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Learning my (non-technical) way

September 26, 2009

Alternate titles for my recent learning frenzy:

  • Feels so good after stopping banging my head against the wall
  • Arriving where I started and knowing the place for the first time (apologies to T. S. Eliot)

I have just spent most of three days figuring out how to fulfill a teaching commitment, one that I made before I figured out how to accomplish it. It has been a grueling but ultimately positive experience, at least so far.

I teach a course that covers from speaking to a live audience to podcasting, and includes formal group presentations. I want my students to see how they look and sound in their presentations, and I used this as a excuse to buy something I've been coveting – a flip camcorder.

After years of experiencing the result of my "ready, fire, aim", approach to new experiences, I was smart enough to play with my flip a little before using it in class. I recorded a couple of minutes of various friends and then deleted the videos at their requests. I recorded a few seconds of plants (they don't request deletion of their images) moving in the wind. Transferred it to my laptop – directly using the flip-out USB, which automatically opens the flipshare screen, as seen below.

20090926-erxktc6819cprwgafs4rncq1qb.jpg

I glanced at the flipshare screen, got frustrated because I didn't immediately 'get' it and decided to put my short practice video on Vimeo. No problem!

20090926-qcymch6r156cy97b6c76ybkfhj.jpg

So, feeling secure, off I went to class. I recruited volunteers to video each of the 3 presentations, retrieved my lovely new flip, and went home where I planned to upload each presentation to Vimeo and then embed each group's presentation on a wiki page private to them.

Then I encountered a series of "learning events":

  1. Vimeo doesn't like really large files;
  2. HD videos of approximately 15 minutes in length are really large files;
  3. iMovie, which I have only limited experience with, didn't want to accept 15 minutes of HD video whole, no matter how many times I tried and how many times I watched bits and pieces of video tutorials;
  4. iDVD, same experience, but after I had borrowed and set up my husband's Lacie DVD burner, with all kinds of wires to connect everywhichwhere;
  5. I phoned my friendly expert and he tried to tell me how to convert HD to SD but I didn't know enough to understand his suggestions and he was at a meeting and had to disconnect;
  6. He had also suggested YouTube and its private channels, and I forget why I thought that wouldn't work, probably file size and time length;
  7. Google didn't help me, although it took time for me to figure that out;
  8. Twitter people responded, suggesting Box, DropBox and YouSendIt I've used all 3 before and tried them out – same problem with large files, but the YouSendIt Pro trial looked possible.
  9. My long-suffering husband let me send a video to him using YouSendIt Pro's Trial – it took over 2 hours to upload and over 1/2 hour to download – that didn't seem like a good idea to me;
  10. My other responsibilities were suffering by now, but the idea of channels being private had finally met up with a vague memory of my flipshare screen
    20090926-jrtkfiasxnnteyrdk3dj6m8f9s.jpg
  11. Unfortunately I had deleted the presentation videos from the camera;
  12. Luckily I was able to retrieve them from their storage space on my computer;
  13. Still avoiding the manual, I managed to create 3 separate channels and send the links by email to the members in each group (and to me for all three) – it still took hours to upload, but my emails to me appeared to demonstrate success: I could click on the image of the video and see it.

Now would be a good time to glance back to the beginning to see my alternate titles – they'll make sense now ;->

What I have learned:

  1. Persistence is an important aspect of learning;
  2. Large files are harder to move around;
  3. HD video files are large;
  4. Bloody-minded pride in completing tasks is an important support to learning;
  5. Knowing some aspects of what you're buying, the difference is file size between HD and SD, for instance, is a wise approach, even if it blocks impulse buying;
  6. A corollary – not all salespeople know much about what they're selling;
  7. People are helpful, but ultimately you have to find the right set-up yourself.

I haven't yet heard from the students I sent the flipshare channel links to; keep your fingers crossed for me.

Joan Vinall-Cox, PhD
JNthWEB Consulting – http://jnthweb.ca/

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