Offering online access to audiovisual heritage for education

Friday, July 4th, 2008

For the last 4 months we have been busy working with Dutch secondary schools in a pilot which experiments with giving online access todiverse 2008 audiovisual heritage. Recently we were welcomed at the DIVERSE 2008 conference to present some preliminary results, see also our short paper. DIVERSE is a community which shares experience about developing interactive visual educational resources for students all over the world.

One of the points which we stressed was that we found that although teachers and students liked the idea of working with audiovisual heritage, to use and reuse it into presentations and learning objects, it was hard for them to put this into actual practice.

In our discussion on the reasons why this is so hard, we found out that there are some commonalities with other projects and countries. This was also mentioned by someone as a “changing teaching paradigm”. We experienced that there’s not only lack of facilities and technical difficulties which made it hard for secondary schools to integrate our pilot in their curriculum. We also found a lack of ICT skills and imagination with teachers trying to take it into practice. Students weren’t much motivated because there was no full support from their teachers.

On behalf of the National Archives of the UK, Andrew Payne presented a similar project Focus on Film in wich students and teachers are able to use films from the archive. They can edit, show it to others and even download the original video. A lot of work was done on putting all material in an apprehensive context. Although he impressed us with the fact that in 1 year the project is running, 1000 people have already registred and there were 2,5 million visitors in one year, he agreed on the same difficulties.

How can we overcome this challenge? Today I attended a meeting at the Stranger festival where UK based think tank Demos spoke about their research on how youngh people are changing Europe. Celia and Tommy stressed that the ability to put information into representations (video etc.) is a skill like reading and writing which is likely to becoming more and more important to participate in civil society. This makes you think about whose responsibiliy it is to foster this. Will our educational system be able to take this responsibility? What is needed?

Nikki Timmermans | Knowledgeland


Education in bits and pieces

Monday, November 5th, 2007

ODE stands for Online Distribution Engine. It aims to be a store where educators can buy little bits of digital content and put them back together any way they like, a proces dubbed ‘Mash up teaching’. This idea has it’s roots in the music business where sampling has become a complete new industry. Slice up the content until you get to the core ingrediënts, an acapella vocal line for example. Now look on your shelf for other ingrediënts that will spice up your recipe, a nice fast drum beat for example. Put them together and by ‘mashing them up’ you have created a new piece of content. Not very different in fact from the way science has been functioning since the age of the Enlightenment. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants as Sir Isaac Newton already said centuries ago.

The question is how this rather refreshing principle will work out in the world of education. This is an environment where changes have been notoriously slow to take root. Where the current generation of young children that have in fact been ‘born digital’ spend their free time between msm, gameconsoles and their pc but receive their education primarily through old fashioned books and whiteboards. So are teachers ready to put their destiny in their own hands and create their own teaching materiaal? The people at ODE world, a wholy owned subsidiary of Hartcourt/Pearson certainly believe they will. Their Beta platform will be ready for launch in the spring of 2008, ready to conquer the UK education market. All they need now is high quality content and a targetted audience willing to make micro-payments for the material of their choice. It is the quality of the content and their ease of use for teaching purposes that will make the difference. That much we did learn from successful ventures in the music industry such as iTunes. For education, the proof will be in the pudding.