Video blog web tool

Not quite a web tool but a site that is orientated around a way to host, deliver and support video blogging. I’m buried in teaching and administrivia so I’ll have to wait till I find time to explore this one.: Vblog Central.

iMovie to mpeg4

This is a quickie QT tutorial movie about how to export from iMovie to mpeg4. Clicking the poster movie will load the movie (640 x 480, xmb) into QuickTime Player. Let me know if there’s information missing or if it is ambiguous.

self assessment aka particpation

This is a theme I’ve tangentially touched on before, but it is time to detail the methodology a bit more. In the courses I teach, and now more broadly within the Media program that I’ve managed a lot of curriculum innovation within, it is pretty much accepted that students ought to learn how to take responsibility for significant aspects of their own learning.
Within the Media program this is gradated over the three years of their undergrad experience, so that in first year this is heavily defined and scaffolded by staff, in second year it will be a combination of staff support and student selection, and by third year it will be completely student defined. In first year this means that as a result of the process described below the entire class cohort undertakes the same format of participatory assessment.

(In their second year I expect a group process to develop the key activities within this exercise, but then students will individually select those things they want to include to make or define their participation within an individual subject.)

So, we let students self assess their participation. How? In first year in our first lecture everyone draws a simple graph: how much do they know about topic/content area x now, how much do they think they’ll know at the end. Everyone draws a line that goes up. What is emphasised is that this line has nothing to do with me as their teacher but is a contract and decision made by them that they actually expect, want and intend to learn. Simple, but the point needs to be reinforced constantly – they want to learn something and that is their doing.

We then make a list of all the activities that they can think of that they would need to do to make sure that their learning line does rise during the course of the semester. This includes things like attending classes, sharing ideas, asking about what you don’t know, using the library, but can also include things like taking risks, or even (in a recent group) getting grubby. I take this list, tidy it up, and turn it into an assessment diary where each of the individual items can be rated and an overall mark given. This diary is filled in at the beginning of class every week.

At the end of semester each student goes through their diary and assigns an overall participation mark for their semester. They have to tell the class what result they are giving themselves, what they did well during the semester what they learnt to do better, and what they could have done better. This mark stands, and it usually constitutes 30% of their final mark for the subject. The qualitative questions help the students assess and contextualise their participation, and it also works as a check as they can always recognise things they could have done better and so they need to determine how much better they ought to have done things in relation to the mark they give themselves.

The rationale for this should be obvious. It breaks the assumption that participation equals attendance, which is in general an appalling index of participation. It lets students define what constitutes this part of their assessment, the task is given a weighting (30%) in keeping with our student centred rhetoric – after all if I tell my students that you’ll only get out what you put in, and participation is valued and important, but they see it is worth 10% and appears to be based on a class roll, then my behaviour indicates the contrary of what I say (and if I’m not fair dinkum about that, why take anything else seriously?) – and it also frees me from the ‘reading of tea leaves’ that assessing participation largely is, particularly in university contexts.

I have done this for three years now, and to date it has been abused once, by a mature age professional male enrolled in a professional Masters program. It has never been abused by undergraduates, and I’ve never had a student, except for the ‘mature’ student, ever give a result that I would question.

Its relation to media studies and pedagogy? These students are graduating into the creative industries where an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses in terms of research ability, creative ability (are you someone who invents great ideas or someone who takes other ideas and brings them to completion?) and general professional competencies is crucial. In these industries your boss will not manage this for you, and in most contexts they will be part of small creative teams that self define large parts of what they do. Developing some resources that lets these processes be assessed, become visible, and also addressed, is necessary.

Videoblog site

Jay Dedman and Andreas aka have put together a site for videoblogging: Early days yet, but keep an eye on it, will be the portal to all things videoblogged.

Poster Movies

Ok, here are two poster movie examples. The first is just a generic poster movie that when clicked on, loads the actual video content. This example loads the video into the same plugin space occupied by the poster movie. This is achieved by using the target=”myself” parameter in the code below.

The second video, which uses the same poster movie, when clicked on loads a movie which discusses and shows how to make a poster movie using the pro version of QuickTime player. Clicking on this movie launches and loads this particular example in QuickTime Player, rather than in the plug in space on the web page. I did this partly to illustrate the difference, and partly because the demonstration video is 640 x 480 but the plug in is only using 320 x 240. Next week I’ll write a different embed tag that demonstrates how to resize the plugin space for a larger video…

The source code for this video appears as:

<OBJECT CLASSID=”clsid:02BF25D5-8C17-4B23-BC80-D3488ABDDC6B” WIDTH=”320″ HEIGHT=”256″ CODEBASE=””>
<PARAM name=”SRC” VALUE=”/vog/vlog/vlog_archive/pictures/2004/”>
<PARAM name=”AUTOPLAY” VALUE=”true”> <PARAM name=”CONTROLLER” VALUE=”false”>
<PARAM Name=”HREF” VALUE=”Amsterdam.mp4″><PARAM name=”TARGET” VALUE=”Myself”>

<EMBED SRC=”/vog/vlog/vlog_archive/pictures/2004/” WIDTH=”320″ HEIGHT=”256″ HREF=”/vog/vlog/vlog_archive/pictures/2004/Amsterdam.mp4″ TARGET=”Myself” AUTOPLAY=”true” CONTROLLER=”false” PLUGINSPAGE=””>


The source code for this is:

<OBJECT CLASSID=”clsid:02BF25D5-8C17-4B23-BC80-D3488ABDDC6B” WIDTH=”320″ HEIGHT=”256″ CODEBASE=””>
<PARAM name=”SRC” VALUE=”/vog/vlog/vlog_archive/pictures/2004/”>
<PARAM name=”AUTOPLAY” VALUE=”true”>
<PARAM Name=”HREF” VALUE=”PosterMovie.mp4″>
<PARAM name=”TARGET” VALUE=”quicktimeplayer”>

<EMBED SRC=”/vog/vlog/vlog_archive/pictures/2004/” WIDTH=”320″ HEIGHT=”240″ HREF=”/vog/vlog/vlog_archive/pictures/2004/PosterMovie.mp4″ TARGET=”quicktimeplayer” AUTOPLAY=”false” CONTROLLER=”false” PLUGINSPAGE=””>


I highlighted the href and target tags above to make them easy to see, um, in the HTML don’t try to make them bold!

All of the Object ID and Param stuff is for windows and Internet Explorer. What is in the embed tag is what you need for all other browsers (gotta love Microsoft). The key parts are that you embed the poster movie here, then include the href attribute with the target. If you wanted to use the Quicktime player then change the target value to “quicktimeplayer” and your movie will play in QuickTime Player rather than the browser plugin.

You do this so that your blog page only loads lightweight movies (this one is 12Kb) and only retrieves the video if the user clicks on the movie. The poster frame though has the benefit of indicating to the user something about the content they’re going to get. I think in vogging it is important that the image/video is what you ought to interact with to view something, it should not be delegated to a text link or similar – we’re writing with video here.


It must be nearly time to start teaching again. Instead of preparing course guides and reading dossiers I’m blogging! But the recent quietness here was a coincidence of school holidays with my children, returning from a very very quick trip to Switzerland, and managing to get Deep Vein Thrombosis on the return flight, specifically London to Singapore. Now it turns out that DVT can be life threatening, so when I presented myself to the doctor a day and a half after the flight with some of the symptoms I was sent off to hospital immediately. After extracting blood for the test the doctor measured my legs, declared there was swelling and so whisked me into radiology for an ultrasound, which sure enough found the clot.

The good news is that it was below my knee, so less risky, the even better news was that it was on a vein that apparently wasn’t on the way to anywhere that important, so if the clot dislodged I wouldn’t drop dead right away. The treatment options was for a heavy duty anticoagulant, or aspirin, I opted for the latter. The health risk to me of the DVT is minor, and the more serious medication required significant management. So, a week later, the pain has declined markedly so I guess the Aspirin is doing its job.

How did I get it, well falling asleep on the plane seems to have done it. I was dehydrated to begin with, and yes, I wriggled my toes, but it’s 13 hours London Singapore, the flight leaves at 10pm, and I am going to sleep if I can. That’s when it happened, I woke with the pain. Just glad it was below the knee, bit higher up and I would probably have been hospitalised in Singapore. A long way from home.

Comment Spam

I was slower to lean towards comments, because they seem to me to confuse blogging with email and newsgroups (I know, I know,

Lessig on flying visit

Lawrence Lessig is being flown here to try to persuade Parliament that IP provisions in the FTA are a bad thing. That he's co

singapore moblogging

A colleague at RMIT sent me information about a moblogging project in Singapore. It’s a group (entire country) moblog to celebrate their national birthday. Given Singapore’s censorship I imagine someone’s going to be busy editing. As my colleague said, it is less about blogging and more about Singapore’s penchant for trying to set world records. Have a look at