Monthly Archives: September 2011

Screen Casting and Whiteboard Videos

Today I finally figured out how to successfully screen cast on my Mac and also use an app to record a Khan Academy video on both my Mac and iPad.  Below are instructions on how you can do both for free.

Screen Casting:

This is a useful trick if you would like to show someone how to do something on a computer but don’t want to repeat the instructions.  If you’re a teacher you may want to use it to provide extra support to students.  Click here to see  how you can make your own screen cast on a Mac for free.  If you would like to create a Khan Academy style video on your Mac, download and install WhiteBoardMac  and then begin recording following the instructions given in the video above.

Note:  If you do want the audio to work correctly, it is best to transfer the video file to iMovie first and then upload it directly to YouTube.

Whiteboard:

If you would like to create a video in the style of Khan Academy on your iPad:

1.  First you will need to download either ScreenChomp or ShowMe. Both provide essentially the same service (with one key difference).

2. When you’ve recorded your video both apps will allow you to share by uploading it onto their web-site.  ShowMe will ask you to create an account where as ScreenChomp will simply provide you with a link.  Both apps give you the option of informing people via your various social networking accounts.  Neither app allows you to directly upload to YouTube.

ScreenChomp vs Showme

ScreenChomp comes out the winner overall for me.  The reason being is that when I go to the link provided I can download it onto my computer and either pop it into iMovie for editing or I can upload it directly onto YouTube.  Thus allowing me to not only create better looking video but also allows me to share in different ways.  Below is a video demonstrating how to get the download from the ScreenChomp site.

 

Note:  If you would like the audio to work correctly, it is best to put it in iMove first and then upload it to YouTube.

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Screen Capture Success Story

Pondering how to do a screen cast.

I’ve been toying around with the idea of using video screen capture to help reinforce ideas and concepts in class for close to a year.  My journey all started with the question “If I can take a picture of my screen and share it with others, then why can’t I take a video of what I’m doing on the screen with audio?”

My initial search led me to the program Jing.  At first I was in love with it.  It was incredibly easy to use and to set up my account.  However, once I finished recording the troubles began.  Jing records in SWF format (unless you pay a subscription fee), which is a file format that most movie editors do not seem to recognize.  I created a couple of videos but found the process of trying to convert, edit, and then share the videos to be so frustrating that I finally gave up.

When I got my iPad in August, I immediately went and downloaded a couple of free apps that do a Khan Academy style recording (ScreenChomp and ShowMe) which were suggested on Langwitches Blog post  Bloom’s Taxonomy and iPad Apps.  I had planned to use this in class but I hadn’t used it yet.  Then this week my students did two things:

  1. They forgot how to divide using decimals.
  2. When I took them into the computer lab and showed them how to upload documents and pictures into their blog, they looked a bit confused.

When I woke up on Friday, I was determined to find an answer to my screen-casting problem.  However, I did not want to fork out any money of my own to do so.  At first I went back to Jing but try as I might I could not find a converter that would allow me to change SWF to other file types successfully.

Finally, I asked my brother for his advice.  He suggested I check the App Store.  I did with no luck and e-mailed him again asking for help.  He responded with several YouTube video links that explained how I could do it for free in several different ways.  Finally, on the last one demonstrated how to do it using QuickTime X.  I was elated that the answer could be so simple.  I recorded it, swapped it into iMovie, and uploaded it onto my YouTube account.  After my success with that I tried recording a ScreenChomp recording.  Once that was done I put it onto YouTube.

I am so happy about this that I can barely contain my joy.  I can see the potential benefit to my students being able to access videos that help reinforce their learning.  All of my videos will be available under Creative Commons Licensing, so feel free to use the videos if you like them.  Hopefully, I’ll also be able to get my students into screen casting as well using the various tools.

I will be creating some Screen Casting Videos and will post them later.

Here are my first two videos:


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Starting to Share

As I read the article “Shaping Tech for the Classroom,” I could not help but feel that Marc Prensky was writing a war cry for continued evolution of technology in the classroom.  The article attempts to encourage others to continue to support technology in the classroom, however the author hinders his argument with the way he describes teachers and administrators. While I agree with Prensky that education needs to change, to resort to name calling with those who are resistant does nothing to help support his cause.

I believe that Prensky’s article and “Living and Learning with New Media” both convey the same message: educators and administers need to learn how to integrate technology successfully by modifying how they approach their teaching.  This is of course on top of all the other demands that are already placed on educators.  One key component that the COTAIL program and the workshops The Networked Educator and Create the Future keep reinforcing is that in order make the integration of new technology less daunting and (hopefully) easier for everyone, we need to learn to share with each other.

While I feel nervous about sharing my work, I know that I must do so that I can continue to learn from others and others can learn from both my successes and failures.   It is in this light that I share with you some of my success and some of my failures with using technology in the classroom:

 VoiceThread:

Last year I created a VoiceThread account for my students.  VoiceThread allows users to upload slideshows, videos, documents, and other materials.  Others  can then comment using their voice, typed words, or drawings.  Since this was new for me, I decided to restrict the creation of threads to me only.  One thread that I created was a series of pictures that showed the class doing various things.  When I demonstrated how to use it, the class immediately took hold loved it.  I asked them to go home and place a comment on a slide explaining what International Baccalaureate Learner Profile was been shown.

One of my students, who was incredibly nervous about oral participation in class (more than once I saw her break down in tears when I asked her what she was thinking), went home and produced the most lovely oral comments.  I was so happy that this student was able to find her voice in a way that she was unable to in class.

Mess of tangled cords caused by headphone neglect

Headphones:

To support my use of VoiceThread last year the school purchased several sets of headphones for the computer lab.  I took responsibility numbering them and putting them into plastic bags.  When I took my students to the computer lab I gave them explicit instruction on how to use them.  My class was fantastic with the headphones, however it was not long before cords got tangled and people stopped putting them back properly.  Both my students and I became frustrated when it cam time to use the headphones.  Based on this if you must use headphones, I would encourage each class to have their own set.  This will help ensure that you have control over how they are maintained.

Dropbox:

Over the summer I began to think about using Dropbox with my students. The IT staff at my school were kind enough to create a class Dropbox account and install the program on all the computers in the lab.  Once that was done I created a folder for each class that contained all the students and synced it with my personal folder.  Thus, I will have access to their work from anywhere.  When I introduced it to my students this week I received several “ooh’s” and “ahh’s.”  One student was elated at the fact that if she gets it installed at home, then she no longer has to worry about having to carry around a USB stick.

The examples presented above would mainly fall into the “Doing old things in new ways” category of Mark Prensky’s article.  However as I continue to evolve in my own understanding of technology and how to use it in the classroom I have goals:

Open Things Up:

This is a scary proposition for me but as I become more comfortable with technology I want to open up the world to my students.  I want them to interact with others so that they can learn from the knowledge of others.  I want them to find people who share their passions so that they can follow it even when there’s no one geographically close to them with the same interests.  I want them to demonstrate their learning in a way that interests them using tools that are easy for them to use.  Most of all I want them to continue to evolve as people and leave at the end of every day feeling good about themselves and that they have contributed to the global pool of knowledge.

Changing Assessment:

Tests have their place; I believe that.  However, as I gain more proficiency with various technological tools, I want my students to explore these tools and use them to further their own understandings.  On Monday I texted my co-teacher and told her that I wanted to open up the next assignment and get away from the idea of posters, essays, speeches, and tests.  I want them to be creative.  I want to push them to try new ways of expressing themselves by opening up the project to permit the use of technology beyond research, Word, and Power Point.

Photo Credits:

Headphone Mess by Brendan Lea

Image Sources, Creative Commons Licensed, Found on Flickr

Blue Marble (Planet Earth) by woodlewonderworks

Taking a Test by peruisay

Video Credits:

VoiceThread use in classrooms by ericdvid2

Dropbox Demo by theragax

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“Geek Out”

As I read the “geeking out” section of Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of findings from Digital Youth Project, I could not help but feel that the concept of being interested in something to the point where one actively researches it seemed familiar.  Eventually feeling comfortable enough with the material that one is willing to create and share their own work, was also an experience that I too have shared.  The common thread among the case studies presented in this section appeared to be not only were the participants using technology to further their understanding of a particular activity but were also taking their passion to the next level by creating pieces of work that reflected their interest and ability in the activity.  In the case studies presented examples included participants making music, anime music videos, and game guides.

Brendan "geeking out" over theatre

The authors mention that “geeking out is usually supported by interest-based groups, either local or online, or some hybrid of the two, where fellow geeks will both produce and exchange knowledge on their subjects of interest.”  As I read this, I could not help but think of my own experiences with “geeking out” over theatre.   Growing up I was interested in the performing arts, however not many of my friends in the local community were interested.  Thus, like the people involved in the study, I sought out avenues to further my knowledge and  abilities.  Luckily there was a group close by that was interested and my parents signed me up.  Over the course of the past twenty-one years I have continued to develop my passion for theatre and I have had wonderful experiences as an actor, producer, costumer, sound operator, lighting operator, props master, and stage manager.

Reading the examples, I felt a connection with the participants, because they were following their interests, not for the potential profit, but because they had a passion about the topic.  Regardless of the availability of the Internet, chances are we have all had an experience where we “geeked out.”  What the Internet has done is expand the tools, methods, topics, and even spaces for “geeking out,” by creating places for people to connect with others from around the globe who share their passions.  As educators we hope that students will follow their passions in life; the rise of the Internet has provided the opportunity for students to ‘geek out’ with others of similar interest without being limited by their geography.  In order to encourage this we must expand our own ideas and concepts about what constitutes an acceptable demonstration of knowledge.

I remember being at a workshop where the presenter showed us the video “The Evolution of Dance.”  The video showed a man who had “geeked out” over dance. Throughout the video music from different artists and eras is played, as the music changed he modified his dance to reflect the style of the song and period.  After the video was played our instructor asked us to evaluate its worthiness as a piece of evidence that the man had gained knowledge in the area of dance history.  The general consensus was that it did even though there were no essays, PowerPoint presentation, or speeches.   The above example illustrates how our ideas of authentic assessments need to expand to reflect the interests and abilities of our students.  By doing so we can hope to create a class full of students who are willing to “geek out” both in life and at school.

Photo Credits:

Pippin Cast by Roger Walker (used with Permission)

Video Credits:

The Evolution of Dance by Judson Laipply

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Connectivism: Questioning the role of the teacher in a connected world

It seems that every week there is a news article debating issues in education from the value of standardized testing amongst scandal, the value of technology on education, how to improve the quality of teaching, and trying to figure out which educational theory works best in an always connected world,   Sir Ken Robinson provides an explanation as to why people are constantly critiquing the education system in his speech Changing Education Paradigms.

Mr. Robinson mentions that the current solutions being offered are not working because the suggestions being put forth to improve education do not fit with the current model that exists in schools.  This week I was introduced to the theory of Connectivism which suggests that learning is a process of connecting nodes or information sources to further one’s understanding, in contrast to the current assembly-line model of education.

In his post Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, George Siemens introduces us to his ideas on how we can best educate our students in a digital society.  He makes some interesting points in his article and raises some intriguing questions, particularly concerning the limitations of educational theories because they “…are concerned with the process of learning and not the value of what is being taught.”

Connectivism could be explained as a learning theory that encourages students to use their connections to further their learning in a field of study that is interesting to them.  This theory stresses the importance of being able to make connections between bits of information, discerning useful or truthful information, and maintaining connections to ensure further learning and currency of information.  However, I felt uneasy when I got to the conclusion and read his suggestion that “the pipe is more important than the content within the pipe.  Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today.”

Yes, I agree that being able to learn something is an incredibly valuable skill.  Yes, I act more as a guide with my students, helping them to understand the big idea and allowing them to research their own inquiries. But, do I believe it should be up to each individual to follow only what interests them: hardly.  Reflecting on my own interests as a child, if I had only followed the nodes that allowed me further to develop my knowledge of areas of interest, then I would have wound up learning nothing except how to put on a show, “Who Shot Mr. Burns?,” and perhaps the 100 reasons why cats are better then dogs.

If it were not for my teachers guiding me to learn what they felt was valuable to learn and to understand the bigger picture, I would never have developed an interest in history or religious studies.

I probably will never feel comfortable teaching a course like George Siemens and Stephen Downes did where the only two components were:

  1. enrolled students seeking formal evaluation and recognition
  2. participants engaged for personal learning.

However, after reading the article I am now pondering another question: If technology is to the point where students can access information at any time, then what facts, skills, or “big ideas,” truly need to be taught under the supervision of a teacher?  If the answer nothing, then our profession needs to be reevaluated.  But, if we believe that there are things too valuable to know that leaving it to the chance that students will stumble upon it is not an option, then what are they and what is our position in a world where access to knowledge is as easy as pushing a few buttons? Perhaps the teacher should act as a guide to help students not only see what they want to see but also to guide them to see things that they can’t or don’t want to see but should.

Image Sources, Creative Commons Licensed, Found on Flickr

CMAP of Connectivism v1.0 by  wlonline

Who Shot Mr Burns? shared by Andrew*

Image Source Vladia Vladia

Brendan as Stage Manager by Vladia Vladia

Image Source Graham Lea

Brendan with Mackie by Graham Lea

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