Category Archives for WeVu Blog

Video for Music School Teaching and Admissions

HOW THE UBC SCHOOL OF MUSIC Amplifies Learning and Simplifies Auditions with Smartphone Video

The University of British Columbia’s School of Music used to do a lot of its administration and teaching using paper and email. Painful. The worst part was all the WAITING AROUND for students and teachers, waiting to practice, perform, and give feedback.

Traditional ways of teaching and working were wasting people’s time and students weren’t getting the learning benefits that are possible with some affordable technology. Now that students can record great video and good audio anywhere on their phones, learning and auditions have changed at UBC.

Music students, perhaps more than any others, need to observe themselves and reflect on their playing, singing, and musicianship. But in the ever-increasing rush of student life, faculty were noticing that students just weren’t reflecting carefully on their practice. It was into one class and out the other side, without reflection time and crucial one-on-one teaching time. When students and instructors tried to take the time to do so, it involved taking notes and using paper-based self-reflections or email feedback. It couldn’t be shared easily and students didn’t look at it more than once. Sometimes it became apparent that a student didn’t actually believe the teacher’s critique of some aspect of their playing! The School realized they needed a user-friendly video recording and feedback system.

The Problem

After sitting down with UBC Music’s Director of Bands, Professor Rob Taylor, we heard about a number of drawbacks to traditional text-based communication – paper and email — in music education. But there didn’t appear to be an obvious, affordable, viable solution. First, it was difficult to find an easy, standardized way of recording student rehearsal both in and outside class. Professors and students thought they’d need sophisticated camera equipment or at least a DSLR. Then there was the problem of how to share the video between professor and student. USB drives weren’t practical. Uploading to YouTube had its security and privacy issues and then the professor would have to deal with a bunch of indistinguishable YouTube links. Even with a recording, students’ paper based self reflection was not as fruitful as Taylor expected. Dr. Taylor told us: “I was pretty convinced that [students] weren’t actually watching the videos, or at least, they weren’t watching as carefully as they should. They would recall the live feedback they’d received in class that day and regurgitate those critiques on paper as their “self-reflection.” This was not a problem we wanted to leave unsolved.

Taylor told us the School had another problem: Video auditions from around the world. The School wanted to be able to recruit from anywhere. For a while, applicants would send in DVDs and CDs. Then, with YouTube, they could get recorded and send a link. But organizing all those links and getting them to faculty for review was cumbersome and unreliable.

The WeVu Experiment

To address these issues, the School turned to WeVu, a video platform with easy uploading, organization by classes or by instrument/section for auditions, totally flexible permission for viewing videos, and commenting on the timeline of the video.  Taylor set up his Conducting course so all students could see each other’s practice, but other professors set up their courses so only the instructor, TA, and student can see a given student’s videos. That solved the sharing problem perfectly.

They realized they could record the conducting with any camera or any smartphone. That was a real breakthrough, as students could record themselves privately or help each other to do so – inside or outside class and the school! The school bought a couple of good microphones for phones to lend to students.

Finally, they needed a way to replace paper- or email-based commenting, coaching, and self-reflection. According to Taylor, the software “allowed [instructors] to respond right at the key moments to what they see in the videos rather than watching the whole thing at once and then writing up a reflective statement afterwards. Now that the students write responses on their individually recorded videos on WeVu, right on the timeline of the video, I’ve seen a complete change in the level and quality of reflection that they produce.” WeVu’s time-stamped comments and discussion added more depth and students really do watch their video – it becomes very difficult not to engage in deep self reflection when every second of one’s playing can be addressed and scrutinized. And as much as anything, Taylor could make sure students were reflecting on their practice because he could see the comments they were making, anytime, from anywhere.

How it Works

WeVu.video is a simple, affordable web application that allows students to film themselves on their phone or laptop and receive incredibly detailed feedback. Time stamped comments from faculty diagnose performance down to the second. In addition, your activity on WeVu is centralized, secure, and LMS-compatible. The software seamlessly integrates to your current curriculum and will make make learning more efficient.

The Result

We asked Rob Taylor what effect WeVu had on his UBC conducting students when it was all said and done. He told us “It’s 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. I think it’s a really powerful tool.”

Adding Value to Music Programs: WeVu for Auditions

In addition to revolutionizing the way UBC Music conducted homework and assignments, WeVu has big implications for music admissions. Music schools miss out on top talent if they don’t accept video auditions. In person auditions are just too expensive for some schools and lots of students. As the race for student talent becomes increasingly international and competitive, schools need to expand the scope of their admissions and accept video auditions. But how? WeVu streamlines the application process for the performing arts by collecting students’ videos, transcripts, and recommendations and centralizing them in a secure online hub. The applications can be shared to groups of just the right faculty members who can easily comment on the auditions and score them using the same WeVu technology. Check out our Music Applications animated video here.

Skills Homework for Youth Sports Using Video

VIDEO HOMEWORK FOR YOUTH SPORTS:
A PRACTICAL GUIDE

A few tech-savvy youth sports coaches have found a new way to use video to help athletes develop and perform better. You’ll find out what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, what technology they’re using, and get some tips on how to put it into action yourself.

What is Video Homework?

Many youth sports coaches think of video the way the pros use it: for watching and analyzing games or performances. But most of us don’t have time for that and it’s not going to pay off in a big way for kids as they develop.

What most coaches haven’t realized is that they can use video – in particular their players’ phone video cameras – to assign video homework. Video homework isn’t what you might think. It doesn’t mean that athletes watch video and learn. (Kids generally won’t even watch what you ask them to watch.)No, the homework they can be doing involves repeated, focused practice on the technical skills they need in their sport. The video part is that they record themselves on phones and upload to their team site for the coach to check that they’ve done it and, occassionally, provide pinpoint feedback. In doing so the athletes can get individual training that helps each one improve on her or his weaknesses.

Most important for the coaches, you don’t have to use precious training time to have your young athletes doing individual skills practice they can do at home. They’re only together at your team training time – so why waste time on simple, repetitive individual activities then?

Why Use Video Homework?

Athletes are always looking for ways to improve, and one of a coach’s most important jobs is to help them get better. Coaches tend to focus on areas of improvement needed by an entire team. This often leads to neglecting to develop each individual with the individualized practice that they need. This isn’t the fault of the coach. After all, coaches are dealing with 10, 15, 20, even 30 players at a time. It’ll take forever to go player by player and watch them practice and fix what needs to be fixed. With today’s technology however, coaches can find ways to help individuals more easily than they ever could in the past.

When watching film as a team or as an individual, athletes have a tendency to focus on their highlights and gloss over things that could be improved. However, though looking at highlights is necessary sometimes to boost confidence, athletes would be well served to work on areas of their game that they can improve. By taking a coach’s instructions and applying them to their training, an athlete can vastly improve their technical ability. Doing this through video homework is a time-efficient way of making this happen.

In the last decade, teams of researchers worldwide have looked at video feedback in sports. Their results have been unanimously positive in showing the benefits of the use of video to record skills practice. The biggest payoff for coaches and their players is that the coach can make sure the practice actually happens! Players self-record on phones and upload. It’s that easy. The coach only has to watch a fraction of it; just a quick glance to check that the player was doing the skill that was assigned.

How to use Video Skills Homework

Coaches and their players need a private site where video can be uploaded and organized. It’s a lot like video assignments in art schools or for business presentation training. The coach can define an Assignment– like bringing down a high ball in soccer, or bumping a volleyball, or a step-back move in basketball – and then players submit the phone-camera recordings of themselves to that electronic ‘hand-in box’. The coach can go through the videos super-fast, one-by-one, or just get a report that they’ve been submitted.

The next step, if the coach can take the time, is nudging the players to see what they’re not doing properly and gently asking them to try again. With some video platforms like WeVu, but not Hudl, you can be watching an athlete-recorded video, pause it by clicking in a comment box, make a comment that sticks right to that time and place on the video, and the video resumes. (That’s also awesome if you are doing game analysis!).  Players really appreciate this personal touch. Players can join in and ask questions or respond to the coach’s pointers.

How to Get Started with Video Homework

Start small. Think of the one individual skill where you think your players need most practice. Ask them to do it at home, at the park, in the gym for five minutes. And then another five minutes with their phone recording it. If you’ve got a WeVu site, you just send them the account creation link, they make an account, and they can upload the video right away. They can even have private videos just for their own review and decided whether or not to share them to the coach.

It’s great if the coach can take a peek at these videos before the next practice/training session so that you can encourage the players that their effort is great and will pay off on the field or the court!