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Why do expert interviews?

Most learning objects are in one of very few traditional didactic forms: the lecture, the seminar, the tutorial, the paper, the book. The recent experience of eLearning is that these forms do not transfer well to e-formats without significant modification.
In contrast, the most common form taken by modern broadcast media is the “interview”. The interview format is surprisingly robust in an e-medium. Indeed, for busy professionals, the concept of the “ask the expert” interview is readily understood and commonly used in all media.
Hard issues for educational technologists include: how to create learning objects, how to annotate them, and how to get learners to engage with them? A variety of systems are trying to make it easy to generate powerful learning objects. A constructivist would suggest that the only real learning comes from asking the critical questions, or answering them. But listening to a well-crafted interview can still be pretty compelling – maybe you can do both?

A good example?

Flashmeeting lets you record meetings, quickly and easily. If the meeting has some interesting content, then you have a potentially valuable learning object. The purpose of this activity is to generate some quality interview content for the Prolearn Network as quickly and easily.

Check out this very simple example of an Interview :
This one comes ‘embedded’ in a highly interactive wiki, where it is used.

Interview example

Of course, the technology doesn’t ensure a compelling argument, a well-structured discussion, an interviewer who can cut to the critical issues with good questions, or an interviewee who has something worth saying…

How to?

Using FlashMeeting to create “an interview” learning object for the Virtual Competence Centre. Interviews should last no longer than 10-20 minutes. Shorter is better. This gives you time for, say, 5-10 key question topics with reasonable answers. You can annotate and publish this interview.

1. Agree on the list of topics between interviewee and interviewer. These could be a set of simple “core questions” that will expose the key issues for the interviewee.
2. Agree a Rehearsal and Recording time. This can be the same meeting or a separate one; the latter is recommended.
3. The interviewer should book a 30-minute FlashMeeting for the interview/rehearsal. All Prolearn members can have an account on the Prolearn Flashmeeting server - flashmeeting.open.ac.uk. Email one of the OU Team if you don’t know what it is.
4. Optional: When you book the meeting you are recommended to click “make the meeting public”. This will give you a simple and memorable URL to start (makes it easier to share). The interviewee can come to a simpler URL. (Ask, if you do not understand this).

5. Try a few sample questions and answers in a practice session to set audio levels and consider your style and get the interviewee/interviewer comfortable. If you are “expert” at this you might invite a 3rd person into your interview to act as the interview annotator. They can add live notes to the meeting by typing three hashes at the start of a line in the text chat. i.e. ###This will appear as an annotation. Don’t try this yourself as it will get in the way of the smooth discussion.
6. If you want you can review your few minutes practice in the “memo” recording before proceeding. The full URL of a live meeting on this server is usually something like: http://flash.kmi.open.ac.uk:8080/fm/index.php?pwd=12345
The memo replay is the same URL as the live meeting, but with the index.php (or flashmeeting.php) replaced with memo.php (note that you can review a live meeting before it is finished).

7. Use the remaining minutes of the meeting to conduct the interview proper OR book another meeting and move interviewer/interviewee to this new URL for the real thing.
8. The meeting booker (interviewer) can “edit” the memo recording by returning to the booking page and looking at “my events”. You could trim out the practice at the front and any chatter at the end. Lock it when you think it is “fit for purpose”.
9. The Prolearn support team here will see your work immediately, but you might like to tell one of them that it is brilliant, demand appropriate praise, and ask for it to be put into the relevant listing for syndication. Email us.
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