Echo & Recorded Lectures

A couple of weeks ago I published a blog called Lectures, Tutorials, Reading … and You. In it I detailed a program called Lectopia and very complicated instructions on how to use it.
Well. That was the old system. Of course having gotten through first week I have been introduced to the new system and it is much better. Way better. It’s like jumping from video to DVDs. You can do more than just pause, you can skip through stuff, like the breaks in the two-hour lectures, or move it back a bit to repeat just that last minute. Eek! I’m excited!
Rather than confuse you all by going back and editing the other post and writing a whole new section, I just thought I’d make a new post. So jump in for the latest on recorded lectures – I won’t keep you long 🙂

Recorded systems are a marvel for keeping up with classes, if you are sick, or called into work, or miss your lecture for some other reason, or to go over things you didn’t understand, or recover key points when you decide to do your essay on one of the topics. Whereas in the past, only popular classes were recorded on lectopia, usually in bigger lecture theatres, now all lectures are. Lecturers can still exercise their right to release them, but everything is being recorded and should be available to you at some point in the semester. Some may not be released until exam time, and sometimes in the past they were only released to students with special exemptions like a clashed class or serious illness, but I doubt that will happen this year! La Trobe is getting wit’ it technology-wise.
There are two kinds of recording – audio only, and video (which is usually the slides, not the lecturer’s image, plus sound). Echo is the medium that records the lectures. It’s found on the LMS, on the right-hand side of your subject’s screen. Most lecturers I think will release slides to you in the main tabs of your subject. I have one however, that doesn’t see the point because the slides are all available on the video of Echo, so they are leaving it to us to type/write fast notes through the lecture time, in order to avoid watching and pausing through all the slides in lectopia later. I hate that. Because, when you are writing your assignments you want to have easy access to the slides to read it all in a minute or two, not have to watch a 2 hour recording on fast forward. I don’t think we need to take technology that far. I may be just being lazy, but from the uncomfortable shifts in their chairs around me, several students were put out as well. I hope your lecturers aren’t doing that to you!
Okay so back to the right-hand side of your screen. Echo stands out in big green letters. Underneath is at this stage, just one link to your first lecture, but there will be more as time goes on. Click on it, and accept the security pop-up if one appears. You can either press PLAY on the top right-hand corner in grey, or in the Information box below you will see links in blue, for audio and video format. Save whatever you want. Video is great for keeping on your hard-drive. I make a point of saving all the video links even if I’ve been to the lecture, on the grounds that this is my education and I pay thousands for it, so I’ll save EVERYTHING I can. I save audios too. They are awesome for loading on your i-something, phone, MP player, whatevs, because you can just listen to the audio as you ride in the tram or car. Those lecturer voices can then subliminally get through to you when you’re only half-listening, bahaha. (cough) I digress. Right-click the blue link audio or video, select ‘Save Target As’ and then do the normal saving as you would for anything else. Done. Interestingly, in saved format, it still plays on the internet, in Echo, but not in LMS. Watching playback outside LMS isn’t as great, sad to say. It’s simplified, and its clear the awesomeness is in the live-streaming.
In live-streaming, that’s play format via the LMS, you can progress through it the same way you’d watch a TV show online. Except without ads, and you can skip forward (my experimenting skipped the lecture forward by a minute at a time, perfect for those breaks, or when your lecturer goes off on a tangent). You can also skip back, or jump ahead or back, not only by the arrows, but also on that blue progress bar that shows you how much has downloaded and how much you’ve watched. In the right corner, you can toggle the video screen, so you just hear audio, or hide/display the apps. In the Apps, the Help tab is useful for viewing the keypad shortcuts, like P for Pause and F for fullscreen.
I’d love for you all to take a moment to go to the home page of Echo, you know, when you are in LMS, and you click Echo, but you haven’t pressed play to get to a new window. Look at the top to where is says ‘Course Bookmarks’. Select the link to ‘Learn More’; then obviously select Info for Students, or if you are lazy, just click on my link. Then take 5 mins to scroll down and learn about bookmarking and other handy tools in Echo that are a bit beyond simple point and play. You can actually bookmark each new powerpoint slide, so you can come to Echo and just review the slides, no re-watching (after that initial skip-through) required. Awesome, maybe that lecturer was right, and she knew more than us. (Gasp!) Could it be so?
Remember the LMS general forums are (usually) the easiest place to contact lecturers and get messages from them; so if you are having technical issues or don’t understand something, write away and they normally get back to you within a couple of days, or at worst, within the week.
That’s all I’m gonna write today. Everything else you need to know is in the other blog. Happy day. I think I’m going to like this Echo thing! Why did they have to bring it in in my last year? Oh boo hoo. And lucky you.

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