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Showing posts from January, 2013

Are Hangouts Any Good For Presentations?

In recent posts I've described how we've been using Google Hangouts to stream Archaeology seminars. These have been simple point-the-laptop-at-the-speaker-and-press-go affairs. Because we had a real live and remote audience at the the last seminar I've been wondering if we could do a better job of displaying the presenter's slides rather than just the webcam video of the speaker.
At first glance it would seem that there are two ways of displaying the speakers slides. The first would be using the Google Drive tool. But when you select that tool, you are sharing the "editing" view of your slides. Not what you want at all. If you choose "Present" the app goes full screen and you lose the Hangout you're in.
The other option might be to use the Screenshare tool, but the same thing applies. You can see my slides below are being shown in a shared window, but it is with the addition of the slide thumbnails, the speaker notes and even the browser  tabs …

Problems adding events in Google Calendar

Anyone else get this sort of thing when adding Google Calendar events? ....  which often results in an event just disappearing.

Hang on, I've also been getting this...

Using Google Hangouts (On Air) To Stream Archaeology Seminars

+Sara Perry wanted to use Google Hangouts to quickly and easily record seminars for students that can't make it in person and to help with promoting the work of the Archaeology dept. 

We decided on using minimal tech intervention. No requirement to use a certain presentation tool. No microphones etc.

Many presenters are easily spooked by extra technology, especially when speaking,  but we also want this to be an easy enough process that Sara will be able to make sure it happens without needing any preparation.  

This cheap and cheerful approach also guides the aesthetics of the video, we aren't planning to add titles, idents, logos etc. We tested a MacBook Pro that was close to the presenters pedestal and found the internal mic in that was "good enough" for a small presentation room. 

We did buy a cheap webcam and a long USB cable so that we didn't have to use the camera on her laptop. This means the video capture can "step back" a little and take in more o…

Using Google Spreadsheets to Record Chemistry Experiment Marks

Each year, around 200 chemistry students perform 20 Lab Experiments ( that’s roughly 4,000 a year ). Each test has a variety of marks to be kept by at least three people, the lab technician ( did they attend?), the tutor ( did they create the right chemistry and hand in their notes?) and the course leader ( are there any exceptions or mitigating circumstances etc).

What was previously a paper-based method had recently been made to work in our VLE, but the data captured was in a cumbersome wiki text format. And whilst the user interface was simple enough, the technology was struggling and getting the data collected from the VLE into our marks database required considerable human effort.

Working with David Pugh in Chemistry, we looked at using a Google Spreadsheets to collect the experiment data instead. After a few prototypes we have decided to use a very simple ( but quite wide ) spreadsheet to store the data and a web application “front end” for the markers to enter their marks.  I ha…

Using Hangouts On Air To Present In Kings Manor, York and Southampton

Last night, Alice Watterson(Glasgow School of Art) presented Digital Dwelling at Skara Brae to a packed room K/111, Kings Manor, University of York about her collaboration making digital reconstructions. Here she is (above ) from the "stage" with Sara Perry.

Alice was also watched by a roomful of researchers at Southampton University, who tuned in to the Hangout and managed to ask questions in a short Q&A at the end.
We're still experimenting with how to get the best from Google+ Hangouts whilst keeping the recording process speaker-responsibility-free andtechnology-minimalist in that we don't want the speaker to have to do anything special to be streamed, and we also don't want Sara, who hosts the seminars to have to set up heaps of scary equipment.
We may have to compromise though. For example, if the speaker would be willing to send us their slides beforehand and willing, instead of using Powerpoint - to use the Hangout tool, then external viewers could w…

Using Google Sites For Student Work ( Philosophy )

The Idea Prof +Tom Stoneham and Nick Jones had the idea of using Google Sites as an alternative to textual documents for student work, in this case, a dissertation about a certain philosopher.

Google Sites give the opportunity for the creation of a network of information rather than a narrative document. A site can hold videos, audio and refer to other online resources with links.

The idea was that there would be a simple template site (see above), with boiler plate text and guidance about copyright issues etc. and the student could then start editing existing pages and creating new ones.

Administration From an administrational perspective, the Google sites would need to be closed to student when the deadline was met. Ideally, it would good if the student could have a copy of their Google Site - both to continue working on it and to use in their portfolio of work.

Whilst Tom didn't need the student's identity to be anonymized, but we used a unique reference number for the nam…