Friday, March 28

Crashing the Workshop to Capture a Great Learning Moment!

"In one session, Zaid himself shared that he recorded one session of a professor (if I can remember correctly), just the voice and then he added a powerpoint presentation of the talk which I thought was brilliant and at no extra cost." - Christopher Chew

Sometimes in life you need to be reminded indirectly by others that you have an interesting story to share (on your blog). Thanks to Christopher, I have one (I think)! Let's try to recap what really happened (True story!)...
Once upon a time (August 2005), UNITAR was conducting a facilitation workshop for their academic staff, and I was not officially invited. Did that stop me from crashing the workshop?

Although, I was not an academic, I had great interest in attending this event to learn and get some more ideas on a special project I was working on. At that time I was preparing a proposal on how we could improve our existing teaching and learning approach. Since a few of UNITAR's great educators were also giving talks on how UNITAR should move forward, attending this workshop made a whole lot of sense!

Interestingly, I had just discovered and bought an audio recorder thumb drive (128Mb. 1st generation!), which could record up to eight (8) hours. So, not only was I planning to attend, but I was also thinking about recording the whole event, so that I could recap and reflect it later. Also, UNITAR had a couple months back invested in a rapid e-learning authoring tool called Macromedia Breeze (which today is Adobe Presenter), which I thought was perfect for this learning adventure.

Since the speakers were using microphones, I was hoping that we could record directly to a computer device, but that was not possible thanks to my limited knowledge about Audacity. They did record some of the talks with a video camera, but the video/audio quality was simply a disaster. Luckily, I had my new thumb size audio recorder, but the question was where to place it to get the best possible output. After a bit of non-scientific exploration, I simply placed the audio recorder close to a speaker (which was located out of reach from the audience) and recorded all the four (4) speakers that day.

Although, the audio recordings were not really clear, you could hear what the speaker was saying, and that was positive.

All the four talks were great, but Professor Dato' Dr. Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid's one was something special worth taking extra efforts to preserve for mankind. Interestingly, he did not prepare any PowerPoint slides, while the other three (3) did. And anyone who knows Prof. Bajunid, knows he will switch on his multiple thinking processor and wonder into multiple dimensions while giving a talk, shooting nuggets of wisdom here and there. I suppose more structured thinkers might find that very annoying, but I am not one of them.

So, for the other three (3) speakers it was simply to beef up their slides a bit, and then synchronize the audio (and delete a few 'ahs' and 'ums' in the audio editor in Breeze) with the slides, and voila we had three Breeze presentations.

However, for Professor Bajunid's talk it was a bit more complicated since I did not have any slides to refer to. So, I had to listen to his great but wondering talk (a few times!) and cook up a few slides to visualize and chunk it. Click here to know what I am talking about.

After completing my little experiment, I shared what I did with all the four speakers, and they were all surprised and happy about it. Interestingly, one of them discovered (speech therapy!) that he kept on repeating a particular word (I think it was 'Right') a lot of times during his 30 minute speech, which he asked me to take out. I did (easy with the audio editor) and discovered that he was right! He managed to say 'Right' more than 60 times in 30 minutes.

Alright, with today's technologies you can actually record a lecture (audio/video) and synchronize the slides on-the-fly, which is kind of cool. But for compression/downloading/streaming sake, if all you see is a talking head, you might want to consider simply having a picture of the speaker. Also, a bit of editing might be useful, especially if the lecturer visits the toilet frequently.

If you can't afford commercial tools like Adobe Presenter or Articulate, you could for example use a free tool such as Slideshare, which allows you to add audio, too.

Whatever tool you use, what is important is to capture great learning events such as Professor Bajunid's talk about teaching and learning, and make it conveniently available to anyone around the world (compressed, chunked, engaging and juicy!). Although, Professor Bajunid is no longer with UNITAR (neither am I!), I do hope that UNITAR continue to make his presentation available to mankind (at least for their own branding sake!).

If you ask me (who are you!), this talk is a treasure that can engage our learning minds for another century (at least a decade!). Hmm, I do apologize for some of the grammar bloopers in the slides, but who cares when Professor Bajunid engages your mind to think.

"...Lecturers who know nothing else except their PowerPoint slides...They are just PowerPoint notes, not process. They have no stories, no biographies, no histories..." - Professor Bajunid

If you are wondering what this means, click here :)

1 comment:

Christopher Chew said...

Thanks Zaid, you nailed it! This is the one! This is really a good idea. Simple, cost effective and powerful.