Category Archives for WeVu Blog

Remote video coaching: so many reasons it’s great for athletes of all ages






Video analysis is huge for professional and college sports and now it is finding its way into youth sports, high school, and clubs too. But so far it’s mostly about game analysis – video sessions in classrooms. Most people don’t realize there’s a new way to use video for personalized coaching even in team sports. Players can have their ‘real coach’ coaching the team, PLUS a separate personal video coach. We’re not talking about the kind of skills coach that players get when they pay for professional one-on-one coaches. We’re talking about a coach to analyze training and games, and individual work separate from the team, and coach players on what to do to get better, including the mental side of the game.

In the old days, you’d need to have your personal coach in the stands and even at practices, spying on the whole team. But this is the age of video and phones and the cloud – YouTube and all that. Coaches can see players practice and play even when they live across the country or around the world.

Players have been making videos for recruiting for a long time now. So why not use the same technology while the players are developing, using video to get coaching tailored to the player’s needs, from a hand-picked personal coach?

There are a whole bunch of reasons why this is a good idea.

  1. It’s truly personalized training. If you send video to a coach, you’re paying for his or her time focussing on YOU. There’s a reason why pro teams have so many coaches: because only then can the players get specific things they can work on. On most youth teams there just isn’t enough time for coaches to spend time talking to and making notes for every player. Sure, it happens a bit, but it’s uneven and sometimes players feel their coach concentrates on other players. What’s better for an individual player’s development: listening to one coach tell the whole team 20 or 30 different things in a practice, or having a personal coach give the player 3 things to work on in training and try to put into action in games?
  2. The second reason is that it works better than coaches telling players what they did wrong. With video and remote coaching, the player can connect the feedback and advice to what is really happening so they understand how to play better. With video and comments right alongside, players truly notice and understand what they did and what they could have done.  If you do something in a game and then a coach tells you in the locker room after the game that you should be doing it differently, how likely is it that you’ll work on it individually and then remember that advice in a game? In fact, it’s natural for humans to not even recognize or admit that they’ve done something wrong. Seeing is believing; and improving. 

          Learn more on the WeVu for Athletes Page
     
  3. It’s recorded – it lasts. It doesn’t go away. It’s always available to the player to check and look back on. If the player gets frustrated about something, the coach can point out why it’s happening and can even point back to the same thing a few months ago. And that means the player can see the progress. You might hear: “Wow, ok, I look at early in the season where I wasn’t in the right stance defensively. My coach pointed it out and gave me a challenge to work on it. Now in these new game videos it looks like I’ve figured it out.” Think of what that progress does for a player’s confidence. That’s what Lindsay Huddleston of Sports Psychology Solutions has seen with the athletes he coaches.
  4.  Everyone needs a second opinion. (Even Stanford’s Health Care system offers remote second opinions!)  Team coaches that keep a totally open mind about players’ development are a rare breed. It’s natural human psychology to put people in boxes and then interpret what you see to confirm how those biases. But when you send video to a coach somewhere else, who has no connection to your team, you’re getting a fresh set of eyes. It’s like sending MRI results to a radiologist in another city – maybe they will see something that the first doctor didn’t, or maybe just start in a different part of the image and put the pieces together to form a different conclusion. There’s even a college basketball scout named Norm Eavenson that bills himself as a second opinion.
  5. It actually teaches you how to learn. Taking feedback in a positive way and really having it sink in so that your actions are affected is surely one of the most important skills in life. Education experts call this “reflective practice” and it’s now a thing in athlete development. When we’re coached in person, in real time, our defenses go up and our minds play all kinds of tricks on us because we’re social beings and we don’t like disapproval. That’s all different when you’re interacting with a qualified, experienced, positive coach online. The time and distance you have to digest the advice and try to improve patiently over time is a really valuable lesson in how to learn. It carries over to school and work and everything else.
  6. The coach can assign online videos or film their own demonstrations for you. All that can happen in the same platform where you are uploading your video. Coaches can make a comment and link to a video of a pro player or a coaching resource video. That’s better and cheaper than watching a coach demonstrate in person because you can replay it over and over and compare it to what you’re doing now.
  7. It’s better value. Remote coaching costs less – here’s why. Let’s face it, you can only improve a few things at a time. Working in a concentrated way on one or two things is the most effective way to improve. So you only need a coach to pick out those one or two things and then go work on them. When the coach doesn’t have to travel and spend lots of time with you, you won’t pay nearly as much as you would in person. Coaches can watch the film and make their comments right in an online video platform from the comfort of their home, so when they spend half an hour with your film, you pay for half an hour of their time. Remote coaching has already hit the big time in fitness coaching, as this article in Shape magazine shows.
  8. The coaching is more accountable, so you’re more likely to get good stuff from your coach. Online coaches who don’t give productive, actionable feedback won’t last long – their reviews won’t be good. And athletes aren’t stuck with a coach; they can move on if they’re not getting what they need.
  9. Use these videos for recruting. Coaches at the next level don’t pay much attention to a mixtape you edited with all your highlights. Eventually they want to see the real you, making bad plays as well as the highlight reel stuff. Why not show them the real you, with coaching points, and how you’ve made progress. That’s what they really want: someone who cares about learning, puts the effort in, and can really learn from what coaches are pointing out.

You probably have another reason. Let us know in the comments below.

Coming Next: Part II – How to use video for remote coaching

We (of course) think WeVu is your best bet for ​remote coaching.​

How to organize, share, and discuss videos in groups

YouTube is amazing. It is a big part of the rapid transformations in how we communicate with each other in the modern world. Imagine if you met someone under 80 who didn’t know what YouTube was!

The problem is that YouTube is so dominant – and free – that people are trying to use it for more than it is designed for. It’s the obvious choice for sharing video privately because you can leave the video Unlisted, accessible by people who have the link. So you can share video privately by sharing a link in your group – on email or Facebook or whatever. [Fun fact: You can do this in Dropbox too, but for Basic (free) plan accounts you can only stream the first 15 minutes of a video.]

But there are some serious problems with using YouTube like this.
There are better alternatives that we discuss below.

There are so many kinds of groups that might want to share videos privately.

  • Sports teams wanting to share and discuss training and game footage
  • Teachers wanting students to watch and engage with video
  • Creative teams wanting to comment on drafts of videos and images
  • People in the arts and crafts filming themselves to get remote coaching
  • Musicians that want to critique their performances together
  • Businesses that want to record their employees’ performance to make sure they’re doing things right and provide coaching so they get better
  • and lots more…

We see at least three problems with using YouTube to share videos.

First, it’s not really all that private because if the link gets shared just a little too far, and then those people share the link, you’ve lost control and your only option is to take the video down. Maybe it can be posted again with a new link but then the cycle might start all over again.

Second, it’s cumbersome to keep multiple videos organized for the group. People often resort to another tool to store the links, like Facebook or Google Sheets. One high school basketball team, for instance, had a shared google spreadsheet with the names of the games they had played and a column with the link to the appropriate video. If you have a larger group with sub-groups, like teachers with groups in their classes, this gets really clunky and takes a lot of effort by the organizer. You can use YouTube Playlists, but you’ll have to provide a link to each one if your group wants to have multiple videos in multiple lists.

Third, while there are comments allowed on YouTube videos, they are only general comments, not tied to specific moments in the video. And they just appear in the chronological order they were made, so they’re not great for a group that wants to discuss what was happening and particular times in the video and have a dialogue about that, back and forth, asynchronously.

The solution  to these problems is to use a private video site that lets you import YouTube videos, organize them by putting them in playlists or assigning them to subgroups, and allows commenting and replies tied to specific moments in the video.

Here are some tools to do this (jump down to our recommendation):

  • Vimeo lets you do this. But you can’t import video directly from YouTube. And the timeline commenting is only available in the Pro version, which is $20USD/month for 3 users or $50/month for 10. Not really affordable for the kinds of groups that will be needing to store video on YouTube.
  • Frame.io is a nicely design video review app for creative industries. You could get a Pro account at $17/month and then have unlimited ‘reviewers’ so everyone in the group could watch and make comments. But they can’t upload their own video to the site or import from YouTube.
  • Ziflow is pretty similar. $18/user/month but you can also have unlimited reviewers with that one $18/month license. And same problem here: reviewers – group members -- can’t upload their own video to the site or import from YouTube.
  • Lumière is another one, designed for entertainment market research. You could use their free version, import YouTube only, and you’re limited to 25 people in the group. But their interface is really nice and even has pointers to spots on the video as well as timeline comments. The drawback is that those users don’t have accounts: you’re still just sharing a link even though it’s a Lumière link and you can put a set of videos in each ‘Activity’ that you share.
  •  VideoAnt was made by the University of Minnesota and still works, hosted free. It does have user accounts, connects to each user’s YouTube account, and has time-specific comments and replies. It even has groups. Not a bad solution at all. One disadvantage is that you can’t group videos together into playlists or assignments that your group members have to do. If you were running a pottery class and had students video themselves, upload to YouTube, and import to VideoAnt, your student videos would just be a jumble of videos on your catalog page in VideoAnt.
  • LookAt is another video review tool with pricing similar to Ziflow and Frame.io.
  • Dropmark might work. There’s a free version, which lets you bring in videos and other links, but to use it with a group you’ll need the Team plan at $5/user/month. And it looks like the commenting isn’t time-specific.

but our recommendation is...

We (of course) think WeVu is your best bet for sharing video privately, organizing the videos, and having discussions around them. WeVu is really free. All users get one free site where they can import YouTube and Dropbox videos. That WeVu site can contain multiple playlists and groups. You can invite as many users as you wish – up to 1000 per site. And best of all, when you log into WeVu you’ll see your own site and any other sites that you have been invited to. So you can be a site owner in control of one site but also be a member of other sites.

Seven Different Reasons Why All Skills Learning will Rely on Video in Just a Few Years

So much education is about hands-on skills, from the skilled trades to health professions to the arts and beyond. Obviously, students learning these skills are given opportunities to learn by doing, but one key technology is now starting to be used so students learn their skills better, faster, and have more confidence. That technology isn’t fancy virtual reality or something powered by AI. It’s just video, but it’s video that’s recorded on students’ own phones. We used to think video in education was about watching how things are done. That’s 90's technology and pedagogy. Now, video for education has been flipped upside-down so its real power is students recording themselves to see how they’re doing and how they can do better. This isn’t catching on quickly, but eventually every skills learner will be self-recording for reflection and feedback.

This is all part of the skills revolution in pedagogy and getting past The Content Bias in Edtech, as we wrote in a recent post.

Here are seven reasons why EVERY skills program -- from nursing to welding to music to business presentations --  will be using student-recorded video in a few years.  

But first, a question:

If you’re in hospital and a just-graduated nurse is operating a new pump to keep fluids or medication flowing into you at the right rate… Would you rather the new nurse had:

  1. Passed a written test on operating the pump; or
  2. Done a rushed simulation in person once with an instructor watching and giving some written feedback; or
  3. Practiced many times on the pump while self-recording on a phone, reflected on what could be done better, then got peer and instructor feedback, and then tried again and received the instructor’s stamp of approval. 

I know what my answer would be.

Reason 1: Effectiveness

Evidence is now beginning to pile up in favor of students’ self-recording, watching, and reflecting, and getting feedback from their expert instructors. We see this in studies in Nursing and other health professions education (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). The results are similar in education for skilled trades (here), in teacher education and school leadership (here, and here), and in client relations and presentations (here, here, here. and here). 

For one thing, we’re human and a lot of the time we don’t believe we’re doing something wrong until we see it. We heard from a young Dentistry professor, teaching Master’s-level dental students a specialty procedure, that her students regularly deny that they have made a little mistake operating on a plastic model. Then they see the video, swallow their pride (pun intended), and admit they need to practice it again to do it better.

Educational research shows that being a self-regulated learner, capable of honest reflection and taking feedback to heart, makes a big difference in skills learning. When video recording is done with buy-in from learners, not only does the performance of that particular skill improve, but they also learn how to self-regulate so that all of their learning becomes more effective.

Finally, there can be no doubt that practice makes perfect. But how much practice? Almost every skills educator will tell you that their students don’t practice enough. Why? Because there’s no teacher or trainer looming over them to watch them practice. But with phone video and cloud storage that just doesn’t apply any more. If you want students to practice, tell them to practice, self-record, and upload. Instructors don’t have to watch every minute; they just have to know that it’s being done. We even think this applies to youth sports – kids and parents are so competitive, why don’t they demand that the coach assigns homework?!?

Despite greater effectiveness… Unfortunately in education effectiveness doesn’t always drive curriculum and technology decisions. That’s because it’s so hard to measure effectiveness. So we need to look at other reasons why all skills learning will use student-recorded video in a few years’ time.

Reason 2: Cost

Students don’t have someone watching them practice in person enough. It simply costs too much. There isn’t time for teachers to be there. So self-recording while practicing or demonstrating skills is a huge cost-saver.

Part of this is that in-person assessment and feedback takes a lot more time than the actual performance of the skill. Probably double the time.

Take a nursing student doing a head-to-toe exam. Doing a role-play with another student, this takes about 10 minutes. But getting into the room, getting into position, starting and finishing takes about another 5. If the instructor has time to give feedback, it probably takes another 5, as the student takes notes.

If the students self-record and upload, the instructor doesn’t have to leave the office. The 10 minute video can be watched and feedback given in about 12 minutes, maybe even in less than 10 minutes, skipping forward or playing at a faster speed, with a few feedback points given at the exact moments in the video.  

That’s a 40% savings in the instructor’s time. That time is a lot of money.

Skills programs are eventually going to recognize this because they’ll be able to properly teach more students with the same resources and produce better learning. The economics of not using video just don’t add up any more.

Reason 3: Accessibility

We know that video breaks barriers of time and space. In this case, it means that students and instructors don’t have to be in the same place at the same time. It isn’t just online programs that are wanting to make learning accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime; even on-campus programs want to make learning more accessible for students, including those with work or family commitments, or cost barriers to travel and accomodation.

Being able to do a skill, get feedback, and get assessed on it, from a distance, makes skills learning far more accessible. Even when the skills need to be learned in a specific context with equipment or materials provided by the school, students may be able to access them at times when instructors aren’t there (evenings!) and use video to get feedback. And think of skills that need to be learned on-location, in the field, like fitting valves on a pipeline. Video can make this far more accessible and cost-effective.

We heard a student in a French class at UBC in Vancouver say that recording her own skill (a presentation) “allowed me to create a presentation that I did not have to present in front of an entire class. I could record it at home, which meant I did not have to find childcare for my son, which I would have if we had presented in office hours. I still got the practice and feedback from my prof.”

Reason 4: Changing learner needs and demands

Every educator knows that students are less passive than they used to be. They are demanding that they graduate with competence and confidence in the skills they’re learning. At the same time, employers need specific, repeatable skills less than in the past. So employers and learners want programs to produce students with a great feel for the various skills in their professional domain. That means students are demanding more practice. They’re choosing programs based in Competency-based Learning.

Students and educators are also making learning more social than it ever has been. Group work, team-based learning, peer-review and peer-instruction are all finding their way into curriculum and classes. Students have more agency and more creativity in this context.  Since video is now such a ubiquitous and cheap mode of documenting learning and communicating, it seems natural that students will want to have a video camera in their hands to show that they’ve learned and to make original contributions to knowledge and dialogue. Quite simply, the evolving expectations of learners over the next fifty years will mean that they will ask for ways to show what they can do and get feedback from their teachers.

Reason 5: Changing teaching culture

Gradually, the cultures of teaching and course design are meeting students new expectations. Teachers, professors, instructors, trainers now want to see their students develop skills and confidence. Look at it this way: almost no new teachers, at any level, are content to do what was done to them and just talk at students and give papers and exams. They are now noticing all the educational research that shows learning involves deliberate practice with feedback, social support, agency, and modelling or mentorship from their teachers. Here’s the seminal article on deliberate practice by Anders Ericsson and colleagues.

Programs that are skills-heavy, especially the hands-on skills programs but also interpersonal skills programs, are noticing that their newer instructors are not afraid of students having a lot more control of their learning. Putting cameras in the hands of these learners makes sense to a new generation of teachers and course designers.

Reason 6: Rapidly changing technology

Skill programs, especially ones that involve the operation of technology, have to deal with the cost of that equipment. Think of a program in Automated Controls Installation and Maintenance. The technology they use must change all the time. Testing students using printed or even online materials would require a massive effort to keep up, year by year. But if students are simply operating the equipment and recording themselves, the assessment can be right to the point: Can the student do the job or do they need some coaching? The key here is that a student learns to operate equipment and solve problems in a given area, so it doesn’t even matter if the equipment is a bit out of date.

The student can then keep the video to show mastery of the skills to employers.

Reason 7: Badging and Blockchain for Qualifications

Which brings us to the final reason: Badging, Blockchain, Portfolios, AI and so on.

Resumes and interviews are dying out as employers look to hire hard-working, skilled, reliable people. In the software world most employers give extended problem-based tests to job-seekers. Other firms ask a candidate to come in for a day or a week and actually work.  Instead of resumes and interviews, employers are looking at Badges earned on short courses; ePortfolios showing the actual work that the person has done, including reflection on it; and various forms of network recommendations like LinkedIn.

What better way to prove that you can do something than by pointing an employer to video – hosted on your ePortfolio. Even better is if the course instructor or another expert has left comments and the student herself has reflected on the demonstration of competency. That shows humility, the ability to learn from coaching, and hopefully, that the learner mastered the technique.

HOW?

So how do you let students upload video assignments? Some of the big Learning Management Systems allow students to upload video, but they don’t really accommodate peer-learning or time-specific comments. For that you’ll need to go with these asychronous video tools:

  • WeVu – a very flexible, low-cost video platform for student-to-teacher and teacher-to-student video with groups, assignments, and time-specific annotations.
  • Bongo – a fully featured solution that includes structured question-and-answer assignments and grading with rubrics.
  • Practice.xyz – a solution for more structured challenges completed by learners and with guided peer feedback and upvoting.
  • Rehearsal – a more corporate-oriented solution where learners respond to video scenarios with their own video recorded on a webcam plus screencapture.

Education doesn’t move very fast in taking advantage of technological change to reinvent programs and curriculum. So it’ll take a few more years before all skills programs let learners learn from video of the learners themselves. I guess it took a while after the availability of paper and writing instruments for educators to shift from oral exams to written output, but it happened. Students could show that they could make an argument and communicate in an extended written form. Centuries later, smartphone video cameras and the cloud do something similar, breaking barriers of time and space for skills learning.

Feedback – We can’t learn without it

A simple feedback loop, applied in school zones in a small Californian suburb, “cut fatal injuries by about half.” (WIRED) By revealing speeding drivers’ speed to them via a giant on-street speedometer, “drivers slowed an average of 14 percent.” This effectively unraveled decades of law-enforcement dogma by proving the superior efficacy of feedback loops over punitive police surveillance, the traditional approach. Modern education has been moving slowly in this direction, but perhaps it lacks some of the tools that would enable this kind of feedback.

So what are feedback loops, what makes them so powerful, and how can they be applied to what’s going on in education thesedays?

40 years ago, Stanford professor Albert Bandura demonstrated that giving individuals clear goals and, more importantly, a means to evaluate their progress in real time, hugely boosted the likelihood that they would complete their given task. Bandura’s work has been confirmed and extended across psychology, epidemiology, military strategy, environmental studies, corporate training, engineering, and economics. The science behind the self-correcting magic of feedback loops can be broken down to four steps:

  1. Collecting the data
  2. Processing the data so it resonates with the subject
  3. Assigning weight or consequence to the data
  4. Recalibration of action as informed by the data

To use a very simple example , think about a tennis or volleyball player making a serve. If she observes the ball plow into the net, her brain instantaneously:

  1. Collects the data that the serve was no good,
  2. Does so in a way that makes sense to the player,
  3. Tells the player that she lost a point, a consequence of the mistake,
  4. Tells the player that she must strike the ball with more elevation on the next serve.

Enough serves and the player will be a top-level server due to the countless calibrations and recalibrations in this feedback loop. Ten thousand hours and all that…

Feedback and Health

But how can this be applied to a clinical context? Feedback is key in two growing areas in the health professions. One involves better feedback on the effects of medications and the other is in clinical skills education and training.

Consider the medical innovation Vitality GlowCaps – ‘smart’ pill caps that glow brightly and begin to play melodies as the patient’s time to take their medication gets nearer. Research has revealed the frightening fact that only about half of patients follow their pill consumption instructions exactly, leading to countless unnecessary deaths, particularly for those with heart issues. GlowCaps found a spectacular way to solve this issue. As Wired Magazine puts it,

“After three months, adherence in the control group had declined to less than 50 percent, the same dismal rate observed in countless other studies. But patients using GlowCaps did remarkably better: More than 80 percent of them took their pills, a rate that lasted for the duration of the six-month study.”

Harnessing the most fundamental element in the psychology of learning, this simple feedback loop has implications that could save countless lives.

Feedback in Education

What about feedback in educational programs – what problems can it solve? Consider the growing shortage of health professionals in countries like Canada. This excerpt from a 2016 Globe and Mail article sums it up best:

“The sum of all the numbers is a tightening nursing labour market,” says Karima Velji, president of the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), said in a statement. “Immediate action is needed to stave off the potentially long-lasting trend of a shrinking [registered nurse] work force and its consequences for population health.”

What’s causing the shortage in labor supply? One theory is that numerous adult learners are unable to commit enough time to traditional face-to-face classes due to economic and family pressures. To some extent, online courses can help, but these courses don’t give the student the practice they need to perform clinical skills.

Basically, online learners need feedback and even on-campus students could use a lot more practice and feedback.  The main roadblock to more and better feedback loops in clinical programs has historically been data collection. Clinical educators have had to be present to see students performing skills and to give them the briefest of verbal feedback. Now that we’re in an age of video anywhere, anytime with smartphones and YouTube, surely there’s a way to use video for practice and feedback in clinical education. WeVu.video is betting that asynchronous video for practice and feedback at precise moments on student videos will become indispensable for skills training at scale. Using learner-recorded video uploaded to the WeVu platform, face to face student-to-teacher time can decrease considerably, lowering costs, time commitments, and even the program’s environmental footprint. But students will get more practice and more feedback that sticks with the learner.  Online education with this kind of video-for-skills-learning may mobilize thousands of mature students unable to commit to a traditional schooling hours.

Feedback is really the central element of any skills learning program across many disciplines and professions. If technology can help us get more and better feedback, it will make a huge positive impact in our education systems. Fortunately, educators are now starting to see that video technology can contribute to the active, doing, part of education, not just the watching and listening part.

How and Why Educators are Including Video Assignments in their Courses

Educators from theatre to architecture to food science have discovered the big gains in student engagement and learning when students make videos and podcasts or just film themselves practicing the skills they’re learning.

Even literacy organizations formerly concerned exclusively with text, such as the International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Council of Teachers of English, have added standards emphasizing the need to foster creativity by going beyond text to have students us alternative media as a form of student production (Morgan, 2012). As the technology gets more accessible and easier to use, more and more instructors have been turning toward student video projects as rich new form of evaluation and some are event favoring it over more traditional written assignments.

But now, with the combination of high-quality video cameras on smartphones and cloud video sharing, we’re set to see an explosion of video and audio assignments in every discipline. It’s that much more practical for students to make video and audio, and a whole lot easier for teachers to give feedback and grades. Students, too, are usually prouder of what they’ve accomplished and say their learning experience was deeper.

Kirkland (2006) offers a diverse list of video-making projects, including:

  1. Documentary
  2. Interviews
  3. Demonstration
  4. Public Service Announcements
  5. News Reports
  6. Dramatization,
  7. Pre-Selected Clips

Take this example of a video project assignment from a course at the University of British Columbia taught in the School of Population and Public Health.

Do younger Canadians need a movement to promote their social determinants of health? Design a short creative video to answer this question

In contrast to a typical in-class presentation that vanishes into thin air with little feedback, video assignments can be powerful learning tools for students as a persuasive visual argument requires deep, iterative conceptual and rhetorical thinking. Not only is it necessary for the student to synthesize various sources on the subject content, but she must also write it down as a script, read it, decide who to interview or record, and then create a video, requiring hours of filming and subsequent editing. Each of these steps repeatedly exposes and reinforces the subject content. Additionally, student created videos place students on display, and as such, students make a greater effort to master the subject content so as to avoid embarrassment in front of their peers. So students get to practice and demonstrate their grasp of key course concepts, but student-made video also promotes creativity and individuality, basically eliminating concerns about plagiarism.

A great deal of research reveals students themselves find video projects to be more beneficial to their own understanding and mastery of subject material. Consider a study conducted by Greene and Crespi (2012) on the perceived value of college student created videos as a tool for enhancing the student learning experience. They looked at two different business courses in a state university. One of the courses was an undergraduate accounting course and the other is an undergraduate marketing course, both in a school of business.

Each course assigned its students a video project to test their mastery of the material. The survey data gathered from the students who created the videos revealed that students found such projects “creative, unique and educational.” Moreover, the students who watched the creative projects found that the “the videos were extremely helpful, put a fun twist on learning experiences, a very good way to review material while helping others to understand the material, interesting to see the material learned in a video format, were a good learning experience, and a simple way to remember/learn the material.”

However, while these assignments are fun and provide academic benefits, they can also be frustrating for both students and instructors if students plan poorly, are not trained and supported with technology, or are confused about the purpose of the assignment. As noted by Kearney and Shuck (2006), a gap exists in assessing learning outcomes for student created videos. This often results in assignments which are subpar and or irrelevant to the class. This new form of learning activity brings with it challenges for teachers: What sort of guidelines should you set for video assignments? How do you make sure they are implemented effectively?

Asessment of Video Assignments

One of the most challenging aspects of assigning student made video assignments is designing a fair grading rubric. Unlike multiple choice or essay based exams, video presentations are by their nature individually unique which often makes the grading of each assignment quite arbitrary. Often times a student will believe that they are meeting the standards for the creative assignment during the filming process but will receive a grade much lower than expected. For this reason, it is critical for instructors to set proper expectations for students and so that they have sufficient understanding of the key items to focus on. To be able to accomplish this, it is essential that instructors keep in touch with their students throughout the whole time that they’re supposed to be working on their video assignments. Rather than leave them to fend for themselves, check in from time to time and give concrete advice towards their video content, and how they can improve their projects to more closely meet the learning objectives.

The Open Thinking blog has a good set of ideas for educators wanting to start using video assignments. And here’s a simple example of one from a Cognitive Psychology class:

Teachers face another learning curve as they try to provide effective feedback that students really learn from.  One problem is that the videos usually sit outside their online learning platform or the feedback is given as a separate text commentary, just like students get on the papers they hand in. The technology is just starting to catch up to what educators are doing — platforms like WeVu.video give students and teachers a place to share video without making it public, get peer feedback if desired, and get all the feedback on the timeline of the video, just like we’ve always done with comments in the margins of what we write.

Video assignments are increasingly common and pedagogically powerful, but they need preparation and technology to succeed.

Here’s a nice short guide from Wired on how to make a film with a phone.

Next-Generation Video Tools for Music Instruction

Video recordings have been an important tool in music education for a long time. But now, video-based practice and feedback, sewn tightly together, are becoming a vital part of applied music instruction and learning. There are a variety of reasons why hearing and seeing oneself perform daily can make a big difference in musicians’ development. And there’s the practical side too: video-practice using the right technology allows teachers to teach with detailed feedback even when student and teacher aren’t in the same place at the same time!

Video for Self-reflection and Self-critique

  1. Recording Improves Musicianship

Recording yourself allows you to listen to your performance from the impartial perspective or standpoint of an audience member, critic or teacher. Whether you record a single phrase in a practice room or a full-length concert performance, recording allows you to stand back and listen as if it were somebody else’s performance, gaining insights you never could otherwise. As musicians we can then refine and improve our sound to align with our gathered insights. You listen to how musical your playing is – are you being as dynamic and tasteful as you could be? Is your approach appropriate for the genre or style? Recording sharpens your musicianship so that you can gauge every facet of your playing or singing with an impartial ear.

  1. You Sound Different Than You Think

Just as anyone who has recorded themselves on video before has noticed, the actual tone of voice or instrument that others hear is very different than what you hear in your own head. This is especially important for vocalists as their self-perceived tone differs more dramatically from what their audiences hear. Recording yourself allows you to understand how you actually sound to listeners which is essential for delivering a excellent performance! Greg Foot explains this in a great video.

  1. Performance Practice Makes Perfect

In addition to listening to the recording, seeing yourself on camera is great for performance practice as it is very important to see what you look like while singing or playing your instrument. Do you sit properly? Is your back straight? How is your bowing technique? Are there any bad habits you should be working on? During playback, you can then make those critical judgment calls, hear weaknesses, and more clearly hear how close your actual playing is compared to where you think you should be. Fixing these small technical imperfections will work wonders for improving your tone, confidence, and stamina.

All in all, the ability to reflect on one’s own playing and take action based on reviewing playback is a huge leap in a musician’s development.  The more we can do to foster clarity of musical concepts within ourselves, the more consistent musicians we become, and the more joy we can produce when we play.

Video for Feedback!

Video recording becomes all the more useful for a student when the players and teachers can have a dialogue around the recording even when they’re not in the same place at the same time.  Web applications for audio and video sharing like WeVu.video, made for private sharing and pinpoint feedback, make this possible. As a student of music, you need someone at a higher level to push you past your current abilities; a teacher or mentor who listens and identifies what you can do to improve. Moreover, as many academic studies have suggested, instrumental music teachers should not only concentrate on instruction, but also give appropriately weighted and timed criticism and praise. Teacher approval and disapproval have a considerable effect on students’ motivation to study music, especially if given consistently. If a low-cost, private, efficient video web application can supplement face-to-face instruction, musicians can make progress faster and more effectively. They’ll know exactly the things they need to work on without having to wait for the next in-person session with an instructor. Thesedays, with this kind of web software for sharing and feedback, all the student needs to record herself is a phone!

Drs. Robert Taylor and Jonathan Girard, Professors and Band/Orchestra Directors at the prestigious UBC School of Music, have been leaders in using video software like WeVu to great success. As Dr. Taylor emphasized, these video tools are timely and ensure that none of the advice students receive are forgotten. When asked whether he had any advice for instructors hoping to implement this in their course, Taylor is very enthusiastic:  “Jump right into it! This tool had an incredibly positive effect on my classes and it’s revolutionized the School of Music admission process. There isn’t a lot to worry about in terms of student reception, because they actually find it way more intuitive than we do thanks to all the different technologies they use on an everyday basis. This kind of tool is very powerful and will deliver.”

Card Payments without Wi-Fi for Community Organizations and Sports Clubs – Square Setup

How to take card payments with no WiFi and no mobile phone
for Little Leagues, Football and Soccer Clubs, Festivals, and more

Everyone knows you can take payments on your phone. Mobile businesses, especially tradespeople, now use their phones with the Square Point of Sale card and tap readers.

But what about community organizations that are operating in a place with no WiFi and don’t have a phone with a data plan for their organization. Lots of them think they can’t take mobile payments. But they can, for around $10 a month.

That’s the situation that Jericho Little League in Vancouver was facing.  It had operated a little concession for years out of a public park building, with customers paying cash, just like the old days. But JLL thought it was missing out on some revenue to support their programs because people carry cash so much less than they used to. They wanted people to be able to use cards for chips (pun intended) and hotdogs, but they also wanted to sell some bigger-ticket clothing and equipment in the park.

One option would have been to use the data plan from a club official or board member, but then that person would have to be around all the time and it might accidentally use up their data.

So here’s what Jericho Little League did to allow card payments at the park. It took in $8500 in card payments in just a couple of months of the season. That’s lots of hoodies and hot dogs!

Jericho’s All-star teams also used WeVu for slow-mo swing analysis so they could share phone-recorded video among the coaches and players and make comments on the videos.

Step by step guide to setting up mobile Point-of-Sale with no Wi-Fi and no phone
What you’ll need
  • Actually, you’ll need a smartphone, but the good news is that you can use any old phone that is unlocked and can serve as a wireless hotspot (even one with a cracked screen). Your organization surely has a member who can donate one.
  • The cheapest, no-contract, prepaid mobile phone service that allows data to be purchased in chunks.
    • In the USA we recommend US Mobile. Order their starter kit online for 4 bucks and then get a monthly data plan of 1GB for only $11. Don’t bother getting any talk or text unless you need it.
    • In Canada, it’ll cost more than south of the border, but Koodo mobile prepaid is pretty good. You have to go to a Koodo or a dealer to buy a SIM card for $10 which you’ll get back in credit. Then get the $15/month plan and add a 1GB booster for another $30. The good news is the 1GB data doesn’t expire so you might be able to use it for months. (Just make sure the phone isn’t updating ANYTHING – see below).
  • A Square account and a card reader. You can get all the details at https://squareup.com or https://squareup.ca. You can buy what you need at most electronics retailers or order it online. You’ll have to have an organization bank account so Square can put your funds in there! You could also examine some of the alternatives to Square
  • Optional but really useful: An inexpensive or donated old tablet/iPad if you want things to be a bit easier for the staff and volunteers making the sales. Your organization can ask for a donation or can pick up a perfectly good Android tablet for around $100 like the Asus Zenpad 8 or the Lenovo Tab 10.
  • A stand for the phone or the tablet. Phone stands can cost under $10. For a tablet stand, you’ll want one that has swivel and tilt so it can be spun around to show the customers. There are some inexpensive ones, but make sure the stand is heavy enough that it stays put.

The Square Card Reader and Tap Platform

How to get started if you’re using a tablet along with the phone hotspot
  1. Get the Square Point of Sale App from the App Store or Google Play. Install it on the phone and the tablet. We recommend doing this at someone’s home using WiFi so you don’t use the phone data. When you’ve got the app, sign in.
  2. Get everything charged up. Ideally, you’ll have power accessible and you can plug in the phone and the tablet (if using) and the square card reader. But even if you don’t, you’ll just need to have a place to store the phone and tablet and reader where they can be charged overnight. Jericho Little League had an equipment storeroom next to the concession where they had the charging set up for the tablet and card reader. They left the phone plugged in and hidden in the concession.
  3. Put the SIM card into the phone. Turn it on and make sure you have 3G or LTE network service indicated in the top bar and that you can browse to a webpage. Then turn on the WiFi Hotspot on the phone.
    1. Most Android phones let you do this from the notifications bar you can swipe open from the top.
    2. You’ll need to long-press Hotspot. (Or find it in Settings-Network & Internet-Hotspot & Tethering.
    3. Find something like ‘Set up Wi-Fi hotspot’. It’s best if you don’t name the Hotspot with your organization’s name because then people will notice it. It’s probably best to leave it with the default name which is likely the model of the phone.
    4. Enter a ‘Wi-Fi Password’ that you record somewhere for your organization, but don’t share it widely, otherwise your data might get used.
    5. On an iPhone:
      1. Open Settings and select Cellular or Mobile Data
      2. Tap Personal Hotspot and set it to On
      3. It’s best if you don’t name the Hotspot with your organization’s name because then people will notice it. It’s probably best to leave it with the default name which is likely the model of the phone.
      4. Tap ‘Wi-Fi Password’ and enter one that you record somewhere for your organization, but don’t share it widely, otherwise your data might get used.
  4. Important! Go into the settings and turn off the updating of apps and the phone operating system. You don’t want it using up your data plan.
    1. For iPhone, disable app updates using this guide. And disable iOS updates using this one.
    2. On Android, disable apps and system updates using this guide.
  5. Set up the tablet. Put it on the stand you bought. It’s best to set up the tablet with a PIN that is only known to a few people and the people who will be setting up for sales each day.
    1. First, connect it to your phone Wi-Fi hotspot. You’ll just go to your WiFi settings on the tablet, find the hotspot name from above (probably the phone model), and enter the password. Make sure you get the usual Wi-Fi bars and can get to a simple web page on the tablet browser.
    2. Turn on bluetooth from the settings menu. Put the charged-up card reader withing a few feet of the tablet.
    3. Open the Square Point of Sale app on the tablet. Go to Settings – Card Readers. Tap the Connect a reader button. Follow the instructions there, which will get you to use the little teeny button on the side of the card reader.
  6. Now test the reader. In the tablet POS app, on the main menu choose Checkout. There should be a tab or a button called “Keypad”. Choose it and enter something like $1. That’ll go into a blue bar that says “Charge $1.00”. Tap that. Then you can use the card reader by inserting a card or tapping a card or a phone that has Apple Pay or Google Pay. It should work!
  7. Go to Transactions on the app and see that you’ve made the transaction. If you want to try refunding that dollar transaction you can, following the guide here.
  8. At the end of each day the equipment has to be returned to the charging location.

Good luck!

Next Steps

Once you’ve got the setup working, you’ll want to add your items to Square so that your staff and volunteers can easily tap on squares on a grid to choose the items the customer is buying. It’s cool – you can add pictures and sort items into categories like clothing or food. You can do that in the app or on a computer. Again, it’s best to do this at home or in an office using real Wi-Fi so you don’t use up your phone data plan. But Jericho did a little bit on the fly during the season and it didn’t use much data.

Here is a Word doc with instructions you can give to the people who’ll be setting up and making sales. You can edit it a bit to fit your context.

Things to consider

Some organizations use Square for both card and cash transactions so they can track revenue and inventory. You should consider whether you do it for cash as well or just card transactions.

You might want to examine some of the alternatives to Square.

You’ll have to figure out the best setup for charging to keep the equipment secure. It may be that someone has to take them home at night and return them or pass them on to the next people working.

Ongoing Debriefing with Video for Health Simulation

You can get much more impact from your sims if you use video to let reflection, debriefing, and feedback take the time they need to sink in.

The power of simulation for learning has been clear for centuries. Even the mighty Roman military did simulations to make sure their armies were ready for battle. They also used simulation for soft skills so they could convince people in their conquered territories to be loyal citizens. (You’d never know this from Asterix, though.)

But the Romans didn’t have video to make debriefing happen powerfully anywhere across time and space. Now it’s so easy to record video, but the challenge is how to use it for simulation without breaking the bank — and how to break free of the constraints of using video recorded only on fixed cameras in a fancy simulation lab.

Finally, simulation in health professions is becoming mainstream. INACSL, the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation Learning has thousands of members and a big conference every year where simulation educators share knowledge and experiences. While simulation educators like high-fidelity, carefully scripted and organized simulations, there is a move to incorporate much more flexible, low-cost simulation and skills learning more frequently in nursing programs. This approach goes by a few names including “the frugal sim”, “low cost simulation”, “low-fidelity simulation”.  There’s even a site called lowcostsim.wordpress.com with plenty of advice for “Medical Simulation on a Shoestring.” The problem is that in places that need low cost simulation, video debriefing has been out of reach.

Simulation educators feel a tension between, on one hand, the high cost and logistical challenges of recording video, and on the other, the limited value of the video in a traditional debriefing where the participants gather immediately following the simulation. But this tension can be overcome with a slight change to how educators conceive of debriefing. 

Instead of a debriefing event, held in-person at one time, educators might think of a debreifing process that occurs as a dialogue over time and space. It includes not only facilitated debriefing, but “self-debriefing” reflection, which is just as effective. When debriefing is a process rather than an event, not only will it be more flexible, convenient and cheaper, but it will probably have a greater impact on learning. The Cloud has made this possible and now you could even say it’s easy. For quite a few years we’ve all been having discussions that are not in real time, using our devices: text messaging, Facebook, Slack, and even comments on Word or Google Docs.  That approach will work for simulation debriefing if we can just combine it with a video of the simulation. But can it be done in a low-cost simulation context?

Some of the simulation-specific video solutions, like EMS SimulationIQ, bundled with or an add-on to simulation equipment, are fairly expensive. Instead, low-cost sim educators should consider WeVu, a lightweight, inexpensive video system for education. WeVu allows recording with any camera, including webcams or phones, and then lets you share, make comments, and have a dialogue right along the timeline of the video.  With low-cost recording and an affordable video platform, debriefing happens over time and space. It’s more convenient and less taxing for educators and it has a bigger impact on learners, since they can take the time to consider how they’ve performed, get feedback, and ask questions about how to improve.

Here's how video works to make debriefing really stick

You would define the simulation or skills practice activity. Record with a laptop and webcam or an old smartphone on a little phone tripod (from Amazon). Make sure your audio is adequate – iphones are pretty good, some android phones are not bad, and a webcam with a speakerphone as the mic is probably best.

Tell your learners to use the top half of one page in Word and type their name in a bold, 48-point font, along with any other details like a student number. Then at the very start of each recording, your learners should hold up that half-page in front of the camera when the recording starts.

After all the simulations are done, you’ll just go to WeVu and upload them. You can then assign them to each learner’s own account and to an assignment (the names they held up on that sheet are on the thumbnail of the video in WeVu). Then you’re ready to ask them to self-debrief, reflecting on their performance in the simulation, which has been shown to really improve learning (here too). Instructors or coaches can go on and provide pointed feedback. Learners can then even ask questions along the video about how they can do better.

This even works for assigning students some skills practice. Tell them to record themselves or each other and then upload to the assignment you’ve defined in WeVu. It’s that easy. You’ll get all the submissions organized in one place and can watch some of it and give feedback. That will surely save time, as compared to waiting for students to file in and do the skills over and over in person. Learners will get feedback they can reflect on after the fact, rather than in the immediate aftermath of the simulation or skill exercise, when their hearts are still thumping too hard to benefit from the debrief. 

Step by Step Guide to cheap, effective video auditions for music and voice – Part 2

In this two part series, I provide a guide that helps you do an effective video audition for post-secondary music programs, on a budget. I’ll dive in to the differences in sound quality between premium recording equipment, dirt cheap audio recording, and the mic that’s on your iPhone. You will be guided through the step by step procedures of how to set up this equipment, buy or borrow it cheaply, and edit it quickly with great results.

Part 2: Video Best Practices and Audio-Video Synchronization 

In this two part series, we guide you to do an effective video audition for post secondary music programs, on a budget. We’ll dive in to the differences in sound quality between premium recording equipment, dirt cheap audio recording, and the mic that’s on your iPhone. You will be guided through the step by step procedures of how to set up this equipment, buy it cheaply, and edit it with speed.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to record your audio and video simultaneously through separate equipment. We’ll show you how to set up and record various audio equipment (Part One) and how to maximize your phone’s video camera (Part Two).

THINGS YOU WILL NEED

iPhone (or Android, or whatever other device you have for video).

Clean Room With a Window

Clutter will look unprofessional and could affect the room’s acoustics, colouring your tone in unpleasant ways.

Natural light beats artificial light when you’re on a shoestring budget so try to shoot in a room with a window.

Lamps and/or Daylight

Try to choose only white or yellow light and avoid blue light sources. When combined with daylight, white and/or yellow lights can give off a very professional and pleasant look.

Try to stagger your light sources height and length wise. For instance, combine your window with a lamp on a desk and a flood light on the floor.

Face towards your light sources and have the camera face away from them. You never want light coming from behind you in these videos.

Gig-Appropriate Attire

Most music schools require you to wear a full black suit to performances so dress business casual at least.

Something to Hold your Phone

Under no circumstances should you have another person holding your phone or even a good camera. The device MUST be stable. Everyone should have a mini flexible tripod for their phone, especially musicians. Here’s the Amazon.com search for “phone tripod”. They’re not indestructable, but they’re pretty good value for 12 dollars!

If you have a good camera and a real tripod, that’s a great alternative to the phone for the video.

Combining your Audio and Video

You’ve already read about how to get good quality audio recordings on the cheap in Part 1 of this series.

Import your audio and video both to iMovie. Leave the volume on your video untouched for the time being.

Line up the wavelengths from your video audio and your exported mp3/WAV audio that you recorded using your DAW. You’re basically just matching the pictures of the sound here so that they’re in sync.

Slide down your the video’s audio until it’s muted.

Watch through the whole video to see that your video is perfectly lined up with the audio from your DAW.

Finally, export your video as MP4 or .MOV to 720p or 1080p if possible. Some newer phones shoot in 4k- this won’t make your performance better and will make it exponentially longer to export.

Then, if you want to share your video in a secure way for others to comment on, sign up for your own private audition video hosting site at WeVu.video!

Click here for part 1 of this series to learn best practices on recording audio

We’re working on part 3, where we will compare the audio fidelity of cheap, mid-level, and premium recording setups.

Step by Step Guide to cheap, effective video auditions for music and voice – Part 1

In this two part series, I provide a guide that helps you do an effective video audition for post-secondary music programs, on a budget. I’ll dive in to the differences in sound quality between premium recording equipment, dirt cheap audio recording, and the mic that’s on your iPhone. You will be guided through the step by step procedures of how to set up this equipment, buy or borrow it cheaply, and edit it quickly with great results.

Part 1: Overview & Audio

Recording video auditions can be a super stressful affair for senior students. The seemingly endless array of options when it comes to recordifng equipment or the uncertainty of whether or not your recording is of a high enough fidelity adds a lot of unnecessary stress. To address this, I’ll be going through exactly what equipment you’ll need, where to find it affordably, and how to shoot and edit your audition. At the end, I’ll be comparing the audio fidelity of a premium Shure SM7 mic, a cheap SM58 mic, and an iPhone mic as they record the same audition. Finally, I’ll point you to a free service that you can use to share your audition with the schools you apply to.

This is by no means a totally comprehensive guide to audio recording; instead, it’s a quick and dirty guide to getting your audition together on a budget.

AUDIO

THINGS YOU WILL NEED

1. iPhone (or Android, or whatever else. If you’re using your phone for audio, skip this section).

2. Digital Audio Workstation.

  • §  This is software that allows you to record and edit audio.
  •  Many of them are free and have great trial offers. I’ll be focusing on the ones you’d look at as a beginner.
  • Garageband (Mac) is super easy to use and Ableton Live (Mac and PC) lite gives you an incredible set of capabilities

3. Audio Interface

  • This is a magical box that converts the audio from your playing to information that a computer can understand.
  • You get what you pay for here, but a cheap second hand 1-2 input interface like an M Audio M-Track will do just fine.
  • The interface takes the XLR or 1/4 inch cable that attaches to your mic/instrument and then sends the signal into your computer.

4. Microphone (if you play anything other than guitar/bass/electric keyboard).

  • If you have a good interface and use your DAW effectively, a cheap condenser mic will do. In particular, an indestructible workhorse like a Shure SM58/SM57 is great and you can find them for around $50 on Craigslist or a garage sale if you look hard enough. Here’s a guide: https://ehomerecordingstudio.com/best-cheap-mics/ . If you get one, it’s worth keeping.
  • I would strongly recommend against a USB mic like Blue Snowball – they leave out a lot of the depth and dynamic range you’d get from a condenser. Only go for a USB mic if you’re on a very, very tight budget.
  • For drummers, one well positioned mic will do reasonably well if you spend more time editing on your DAW. More on this below

5. 1/4 inch or XLR cable

  • Connects your instrument or mic to the interface. XLR’s for microphones and 1/4 inches for electric instruments.


AUDIO SETUP

Plug in the Audio Interface to the USB port of your computer. You may have to download a free driver for some interfaces. For this example, we’ll be using the inexpensive M Audio M-Track, whose driver can be found here.

Vocalists and acoustic instrumentalists will plug the ‘female’ end of your XLR (the one with three holes) into your mic and the other end into your interface. Electric instrumentalists can plug one end of their 1/4 inch to their instrument and the other to their interface. If you wish to capture the sound of your amp, set up your mic 6 inches away from the middle of it.

Vocalists and horn players can simulate soundproofing by singing/playing into a stack of towels or a few thick sweaters. You’re not looking for sharp studio quality here – you just want to capture your tone as cleanly as you can and minimize background noise.

AUDIO EDITING

I’ll be covering an extremely basic guide to EQ and compression here. In Lehman’s terms, compression makes your playing’s dynamics (loud vs quiet) more even and smooth while EQ cuts out or boosts certain frequencies.

For the sake of this tutorial, turning on the stock compressor on your DAW software will do just fine. You can find it under (plugins -> dynamics -> compressor).

Reference the EQ screenshots below for an idea of what frequencies to cut and boost depending on your instrument.
Leave your EQ totally flat (don’t touch it) if you’re playing piano.

Voice

Horns & Guitar

 Bass Guitar

 ​Click here for part 2 of this series to learn how to edit and sync video to your audio with speed.
 Stay tuned for part 3, where we compare the audio fidelity of cheap, mid-level, and premium recording setups.

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