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Entries from July 2010

Some Stories are Easier to Tell…

July 21st, 2010 · 2 Comments

Our project: to create a digital story.

I hadn’t done this before.  Back in teacher ed., we did a one-class thing on iMovie, but it didn’t ever seem to be for anything more than vague familiarity.  This was back in the day, 2004, where technology was just beginning to be given some sort of precedence in terms of preparing teachers technologically-speaking… or so it seemed.   The learning objectives certainly didn’t seem clear to me other than to ‘play’ which seemed to be supported by only spending one class on the project, never to see it or talk about it again.

Anyhoo, I recently acquired for myself Windows 2007 to update my stone-age might-as-well-be-DOS system on my laptop. From this exciting new update, I discovered I now had Windows Movie Maker on my laptop – yee haw! New to the game, I played there and got a great sense of what I wanted & how before going back to review our criteria.  I had had an inkling Movie Maker wasn’t the way to go & so luckily had not invested too much time – just enough to get my feet wet.  No swimming – good thing: our criteria clearly states the story is to be created online via a Web 2.0 tool such as those posted at CogDogRoo. So that’s what I did.

And did… and did.  It felt like today was never going to end – not happily anyway.

I don’t know how many applications I tried – or how many accounts I have set up! – in order to replicate something akin to what I was able to create on Movie Maker.  Troubles varied: one site wanted to put my slides in its preferred order rather than mine (myPlick).  Another wanted me to give voice to a single picture (VoiceThread).  One showed itself as logging in for an exorbitant amount of time after I created an account there (Joggle).  I discovered Tar Heel Reader, which might be really cool someday to use to create books with my students.  PhotoPeach looks cute, but wasn’t what I was looking for.  For learning purposes & general awareness as an educator, it was an interesting exercise to go through all these, but ultimately Google searching for more info about digital storytelling and following leads like this one and this one from other classmates from another class all seemed to point to using software such as Microsoft Photo Story 3, iMovie, and Movie Maker.

A last ditch chance opened Roxio PhotoShow.  After a day of reading Terms and Conditions of Use and Privacy Policies, I really didn’t care anymore.  PhotoShow looked like it would serve my purpose.  And it did:

(Here’s my pre-show caveat: keep in mind that I’ve done this with my students in mind.  They are ESL or ELL – whichever terminology you want to use, they’re learning English, and most of them are from China, Korea, or Taiwan, with some – like one or two for each – from various other Asian, South Asian, Eastern European and African countries.  I would show this early on to promote sharing of individual stories and a gateway to exploring the Canadian content they also need to learn.)

I’m pretty happy with this given the journey I took to get here.

Now the fallout:  I will have to deal with the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.  For one, my story will self-destruct in 29 days unless I switch to a Premium Policy for a reasonably small fee or order a DVD copy of it for $29.99.  I wouldn’t use PhotoShow for my students either: it’s based out of California and so is subject to the PATRIOT Act, though they do observe COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act), of course, which is good for children 13 and under.  My students are typically 13 and over and I’m subject to B.C.’s privacy protection laws.   This was the one site too where I didn’t see anything particularly reassuring with regards to intellectual property rights.  I’d rather find a Canadian company for this type of thing or use my Movie Maker.

I might also have to pay out the big bucks ($3.33/month or $39.99/year) if I want to create longer stories with PhotoShow.  The free version stops me at 24 slides.  With needing to give some sort of credit page, that left me with 23 pictures on a project I can see easily eating up twice as many.  Hidden blessings there, I’m sure.  System-induced simplicity for the KISS-challenged.

I did like the automatic application of music to my work and I am happy with the music selection that PhotoShow chose for me.  I was concerned at first as it automatically chose a fourth of July theme for me and started playing America the Beautiful, but we got that sorted out just fine.

For now, this is what I’ve got.  I don’t really want to lose it in 29 days.  I’m glad I completed it after midnight.  Otherwise I suppose I’d only have 28 days.  Mercies of joy 🙂

All the pictures are under Creative Commons license except one, which is of my school and I emailed my principal for permission to use it, which he gave, and another one or two listed as being for public use without concern for any kind of licensing.

Hope you enjoy the show~

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Wiki Wonders

July 13th, 2010 · No Comments

Weighing in a little late here, our wiki activity last week in ETEC 565 did not hold my attention.  Granted I was a little distracted by an assignment in my other course (just submitted – yay! – hence, it’s time to catch up here), I found the wiki less than wonderful.  Instead, it left me waiting and wondering.

Trying to be organized (anticipating the then-upcoming distraction), I checked in early on the wiki.  I did get my thoughts posted in decent time, but then I found I was waiting for others, but it became an out-of-sight-out-of-mind issue.  Given that the majority of our discussions happen in the discussion forum, designed for discussion and asynchronicity, I didn’t like that I had to go through to the learning modules, then to the wiki – too many clicks, and for what?  To accomplish the same task that we could have done in the discussion forum.

I do like wikis.  For anything due for group editing, they work well.  For our summary, it works well.  Fetya posted the challenges and strategies and then they are perfectly editable by anyone in the group.  We could likewise use Google Docs, a Wetpaint site or a PB Works site.  But this served the purpose.

It also served another purpose though: it showed us how wikis don’t work.  Wikis are not the best choice for discussion.  A threaded discussion is much more organized and efficient.

Given our objectives of learning about learning technologies and how to select appropriately, I’d say the task worked.  By putting us in a situation that incorporated both good and bad application, we got to experience both under one roof so to speak.

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