Flying Start is a collaborative project between over 40 Schools or departments at the University of Leeds (UK) created in 2012. It consists of a website with student and staff videos, interactive activities as well as social media channels, where information to help new undergraduate students manage the challenging transition from school or college to university education is uploaded in stages. The aim of the resource is to help students gain a clear understanding of the importance of academic skills so they arrive at Leeds prepared for study.
Winner of the special Award for Educational Media Promoting Volunteering 2011
The video Changing Lives, created by Deirdre Flood (Ireland) in 2011, explains the different aspects that are involved in organising a local sports club for Special Olympics Ireland. In the video Deirdre, who is a volunteer herself in her local Special Olympics club in Drogheda in the County of Louth, guides us through the different volunteer roles, what this means in action, and she interviews several volunteers. It also shows the common sports activities as well as some related activities you might not think of which are organised in a sports club.
The showcase video of Changing Lives, including an interview with Deirdre Flood
Deirdre’s main aim for making this video is to help new volunteers registered with Special Olympics Ireland to understand the extent of the volunteering opportunities that lie beyond the realm of sports coaching at club level in Special Olympics, but it can also help starting clubs to adopt good practices such as, for example, the club management team meetings and the briefing before each training session. Changing Lives also shows that the Drogheda club is local, community based and accessible to all, which is very different from what new volunteers might think of first when they know about large-scale events organised by the Special Olympics Ireland and the World Games.
The videos are broken down into six segments as they will be hosted online in the Special Olympics Ireland (Moodle) learning website, and they will also be used in face-to-face volunteer rallies and volunteer/club induction.
About the creation of the entry
Deirdre Flood, who is a volunteer Sports Officer in her local Special Olympics Club in Drogheda Co. Louth, elaborates: “I created the Changing Lives video to address a concern I had: that registered volunteers might not fully understand the extent of the volunteering opportunities that lay beyond the realm of sports coaching at Club level in Special Olympics, and might leave the organisation because they do not grasp the opportunities available for volunteering at Club level – quickly enough - to capture their attention and focus their interest. As I had experienced how more traditional classroom-based methods (such as a 96-page Club handbook) sometimes fail because of the time constraints that volunteers are under, I created this video to pass on the information in a fun, condensed way with sufficient realism.
Using video provides the ability to build emotion within this learning context and nurture confidence through education; by demystifying what actually happens in a Club environment thereby volunteers can make an informed decision to join a Club and have some idea of how they might participate. Video also gives new volunteers the opportunity to be exposed to a fast tracking of the volunteers’ experiences in a 21-minute video which they would otherwise have to wait a full year to experience directly. Therefore I believe the video will provide a new volunteer with a much greater appreciation of how they can contribute their time in an easily accessible format.
I created these videos as part of an action research enquiry towards attaining an MSc in Education and Training Management (e-learning strand) in Dublin City University in Ireland. My paper titled 'How can I produce a web accessed video to educate volunteers on how they can contribute their time at Club level in Special Olympics', was to the Educational Journal of Living Theory (EJOLTS) and it has been approved for publishing in the October 2011 journal.
Producing the 'Changing Lives', video was not something I undertook lightly. I spent a full year using two action research cycles to determine the suitability of video as the correct medium to use in an educational context in this organisation. My first action research cycle involved producing a 45 min commemorative DVD of the Special Olympics Ireland Games in Limerick in June 2010. It was through reflection initially on this work and as I connected with the literature in experiential learning, informal learning and pedagogic screenwriting principles that I realised the potential of using video in an educational context that would be in keeping with the non-formal way that volunteers actually learn.What might help other educational video creators, is that during (the second stage of my) research, the production of this educational online video, I focused on the instructional strategies and used Koumi's (2006) pedagogic screenwriting principles, I explored pitfalls of online streaming video such as included poor internet bandwidth with HD movie files, and I also examined ways to use close ups, clear clutter from the frame, and I used Colvin Clark and Mayer's multimedia principles in determining how to narrate and deliver visual text and integrate that with music and moving images. Using the instructional design strategies provided clarity on the purpose and cognitive learning outcomes.”
About Deirdre Flood
Deirdre Flood is presently a Human Resources Manager working for a multinational organisation in Ireland. Pursuing a passion for learning and education, Deirdre recently graduated with a MSc in Education and Training Management (E-learning) from Dublin City University in Ireland and it was within this programme of study that Deirdre explored the use of multimedia technology particularly the pedagogical affordances of web accessed video for non-formal learning in relation to educating volunteers within Special Olympics in Ireland.
She has been a volunteer with Special Olympics on a weekly basis since 2006 and is currently working as a volunteer Sports Officer in her local Special Olympics Club in Drogheda Co. Louth, Deirdre’s focus is on finding ways to harness the educational potential of multimedia technology and transform it to promote volunteerism at community level.
Deirdre Flood talked about Changing Lives in further detail at the Media & Learning Conference 2011 Brussels on 24-25 November 2011 and was announced the winner of the special Award for Educational Media Promoting Volunteering 2011 during the MEDEA Awards 2011 Ceremony. Deirdre received prizes which included a MEDEA Medal as well as a digital camcorder.