Bringing Your Handouts to Life

Aurasma and CrazyTalk
  • Making interactive handouts
  • Students learning to use augmented reality to create CVs with a WOW factor

She lifts the iPad and points it at an image.  There is a purple swirl that morphs into a talking cat. Crazy? Yes, a CrazyTalk video animation triggered by the augmented reality app, Aurasma.

The combination of these technologies makes me think that ‘I’m living in the Science Fiction of my youth’ Robert Charles Wilson.

It is a bizarrely ‘Alice in Wonderland’ experience, Cheshire cat and all.

I’m videoing a class of Digital Communication students at SHU, with their lecturers, Alan Shaw and Jeanette Baker. The students are learning how to use the technologies.

You can see some of the hilarity it induced in the video on this blog:

Use the cog icon to change the quality to 720p HD

As a TEL team colleague commented on viewing the video:

“There is something very wrong about a cat delivering the ‘I have a dream’ speech!” Jason Ruffell

The students will be using the technologies to augment their CVs.  It will certainly give them a ‘WOW factor’ advantage with employers. Not just a bit of paper with their names, addresses and academic qualifications, but a bit of paper that can come alive with, well, anything their imaginations can dream of.

Alan Shaw also uses CrazyTalk and Aurasma on his lecture notes handouts:

“The great thing about this technology is what it does; it brings your handouts to life for the students, delivering that element of the lecture right in that student’s mobile phone or tablet.” Alan Shaw

Alan is a Research Fellow studying for his PHD.  In the process of his research, he looked up statistics videos online, and also had his research notes, which set him thinking about combining them:

“So I thought, wouldn’t it be great to have a handout that could be brought to life with exactly what was presented in the lecture”.

Alan then proceeded to make his idea into reality.

For the sake of inclusion, Alan also puts the full animated video of his lecture up onto YouTube and gives students the link – so they can access it on a University computer and don’t need mobile technology.

To learn more about how Alan uses CrazyTalk and Aurasma in Teaching and Learning, please watch the video.

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Socrative is a smart student response system that allows students to respond to questions on their smartphones and tablets.

The tag line on the Socrative website is ‘Engage the class’.

Michelle Blackburn, a senior lecturer in SBS, agrees that a benefit of the technology is student engagement:

“I had emails afterwards that said ‘Thanks’. ‘Can we get all the lecturers to use it?’ ‘It was really good.’ ‘Time flew.’”

Other benefits include:

  • The lecturer gets immediate information back from students, so students can co-create the learning experience.
  • A lecturer can check understanding and knowledge, and then focus on areas of weakness.
  • Student responses can be saved to spreadsheets, which make useful research and feedback data.
  • Allows more introverted students to contribute in group settings.
  • Narrative replies are possible – something which isn’t recommended with Turning Point technology.

Michelle’s first experience of using Socrative got out of hand; she had programmed in some questions with narrative answers, and was projecting the answers back to the students on the big screen. One of the questions was ‘Give me three words you use to describe yourself in your headline statement on your CV’. There were serious answers like ‘Determined, leader, confident’, and then there were answers where students started to have ‘fun’ with the technology – they ranged from ‘Drop dead gorgeous’, to ‘almost fully nude’ to the unprintable. Lesson learned. Now Michelle gets the answers back on an iPad and doesn’t project them, but shares them with the class in a manner that maintains her control. (Other types of questions like multiple choice would be safe to project).

One of the issues with Socrative is that students need access to a smartphone or tablet.  The SBS TEL team have iPod Touches for loan with the Socrative student app on them.  The likelihood is that most students in a class would now have access to a smartphone, but Lecturers could book out a few iPod Touches to lend to students who don’t have a tablet.

Students can access Socrative through a browser; they don’t have to download the app. However, the app just simplifies the process as students don’t have to type in the Socrative student URL each time the technology is used.

Please watch the video to hear more about the benefits and challenges of using Socrative:

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Filming every angle

GoPro cameras have been around for a few years now, allowing the adventurous to capture their exploits in high resolution video. The latest incarnation has added Wi-Fi allowing the user to activate the camera from an app that can be downloaded to an iPad or Android device.

When I was asked to film the Managing Food & Beverage Operations students producing their concepts in the kitchen in Owen on the 12th floor it seemed like a daunting task. Filming multiple viewpoints at once whilst trying to be as unobtrusive as possible, allowing the students and customers to act natural so their behaviour could be assessed.





Preparing the main course

The new GoPro camera and range of mounts available provided the perfect solution. Cameras could be set up in both the kitchen and dining area using a range of mounts, such as mini tripods and suction cups to capture the action as it unfolded.

Six cameras were used, two in the dining area and four in the kitchen. Each could be set up with its own wife frequency via GoPro’s website. Once each camera was configured it allowed us to connect to it via the Wi-Fi setting on the iPad. After selecting the camera in the Wi-Fi settings the app was opened and the camera could be accessed. It could be turned on and off to save battery life and all the functions and settings changed to deal with the situation as things unfolded. This allowed us to stand to one side and watch the action, switching cameras and recording when things happened. We were also able to capture the students working ‘front of house’ without disturbing the customers.



Recording on the GoPro via the app on the iPad

Short sequences were shot on a Nexus tablet to help break up the final edit and capture footage when audio was important, such as the ‘Chefs’ and ‘Front of House’ briefings. Due to time constraints the tutors filmed their feedback to the group on an iPod Touch themselves and this footage was then spliced in to the final edit.

After each session the footage was edited and stitched together to allow students to assess and peer review their performance during each concept so that they could improve in future sessions. Filming took place over six weeks, covering 30 sessions. The concepts were based around the themes of ‘American Diner’, ‘A Taste of Brazil’, ‘A Real Italian Kitchen’, ‘British Gastro Pub’, and ‘A Taste of Yorkshire’ and in the final week Christmas Lunch.

As the sessions progressed a marked difference in the student’s behaviour was observed as their confidence grew and they felt more comfortable in the working environment. Documenting these sessions has allowed both student and tutor to reflect on their performance and has become an important part of their learning process.

Link to GoPro website here

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Google Apps are here, what does this mean for me?

The elearningatSHU blog, has published a post about a very significant development at SHU with respect to staff access to the Google Apps suite of services. You can read all about it here:


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Artificial intelligence for all

Check out Professor Adrian Hopgood’s Professorial Lecture on Artificial Intelligence for All
Click here to view the lecture

This was recorded in 2012

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Workshops to contribute to the development of a framework to enhance teaching through technology

Workshops to contribute to the development of a framework to enhance teaching through technology.

via Workshops to contribute to the development of a framework to enhance teaching through technology.

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New starter in the TEL Team

We would like to welcome Tamsin Carr to the e-learning team here at Sheffield Business School. Tamsin will fill the vacant role of E-Learning Resource Assistant. Tamsin will be responsible primarily for facilitating the equipment loans for use in teaching and learning as well as blackboard queries.

Please pop by and introduce yourself to Tamsin.

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Using live a twitter stream in lectures

One of our lecturers tried an experiment – trialling the use of twitter in lectures. He set up his powerpoint slides with #tags relating to various topics and got his students to post comments / answer questions. Below is his reaction and thoughts

People who wouldn’t normally contribute were tweeting and then after the lecture we carried on discussions. The most amazing thing about it was the fact that the topic was knowledge management and one of my questions to them was about the world brain and Google’s book scanning project. I used the # tag worldbrain and about 30 minutes after the lecture the GoogleWorldBrain project Twitter site picked up on it and favourited it – massive potential here for opening up lectures outside of the 4 walls! 2 screens and projectors would have helped so certain limitations at present but it does work!

Some interesting thoughts, and ideas for the future

Twitter Lecture Photos

Google Faviourite

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