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It would take an individual over 5 million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global internet networks each month in 2018, with video consisting of 79% of all consumer internet traffic in 2018 (Cisco, 2014). Whilst this vast access and consumption of video by no means implies viewers are engaging with or learning from high-quality content, it does indicate that video is a dominant online modality for information ‘chunking’ and broadcasting. In light of this ubiquity of video, the ease in which technology can be leveraged to create viewing environments, and its potential as a medium to provide input, higher education (HE) has been integrating video into teaching and learning at a rapidly growing rate. Flipped classrooms, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), blended-learning classrooms and distance courses are a few of the many contexts in which video is employed as a tool for learning.

The University of Hong Kong is no exception to this trend. With the dual aim of engaging faculty members who produce videos for their learners and fostering interdisciplinary dialogue around this topic, on 11 February the E-learning Pedagogical Support Unit delivered a seminar entitled “Educational Video Production: Design principles for meaningful learning”. Key areas discussed were:

  1. the importance of adopting a learner-centred approach to multimedia design
  2. the need to reduce unnecessary cognitive processing in educational video production given the constraints of working memory
  3. a set of specific guiding principles proposed by Mayer (2012), which can help us achieve the above two objectives.

Using this theory as a starting point, participants had the opportunity to discuss issues which commonly arise in video production in their own contexts. For instance, what is the difference between video for education and entertainment? What is the impact of visuals and audio, and the relationship between these modalities, on student cognition and learning? Does adding graphics to spoken words help students’ learning? Is talking over PowerPoint slides more or less effective than a talking head alone? Does adding on-screen written text, which parallels spoken text, support or hinder learning?

Whilst the answers to these questions are not always clear-cut, the importance of generating informed dialogue around our design decisions is paramount if we are to produce videos which are engaging and conducive to learning. One need only glance at the seminar’s enrolee profile to see the breadth of interest in taking part in this dialogue.

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The challenge perhaps now lies in further fostering communities of practice and supporting an ethic of exemplar sharing. So if you’re keen to share a clip you’ve created or ask for advice on one you’re currently working on, we would encourage you to contact an instructional designer in the E-learning Pedagogical Support Unit.

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References

Cisco. (2014). Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2013-2018. Retrieved from CISCO: http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/service-provider/ip-ngn-ip-next-generation-network/white_paper_c11-481360.pdf

Mayer, R. (2012). Multimedia Learning (2nd edition ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


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For one and a half days, pioneers in MOOC technologies, academics who teach and research about MOOCs, university administrators and instructional designers converge at the 5th Education and Research Technology Forum to discuss new developments and exchange ideas in online and open education in higher education settings.

Held at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the 5th Education and Research Technology Forum aimed to address the integrative aspects of information and communications technologies and services at the University level. Some of the highlights include:

Instructor experiences in teaching MOOCs

King Chow and Sean McMinn from HKUST reflected on their experience teaching and researching about MOOCs and discussed the rewards and challenges of teaching a course on massive scales. According to these speakers, among the rewards of teaching a MOOC are the reach and impact the courses can have on an unprecedented and global level, room for innovation, understanding learners through data and research; and among the challenges are how to engage students see efficiently and effectively, and how to ensure that MOOCs provide a quality learning experience that meets individual learners’ needs.

University strategies regarding MOOCs

As universities invest in and experiment with open education on a massive scale, they also form different strategies based on their institutional perspectives and needs. HKUST, for example, according to Professor T C Pong, sees MOOCs as a platform for collaboration with other institutions, a way to expand on the university’s existing models of teaching and learning (e.g. flipped courses or programs), and recruiting top students from around the world.

Peking University sees MOOCs as an example of the Internet maturing to effectively support large-scale educational activities, and is making a significant effort to lead the way in using technology to improve teaching and learning, and help shape the future of higher education in China.

Professor Ricky Kwok, Associate Vice President of Teaching and Learning, shared HKU’s perspective on using MOOCs to benefit teaching and learning at the University. HKU sees MOOC as one part of the teaching and learning ecosystem that is enriched by technologies. It can serve as a testbed for pedagogical innovations, a catalyst for institutional change, a tool to enable initiatives such as overseas immersion, exchange, internationalization and collaboration, and a means to achieving totality of learning.

MOOC technologies

Present at the forum were also two of the leading MOOC technology pioneers, edX and XuetangX. edX’s CEO Anant Agarwal spoke about how edX operates as a non-profit venture, the impact it has had so far in providing quality learning to people all over the world, and some of the new technologies that edX is going to implement on their platform. XuetangX aims to create an ecosystem based on Open edX for China, and has been innovating to achieve this goal on a number of fronts including infrastructure (e.g., data platform), technology (e.g. mobile apps), and process (e.g. course licensing).

Throughout the forum, the participants’ energy and enthusiasm over the possibilities new technologies such as MOOC bring were palpable. It concluded with the hosting organization, HKUST, sharing their observations of trends in higher education teaching and learning and participants discussing collaboration ideas and possibilities.

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Professor Sir Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol (UoB), shared his vision of MOOCs during the public lecture entitled “What Defines a Global University” on 12 January 2015, which brought together members of the Heads of Universities Committee (HUCOM), UGC, HKU students, staff, alumni and friends.

“A global university will have global distribution of its educational materials and programmes,” Sir Thomas said. Citing “Cracking Mechanics: Further Maths for Engineers” at UoB as an example, he told the audience that the course has attracted 12,000 enrollees to date – 6 times of the Engineering student population at Bristol – creating a much greater impact than achieved in the past.

Not only are MOOCs giving institutions many opportunities to advertise their excellence, they are also helping teachers to reverse-engineer the existing curriculum and enrich pedagogies.

In the Q&A, Sir Thomas emphasized that proper resourcing ought to top the agenda for aspiring universities. “I think they need to invest in [MOOC], this is about something that is central to your education provision in the same way as quality assurance is, assessment is, and curriculum design is,” he continued, “so that the faculty don’t believe that they’re having to do it for free. They are doing it as part of their work as a faculty member, for which they will receive the appropriate reward – in promotion as well as anything else.”

It was a stirring experience to hear from Sir Thomas on how much potential in MOOCs was yet to be tapped. We are just on the beginning of a learning curve.

Video (highlights): http://uvision.hku.hk/playvideo.php?mid=18951

Video (full lecture): http://uvision.hku.hk/playvideo.php?mid=18950

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A new online course to be launched by the JMSC this spring will aim to teach the public how to critically evaluate news and news sources, to better understand and respond to issues and events that affect their everyday lives.

The Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC, titled Making Sense of News, will be available to students worldwide on edX, the non-profit online education portal founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.  The six-week course will begin on 19 May, and the JMSC is now accepting student registrations.

The content has been developed by two JMSC faculty members, Assistant Professor Masato Kajimoto and Assistant Lecturer Anne Kruger, who will also present the online lectures.

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Kajimoto said the course will aim to show students how to examine the validity of information in news reports and social communications, with special emphasis on information disseminated online, where unsubstantiated rumours and inaccurate information often circulate.  The course among other things will examine recent cases where the sharing of unconfirmed rumours has had serious consequences.
Kajimoto said it is vitally important for people everywhere to develop such skills, and to consider the potential consequences of responding quickly to news reports before they are verified.

He said although all members of the public should be able to benefit from the course, it should prove particularly valuable for undergraduate university and middle school students.

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“These students have grown up with social media as an integral part of their lives, and many rely on platforms like Twitter and Facebook for their news,” Kajimoto said.  “The recent Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong “demonstrated how quickly false rumours can be spread (via social media) and how these rumours get taken as fact.  Social media now have dramatic impact on people’s actions.”

Classes will consist of video clips and interactive exercises. Participants will be required to spend two to three hours per week watching the lectures, reading material recommended by the lecturers, completing assignments, and discussing the subject with other class members on the online portal.

“I expect our students to be the future decision-makers, and oftentimes people make decisions based on what they hear in news reports,” Kajimoto said.  “If they can learn how to pause and think about the power of disseminating information on social media through this course, that’s a good thing.”

To register for the course, visit the Making Sense of News registration page on edX.

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