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Conference Showcases Technology and Learning
by Sarah Cheverton, Center for Instructional Technology

Approximately 60 JMU faculty, staff and students attended the CIT's first Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference on Thursday, April 10 in Taylor Hall. The topic of this conference was The Video Revolution.

Seven JMU faculty demonstrated how they use various forms of video and audio in their instruction. Presenters included Dr. Steve Anderson (School of Media Arts and Design), Brian Cockburn (Music Library), Dr. Cheryl Talley (Psychology), Dr. Steve Purcell (Secondary Education), Dr. Rich Clemens (Educational Technology & Media Center), Dr. Rich Ingram (College of Education) and Bob Eliason (Management/College of Business). Throughout the day, these experienced teachers and users of technology reminded us that as “cool,” interesting, and enticing as these forms of media are, we must still have sound pedagogical reasons for including them in our instruction. As they described and demonstrated their particular use of video and audio, each presenter discussed how student learning was affected.

Dr. Anderson demonstrated how to combine text, video, image and sound files into one synchronized video file that can be streamed through the Web. Students can view “pre-recorded” lectures prior to class, leaving more time in the classroom for in-depth discussion and analysis. The technology he uses to create the video files is called SMIL (Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language). Dr. Anderson manually writes the code to create these files. Alternatively, users can quickly and easily create files using programs such as RealPresenter that will write the code “behind the scenes.”

Brian Cockburn demonstrated Digital Orpheus, an online Library system that streams audio files put on reserve for student study and classroom instruction. At the request of faculty, Music Library staff digitize various types of audio recordings and make them available as reserve items through the JMU Library Catalog. This allows multiple students to simultaneously “check out” the reserve without physically visiting the Library and having to wait for the reserved audio cassette to be available.

Dr. Talley showed the group several examples of graphical animations created with Macromedia Flash. These dynamic animations are used to illustrate complicated and often hard-to-explain concepts in Physiological Psychology. She reported that in a few seconds, students understood a concept that in the past required multiple explanations over multiple class sessions. She also shared how digital video is used to help students understand the impact of images and sounds on our perceptions.

Drs. Purcell, Clemens and Ingram described how College of Education students are exposed to various video tools used for instruction. For example, Dr. Purcell requires his students to create a video using Apple’s iMovie or other video editing software packages. Other students are involved in video conferencing projects where individuals or groups at different locations can see and hear one another in virtual classrooms. And, through various grants, Dr. Clemens and Dr. Ingram have obtained and created a wide assortment of video-related tools, systems and services which are available through the Educational Technology Media Center. Enhancement plans for the Center are underway.

The final presentation of the day, Bob Eliason offered tips and guidelines for creating interesting and effective videos. Starting with good “raw” footage is key. Long videos of a “talking head” with poor lighting and low sound quality are ineffective in capturing the students’ attention.  Mr. Eliason also demonstrated how easy it is to create a video using Apple’s iMovie3 video editing software.

In addition to faculty presentations, Grover Saunders, Media Training Coordinator in the Center for Instructional Technology demonstrated how Tegrity, a new content-development tool, creates multimedia presentations that are easily streamed to the student. Tegrity offers user-friendly tools to create and combine PowerPoint slides, pre-recorded video, “on-the-fly” video, document camera images, video-screen captures and sound into one easy-to-stream video file. This tool is a much more sophisticated tool than programs like RealPresenter.

Exhibits were available throughout the day in Taylor 405. Conference attendees could see and "play with" the new Blackboard 6, the new Centra Symposium 6, Tegrity, the CIT CD Duplicator, RealPresenter, WebMail (the new JMU mail system), the new Electronic Grading System and digital cameras. They were also able to see a web cast of the presentations from Taylor 404 and view streaming media files played from CIT streaming servers. Brian Cockburn, Debbie Ford and Tom Syre each won a Logitech Pro4000 QuickCam as a CIT door prize; Jeanne Wenos won a Dell 64 MB Memory Key card from Computing Support. Most importantly, attendees could snack on continental breakfast items and an excellent potato bar at lunch!

For more information about this year's conference, you can go to the conference website. Thanks to everyone who helped make this a success. We look forward to next year!

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