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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Showbeyond and Beyond… November 26, 2010

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Making a Panoramic 360 Degree Movie

Filed under: Blogs and Education,Teaching with Technology,Web 2.0 — Christine Mark @ 7:57 pm
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This assignment involved creating a panoramic 360 degree movie using a Web 2.0 tool called Clevr.  The Web 2.0 tool Clevr has a “stitcher” which takes digital still pictures and connects them together.  It then gives the illusion of movement as it turns in a 360 degree circle.  Click below for my example. 

Panorama of Jackson Square 1 on CleVR.com

As can be seen from my example, there are areas where things appear too shadowy and not entirely connected.  I tried several times to take the pictures and in different situations.  First I tried standing on the beach in Gulfport, Mississippi and taking the pictures turning 15 degrees until I reached the starting point.  This one did not work with the Clevr stitcher as I think there was too much area which looked the same with the water, sky and sand.    I then took one inside St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.  This one did not stitch either.  I then went outside and took the pictures standing across from Jackson Square in New Orleans.  This one turned out the best and is the one attached to this blog.  One problem I had with Clevr is that you had no way to manually stitch the photos together.  The program did all this for you and did not always attach them as well as they could have been attached.  I found it to be a bit frustrating.  I liked how easy it was to use the stitcher, but I think the performance could be improved by allowing the user more control. 

I think this Web 2.0 tool could be used to show an area or some scenery.  Students doing reports on historical places or geographical locations could use this as a great visual.  Similar programs are used in applications such as real estate to give potential buyers a virtual tour of a property.  It gives a feeling of actually being in the space and seeing everything in a room. Another great feature of Clevr is that a panorama can be shared with others through Integration with Facebook and MySpace. Panoramas can be embedded on your profile or you can send them to friends or they can be emailed. They can also be embedded in blogs and websites.  Another great feature is the ability to add hotspots to panoramas so that viewers can read notes or look at related videos. 

All in all, I found Clevr easy to use although as stated above I would like the ability to be able to stitch the photos manually.  I think this would be a great enhancement to the program.

 

Final Refelections on IT 860… July 23, 2010

I can’t believe the semester is coming to an end.  It went very fast, I think due to the magnitude and variety of things learned.  I think the course was designed very well with maximum exposure to Web 2.0 tools.  In addition to the tools that projects were completed for, the exposure to a new social network, Mixxt was also valuable.  Since Ning began charging this month, the class social network was changed.  I like Ning better, but  Mixxt proved to be good, free alternative. 

I liked the assignments dealing with the Web 2.0 tools the best and getting the hands-on exposure.  I was disappointed when ScreenToaster became unavailable, but I think it just went to show that there are many other choices and one has to remain flexible.  My favorite project was Second Life which probably comes as no surprise to anyone.  I have been a resident of SL for over two years and enjoy its many features.  It is a great tool for teaching and learning and I hope to be able to teach a complete class in this virtual world someday. 

I also appreciated the interaction between class members as well as with our instructors, Drs. Yuen and Mark.  I think they both did a great job making this class not just another online class, but one that felt inclusive and had a sense of community.  Most online classes are so cold, impersonal and one-dimensional.  It was fun meeting for training as a class in Second Life and seeing everyone’s avatars.  It truly did feel like we were meeting in person in a classroom. 

The class did make me realize how many great, useful Web 2.0 tools are available for free.  The problem is trying to determine which ones are useful and then how to integrate them into teaching.  This class really helped me sort this out.  I am going to try to use Twitter and Voice Thread in my classes during the upcoming year.  I have already integrated and used a personally designed Website, YouTube videos, Wikis and social networks (Ning) and the students were very receptive.  I am always looking for ways to improve my course content and increase student engagement and courses such as IT 860 definitely help!!!

 

Second LIfe? I Don’t Even Have Time for a First Life!!!

As part of IT 860 we learned about Second Life and how it can be used for education and learning.  I have been a resident of Second Life for about 2.5 years and I am so amazed by the potential impact on education.  Second Life is a 3-D virtual community imagined and created by its residents. It has a real economy, property ownership, and avatars (powered by people) that engage in many interactions and activities.  This is my avatar Crystal Zhangsun:

 

Our assignment for this part of the course was to participate in a symposium showcasing our research.  We were assigned an alcove area on the Golden Eagle1 Island where we put up 5 slides explaining and outlining our research.  Participants were then invited to come and walk around and ask questions.  Our alcove (see picture below) was set up with our photograph where participants could click and get a bio and they could click the title slide on our podium and get a handout.  We were not sure how the symposium would go or if anyone would come.  We were pleased that we had over 50 participants who attended, looked at the alcoves and asked questions.  It was fun to talk to the various people who came by.  They were all very encouraging and supportive of what we were doing.

 

I think the symposium provided one example of the uses of Second Life in education.  It is a great venue for sharing ideas and learning from each other.  I spoke to a teacher from France which is pretty amazing.  Classes and workshops can be designed that encourage collaboration and participation by students in a global context.  Students can meet and interact with students and teachers around the world without ever having to travel.   I can also see Second Life being used to as a way to conduct online classes.  It does create a sense of presence and community that one would not get from Blackboard.  I think SL teaching as opposed to the Blackboard environment has the following advantages:

  • Appeal to today’s visual students
  • Collaboration between campuses, disciplines, students/nonstudents
  • Distributed learning
  • Authenticity
  • Sense of Presence and connectedness
  • Social Networking w/ global reach

 

Needless to say, this was favorite assignment.  I think Dr. Mark did an outstanding job preparing the alcoves, uploading all the materials and training everyone (of course I may be a little biased…).