Digital Storytelling

I’m not alone in liking a good story, so the Netskills one-day workshop on Exploring digital storytelling appealed. The workshop looked at why stories are a powerful and effective way of communicating with an audience and how the digital techniques suggested can be used effectively for a wide range of purposes; learning, publicity and marketing, community engagement and more.

Wikipedia describes digital storytelling as “a relatively new term which describes the new practice of ordinary people who use digital tools to tell their ‘story’. Digital stories often present in compelling and emotionally engaging formats, they are usually less than 8 minutes long and can be interactive.”

So I’ll say no more about the day but will let my digital story do the talking. This is my effort from the hands-on session, it was created using WeVideo (a collaborative online video editor) and took me a couple of hours to produce all-in. It’s pretty rough round the edges and I did think of starting again and re-recording the sound, but then I decided that it was more important to show what could be achieved in a very short amount of time.

Most of the photos in the video were taken in the workshop using my phone, hence not great quality. The others are from Flickr and acknowledgements are given at the end of the footage.

There were some great tools suggested during the workshop, here are a few of my favourites:

  • iMovie – doh! Didn’t even realise I had this on my Mac!
  • Voicethread – great for creating collaborative conversations
  • Pixton – I’ve used it before but a nice comic making tool with a database of graphics
  • Comic Life – A downloadable comic maker
  • Wallwisher – An online notice board
  • Animoto – really quick videos out of still images
  • Splice – video creator for your phone
  • Blue mountains – better search engine for Flickr CC photos
  • Vimeo music store – Free sounds/music – search by genre

Universities and Remote Working

I work for a University: the University of Bath. However I actually work for a research group (UKOLN) based at the University of Bath and we do things a little differently sometimes. So take for example our home/remote working policies and my remote working contract, these come from UKOLN, not the University.

Despite my harping on about remote working in the academic sector for years I still think that reality is that most Universities, including Bath, prefer staff to physically come on to site for work.

Just out of interest I’ve been taking a look at University policies in this area. It’s apparent that though many HEIs have documentation on how to connect to the University network from home (something academics are expected to do fairly regularly) few have actual remote working policies online.

Below is a list of Russell Group Universities (for starters) and the nearest I could find to a ‘remote worker policy’.

University of Birmingham Have a Travelling and Working Off Campus policy but need to log in to access
University of Bristol Flexible working policy
University of Cambridge Working from home
Cardiff University Home Working Guidance
Durham University IT Services: Remote
University of Edinburgh Guidance on working from home
University of Exeter Home working policy
University of Glasgow Couldn’t find
Imperial College London IT Services: Home working
King’s College London Mobile working – remote working page coming soon
University of Leeds Mobile and remote working policy
University of Liverpool Couldn’t find
London School of Economics & Political Science IT services: Working off campus
University of Manchester IT Services: Working from Home (or whilst away)
Newcastle University Remote Application Service (RAS)
University of Nottingham Flexible Working
University of Oxford IT Services: Remote Access Services
Queen Mary, University of London Home working/ teleworking
Queen’s University Belfast IT Services: remote access
University of Sheffield IT Services: Working from Home or Off-Campus
University of Southampton Flexible working policy
University College London Remote working
University of Warwick Couldn’t find
University of York Flexible Working

If there are more relevant remote working pages available from any of these universities please do let me know.

I would also be really interested to hear back from people about whether or not their university supports or encourages remote working.

Are you Beaming?

Robothespian, used as a beaming avatar (Photo: Tim Weyrich, UCL)

It’s a common problem…you’re somewhere and you want to be somewhere else. Remote workers deal with this issue all the time, and so does the rest of the world. However video conferencing is still not really there when it comes to getting the virtual to replicate reality.

Enter beaming technology. It allows you to tuck your children in from a thousand miles away or chat to a client from the other side of the world.

Beaming technology is defined as:

digitally transporting a representation of yourself to a distant place, where you can interact with the people there as if you were there. This is achieved through a combination of virtual reality and teleoperator systems. The visitor to the remote place (the destination) is represented there ideally by a physical robot.

The idea has been developed by Computer scientists at UCL and the University of Barcelona as part of the BEAMING project with recent results published in PLOS ONE journal last week. The team refer to it as a form of augmented reality, rather than virtual reality. In beaming the robot or avatar interacts with real people in a real place, it’s not another SecondLife. It has the potential to transform video conferencing and possibly even revolutionise the way we carry out international business. The BBC news article on beaming offers more suggestions for how the technology could be used including improving morale of military forces through allowing them to speak to love ones and, the not so positive use of ‘virtual crime’.

Professor Mandayam Srinivasan, author of the paper from the UCL Department of Computer Science and MIT, said: “Beaming is a step beyond approaches such as video conferencing which do not give participants the physical sensation of being in the same shared space, and certainly not the physical capability to actually carry out actions in that space.

OK, so it’s already been said…but “beam me up Scotty!”