Sunday 1 February 2009

Tallis Tube

You may or may not be aware that Tallis Shorts, our unique online media player, is struggling to cope with the huge number of files uploaded to it in the year since it was launched. At the moment the dedicated server in the USA where the site is hosted is full. This means that we have had to remove the upload facility until we decide what action to take. This will probably mean the creation of a brand new Tallis Shorts on a different server with more space and a few new features.

In the meantime, we have created our very own YouTube channel called TallisTube. There is such a lot of great stuff going on in school at the moment that it would be shame if we didn't share it with the rest of the world and, now that YouTube has been unblocked in school (hurrah!) and we are developing a mature attitude to the use of Web 2.0 tools, it seems only right that we should have an official YouTube presence. There are always risks involved in broadcasting on the internet, but I think these are far outweighed by the massive advantages. We are also exploring the possibility of setting up an iTunes U presence. This is a service dominated at the moment by American universities who supply students across the world with pod and vodcasts of course material free of charge. Imagine if Tallis was able to publish its own curriculum material online for students. Some subject areas have made progress in doing just this using the school website with promising results. Staff and students are using Tallis Talk more and more to debate issues directly related to their learning in school. Recent examples include Mr Greig's question bout the Kobe earthquake in Geography and Mr Walsh's request for thoughts about the use of mobile phones as learning tools as part of the Personal and Economic Well-Being course. I have attempted to put all my current Year 12 photography lesson content on the site, including links to websites and access to relevant images. If nothing else, students can no longer claim that, because they missed a lesson, they didn't know what to do. This seems like a small issue but, I think, encourages them to think about their responsibility to manage their own learning and become more independent. It is always interesting to note which students find this a liberating attitude and relish the opportunity to exercise more control, compared with those who are keen to be spoon fed.

There is no doubt that the preparation and publication of these resources takes time and energy. My view is that the school needs a proper strategy and suitable incentives to encourage both staff and students to get more involved in this kind of "anytime, anywhere" learning.

Do you have any bright ideas about how this could be achieved? Would you like to have more access to learning materials online? Would you like to be able to email your homework to your teachers? Do you already do this? If the school created an iTunes U account and uploaded course materials, would you use them?

1 comment:

Soren Hawes said...

I was a very keen user of Tallis Shorts (in fact I'm probably the reason why it got filled up so quickly!), so I think a Tallis Tube site could be a really handy stopgap until we come up with a plan for building on the success of Tallis Shorts. It's interesting compare the two - I really liked the fact that Tallis Shorts encouraged a more thematic way of linking film and I also liked the way the site gave you a percent figure when you were uploading (with youtube I kept having this nagging feeling that I'd forgot to do something and it wouldn't work) - in fact it's worth recognising how a site designed for a medium sized school managed to be so much more attractive to look at and be more user friendly than a huge organistation like youtube.
That said, it all worked fine in the end and it offers scope for interesting tags to make unexpected links, and it's easy to leave comments.

On a broader note, and picking up a theme elsewhere on the blog, I think one of the key issues is how we develop ways of creating, sharing and making accessible the different things that make learning effective and creative. From my perspective allowing deaf students and their families to make and view film has had a profound effect on how they work. It may be that we experience some difficulties matching our ambition for what we want to share and how we want to share it with the available technology. I think the key is to always push at the limits of what is currently available because new technologies seem to be developing so quickly, and what seemed like intractable difficulties can soon be consigned to the past.

Mr Hawes