Making the Most of Broadcast Media (Conference summary)

On 14th January 2014, the University of Leicester played host to a day conference on Making the Most of Broadcast Media in your Teaching. The event was organised on behalf of the Higher Education Academy STEM network, and we are grateful for the financial support that enable the meeting to take place.

The purpose of the day was to promote the use of television programmes and clips in bioscience education. There has always been huge, but often untapped, potential for use broadcast media in teaching. However, several recent developments have made it very much easier to identify appropriate materials and/or obtain copies in an easily usable format.

Slides from all of the presentations on the day are available below. The intention was to combine these with audio recordings from the day. Unfortunately Slideshare have recently announced that they are withdrawing their Slidecast facility and so, at present, only the images are available.

“But we’re not a media course!”: the relevance of broadcast materials to bioscientists (and others)

To start the day, I gave a presentation outlining some of the ways in which we have used TV and film in bioscience teaching. These include clips to set the scene, to convey factual information and/or as discussion starters. Delegates took part in an activity in which a clip from the populist science show Brainiac can be used to kickstart discussion about experimental design (see here for a fuller write-up of this task).

Copyright, the Education Recording Agency and all that: you can legally do more than you think!

Murray Weston (former CEO of the British Universities Film and Video Council) talked us through some of the evolution of the UK rules governing legal use of broadcast media for education. He explained what the current rules are, but also highlighted that important changes are expected from April 2014.

Short presentations offered by delegates

The next phase of the day allowed delegates to describe existing ways in which they use broadcast media in teaching. Three case studies were offered.

1. Critical reviews of TV science documentaries

First up, Prof Jon Scott (University of Leicester) outlined an exercise in which final year students are required to conduct a critical review of TV documentaries on neuroscience topics.

2. Using cold case files TV shows to develop forensic students’ scientific approach

Dr Ian Turner (University of Derby) then described a tutorial in which video clips from cold case series, and associated resources, are used with forensic students to help them improve their crime scene methodologies.

3. Headline grabbing: Using BBC news clips as an essay springboard

Dr Steve Maw (University of Leeds) described an activity he conducts with his foundation-level students in which they write an essay on ethical aspects of a biological or biomedical mews story. More details regarding a similar task can be found here.

Looking for resources? BoB’s your uncle!: An introduction to the Box of Broadcasts

Dr Sandy Willmott (University of Lincoln) gave a demonstration of Box of Broadcasts (BoB), an exciting new resource developed by the British Universities Film and Video Council and their technical partners. BoB allows academics and students in subscribing institutions to access an enormous catalogue of previous and current television for educational purposes. Sandy showed programmes can easily be selected and how the package allows users to select clips within episodes and, if appropriate, develop playlists.

Television and Radio Index for Learning and Teaching: making the most of TRILT to know what’s on and when

To complete the day, we had a computer-based session allowing delegates to set up or develop their own accounts using the Television and Radio Index for Learning and Teaching (TRILT). TRILT allows users to check what has been on UK television (including a longer time period and broader range of channels than BoB) and to set up a weekly email alerts based on keywords of their choice.

*NOW* is the time to include more TV material in your teaching

A new version of Box of Broadcasts (launching in Jan 2014) will be a powerful tool for teaching and research

A new version of Box of Broadcasts (launching in Jan 2014) will be a powerful tool for teaching and research

The pedagogic merit of TV has a noble tradition. For people of a certain generation (my generation) this may conjure up images of Open University lecturers in tweed jackets talking about non-euclidean geometry at 5am. Although this model very definitely had its place (My mother is one of many thousands who studied for an OU degree in this way), this stereotype massively underplays the educational potential of broadcast media.

TV footage (and, to a lesser extent, radio recording) can be utilised in a variety of engaging ways across all academic disciplines. Significant changes taking place at the start of 2014 are going to make access to thousands of hours of material very straightforward. I’m going to be as bold as to say if you are not buying into these resources for your students, then you are selling them short.

In particular, the first week of January will see the roll out of version 3 of Box of Broadcasts. BoB (as it is known to its friends) is like a giant “on demand” service offered across the UK Higher Education sector. But this is only to scratch at the surface of its potential. I’ve seen a demo and I am very excited about this resource. In particular I can see BoB playing a significant role in moves towards a “flipped classroom”, not least through the potential to develop “viewing lists” to offer to your students alongside the more traditional reading lists.

I’m probably not at liberty to say too much more ahead of the official launch (you can see some details in this BUFVC press release) but I mention this now because BoB is one of a range of multimedia tools that we will be demonstrating at a day conference in Leicester on 14th January 2014.

The programme for the day (draft) looks like this:
10.00    Registration and refreshments
10.20    Welcome and introduction
10.30    “But we’re not a media course” – the relevance of broadcast materials to bioscientists (and others!)
11:00    Copyright, the Educational Recording Act and all that – you can legally do more than you think! (Murray Weston, former Director of BUFVC)
11:30    Refreshments
11.50    Television and Radio Index for Learning and Teaching: making the most of TRILT to know what’s on and when
12.20    Looking for resources? “BoB’s your uncle!” – an introduction to the Box of Broadcasts (Dr Sandy Willmott, University of Lincoln and member of the national BoB user group).
12.50    Lunch
13.30    Swap shop: Delegates will have the opportunity to demonstrate their use of multimedia in their teaching. Already offered:
Critical reviews of TV science documentaries (Prof Jon Scott, University of Leicester)
14.45    Refreshments
15.00    Setting up TRILT alerts (a hands-on computer session)
16.00    Reflections and close

This event is particularly geared at colleagues from STEM disciplines (and the examples used will primarily be drawn from the biosciences). However, the central principles will be applicable to academics from any subject area. If you are interested in attending, please book via this link. If you would like to offer a 7 minute description of your current use of moving image content, please email me.

Guide for Citing Audiovisual Materials

During the past couple of years I’ve been part of a working group set up by the British Universities Film and Video Council to draw up guidelines for the correct citation of Audiovisual. The fruits of our labours are published today.

The new guidelines offer recommendations for the correct citing of a wide range of media formats

The new guidelines offer recommendations for the correct citing of a wide range of media formats

In an era when increasing emphasis is being place on multimedia, it seems almost unbelievable that this is the first serious attempt anywhere in the world to produce an authoritative guide for what information to include when citing radio, film, TV and a plethora of other media.

As John Ellis, Professor of Media Arts at Royal Holloway, has noted, “Citation exists so that you can find the source of any quotation. The rules have long since been worked out for print sources. However, for moving image and sound, no-one quite knows what to do, so references are usually imprecise and sometimes left out completely.This guide now makes it possible for any writer [including students] to lead their readers to the exact audiovisual source they are discussing.”

The process of producing the new guide has been fascinating (far more so than it might sound!) Once you start to scratch the surface you start to realise the vast range of the different sources, formats and so on that might need to be included. The guide is shared with the academic community in the knowledge that it will very likely need refining, especially as new formats for sharing AV information are developed. Nevertheless I’m proud of this first edition and encourage any of you who are using and citing audiovisual materials to refer to it and, where appropriate, to suggest refinements.

How DO you cite audiovisual materials correctly?

The BUFVC is conducting a survey about people's experience of citing AudioVisual materials

The BUFVC is conducting a survey about people’s experience of citing AudioVisual materials

Most of us feel reasonably comfortable with the conventions for citing books, journal articles and so on. There may be certain variability between journals regarding formatting (it has been argued that there are as many versions of Harvard as there are journals using “Harvard” for example), nevertheless there is fairly standard agreement about the core information that is needed.

What, however, are the rules if you need to cite a particular interview within the lunchtime news on a given day? Or the Director’s commentary that comes as a bonus with a bought DVD? Or, indeed, what about citing the film itself? What are the correct procedures for referencing these materials?

For the past 18 months  I have been part of a working group convened by the British Universities Film and Video Council to draw up an authoritative guide regarding citation of audiovisual materials. We’ve had some really interesting discussions about different media, different contexts and different purposes for the citation.

Our deliberations are drawing towards a close, but before they do the BUFVC is conducting a survey to check that we haven’t missed anything or come to any erroneous decisions. Therefore if you are reading this between 13th December 2012 and 14th January 2013 do please take the opportunity to fill out the survey – it doesn’t take very long and you get a chance to win vouchers to your favourite tax-avoiding online retailer! The survey itself can be found via this link (alternatively see here for more background info). Thanks.

What’s Good on TV? Understanding Ethics Through TV

wgontv

A good idea, but unfortunately WGonTV fails to deliver

I have recently completed a review of What’s Good on TV? for the BUFVC magazine Viewfinder. As the subtitle of the book implies, it is intended to be a guide to understanding ethics using television-based examples in place of the classic “An out of control train is rushing down the tracks towards a group of unsuspecting children…” style examples beloved of ethics textbooks.

As the review shows in more detail, I love the concept (my other blog over at BioethicsBytes tries to achieve similar goals). Unfortunately I felt that the book didn’t quite hit the mark. I have a number of significant reservations about the appropriateness of the chosen examples for educational use in the UK (both in terms of the familiarity and the explicit nature of some of the content). I also craved rather more detail from the authors regarding the ways that they use the recommended programmes.

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