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17 Jul 2012

Welcome to the Digitalis website

Posted by Carole Kirk. Comments Off on Welcome to the Digitalis website

Digitalis was a teaching and learning project looking at the use of digital technologies for creative reflection.  The project ran between September 2010 and July 2012.

NEW!  You can now read our research publication from the project: Digital Reflection: using digital technologies to enhance and embed creative processes by Carole Kirk and Jonathan Pitches.

What do you wish to do?

17 Jul 2012

JISC Mobile Reflections – Final Overview of Project

Posted by Carole Kirk. Comments Off on JISC Mobile Reflections – Final Overview of Project

The mobile reflections project invited students to try out the use of mobile devices to capture multi-media reflections ‘on the move’.   I’ve written a full case study which summarises the project and our learning from it, and contains links to the learning resources created.  This is also available through JORUM so that any element may be reused under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-commercial-ShareAlike license.

Red Thoughts

Photo credit: Untitled blue 

My key learning from the project is:-

1. Using mobile devices to record reflections does enable students to capture spontaneous thoughts and observations, and the multi-media capacities of mobile devices enable them to capture and reflect on visual and auditory material.  Audio reflection takes some getting used to, but seems to get easier with practice and seems to provide a more tangible record of their process.

2. Video editing does seem to enable students to look again at their recorded material and make sense of it through spotting patterns, reviewing their process over time, and selecting material to highlight the most important elements.

3. As ‘incidental’ learning from the project, facilitating the process at a distance through e-workshops and email is possible, but difficult because you can’t always see the students’ progress.  If I were to run something similar again, I would set up the WordPress site from the beginning, and encourage earlier sharing and dialogue.


I’d like to thank JISC for funding the project through their innovative new Elevator programme.  A huge thank you to the participating students who so energetically carved out an opportunity from this project to develop their practice.  I’ve very much enjoyed working with you!  Thanks also to Dragos Ciobanu, Peter Carlill and Damian McDonald for their enthusiastic and capable technical support.  And a big thank you to everyone who voted for the project on the Elevator!

17 Jul 2012

JISC Mobile Reflections – Evaluation

Posted by Carole Kirk. Comments Off on JISC Mobile Reflections – Evaluation

Each of the workshop participants completed a questionnaire after the workshop – JISC Mobile Reflections Questionnaire.  The full summary of questionnaire responses is here – JISC Mobile Reflections Summary of Responses to Questionnaire – but here is a potted version:-

Photo credit: Acradenia on Flickr

All participants felt they had developed digital skills to some extent, and felt that they would share their reflective videos on a website, blog, VLE space or e-portfolio.  They used iPhones and Flip Cameras and found these appropriate for capturing mobile reflections.  Some technical issues included download speed, storage space on iPhone, sound quality on iPhone and iPhone video file format (when using professional video editing tools).  Using audio/visual capture was useful for articulating thoughts out loud, making them tangible; for connecting embodied with cerebral knowledge; capturing visual/artistic observations; capturing practice-based research; and remembering cues from the environment.  Capturing reflections on a mobile device enabled spontaneity and reflexivity, was quick and convenient, captured impulsive thoughts from reading that also related to the inhabited landscape at that moment without needing a computer nearby, captured creative ideas that spring out of the moment, and enabled the process of reflection to happen without having to wait until you get home.  Challenges included lack of confidence filming self in public places, feeling awkward at first having to ‘say something meaningful’ (this receded with practice), concern about length of recorded reflections, and awareness of recording ‘for an audience’.

For video editing, participants used Windows Live MovieMaker, iMovie and Final Cut Pro.  The reflective value of making an edited video included ‘reflecting on reflections’, summarising patterns, developing ideas, capturing recurring themes, watching yourself back eventually removing sense of awkwardness, engaging with reflections in more depth and from a refreshed perspective, constructing a narrative, going with ‘gut instinct’ revealing what was important, seeing all the pieces together, seeing progress of work,  and providing a format that you can watch again to remember ideas and ‘take you back’.

The WordPress workshop was generally easy to use.   The Adobe Connect live workshop was more problematic (although still rated OK to use).   The problems with audio, and the awkwardness of speaking one at a time meant the participants would have been more comfortable with a face-to-face workshop.

Personal learning for the participants included developing a habit of recording/reflecting, improving ability to articulate ideas, becoming more sensitive to opportunities to capture reflections, improving technical skills for video editing (managing files, uploading online, working with sound/photos/video), tracing the development of ideas in their work, gained confidence in recording themselves, exploring tensions between creativity and academic inquiry, and trying different ways of documenting work.   In terms of taking that learning forward in their future work, all of them thought they would continue with mobile reflections.  Reasons that they would do this included to question and highlight thought processes, to use on blog updates, to embed as a habit in practice, to suggest similar processes to their collaborative research partner, to capture and archive ‘moments’, to think more critically through the exercise of saying things out loud, to document rehearsals into an edited short video to share in portfolio/with tutors, and to capture reflection whilst looking at video footage.


13 Jul 2012

JISC Mobile Reflections – themes from workshop

Posted by Carole Kirk. Comments Off on JISC Mobile Reflections – themes from workshop

During our live workshop this Wednesday, the participants spoke about their experiences of mobile reflection and video editing.  I’ve summarised their responses into themes – JISC Mobile Reflections – themes from participants



12 Jul 2012

Running a live online workshop

Posted by Carole Kirk. Comments Off on Running a live online workshop

Our participants bravely took part in an online workshop this Wednesday.  We used Adobe Connect with the enthusiastic support of Dragos Ciobanu who helped me to design and run the workshop.    I learned a huge amount from attempting this, and in the end I think it worked well for the participants.  These were my key learning points from designing and running a live online workshop:-

Photo credit: jjsala on Flickr

1. Do a ‘dress rehearsal’

Dragos and I ran a dress rehearsal to test out the design of the session, trying out enabling/disabling of mics and launching videos.   As well as testing the technology, this was useful for me as a facilitator to ‘feel’ the space.  It is very strange talking when you can’t ‘see’ anybody, and also is strange getting used to the differences in sound that you experience depending upon the participants’ equipment.  All of this can be very disorientating, and so to give myself confidence in getting the workshop started, I quite carefully scripted myself so I had something to follow.

2. Keep it very structured – plan everything out in advance, and tell the participants at every stage what is going to happen.

The dress rehearsal also taught me that I need to clearly plan exactly what was going to happen at each stage, and to signpost this for the participants.  I scripted all of this into the session design, which you can download here – Structure of Live Workshop.   I designed the workshop to be highly interactive – I wanted the participants to have the opportunity to reflect and share, rather than listening to me talk.  So I needed to enable the participants to communicate via audio.   If you have everyone’s audio enabled all the time, you get a lot of background noise interference and reduced sound quality.  To avoid this, we designed it so that only one participant could speak at a time.  Dragos managed the microphones, leaving me free to facilitate.  I devised a system of asking each participant in turn to speak, asking the others to participate via chat if they had a comment.  We also made use of the raised hands icon if someone wanted to speak, but on the whole, the chat worked well for comments and responses.

Photo credit: Julianrod on Flickr

3. Mute your microphone when not talking

I didn’t do this, because I was worried that I would lose my audio if I ‘messed’ with the mic.  However, the mic picked up the sound of my typing – loudly – so really I did need to mute it.

4. Make sure participants know the minimum technical requirements to run the software, and allow time to iron out any issues.

We had issues with a MAC not having the right version of a system software update, and also issues with audio streaming which I think were due to a slow computer/broadband speed.  Ideally all participants should have a list of the minimum technical requirements needed.  We did ask participants to use a headset (or mic and headphones) to minimise feedback/noise/echo.  We arranged to ‘meet’ ten minutes early so that we could set up everyone’s audio.  In the event, we needed more time to iron out some of the issues, and over-ran.   If I did this again, I think I would timetable 1.5 hours for a one-hour session.  It takes time to wait for people to type, and to switch over microphones, so do allow more time than you normally would.

5. If you are recording the session, tell the participants, and also remember to introduce yourself and the session at the start of the recording.

As I’d already been talking to the participants I didn’t think to introduce myself and the session once we started recording.  But for anyone listening to the recording, it would be helpful to have the introduction.  I did tell the participants that it was being recorded, both in the preparatory email and at the start of the session.

6 Jul 2012

JISC Mobile Reflections Update – Week Five

Posted by Carole Kirk. Comments Off on JISC Mobile Reflections Update – Week Five

Photo credit: Marco Raaphorst

Photo credit: Marco Raaphorst

Our asynchronous online workshop is now up and running, using a WordPress site installed by our blended learning support team.   I’ve used this site for tasks and tutorials, and participants are currently video-editing their reflection files.  Next Wednesday, we will be holding our synchronous online workshop using Adobe Connect, during which we will look at some of the videos and discuss learning and experiences.  I have technical support from Dragos Ciobanu from our Staff Development Unit who will be helping me to set up the workshop, managing aspects such as switching mics on and off, and accepting participants into the space.  It has been a challenge to design a primarily discussion-led online workshop allowing for the limitations of communicating using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and chat.  Next week, I’ll share my experiences from this workshop – what worked, and what didn’t.

Meanwhile, some thoughts from one of our participants on their progress so far:-
During the development of my project I have found the most useful aspect is capturing the environment around me with photos or short videos. This helps me to remember the situation I was experiencing in the moment and therefore, it helps me to remember my thoughts or ideas. Sometimes I just draw a quick sketch or write a short note (only key words) in a small pad that I always carry with me. After, when I arrive home, I start the process of reflective note taking whilst looking back at the video footage, photos or sketches. This helps me not feel pressure of speaking in front of the camera and to articulate my ideas in a much calmer and confident way through writing. Short videos of the environment have been particularly useful.


28 Jun 2012

New! Student page

Posted by Carole Kirk. Comments Off on New! Student page

To make it easier for students (and their tutors) to find resources for digital reflection, we have developed a Student Page.


28 Jun 2012

JISC Mobile Reflections Update – Week Four

Posted by Carole Kirk. Comments Off on JISC Mobile Reflections Update – Week Four

Video Still: Jonathan Tobutt

We are now in our fourth week of the Mobile Reflections project, and our participants are still busy gathering reflections ‘in the field’.    From next week, they will be starting to organise these using video editing tools.  We have set up an online workshop space for this using a Leeds University WordPress installation.   We have also completed a video editing tutorial, which you can view on this page.

One of the participants asked about transferring her video files directly to another user (rather than sharing them via YouTube).  She suggested DropBox, which I have had several recommendations for.  I also found this resource.  If you have any thoughts or advice, please do leave a comment.

This week, I saw the results of a survey of our students which suggested that 76% of them use a smartphone (based on the 5% of students who responded).   The use was roughly evenly split across iPhone, Blackberry and Android.  This adds further weight, I think, to the need to research ways of making the most of the opportunity to harness mobile technologies to support student learning.  However, support needs to be cross-platform, which does pose a challenge to small projects such as this one!

26 Jun 2012

Enterprise Project Case Study

Posted by Carole Kirk. Comments Off on Enterprise Project Case Study

Using video diaries to learn from projects (video still from James Millington)

Video still: James Millington

This year, we provided some support to the Enterprise Project module.  Students gathered digital evidence throughout their projects, and were invited to create a video documentary or digital story to share their learning.   You can read the full case study here – Enterprise Project Case Study Full Version

22 Jun 2012

JISC Mobile Reflections Update – Week Three

Posted by Carole Kirk. Comments Off on JISC Mobile Reflections Update – Week Three

Some further participants’ objectives for the project that came through this week:-

  • learning effective strategies to document choreographic projects (rehearsals, performances, document reflective thinking)
  • learning editing skills for video and other relevant documentation strategies to build a choreography portfolio

I have developed some very simple ‘how to’ resources which I’ve shared with the participants.  It is interesting when looking for existing video tutorials online how it is hard to find ones that explain the basics, so I’ve played safe and made my own.

1. Downloading files from iPhone (or Flip camera/digital camera) to PC

2. Managing files and folders on your PC

3. Downloading MovieMaker and importing files

There will be more to follow.

Finally, the online live workshop and discussion will be on July 11th.