Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thing 16: Screencasting with Screentoaster

We're so close. The penultimate "Thing!" We're almost there, so keep going and let's cross the finish line together!

This "Thing" will involve recording audio, so unless you're working at home and your computer has a microphone, you will need to find yourself a headset with a microphone. You can request one from Deb F., who has them in the IT dept. office.

Thing 16: Screencasting with ScreenToaster

Have you ever tried to explain how to use a computer program, web tool, or software application to someone? It can be pretty frustrating, especially if you are not actually teaching them in person. Have you ever used an online tutorial when you were learning a new application or taking an online class? Screencasting is the perfect tool for these scenarios. Screencasting is a way to create short videos where you can record what's happening on your screen while you're narrating via microphone or webcam.

Here is a screencast I created using the application ScreenToaster (this "Thing" was originally supposed to be screencasting with Jing, but Jing requires a software download, something I've been trying to avoid). In this screencast I'm demonstrating a Web 2.0 tool called Glogster, which I'm using here for the first time, so please forgive my incompetence! :)

17 Things Screencast of Glogster

Here is a screencast created by an art teacher called "Describing and Analyzing Art". She even has webcam commentary, which I think is pretty cool:

Describing and Analyzing Art

To complete Thing 16:
  • Watch both ScreenToaster screencasts
  • Sign up for a ScreenToaster account
  • Create a screencast of something
  • Upload the screencast to your ScreenToaster account
  • Embed or provide the link to your screencast in your Thing 16 blog post (I had a problem getting the embedded video to show up in my blog post, which is why I just went with the link)
  • Add your screencast to the RB Ning in the "Videos" section

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Things 14 & 15: Wikis and Voicethread

We are getting so close to the end! After this, there will only be two more "Things" to complete, and then we'll all be Web 2.0 Gurus. I continue to be amazed and excited by what people are doing with this stuff, and I also continue to encounter new tools that I would love to have included. One of these tools is so awesome and, I believe, so potentially fun to use with kids, that it's bumped a previously-scheduled "Thing" off the program! Voicethread will now be officially replacing Online Image Generators, which are cool but more of "just for fun" applications.

Thing 14: Wikis

A wiki is a collaborative website and authoring tool that allows users to easily add, remove and edit content. Wikipedia, the online open-community encyclopedia, is the largest and likely the most well known of these knowledge-sharing tools. Wikis have many benefits, are easy to use, and have many applications.

Some of the benefits of wikis:

  • Anyone (registered or unregistered, if unrestricted) can add, edit or delete content.
  • Tracking tools allow you to easily keep up on what been changed and by whom.
  • Earlier versions of a page can be rolled back and viewed when needed.
  • Users do not need to know HTML in order to apply styles to text or add and edit content.
  • Multiple pages can be added to one wiki.

For an overview of wikis, watch this video:

Educational uses for wikis are great. Check out the sites below to see examples of wikis in use:

  • Learning the Wiki Way, by Jason Welker (This is a presentation about wikis in the classroom, given at an overseas educational conference. Click through the presentation, reading about this teacher's philosophy of using wikis.)
  • Welker's Wikinomics (This is the class wiki of the presenter above. Check out the different areas of his wiki.)
  • WorldIssues08 (Allison C. and I have been using this wiki for one of our Big6 research projects. Students are required to post at least 3 resources they've found helpful, so that students with the same topic can help each other out. They just click on the name of their "world issue", and it takes them to that issue's wiki page. It ends up being a great way for kids to share resources!)

To complete Thing 14:

  • Watch the video
  • Visit each of the links above and explore how wikis can be used in the classroom
  • Click on "Easy Edit" on the 17 Things to Chew On Wiki. You'll be prompted to "Join Now!", then you'll sign up for a Wetpaint account. As soon as you do that, you're in! No need for me to accept or invite you, as I set up my wiki so that anybody with a Wetpaint account can edit (although you can choose to only permit editing by people you approve).
  • Read the intro page of the wiki and then follow the directions about where/what to post.
  • Copy and paste the comment you wrote on the wiki into a new post on your blog. This will be your official "Thing 14" post.
  • ***You'll notice that there are lots of ads on the 17 Things wiki, but NONE on Allison's and my wiki, and none on Welker's Wikinomics. If you use Wikispaces (specifically Wikispaces for Educators), you can indicate that you are an educator, and they will remove the ads from your site for free. Wetpaint USED to be this way (which is why I used it to create the 17 Things wiki), but I just checked and they now make everyone (even teachers) pay $20/month to remove the ads. Yikes! So, I would suggest that you stick with Wikispaces for all of your wiki needs.

    Thing 15: Voicethread

  • Voicethread is my new favorite tool. It seems to me that the possibilities are endless, but I want to hear what you have to say! My husband is currently engaged in a big Voicethread project with his geography classes, and so I keep badgering him to send me examples of their work. Basically, Voicethread is a way to facilitate a discussion of images and video with a large number of people in a totally online environment. After creating a Voicethread account, you can create individual Voicethreads. For each Voicethread, you can upload images and/or video, comment on each page using text, audio or video, and then share the Voicethread with other users, who can then make their own comments using text, audio or video. It's amazing!

    Here is a link to a Voicethread created by the company itself: http://voicethread.com/share/409/ Watch it for an explanation and demo.

    Here is a link to a Voicethread created by an educator, to be shared with other educators. Check out how many people commented on it! http://voicethread.com/share/3352/

    And here is the link to the Voicethread I created, which contains images of the new building as well as a few student interviews re: their use of social networking and the Internet. You should make at least 5 comments on it, one of which should be audio or video. To leave an audio comment if you don't have a microphone (I don't have one here at school), click on the telephone icon after you click on "Comment", enter your phone # (cell, home, or school), and the program will call you within SECONDS! Wait for the greeting, record your message, then hang up. You've just left a comment on the Voicethread! To leave a video comment, you'll need a webcam, which I might try to do later from my home computer. Here is my Voicethread: http://voicethread.com/share/900480/

    FYI, you can request that your account be upgraded for free to an Educator Account, which lets you create an unlimited amount of Voicethreads and gives you a lot more storage space. I got mine upgraded within 24 hours of submitting the request.

    (Disclaimer: I paid $10 to get 60 minutes of "phone commenting" on my account. If you don't pay that, I think users might have to rely only on text, microphones or webcams).

    To complete Thing 15:

    • Watch the two sample Voicethreads
    • Set up a Voicethread account
    • Watch the Voicethread I created and make at least 5 comments, one of which should be audio or video (you'll need to have a VT account in order to comment)
    • Post about your experience. What do you think of Voicethread? Could it apply to you and your classes? Would you use it?

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    Things 12 & 13: Creative Commons and Creating Video Shows with Animoto

    The next two Things are all about creativity. Creative Commons gives people the freedom to use and share work from and with others without fear of copyright infringement, and Animoto is a new way to put video, photos and music together using content from others (ideally with Creative Commons licenses!) or that you have created yourself.

    Thing 12: Creative Commons

    Have you ever found a great photo on the Web and used it in a PowerPoint, on a blog, or even in a print publication you were making? Did you feel guilty about it? I know I always do! We're not technically supposed to use someone's work without their permission, but, getting permission is probably not going to happen, and besides, what if the creators don't mind? The people at Creative Commons have given creators of original works an option to give their works a Creative Commons license. This license allows people to use their works, always with attribution, but also with other optional stipulations.

    Watch the videos below:

    Now visit the Creative Commons website for an overview of the CC philosophy and the different licenses creators may choose for their works. Also, CC licenses aren't just for photos: they can be used with video, music, writing, scientific research, anything that would normally be covered under a copyright license! Cool!

    To complete Thing 12:

    • Watch the videos
    • Visit and explore the Creative Commons website
    • Explore the "creativecommons" tag on my Delicious account (username: mrsduelllibrary). I've posted five sites, including some CC licensed music sites and photo sites (you can actually explore Flickr for CC-licensed images!)
    • Post your thoughts about Creative Commons. Does CC seem like a good idea? How could you use it with student projects? Could this help or hinder their understanding and respect of copyright law?

    Thing 13: Creating Video Shows with Animoto

    Animoto is a really cool tool that will create videos using photos, video, and music you upload onto their site (or, you can choose from music in their library). Short 30 second videos are free for everyone to create, or you can choose to upgrade and be able to create full-length videos.

    Also, if you apply for an Educator Access code, you are given 6 month access to create full-length videos. At the end of that time, you can apply again for another code. If you think you might like to use Animoto to create videos either for or with your students, you should apply for an Educator Access code BEFORE registering for an account. To do this, go to "Contact Us" on the Animoto site and send them a request for an Educator Access code. Include where you work, what you teach, and that you would like to use Animoto with students. Use your work email when you make the request. You'll have to wait a few days, but you will then receive an email containing your Educator Access code with instructions for how to use it when you register. If you don't think you'll use Animoto in your class, or would like to get started with Animoto right away, go ahead and register now. You won't, however, be able to apply for an Educator Access code for your account later (unless you just create a new account using your work email).

    Now let's check out Animoto! Visit the site and watch the video "Learn More in 60 sec", then click on "View a Sample Video" to see what the finished product will look like.

    Here also are a few student-created Animoto videos I found on SchoolTube:

    For this Thing, you should create an account (either with an Educator Access code or not), and then create a video and post it on your blog and ALSO on the RB Ning so we can all check it out. You can use photos from your Flickr account or from your computer, and you can use video if you have it (you can choose to ONLY use photos), and then either upload your own music or choose from Animoto's library. Good luck- I can't wait to see the results!

    To complete Thing 13:
    • Request an Educator Access code if you would like to create longer videos
    • Register for an Animoto account
    • Watch Animoto's "Learn More in 60 sec" video and "Sample Video"
    • Watch the two student videos posted above
    • Create a video and post it to your blog AND to the RB Ning
    • Post about your experience. Did you find it easy? Would you use this with students? Have students create a video as a final project?