Reflection on EST430 blog

During these first 7 weeks of the EST430, Educational Software unit, I have learnt so much about ICT and education, whether it be specific programs, general terms or classroom adaptation. I feel as though this learning has been documented on this blog, however I will briefly go through the 5 biggest things I’ve learnt to give an overview.

1. Social bookmarking and RSS feeds: How was I getting by without it? I’m struggling to remember my life before being introduced to Diigo and Google Reader, because honestly since I have started using it I can’t stop! I am constantly bookmarking pages with plenty of tags to help myself at a later date, and have found the social aspect of sharing extremely beneficial and useful. As for RSS feeds, in particular Google Reader, I have been saving my favourite sites as well as my classmates’ blogs and have thoroughly appreciated the fact that I can keep up to date with whats going with only having to go to one webpage! Amazing!

2. Embedding: This unit has given me the ability to embed videos and widgets (and I’m sure the skill will come in handy with other things later) to be able to make my blog more interesting, as well as have a better understanding of how these things work. I never really put much thought into how I would get a youtube clip to appear on a webpage, but now I have that tool in my belt, I have found myself using it more and more and with increasing ease. I think this extremely beneficial as there are SO many great videos or widgets that can really enhance class blogs or teaching in general if used well. Its a simple skill, and one you don’t really realise you need until you have it!

3. Awareness of many great web tools: Although I didn’t get a chance to try out many different web tools besides ones like Flickr, Picnik, and Animoto, I have read many blog entries by fellow EST430-ers who have given great reviews and recommendations about many different web tools. It has made me realise there is so much potential for creative, interactive and interesting learning and its all about teachers sharing their resources and ideas with what worked and what didn’t and learning can be so much more fun! These web tools can give opportunity for students to express and present their ideas in many differing ways so that learning isn’t always linear, but multi-dimensional.

4. Blogging: Before this unit, I had never thought I would create a blog. I guess my initial reaction to the word ‘blog’ is of someone who has too much time on their hands telling the world their most insignificant or innermost thoughts. I have been able to broaden my meaning of this word and now really see blogging as a tool that can be really effective in education if used well. I really like the idea of student blogs which are representative of them and their uniqueness as I have tried to express through my own blog’s personalising. As well as this I love the idea of a class blog as something that breaks down the walls of the classroom, not limiting learning to school hours, but that it can be accessed all the time and is ongoing.

5. Social Networking for Schools – Edmodo: I think Edmodo is such a great idea. There is absolutely no need for students and teachers to be ‘Facebook friends’ but why not still bring that ever-so-popular social networking phenomenon to schools too! Edmodo’s privacy settings and minimal sharing ability is great as it doesn’t have room for the type of broad sharing of personal information with friends-of-friends and doesn’t allow for posting of albums upon albums of party pics. It borrows the best from Facebook and other such sites, but leaves out the unneccessaries which I think is great. It also has so many great features such as the communities, library and assignments which really make Edmodo use perfect for students and teachers to share and communicate.

There are so many more things I could write about, but I thought I would just leave it with those 5. I’m looking forward to the rest of the unit and learning so much more, but at this stage I feel really pleased with how much I’ve learnt and also the idea that there is still so much more to learn.

Bring it on!

— Julia

Herald Sun and iPads

Today at lunchtime in the staffroom of my practicum school I was reading one of the Herald Suns that was lying there and came across an article to do with education and iPads and my ears (well eyes really) perked up a little. Here’s the link if you want to have a read of it. It basically talks about this new program called eLocker which allows parents to recieve detailed information about what their children are upto at school in realtime. The article reads:

Parents could soon have real-time updates on their children – including an instant message when they don’t turn up to school and photographs from school excursions – under a new electronic program.

It does explain that the program is still in the trial stages so there is still not much information about it, however its an interesting to have parents involved and aware to that degree that it could change the whole home<->school communication issue.

Anyway I found another article while finding the link for that one which is a report about a young school girl with a sight disability who has found the iPad to really benefit her education. I have a friend who has mild cerebral palsy, so although she was intellectually capable to learn etc, she was limited physically and found difficulty in writing especially. I think its great if there is this kind of technology available that can help students who are disadvantaged to have extra assistance, which is easy to use and as mobile as an iPad (instead of a clunky old computer or laptop).

Have a read :)

— Julia

Editing in Picasa

I much prefer editing in Picasa offline, rather than an online option as I previously tried out. There are all the same editing options and more, and you don’t have to worry about being online to do it. It is much quicker and easier to do as you aren’t waiting for pages to open and load, and you don’t need to upload a photo to do it, as Picasa uploads all the photos on your computer during installation. Therefore you can edit as many photos as you like from your library, and export the ones you liked best. Picasa’s bottom toolbar helps you to export your edited photos to your blog, or email as well as to create slideshows and videos (as can be seen below).

In an effort to show you how effective Picasa is at editing photos, and how many different ways you can edit, I used the ‘Video’ option of the toolbar. I made a series of alteration on the same photo of a second hand bookshop that I took, saving copied files everytime, and finally compiled them to create the slideshow.Picasa also has an ‘export to youtube’ button, so you don’t even have to leave the program to get it online. It was so simple! Also since I just wrote a blog post on Creative Commons I decided to get my accompanying music on Jamendo which is a “community of free, legal and unlimited music published under Creative Commons licenses”. There’s plenty to choose from, and I ended up using a song called Summer Jazz 2011.

Anyway here’s my video, with edited photos from Picasa, compiled together on Picasa and exported to youtube from Picasa!

Let me know what you think!

— Julia

Editing in Flickr

As a place to store and share photos online, I think Flickr is a great site. From reading more into how Flickr can be used in education (as I mentioned in my previous post), I am interested in further exploring and hopefully using Flickr a lot more.

However for a means to edit photos, I don’t think it is the most efficient method. I would much prefer to do all of my editing offline, and then upload the finished product onto Flickr instead of the other way around. When editing in Flickr, you are taken to another program called Picnik which allows you to perform most basic editing techniques.

To start editing a photo on Flickr, you find the photo you want to editand select Actions-> Edit Photo in Picnik. 

  You are then taken to Picnik, where you are able to edit using the tools seen in the screenshot. For this photo I cropped, straightened (in Rotate), changed the exposure, enhanced colour and sharpened to get my finished product which I then saved and which was then sent back to Flickr as a new photo in my photostream.

This is the final edited photo which can be seen in my photostream on Flickr along with the original. I could get the embed code from the photo through the ‘share’ option and copied and pasted into the HTML tab of this post. Easier than uploading from my computer.

ssssnakes

Edited photo

Although as I mentioned, the editing was quite simple, and Picnik a very easy to use program, I would much prefer doing my editing offline, and then uploading the product onto Flickr.

Anyone else have similar thoughts?

— Julia

Creative Commons

What is Creative Commons you ask? Well as this week was about using and editing Photos in programs such as Flickr or Picasa I thought it was worthwhile finding out and understanding what it is all about. As I don’t feel as though I am articulate enough to explain it on my own, I thought I would get the experts to do the talking. :)

On the Creative Commons Australia website there is a page dedicated to CC for Educators which has up to date articles and information regarding CC licensing that is relevant to the educational sector. Definitely worth having a look at.

Let me know what you think!

— Julia

Flickr?

I have never really delved much into the world of Flickr, but decided to have a look at what its all about. After signing up with Flickr and feeling rather unsure about how to progress, I googled “Flickr in education” to see what other people had to say. I came across a post in a website called Nuvvo which advertises itself as having “the communities and experts to help you get ahead in education“. Its ‘Teaching with Technology‘ Community had a post by one of its users called Flickr in the K-12 Classroom”, which explains that:

In the past, students would cut pictures out of National Geographic, Life and other magazines to illustrate reports. Now thanks to Flickr, students and teachers have the ability to search a vast and growing photo archive, using tags, or keywords.

I found the post very useful as it gave plenty of examples about how Flickr can be utilized in the classroom linking out to many different pages, including Flickr for Education, which is a group on Flickr that looks at how the site can be used in education. One other page from the Nuvvo post that I thought I would share, is a real life example of a class project that was done over Flickr called Haiku 07 which had the students creating a haiku and uploading onto the Flickr page. I thought that seemed really impressive, and allowed the students to view theirs and their classmates’ really effective looking Haikus. Take a look!

— Julia

Animoto – Online Slideshows

After trying Photo Story 3, which is an offline photo slideshow program, I decided to try out an online one to see the difference. I chose to have a look at Animoto which is an online program for creating slideshows. The first difference I noticed was that with the free version you could only create 30 second clips which limits you severely. I also noticed there was less ability to edit and manipulate your photos (such as add effects or change the colour and position of text on the slide). I saw these as major drawbacks for creating a completely personalised piece, however for a quick and easy to make slideshow it does serve the purpose, as long as you have a good net connection!

When you begin your Animoto production, the screen will look something like this:

Depending on how you want to access the photos for your slideshow, you can click whichever option is applicable. In my case I chose the first option, and uploaded some already saved photos from my computer.

Next after I added all my photos, I rearranged them into the order I liked by dragging and dropping them on the timeline, which you can see in this screenshot:

At this stage I was able to add text to my slideshow, and do a few minor edits as can be in the toolbar along the bottom. From here, I clicked “done” and went on to choose my music which can either be uploaded or chosen from the Animoto Library. Once that was done I finalized my video by adding any titles and finally saving, and it was emailed to me once it had finished processing.

The one thing I preferred about Animoto over Photo Story, was that it was MUCH simpler to embed into my blog. As it is already online, Animoto provides an embed code for extra easier inserting into your blog. It is very user friendly, but for a more personalised approach (which I prefer) I found Photo Story to be better.

 

Anyway enough talk, her is my Animoto video about Australian Animals which I chose to do as the grade 1 class I am doing my placement has this as their Integrated Studies topic, so I thought I could create something that could be created to show them. Perhaps if they were an older grade they could attempt to make their own as a report, but at this stage I hope I can at least show them what I have created.

Enjoy!

— Julia

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

Oh dear!

It seems as though the uploading into youtube has done something to the size of my video which is a shame because its not taking up the fullscreen as it should be.
I guess I’m still learning, but at least you can get the idea!

I am a little disappointed though…

Did anyone have alternate ways of embedding your Photo Story? I would love to know if there was a more effective method.

— Julia

Photo Story 3 – Offline Slideshows

So I have had a play around with Photo Story 3 for Windows, and have created my own photo story!

I used some pictures I had from my January holiday in America, in particular New York, to give an example of how students can use this simple program to create recounts. This would be perfect for reporting on excursions or for an alternate way to present projects.

I found the program easy to use and had 6 steps to create a simple, yet effective video slideshow.

1. Select the images you want to include in your photostory. Drag or use the on-screen arrows to change photo position in the timeline.
2. Edit images: rotate, crop or add effects
3. Add titles to the images that appear on top of the image in the video. Change the font size, colour and position on the frame.
4. Add voice narration using a microphone and a simple record feature.
5. Customize motion and transition, e.g. the way one frame transitions to the next
6. Choose a song from file or ‘create a song’ to add as the background tune. Change volume levels to suit. 

After this, you are lead to a save screen where you can export your file and voila you have a .wmv format video!
In my video, since I didn’t have a working microphone, I left out the voice narration and just had the music and full sound instead. I think this worked effectively enough for the purpose of my Photo Story, however it could be really interesting to have students add their voice over the story for a further touch.

The process was simple and the video I created was made in under an hour including export time. The most difficult part I found was finding out how to embed it onto Edublogs. I ended up googling my query and found this Edublogs forum which informed me that the best way to go about it was to upload it onto youtube and embed it from there – which is what I have ended up doing. This was a tad annoying, but for classroom use, I think it would be enough to create a Photo Story and present it on the IWB, and not necessarily need to embed it into a blog (there may be times when it is necessary though).

Although I wanted to create a Photo Story that was about technology use in the classroom, my abundance of photos from my NY trip had me thinking it would be a quicker option to create an example of what a student could create. As I said it was done quickly so could be more polished, however I hope you enjoy!

— Julia

 

 

Educational Resources Kit

Edmodo 'Computer Technology' Community Group

Edmodo 'Computer Technology' Community Group

Thanks to Edmodo Communities, I have stumbled across this great Web 2.0 Resource kit which has been compiled by a Canadian Technology Lead Teacher (Don Kemball). He has made this available to teachers who are connected to the Edmodo Computer Technology community group which I urge people to join. There is so much sharing from teachers all around the world in this group and I have spent hours reading through and hearing about other teachers’ experiences. Not to mention the other great communities that are available on Edmodo.

This Resource Kit combines some of the sites/programs that some of the EST430 students have already had a look at and blogged about (such as Animoto, Glogster and Prezi) but I think its worth looking at as it is a great compilation of a number of great resources and their brief explanations. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to try out one or two of these resources and I can blog about it later.

Let me know what you think about this or other Edmodo groups,

— Julia