Team Profile

Project Name: Hats off to the NBN

‍Public Contact Details

Name: Paula McKenry
Role in the project: Project Manager
Phone: (03) 9094 3053


Other team members:

Name: Sean Norrey
Role in the project: Technical Officer
Phone: (03) 9279 2250


‍Project Profile:

‍What is the problem or opportunity you are addressing in this project?

The NBN will provide the bandwidth necessary to be able to conduct synchronous videoconferencing between students, trainers and key fashion industry people.

‍Who are the learners and how will they benefit from this project?

Students in the target learner group will be from the Certificate IV in Millinery. They need industry exposure to develop their skills and knowledge and at the same time have the opportunity to promote their skills and develop networks for job opportunities on completion of their courses. Industry needs access to new designers and fresh ideas in fashion.

This project brings together students, trainers (many of whom are currently working in the fashion industry) and key industry people. Students will learn useful practical information and get the opportunity to ask questions about fashion design, ethical principles and sustainability practices.

‍How are you currently delivering this training? (ie prior to the project)

Currently the students rarely get the opportunity to connect with fashion industry experts.

‍How will your project demonstrate the power of broadband to enhance outcomes for learners?

The use of the NBN high speed connection will allow collaboration between the industry participants and the students to create a virtual face-to-face teaching /mentoring facility. The students will be able participate as if they were in a studio situation listening to presenters and being given the opportunity for question and answer sessions.

‍Please list 5 key words (comma separated) that people can use to find your project

videoconferencing, millinery, fashion, hub, design, hats, nbn, industry, expert, web, conferencing

Monthly Project Update

please complete one or two paragraphs each month to provide an update of your project
Project Update
January 2012
This month we received some valuable information from our technical support team regarding Kangan’s AARNET connection. Kangan has this connection, but a Gateway needs to be purchased to allow video to leave the Institute. Unfortunately the purchase of a commercial gateway exceeds $60,000, putting it out of the reach of this project. We are investigating other alternatives that are within budget and that allow the connection of mobile devices to use as extra cameras to pass around amongst the students. Are other project teams investigating these issues and do you have any advice to offer?
We have also been working on selecting the most appropriate industry expert to host the training sessions for our Fashion students. Luckily we have a quite a few choices and we’ll post our decision up next month. Until then we’ll be beavering away on the technical side of things and we’d be happy to discuss our experiences with other teams. Cheers.
February 2012
We have had two changes to our project this month after advice from our teaching expert Serena Lindeman; the unit of competence and our industry expert. These changes were required to meet the end of April time frames of the project. Serena Lindeman suggested an alternative unit LMTML3001A Make flat patterns from hat blocks and a replacement industry expert as Tiffany Trelor was unavailable. Our industry expert will now be Alex Trimmer from Sosume clothing. Serena has also started a blog to be used as a contact point between herself, students and Alex Trimmer.
We have also been working on the technical front. A Skype test was conducted on site in The Hub at Kangan’s Richmond campus to check the facility and to make sure that required software was installed on computers and working correctly. This test was very valuable and we learnt several lessons.
  1. Kangan’s Fashion Hub is set up with a large high quality interactive TV that can have any PC connected to it easily. Skype was expected to be easy to install on the extra Mac computers to be used as possible secondary cameras. When the Support Centre was contacted to do the installation no-one had experience installing the software on a Mac. Sean, the technical person on site, did have the technical experise but did not have administration access to perform the installation. Lesson learned – organise installation of software well before hand even if it appears to be very easy to do, this installation, for example, only required dragging a Skype icon to an installation icon.
  2. Our test also showed that, while multiple cameras in one room may be beneficial in showing close ups of people or props, multiple microphones cause significant feedback. So we intend using only one microphone to capture the conversation in each room of our delivery. All other microphones will be muted. Additional microphones can be turned on and off at any time during the conversation so all students can participate.
  3. We used an iPad for the test and it performed very well producing a high quality image, but when we added extra people to the conference the iPad stopped receiving video though it kept sending video. Skype for iPad can only handle a two way conversation. An iPad remains an option for use as a secondary close up camera or to pass around to learners who would like to ask a question. The iPad is a great option for use as a wireless camera.
Hope these lessons help others in their preparations for delivery across the NBN. More next month.
March 2012
Our first session with the students ran very well. The industry expert, Alex Trimmer, was engaging and shared many valuable and interesting learning points about sourcing sustainable fabrics. The Skype conference went extremely well with excellent video and audio quality, however the video capture of the conference failed due to the computer memory filling too rapidly. This was because two high definition signals were being recorded in unison. This caused the computer to crash and unfortunately, the video was lost. This occurred approximately 15 minutes into the conference, planned for 20 minutes. The team have an audio recording of the conference and plan to upload most parts of Alex’s presentation and his answers to student questions.
The planned session duration was 20 minutes but students were so engaged in the conference that Alex kindly continued with the session for 55 minutes, showing sample garments and explaining the considerations involved in sourcing fabrics for the garments. The students participating by taking many notes, asking questions, making statements and sharing what they had learnt about sustainability so far.
The students have been given the task of sourcing sustainably made fabric and presenting what they have found to Alex in the second session planned for the 29th March.
April 2012
During the second video conference students were asked to present examples of sustainable fabrics to Alex Trimmer. These fabrics will be used to create hats designed by the students.
One of the cameras was moved around the room so students could show Alex the materials they had found, and the picture quality of the Microsoft HD Web Cam was sufficient to allow Alex to see the density and luminosity of the fibres of the fabrics.
Once again, Skype worked well although there were some minor hiccups when the camera was moved a lot around as the video would freeze momentarily. However this did not impact on the presentation substantially as a new connection could be made in a matter of seconds. (The video freeze seems related to a basic computer trying to process extra camera movement. During testing the team had noted that when there was excessive camera movement there was a rise in the amount of data being processed.) The last 30 minutes of the conference went very well. The video camera was moved much less and there were no video freezes. This seemed to confirm the team’s hypothesis.
Alex and the students enjoyed the session a lot and the session lasted longer than planned, again. The project team noticed that students reacted to Alex as if he was physically in the room with them. The students would break into small conversations and Alex felt comfortable joining in and the students, in turn, invited him into the conversation. There was a high level of engagement between the students and Alex; the quality of the video image contributed to this as did the rapport that could be developed with the live NBN connection. The teacher commented on how successful the two video sessions had been as a learning activity and how hard students had worked to source sustainable fabrics to review with Alex. She is keen to apply this technology in future classes.
May 2012
This month the team conducted an additional test at Brunswick Neighbourhood House utilising their recently installed NBN connection. It was planned to use a Windows based laptop at the NBN site and a Mac computer back at the office in Essendon with Skype used for the video conference. However, after arriving at the site the team realised that there was no technical support and the information required to connect the laptop to the NBN, such as login and passwords, was not available. Luckily Skype was installed on a Mac computer in the computer room of the neighbourhood house and so we conducted the test using only Mac computers, but the testing was successful.
The connection was excellent, there was no evidence of image flipping that occurred in previous tests and the picture quality never failed. After times of fast movement the camera needed a short amount of time to readjust but returned to previous high qualities each time. A speed test was conducted, the computer at BNH achieved speeds approaching 100mbps while the connection at the Essendon location only achieved 7mbps download and 50mbps upload. It should be noted that the test was done at about 10am on a day where the institute would have been in a high internet use period. Despite the slow speed at the Essendon location the connection was flawless.
The project team reported on the results of the project at the conference in Tasmania earlier this week and they and enjoyed meeting the other teams and talking to people about our project. A copy of the overview of the project are available here.
June 2012
This month sees the project draw to a close. Currently the team are writing up our case study/project report and are finding that there is more information than initially thought. There are images and a couple videos to be included and the team are waiting on advice from Fiona about the best way of incorporating these into the report.