VLC for the Language Classroom

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Last week, I did a technology workshop for a group of language teachers and one of the things we covered was the free open source software, VLC. For those who are not familiar with this program, it is a multimedia player for most computers that recognizes almost every type of audio and video file you throw at it. It has saved me a number of times in the language classroom and has become my go-to application for media files. Here are some of the things it can do:

Installing:


Question: I have my computer and speakers set at the loudest setting, but it is still too quiet. How can I make it louder?

Answer: Open the file in VLC and then adjust the volume in the bottom-right corner of the window. You can only increase the volume by an additional 25% this way, but you can increase it even more by using the hotkeys.

  • Windows and Linux: Ctrl key and the up or down arrow keys
  • Mac: Command key and the up or down arrow keys

VLC Increase Audio

Question: The speaking in the video/audio file I am using is a little too fast for my lower level students. How do I slow down the audio without changing pitch?

Answer: VLC has this feature built into the player. The speed adjustment only affects the playback and will not change the original file.

  • Windows or Linux: Open the file in VLC and turn on the Status Bar (click on View -> Status Bar). Click on the ‘1.00x’ at the bottom of the screen and then move the slider back and forth to increase or decrease the speed.

VLC Status Bar

VLC Slow Down Audio

  • Mac: Open the file in VLC and click on Playback in the menu bar and then use the slider under Playback Speed.

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Question: The video is too long and I only want a section of it. How can I create a small clip from a section of my video?

Answer: This is only available for the Windows and Linux versions of VLC. There is a work around for Mac, but it isn’t very easy.

  • Windows and Linux: Open VLC and then make sure the Advanced Controls are on (click on View -> Advanced Controls). Start the video and when you get to the section you want to record, simply click on the record button once to start and again to stop recording. The new video file will appear in the Videos Library folder.

VLC Advanced Menu

VLC Recorder

Question: I want to keep repeating a section of my audio/video file so my students can hear/watch it over and over again. How can I do that?

Answer: This is only available for the Windows and Linux versions of VLC.

  • Windows and Linux: Open VLC and then make sure the Advanced Controls are on (click on View -> Advanced Controls). Start the video and when you get to the section you want to repeat, simply click on the A-B Loop button once to set the start point and when you get to the end, simply press it again. This will keep repeating this section until you press the A-B Loop button one more time. You can set this up ahead of time and simply pause the video or audio file until you are ready to play it.

VLC Loop Button

Question: I want to skip to different sections of my media file. How can I set this up?

Answer: VLC makes use of bookmarks which can be saved for later use.

  • Windows and Linux: Open VLC then make sure the Edit Bookmark window is open (click on Playback -> Custom Bookmarks -> Manage). Start your video or audio file and then click on the Create button in the Edit Bookmark window whenever you want to mark a spot to remember. You can continue to do this with your file until you are done bookmarking everything you would like. You can then double-click on any of the bookmarks in the Edit Bookmark window to skip to that section. You can then save the bookmark for later by clicking on Media -> Save Playlist to File

VLC Using bookmarks

  • Mac: Open VLC then make sure the Edit Bookmark window is open (click on Windows -> Bookmarks). Start your video or audio file and then click on the Add button in the Edit Bookmark window whenever you want to mark a spot to remember. You can continue to do this with your file until you are done bookmarking everything you would like. You can then double-click on any of the bookmarks in the Edit Bookmark window to skip to that section. You can then save the bookmark for later by clicking on File -> Save Playlist

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Let me know if there are any other tips you would like to add to this list.

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Creating Digital Stories using Foxit Reader Portable

USB Drive

Image courtesy of Phil Gradwell

The other day during #LINCchat, the topic of digital storytelling came up and a few options were shared amongst the chat participants. I thought it would be good to share another option that works really well with students who have limited access to the internet. This option makes use of a free, offline portable application that can be installed on a USB drive that the student can take home with them and use on any Windows computer.

This idea uses Foxit Reader Portable, a free PDF reader that allows users to create blank PDF documents on which you can then add photos, text, audio, and video files. In the end, users can create a multimedia document that can be played by almost all PDF readers.

Students can take their own photos or locate photos online, put them together on a page, and audio record themselves telling the story. They can then save and share that story with others who can see the photos and listen to the story being read by the student. You can even have students record replies and add them to the story. Here are some of the steps:

Installing Foxit Reader Portable on a USB Drive:

  • Insert a USB drive into your computer.
  • Go to Portable Apps and click on ‘Apps’ along the top.

portable apps main menu

  • Under the ‘Office’ category heading, click on ‘Foxit Reader Portable’

office category

  • Click on the big green ‘Download’ button.

Download button

  • Once it has finished downloading, double-click on the installer, and follow the instructions in the installer. Make sure your choose the USB Drive as the place you would like to install it.

Create a new document: 

  • You can create a new blank page by clicking on the ‘Create a Blank PDF’ button in the top-left corner of the page, or you can click on File -> Create -> Blank -> Create a PDF from a blank page.

Create a blank document button

Create a blank document menu

Adding a picture: 

  • Under the ‘Home’ tab, click on the ‘Image Annotation’ button on the far right.

Image Annotation button

  • Click and drag a box on the blank page where you would like the photo to be. The larger you make the box, the bigger the picture will be on the page.

Insert an image box

  • A box will appear. Click on the ‘Browse’ button, find your file using the file manager, and click on ‘Open’ and then ‘OK’.

Add an image

  • If you would like to resize the photo, click on the ‘Select Annotation’ button located under the ‘Home’ tab, then click on the photo. Move the red dots surrounding the photo to resize the photo. Click and drag the photo to move it around the page.

Select Annotation Button

resize photo

Adding an audio file: 

  • Under the ‘Home’ tab, click on the ‘Audio & Video’ button on the far right.

Add an audio file

  • Click and drag a box on the blank page where you would like the audio file to be.
  • A box will appear. Click on the ‘Browse’ button, find your file using the file manager, and click on ‘Open’ and then ‘OK’.

load an audio file

Playing the audio file: 

  • Under the ‘Home’ tab, click on the ‘Hand’ button on the far left and then click in the box where the audio file is.

hand button

  • A box will appear asking for your permission to play the file. Check the box ‘Remember choice until I close the document’ and then click on ‘Play’.

audio consent

  • The audio will continue to play until it the file is completed. If you would like to stop it earlier, simply click on the ‘Select Annotation’ button under the ‘Home’ tab.

Finding free photos: 

  • A great place to find free public domain images is Pixabay. All of these photos are free to download and use without having to give attribution. You also do not need to have an account.

Creating photos: 

  • There are so many ways that students can create images that can be added to the document. Here are some ideas:
    • Phones: Use the camera on your phone to take photos and then transfer to your computer using a USB cable.
    • Online: Use Pixlr Express to take photos using your webcam and then add effects, borders, text, and more before downloading to your computer.
    • Windows 8 and above: Use the Camera app to take photos using your webcam.
    • Mac: Use Photo Booth to take photos using your webcam.
    • Screenshots: Using Snipping Tool on Windows or keyboard shortcuts on a Mac.

Recording audio: 

  • There are a number of options for recording audio files. Here are some online and offline options:
    • Online: Use SpeakPipe Voice Recorder.
    • Portable App: You can download and use Audacity Portable or WaveShop Portable.
    • Windows (built-in): Locate Sound Recorder or Voice Recorder on your computer.
    • Phone: Use the voice recorder function on your phone and then download to your computer.
    • Voice recorder: There are a number of cheap music players that you can buy that record audio and then download to the computer through USB.
    • Mac: Use QuickTime Player on your computer.

Some ideas for using it in the classroom: 

  • Students create a personal story with narration such as about where they are from, their daily life, or an event in their life.
  • One student puts together a series of images and another student narrates a fictional story using the images.
  • Students can create a dialog using one image. Each students posts audio comments on the shared document and listens to what others had to say.
  • Pictures and photos are put on a document in the wrong order and students need to match the proper image and text combinations.
  • Students in groups have a discussion on a topic and audio record that discussion. All of the groups then post their audio file on one class page which gets shared with everyone.
  • For students who can’t make it to a class due to other obligations, teachers add audio files to PDF handouts so students can work on their own before the next class.
  • Students create dual-language stories with their first language. Students write and record  the story in English and their first language.

TogetherTube: Watch videos or listen to audio together with others online

togethertube1One of the amazing things that webtools can do is to bring students together no matter where they are. TogetherTube is another great free tool that doesn’t require registration. It allows groups of people to watch videos or listen to audio files together in realtime, even if they are in other parts of the world. The files are synchronized so they all see it as if they were in the same room together.

This could be a really great tool for the language classroom where students could be assigned a video or audio file to watch or listen to with their classmates or in a group. Instead of doing it as a class, they could use their own devices or even be in different places and watch or listen to together and comment in the chat box.

Here how to use it:

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  • You now will be taken to the viewing room.

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  • Now to add your audio or video files. You can either search for a YouTube, Vimeo, or Dailymotion video or SoundCloud audio file, or you can paste in a web address (URL) from any of those sites. Click on ‘Search Videos’, type in your search description, and choose the site you would like to search.

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  • You will now see the video or audio files found using your search criteria, or the file using the URL.

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  • Once you have located the audio or video file you would like to watch or listen to with others, click on the green ‘thumbs-up’ button. The video will now appear in the player window area.

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  • The video will start playing immediately. You can pause it if you are planning on watching or listening with others. You can also adjust the video quality by clicking on the arrow in the bottom-right corner.

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  • To invite others to watch or listen with you, click on the ‘Invite Friends’ button along the top bar.

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  • A dialogue box will appear with a link you can copy and share with others. Be careful, this is a room anyone can enter without a password, so don’t share it on a public site such as Twitter or Facebook.

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  • To avoid others from finding your room on TogetherTube, click on the ‘Room Settings’ button along the top and a new page will open.

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  •  Uncheck the ‘Public Room’ option and click on ‘Save’. You can also change the room name if you would like and even add a description. There are a number of other options on the left side menu, but most of those are for registered users. Close this window to return to your room.
  • In you room, you also have a text chat option on the right-hand side. Just type your message and hit enter to send it to all users in the room.

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  • Any user that enters the room will see the video or hear the audio being played at the same time as all other participants in the room. Anyone can pause the file and even add other videos or audio files to the playlist  by searching or pasting in a URL and clicking on the ‘thumbs up’ button. Files with the most votes get bumped up the playlist.

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 Here is a printable guide for teachers and students

Notepad: A collaborative text editor with text and audio chat

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 4.11.08 PMOne tool I use in my language classroom quite a bit is a collaborative text editor / word processor. For years, I have even using TitanPad as my main text editor since students don’t have to register and yet I can password protect it. One thing that is missing from TitanPad and other collaborative writing platforms is the ability to audio chat as well as text chat. Also, with the advent of mobile devices, Adobe Flash sites have become an issue for me, so I am always on the lookout for sites that use HTML5 so mobile users can us it.

One such site is Notepad. It doesn’t require any registration and doesn’t have any ads. Users can invite others to join in and collaborate on a document using a unique URL. Users on a browser such as FireFox, Chrome, or Opera can also give permission to use the microphone to audio chat. It is super simple to use and could be an effective tool in the language classroom. Here is how it works:

  • Go to Notepad and a new note will appear on the screen.

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  • At this point, users can start typing a message on the notepad. It doesn’t allow for any formatting, but that can also be an advantage as students won’t be tempted to fiddle with the settings.
  • On the right hand side is a set of blue buttons:

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  • Clicking on the top button allows users to change their name (‘Update your name’), add a profile picture (‘Change avatar’), and pick a colour to use so others viewing will know who is where on the screen (‘Pick a profile color’). You can also get help, give feedback to the website owner, or end the notepad (creator only).

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  • Clicking on the second button will give you a unique URL that you can share with others. Remember, anyone with the link can see and edit the document. Be careful where you share it.

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  • Clicking on the third button from the top will prompt the browser to ask you for access to your microphone. This starts the audio chat. Make sure to click on the appropriate button on your browser to give it access.

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  • Clicking on the bottom button will open the text chat window.

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  • When others are online, you will see where their mouse cursor is with a small hand and their profile name and colour. If you click anywhere, a circle will appear in your profile colour that everyone can see.

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I have added it to my ‘Webtools: No Registration Needed for Students‘ page under the ‘Documents‘ section.

 

Record and host audio online with SpeakPipe Voice Recorder

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 7.09.30 PMOne tool I use quote often in my English language classroom is a voice recorder. For years, I used Vocaroo as my online recorder, but I have stopped that completely due to the awful ads that are shared with the listener of the shared audio file. Instead, I am using SpeakPipe Voice Recorder. It is a simple, online voice recorder that doesn’t need registration. Files are downloaded or shared online using a unique URL. Listeners can also download the file or listen online. Best of all, there are no ads anywhere on the site. It evens works with mobile devices. Here is how it works:

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  • For laptop and desktop users, you will be asked to give permission to Adobe Flash to have access to the microphone. Click on ‘Allow’.

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  • SpeakPipe will immediately start recording. If you would like to restart, simply click on ‘Reset’. When you are done, click on ‘Stop’.

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  • If you audio is quiet, you may get this message. You can click on ‘Replay’ to listen to the audio. If you are then happy with it, click on ‘Save on server’, otherwise click on ‘Reset’ to start again.

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  • You may give your recording a title or simply leave it blank. Click on ‘Save’ to upload to the server. Notice, the file will be saved there for three months from the last playback.

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  • You will then be given a playback window with an embed code shown along the bottom. You can embed this file in your website using the code. Click on ‘Link to this recording’ to get the unique URL that you can share with others.

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  • This is the final step. Simply copy the URL from the top of the page and share it with the person or people you would like. You can also click on the ‘download’ text to download the file to your computer.

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Audacity vs. Ocenaudio – Comparing Free Audio Editor Programs

Image courtesy of Kris S.

Image courtesy of Kris S.

If you have been involved in language teaching for any length of time, you have probably had some experience in using the free, open-source audio program, Audacity. In fact, for some schools, this is installed on all of the lab computers and is the primary audio recorder for both students and teachers. It comes in various versions, such as a portable version you can take with you on your USB drive, and for multiple platforms, such as Mac and Windows.

Recently, I have come across the free, but not open-source, audio editor Ocenaudio that is also cross-platform, but for myself is a much more user-friendly offering for those wishing to record and edit audio on their computer. Because of this, I have decided to do my first head-to-head software comparison by looking at the installation, features, and usability of these two apps.

Audacity

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Cost: Completely free. Audacity is open source which means that it can be adapted by anyone who wants to tweak or change the source code. In other words, it has been created over time by a whole lot of people working apart, yet together on the same project. The advantage to this is that if anything goes wrong, anyone can fix it. Also, since there is no company involved, there is no fear that the support will dry up.

Installation:

  • Windows (Option 1): Download the main installer (23MB) and run the installer. You will need administration rights to do this.
  • Windows (Option 2): Download the ZIP file of the installer (9MB) and uncompress the file and then run the installer. You will need administration rights to run the installer.
  • Windows (Option 3): Download the portable version from PortableApps (21MB) and run the installer to uncompress and copy to a portable drive such as a USB thumb drive. You can get around the administration rights problem doing it this way, but it takes longer to boot up each time (minimal) and you can’t associate file types with it (ie. you can’t make Windows always open certain file types with it simply by double-clicking on the file. You will need to start Audacity and then open the file that way).
  • Mac (Option 1): Download the DMG file (33MB) and open the DMG file (click or double-click depending on where you do this) and copy (ie. drag-and-drop) the Audacity folder to the Applications folder (actually, you can copy this anywhere you would like on your computer, but the Applications folder makes the most sense).
  • Mac (Option 2): Download the ZIP file (15MB) and open the file (click or double-click depending on where you do this) and then move the folder to the Applications folder (actually, you can copy this anywhere you would like on your computer, but the Applications folder makes the most sense). Note that this option does not have the help files with it.
  • Additional installation: For either the Mac or Windows version, you will need to install the LAME plug in if you want to export (ie. save) your work as an MP3 file. Since most devices (computers, portable audio players, phones, and so on) can play MP3 files, this is highly recommended. In order to do that, you will need to download the LAME plugin and run the installer (Mac or Windows). Once that is done, you will be able to export any file as an MP3 file.
Basic Features:
  • Recording: Once you open Audacity, you will be presented with the main window with buttons, drop-down menus, and the main audio channels. It can be very overwhelming for someone who isn’t used to audio editing or the options that you are presented with. To do a simple audio recording, you need to choose the audio host, the output and input devices, and the input channels. Once that is okay, you can simply press the Record button to start and the Stop button to stop.
  • Cutting: If you have just recorded something, you will see the waveform of the file in the central window. To edit, simply click-and-drag over the area you would like to delete and press play to hear if that is okay. If you need to adjust, simply move either end of the selection and play to check again. Once you are satisfied that you would like to remove that section, simply hit the delete key and that section will be discarded and the remaining two sections will merge. If you are editing an imported file (ex. MP3) file, Audacity has to encode it as a lossless file before editing and then re-encodes the file, losing quality along the way.
  • Adding: Select the area you would like to copy from by clicking-and-dragging over the area. Copy or cut that section (I use hotkeys, but you can also use the Edit menu or right-click on the mouse and select copy or cut) and then click in the area you would like to insert the new section and paste your selection.
  • Adjusting the audio for a section: Select the area you would like to adjust the volume by clicking-and-dragging over the area. Along the top menu, choose Effect and then Amplify. Adjust the slider up or down and click on OK to apply the changes. If the OK button greys out (ie. you can’t click on it), either adjust your slider since you have put it up too much and part of the audio wave will be cut off (ie. clipped), or select the ‘Allow Clipping’ option and then OK.
  • Saving: You can save an recording or editing project as an Audacity file, allowing you to continue working on it at a later time. Once you are finished, you can export the product in various formats including MP3 if you have the LAME plugin installed (see above).

Usability / Design: Audacity is an older program (started in 1999) and the design has basically remained unchanged over that time. It was designed to be a full-featured audio editor for those who were familiar with all of the terms and features of a full blown audio editor. As a result, the design is a bit overwhelming for the average user and also a bit clunky to operate. To be perfectly honest, it is ugly. I don’t expect it to be super stylish, but the design often works against the usage and makes it more difficult to use than necessary. After saying that, at least it is consistent. Once a person learns how to use it, future updates should remain familiar if the past is any indication. There is something to be said about not having to re-learn everything with a new update (I’m looking at you Microsoft!).

Ocenaudio

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Cost: Completely free. Ocenaudio is not open source, but did start off with a research group in a Brazilian university needed an app for a specific project. Therefore, it can not be adapted or changed by anyone outside of that group. If the group wants to kill the project or start charging for it or any part of it, they can. The likelihood of this is remote, but something to consider.

Installation:

  • Windows: Download the installer (16-18MB) and run it. You will need administration rights to run the installer.
  • Mac: Download the DMG file (22MB) and copy the app to your Applications folder (actually, you can copy this anywhere you would like on your computer, but the Applications folder makes the most sense).
Basic Features:
  • Recording: Upon opening Ocenaudio, you are presented with a very clean, minimalistic main window with a few buttons, a file window on the left, and a audio window in the centre. It looks very easy to use, even for those who are not accustomed to audio editing. To do a simple audio recording, simply press the Record button to start and a menu for the sample rate, channels, and resolution options drops down. Click on ‘OK’ to start recording, and then click on the Record button to stop recording.
  • Cutting: If you have just recorded something, you will see the waveform of the file in the central window. To edit, simply click-and-drag over the area you would like to delete and press play to hear if that is okay. If you need to adjust, simply move either end of the selection and play to check again. Once you are satisfied that you would like to remove that section, simply hit the delete key and that section will be discarded and the remaining two sections will merge. If you are editing an imported file (ex. MP3) file, Ocenaudio doesn’t require re-encoding, making it faster and simpler as well as cleaner since the audio is compressed multiple times.
  • Adding: Select the area you would like to copy from by clicking-and-dragging over the area. Copy or cut that section (I use hotkeys, but you can also use the Edit menu or right-click on the mouse and select copy or cut) and then click in the area you would like to insert the new section and paste your selection.
  • Adjusting the audio for a section: Select the area you would like to adjust the volume by clicking-and-dragging over the area. Along the top menu, choose Effects and then Amplitude and Gain. Adjust the slider left or right and click on OK to apply the changes.
  • Saving: You can save an recording or editing project in various formats including MP3 (no plug in required).

Usability / Design: Ocenaudio is a new program and the design certainly shows that. The interface is welcoming, clean, and easy to use. It feels familiar for those who are used to using similar programs. Instead of opening multiple windows, each file is listed along the left-hand side, making it easier to toggle between them. Also, the lack of buttons makes it simpler for those who just want to record, edit, and save.

Conclusion

After using Audacity for many years, I am aware of the quirks and benefits of this fairly well known program. Ocenaudio is a newcomer to this market, but a welcome one. From what I can see, Ocenaudio is more than capable of handling what language learners and instructors need in an audio recorder / editor, making it more user friendly to install and use. Where Audacity still has an edge is in the area of portability. If you have to switch computers all of the time and don’t have the recorder installed on all of those machines, the portable version of Audacity is a handy friend to have in your bag. After saying that, it isn’t very often that I have this problem and I suspect that is the same for most instructors. If that is the case, I would lean towards Ocenaudio as my main audio editor.

Creating a social asynchronous webinar

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Image courtesy of Mark Sebastian

By now, most people have likely at least heard of the term webinar if not taken part in one. I have had the privilege to have given one and also to have taken part in some. For those who maybe have only have heard of the term before but aren’t sure what they are about, here is a quick overview. A webinar is a short seminar hosted live on the internet where people can watch it streaming anywhere in the world if there is at least half-decent internet access. Also, participants can usually ask questions and participate in polls through the text chat functions. Some webinars even allow for live audio and video based questions, but only when there is a moderator in place that can help things run smoothly. Here is my chart comparing face-to-face seminars to webinars:

Face-to-face

 

Webinar

 

Advantage

 

Location

One location Anywhere with internet access Webinar – Saves time and money not having to travel

Time

One time zone Multiple time zones Face-to-face – Easier to schedule for one time zone.

Speaker

Local or must travel Can be anywhere Webinar – Greater access to a selection of speakers

Audience

Local or must travel Can be anywhere Webinar – Broader audience

Costs

Room and speaker costs Internet access and speaker costs Webinar – Location fees can drive up the price

Participation

Ask questions on the spot and discuss afterward Can send text and sometimes audio questions and discussion during
and after
Face-to-face – Both can make use of technology to engage the audience during and after the seminar, but talking to someone in person can be a slight advantage

Adaptability

Pretty much set as far as structure goes Somewhat more flexible on changing the structure Webinar – Even though both can make changes ‘on the fly’ to meet the needs of those participating, neither are that flexible

Reviewing

Can be recorded and posted for comments and discussion Can be recorded and posted for comments and discussion Webinar – No major difference other than the questions are usually typed up and displayed on the screen during the recording making it easier to see them in the video afterward

Planning

Needs to be planned well in advance Can be set up on a very quickly Webinar – Clear winner here.

Sound

Depends on where you sit in the room Depends on your computer setup Webinar – While technology can be finicky at times, the option of making it as loud or as quiet as you want makes this the clear winner.

For the most part, webinars win out in regards to the advantages, but upon reviewing the chart, you can see there are still some things that could be improved. For me, the biggest disadvantage to both webinars and seminars is the schedule. For both of these, if you want to be a participant in the session, you need to be there when the session is happening. That is fine if you have the time, but I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to take part in a webinar or seminar, but I had a class or meeting or something else on that made it impossible to participate. Yes, I can also watch the seminar later on, but it isn’t the same as being there. There is a reason we like to be at a seminar when it happens. While not exactly the same, it is similar to a live drama production. People attend live productions in the theatre not for the precision of the execution since that is more possible through the ability to retake a scene as in filming, but the value is in being a part of the production and the energy the comes from those in attendance and the actors on stage. This is the same for the live seminar or webinar.

Once you take all of those advantages, disadvantages, and ideas and put them into a pot, what comes out? That is what I’ve been thinking about for some time now and here is what I have come up with. It is still a work in progress and is open to suggestions and changes, so feel free to chime in.

I want to do an asynchronous webinar that adapts to the what the audience needs and possibly even includes the audience as part of the webinar. To make this happen, it will require the use of various pieces of the technology puzzle.

The first piece is something to host the video and allow for in-video comments and discussion. This would make use of short recorded pieces spread out over a period of time to allow others to watch when they can (the asynchronous part). For this, I have chosen VideoANT from the University of Minnesota. It takes hosted video and wraps it with a tool where anyone can pause the video at any section and add a comment which shows up as a list beside the video. Click on those comments and the video starts playing where the comment was added. People can even reply to those comments to add to the discussion. This is a free tool that requires minimal registration to view and comment, although even the registration has a workaround to avoid giving away personal information. More on that later.

The next piece of the puzzle is the video host. For this, I am going to use YouTube to host my video since VideoANT works best with that. It would be possible to have others share their videos through other means, but for now, simplicity rules here.

The last piece of the puzzle is a discussion board and host for all things related to the webinar. It should be a place anyone could add to without needing to register. For this, I ended up going with a WordPress blog since I can set the comments to anyone and this allows for people to share thoughts and ideas with nested comments. Also, it keep all of the material in one place. There may be better tools out there to do this, but for accessibility reasons, I think this will work.

Here is a video I recorded talking about this same thing, but showing how VideoANT could be used. Go to the link, enter in your email address, or a fake one if you like, and press play to watch the video. If you want to add a comment while watching, click on the ‘Add an Annotation’ and the video will pause and you can add a text comment.

videoant

Watch and comment

Thanks for your time. I welcome all comments, suggestions, and criticisms.