Graduate Success Guide: A case of interpretative learning design

Today we launched the Graduate Success Guide http://www.le.ac.uk/graduatesuccess. This is a guide for new Leicester graduates to assist them in finding graduate employment. We previously used to hand-out USB sticks at graduation full of graduate guidance, including interactive guides etc. This year we decided to redevelop this as a website. I carried out this project with my colleague Rosanne Rieley. I have to say this was a challenging, but enjoyable project.

The reason it was challenging was because of the methodology we used to develop these resources. We knew we wanted some interactive video resources on the site and Rosanne knew the content of these would be similar to the advice she would give in a Careers workshop she gives on campus.

I taught Rosanne to use Audacity which she subsequently used to record all the audio content. She supplied me with the audio files and the PowerPoint she uses in the campus session. With no offense intended I wanted the visuals to be slightly more engaging and informative to those supplied, therefore this set me the challenge of reinterpreting the advice recordings. I decide to use the character of a Graduate and the style of the previously produce Student Development Guide to Critical Student to tell the story.

To produce these I used PowerPoint and the inbuilt Shape and Animation tools the produce the visuals effects. Screenr to capture the animations in action whilst showing the PowerPoint in presentation mode. Screenr enabled me to download the screen capture as an MP4 file which could subsequently be edited and synchronized¬† with the audio track using Final Cut video editor on the Mac. From Final Cut the files could be exported in a Quicktime format that can be uploaded to SSDSs’ YouTube Channel. For accessibility purposes we also uploads .txt version of Rosanne’s script to enable Closed Captioning.

The Guide itself is made up of ten sections, nine of which had accompanying videos or Advice Bites as we have called them. Here they are, for each I’ll relfect on my interpretation and the challenges involved in producing it.

1. No clear idea about a career

The trickiest part of this video was getting the animation ordering correct on the scene when examples of what you may look for in a job a discussed. Also in the last scene the rescaling and motion simultaneously give a good perspective approach.

2. Explore you options

There were few technical challenges with this video, but this was one of the toughest to interpret. The final scene is suppose to represent open doors of opportunity.

3. Graduate Work placements/internships

This video borrowed some of the imagery and themes I’d used previously in an ePortfolio video in terms of accumulating skills. The part I’m most proud of is the calender representing the passage of time of a six month placement.

4. Research Employers and vacancies

The piece I like the most about this video is the job search section, when the character goes from the web, to Job Shop and to the newspaper. This is slightly tricky as it involve 3 motion effects. This is achieved by the character moving, disappearing and reappearing as a different object, to enable the next motion. This is tough because it is not easy to align a new object with the finishing position of a previously moving object.

5. Make Effective Applications

The part I’m proudest of in this clip in the Employer throwing the CV away. Not complicated to produce, but effective.

6. Impress at an Interview

7. Review and Reflect on your progress

This is my personal favourite of the videos and probably one of the toughest to produce. The scene with the postman required alot of accurate layering. To make him appear in the window required having to make the door out of individual panels and making the windows transparent.

I also enjoy the teletubbie end, although may revisit this as the sun appears at the bottom of the screen before it rises.

8. Consider alternative and keep motivated

This is probably the video I’m least happy with as I feel the visuals are a little weak. I hope the link to Dragons Den and setup your own business are not to tenuous.

9. Make a career plan

This is the first of the videos I made and probably the most closely linked to Rosanne’s original presentation. The timeline was her idea. She did have to rerecord the audio for this as originally she only discussed the Application stage. The original also included SMART objectives, which were not really explained and are a bit ambiguous anyway.

Final thoughts on the videos

If you would like to see how the animations for these videos are put together here in the original PowerPoint file.

My final reflection is a PowerPoint wish to Microsoft. Please could you please allow us to set the end location of a motion path animation. It would be really helpful to be able the horizontal and vertical finish location as you can with any picture or object. This would enable users to ensure object end up exactly where we want them. This would be alot easier than the constant run presentation, move a little bit and repeat until correct.

Other Technology used in the project

The videos were not the only tech used in this project here are the other highlights:

Flickr Slideshow

This was used to represent the 10 Top Tips flyer used to advertise the website.

Mbedr and Flickr Notes

I blogged about this previously when I said so close yet so far with Flickr annotations. The challenge for this was to present a covering letter that enabled users to click on certain sections and she annotated advice. I overcome my Mbedr issues by making the letter up of 5 larger images and embedding them individually on a page. I can’t show you this in my blog as my basic WordPress account doesn’t enable Mbedr embedding, but here is the Covering Letter page in the guide.

My only question and issue with this technique, although effective, is the accessibility. Because the letter is made up of a series of images the text can not be read by a screen reader. Unfortunately this is the only solution I could find for annotation.

SlideShare Documents

There are a number of downloadable document in the guide. I wanted to display these within the context of the site so I used good old document embedders. Previously a fan on Scribd I’ve actually change to preferring SlideShare documents.

The Gradate Success Guide

Finally the components of the guide have been constructed into a website. The purpose of which is to give advice, signpost to information and suggest actions for the graduates. Therefore each area of the site was divided into three sections:

  • Advice Bites
  • Resources
  • Actions

I’d be pleased to receive comments on the Graduate Success Guide.

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