues. Meeting the needs of this diverse group within one assembly is not easy. The focus of an assembly, in relation to institutional, pedagogical and technical content, needs to be clear. However, an assembly provides an opportunity for a mixed group of people to develop an understanding of each others areas of interest and spot future synergies.

Plenty of time for networking and opportunities for free discussion is valued by participants.

There are generic issues of interest to many institutions, such as change management, institutional strategy, cross-institutional collaboration and sustainability of the projects beyond the funded period.

Ways forward

ELTAC is planning to run an Assembly in January 2010 focussing on staff development issues.

STEEPLE will offer a series of technical f2f workshops and webinars, focussing on topics such as atom feeds, RSS feeds, how players work, how formats differ, suggested upload systems and PCP1v2 (podcast producer).

STEEPLE and Nottingham have a planned 2 day workshop for November 23rd/24th 2009 in Nottingham.

STEEPLE can offer one to one institutional visits.

Further planned outputs arising from group discussions

The OU and STEEPLE will produce a number of anonymised case studies which document the challenges that projects face in influencing policy, processes and strategy at institutional level.

STEEPLE will document their workflow processes for dissemination.

The projects will write a one page briefing document for senior management.

On behalf of all participants, I would like to thank STEEPLE project members for organising and hosting such an informative, useful and enjoyable event.

Jenny Mackness

2 Responses to “STEEPLE Unconference”

  1. [...] Oxford University’s STEEPLE hosted an informal ‘Unconference’ to facilitate discussion and open sharing of project progress, expertise and issues related to the development and implementation of Lecture Capture and Podcasting. Read about how the day progressed for the 25 people who attended this assembly, the ways forward and the further planned outputs (here) [...]

  2. [...] The STEEPLE  project hosted an informal ‘Unconference’ to facilitate discussion and open sharing of project progress, expertise and issues related to the development and implementation of Lecture Capture and Podcasting. Read about how the day progressed for the 25 people who attended this assembly, the ways forward and the further planned outputs (here) <http://newsletter.inin.jisc-ssbr.net/2009/10/19/steeple-unconference/ [...]

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