Meaningful Meanderings

Chris Mark's Blogfolio

IT 644 Final Reflections on Another Great Dr. Yuen Course November 27, 2010

Well, I can’t believe another semester has come to an end.  This semester went very fast.  IT 644 proved for me to be a typical Dr. Yuen class.  By typical, I mean that it provided exposure to many things that I had never heard of and challenged my technical skills to figure things out.  As usual, my mind was working throughout the course thinking, “How can I use this in my classes?”  Many of the tools and ideas learned have a definite place in teaching and learning.  From my perspective the most valuable tool we learned was Prezi.  What a great alternative to the standard, usually boring, PowerPoint.  Prezi is a great tool for instructors who want to spice up their lectures.  It is also a great tool for students, allowing them to present information in a fun and creative way.  Just don’t flip too fast you will become dizzy!!!

With some of the tools I had to wonder how I would ever use them in my classes.  In particular I thought Fuzzwich and Video Toolbox were not so useful.  These were my least favorite tools although I could envision teachers with younger children possibly using these.   The problem with all the available Web 2.0 tools is that there are so many and each one may do something that would be of value in the classroom.  I think IT 644 did a great job of sorting through a large selection of these tools and pointing out the value of them and how they could be used in teaching and learning. 

I liked the design of the class.  The use of Mixxt, a social network, went a long way in bringing the class closer.  I liked how our projects were posted on the Mixxt network and then we could look at other class members’ projects.  This was a great way to get to know the other class members and to establish a relationship beyond merely seeing them in a classroom.  Also getting further ideas on how to use the various tools by seeing how each person integrated them into their various projects.

 

I am always looking for new things to integrate into my classes, especially my online classes.  IT 644 provided me with a lot of ideas and things I would like to try.  I think definitely Dropbox, Audacity, Prezi, Showbeyond and video editing would be great tools to make an online class more interesting and engaging to students.  I am looking forward to integrating these tools as well  continuing to look for new and innovative tools in the future.

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Fuzzwich Animation November 26, 2010

Filed under: Teaching with Technology,Web 2.0 — Christine Mark @ 9:42 pm
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The last project in IT 644 was to create a short animation using the Web 2.0 tool Fuzzwich.  Fuzzwich is a very basic, easy way to make a simple short 30 second animation.  There is no need to sign up for an account as is the case with most of the current Web 2.0 tools.  The user has the option to watch several animations before creating one to get an idea of what the program will do.  Once the user is ready to start an animation, the first step is to choose a background.  There are sixteen different backgrounds to choose from including the White House and a beach scene.  The next step is to choose characters for the animation.  There are about 50 characters to choose from and the user can choose as many as they wish.  The next step is to record the animation by moving the characters with the mouse.  Voice bubbles can be added with custom designed text.  This allows the creator to make up the dialogue between the characters.  Music is automatically added but the creator has the option of changing the music to one of about fifteen choices.   

For my animation I choose the laboratory background.  The characters represent a female student and Dr. Mark (my husband).  The student is looking all over for Dr. Mark and he finally arrives stating that he was in Second Life.  Click below to view my animation:

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I am not sure how extensively this could be used in teaching and learning.  The animations are only 30 seconds long and it was hard for me to try to do something this short.  I also thought the characters and backgrounds were not very sophisticated.  It could be fun for younger students to play around with the program but I cannot think of a way I would use it in higher education.

 

Showbeyond and Beyond…

Showbeyond is a multimedia slidecast creator and a way of sharing stories with others.  ShowBeyond was started by two friends who wanted to provide a way for people to create and share stories.  With Showbeyond, it is easy to grab images, and then add sound and text to create multimedia stories. Then you can share your stories with friends or post to blogs and social networking sites. 

The program was very easy to use.  First a user has to create an account.  Once an account has been created the user can upload up to twenty four images to use to create a slidecast.  Text can be added to the images to tell the story and then a soundtrack can be added.  For my Showbeyond I used pictures I took in January, 2006 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  I went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to work at Tulane University. While in New Orleans I had the opportunity to tour the many neighborhoods which were devastated by Katrina.  I will never forget how it felt standing there.  It was actually quite surreal.   ShowBeyond was such a great way for me to showcase these photos and tell my story about coming to New Orleans after Katrina.  I added a soundtrack to my Showbeyond, which was Aaron Neville signing Louisiana 1927, an awesome song that goes along with the photos so well.  Click below to view my Showbeyond, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, January 2006:

view?sid=42eafe6907280d626399bce6704c2f9f

 

Showbeyond can also be used to do podcasting with slides, use of photos from online photo sharing sites, change the duration of each slide, and share stories either publicly or privately.  This is a great, flexible software package that is very easy to learn and use.  The implications for learning and teaching are immense.  There are many examples of how teachers, especially in the lower grades are using this as a way for students to write stories or give information about places, historical events, etc.  I think it would fun for the students to see their work online and be able to invite their family and friends to view it as well.  The only drawback I could see is that each Showbeyond is limited to twenty four images.  For longer presentations you could use more than one Showbeyond and have part 1, part 2, etc.  I can see using it for teaching in the same manner I would use a PowerPoint.  This would especially be a good tool for an online class.

 

Prezi – a New Look for Presentations!!!

Filed under: Teaching with Technology,Web 2.0 — Christine Mark @ 3:43 pm
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I found this Web 2.0 tool to be the best find yet. PowerPoint has dominated the presentation area for many, many years. How refreshing to see something innovative and different. Prezi allows users to create presentations on a single canvas and then move and zoom in and out to see the text, photos or video.
To be able to use Prezi you have to establish an account. This is a very simple process. There is also an educational option which allows teachers and educators free access with more storage and features than the standard free software. For $159 per year Prezi can be upgraded to include additional storage space (from 500 MB to 2000 MB) and Prezi can be accessed from the user’s computer desktop. I found the educational option to have all the features I would need.
Before starting your first Prezi I would recommend going to the Explore tab on Prezi and looking at several of the presentations available. There are literally hundreds there to look at and get ideas. I found this to be most helpful. I then sketched out my main points and how I wanted it to look and then began putting my content into Prezi. I was surprised how easy it was. There were not a lot of choices for color and font. Consider how the colors will look on a projector if you plan on presenting the Prezi in front of an audience. I think the darker colors would be OK if the audience is only viewing it on their own computer screen, but I liked the white background considering I planned to project my Prezi to my class. I choose to take one of my lectures I use for my Human Resource Management class, Unions and Labor Relations, and converted it to a Prezi. I had so much fun putting it together and found it to be quite easy. I also loved that I could be creative and find places to hide text and then zoom in on it to the surprise of my audience. Another great thing about Prezi was the ability to insert YouTube videos and have them automatically play when clicked in the presentation. It all looks so seamless. Another thing I discovered in giving the Prezi presentation to my class is that you can use a slide clicker so you don’t have to be standing next to the computer during the presentation. I advanced through my presentation as I walked around my class. It was actually fun and I think the students found it entertaining as I think we are all a bit tired of canned PowerPoint presentations. Click below to look at my presentation:

human-resource-management-and-organized-labor

I think Prezi has so many uses in teaching and learning. Prezi can make presentations more interesting as opposed to PowerPoint. Students can also put Prezi’s together for various projects. The chance to be creative is a great advantage for students.

 

Video Toolbox

Filed under: Teaching with Technology,Web 2.0,YouTube — Christine Mark @ 11:45 am
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For this project I shot some video with my new video camcorder. My subject was motorcycle safety and my husband starred in my video by displaying how to check that a motorcycle is in running condition as well as the correct type and usage of personal protective equipment. I liked this idea because we both ride motorcycles and a video of this nature would be helpful for new riders or as a review for experienced riders who may take some of these things for granted. Click below to view my video:

The idea of this project was to use a free Web 2.0 tool, Video Toolbox. I did not have much video experience when I completed this project so I really did not know what to expect. I found Video Toolbox to be somewhat confusing but I think I was trying to make it more difficult than I needed to. The first thing I had to do was to sign up for an account. The free account is limited to being able to upload 300 MB of video. This is the first problem I ran into as I tried to upload 3 clips and they exceeded this limit. I then ended up uploading two out the three clips. It took a very long time for the clips to lead into the file manager. Once the clips were added I then went into Video Toolbox and cut some of the video and added a text watermark. These tasks were quite simple to accomplish. I then saved my video as a WMV file. I then went to my account on YouTube, which I had established previously and uploaded the video to YouTube. This part of the process was pretty straightforward and simple.
I can see where a teacher may want to use this tool for very small videos that need very simple editing. The ability to create so many file formats is an advantage and by using Video Toolbox you can export videos to the following file formats: 3GP, AMV, FLV, AVI, ASF, M4V, MKV, MOV, MP4, MPEG, MPG, VOB, WMV, MP3, JPG. If the video is of any notable size or needs further editing I don’t think this tool would work so well. A program such as Windows Moviemaker or iMovie would probably be a better choice.

 

Jing – a Great Screen Capture Program

Filed under: online teaching,Teaching with Technology,Web 2.0 — Christine Mark @ 8:57 am
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I used Jing to create a screen capture.  Jing is free Web 2.0 tool designed by TechSmith, the same company that sells Camtasia, the popular, powerful screen capturing tool.  Users have to sign up for a Jing account to use the screencasting software.  There is a free and premium version.  Both versions limit videos to five minutes.  For $14.95 per year users can purchase Jing Pro.  With Jing Pro, you can upload straight to YouTube and Facebook with just a click. Plus, Jing uses the MPEG-4 AVC video format, which works seamlessly with other video sharing sites.

Jing takes a picture or video of the user’s computer screen and then uploads it to the Web or a computer.  A URL is automatically created and then can be shared with others to view the file.  Jing is compatible with Windows and Mac.

I choose to demonstrate how students access Blackboard and my website.  This proved to be timely as I teach BA 100, Introduction to Business which is taught the second eight weeks of the semester.  The class was just starting and I needed a way of communicating how a student could access the course materials and post to a discussion forum.  I demonstrated using Jing how a student would sign into Blackboard and then once in Blackboard how to access the course website to review the course syllabus and course materials.  I also demonstrated how a student would open the first discussion requiring them to write and post their bio.  This short demo proved to be very helpful to my BA 100 students as most of them had never used Blackboard and it did help them navigate through Blackboard as well as the course website.  The video was then posted on Screencast.com for sharing and easy access.  Click the below link to view and hear my Jing on Screencast.com:

http://www.screencast.com/users/ChrisMark/playlists/New%20Playlist

Screencast.com is also owned and run by TechSmith.  Screencast.com is a great site where videos, images and documents can be uploaded and then shared.  You can even embed images and objects and can be viewed in any format such as WMV, flash, QuickTime, etc.   The free version includes 2 GB of storage and 2 GB monthly bandwidth and more is needed it can be purchased. 

I found these tools to be extremely easy to use and a great way to put together a demo video for students in a very short period of time.  This is a great tool when teaching online as a video shows so much detail about how to do something than an email trying to describe it in words.  I definitely plan on using these tools in my teaching in the future.

 

Audacity – a Great Audio Creation and Editing Tool November 25, 2010

Filed under: Blogs and Education,Podcasting,Teaching with Technology,Web 2.0 — Christine Mark @ 9:44 pm
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Audacity is a free Web 2.0 tool that is a great audio editor and can be used with Windows, Mac or Linux platforms. According to the Audacity website, Audacity can be used to record live audio, convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs, Edit various formats of sound files, cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together, change the speed or pitch of a recording and much more.

The goal of this activity was to use Audacity to create an instructional, promotional, commercial or video audio. At least 3 audio clips needed to be joined and mixed together. I choose to record a lesson for my Management 364 class, Human Resource Management on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the impact on organizations. I choose this because it is a topic I am currently discussing and I thought I could make it available to students on my website. I added a track with music at the beginning and ending of my audio. Click on the link below to hear my recording:

ChristineMarkAssign3.mp3

I think Audacity is a great tool with many uses for teaching and learning. In looking through some education blogs I found some interesting ways to integrate Audacity into classroom activities. Students can make an audio/radio advertisement that can be part of a marketing project. Audacity can also be used to promote speaking a foreign language. It can also be used to create podcasts, record speeches, facilitate reading development by having students record their reading out loud. It can be used to record audio for PowerPoint slides in addition to many other uses.

Audacity was very easy to use and was quite intuitive. I found it to be a very powerful tool for creating audio and doing a variety of audio editing tasks. Compared to many other recording applications, the real beauty of Audacity is its slate of processing tools that allow one to add effects, reduce noise, and control the actual sound of the final project. For my project I used the noise reduction feature. To begin with I recorded about 5-10 seconds of ambient noise before beginning my audio recording. After my recording was complete I then used the first few seconds with the noise reduction tool to remove this noise from the entire recording with a few simple highlighting steps. The resulting recording was much quieter and more professional.

Another feature that was appreciated was the direct to MP3 saving ability in Audacity. Several other recorders I have used a good at producing WAV files, but MP3 files have more data and produce a better quality audio sound. Although installing the LAME encoder is somewhat clunky, the end result was worth the effort.