Creating Video Content

I have been doing a bit of work lately with YouTube. One of the challenges is adding content. Although there is the option to live stream or create videos from still images, both of these approaches have their limits. Here then is a list of other options:

Touchcast

An iOS application, Touchcast allows you to not only easily record, but through the use of a green screen, add your own settings and backgrounds. In addition to this, it has a great teleprompter which helps alleviate the problem of not quite looking at the camera, as well as helping with pace and fluency. For more information, read my post here.

Adobe Spark Video

Originally Adobe Voice, Adobe Spark Video is a multi-platform application which allows users to easily present ideas and information in an engaging manner. It provides connections to range of content to create slick and stylish presentations in minutes. Once finished, users can  download videos to publish elsewhere. For more information, read my introduction or watch my video.

Powtoon

An animation program, Powtoon allows users to build on the idea of a PowerPoint presentation in the creation of a engaging video. With a range of templates to work with, there are many options for what is available. However, projects do have the potential of becoming complicated quickly.

Lumen5

A new application, Lumen5 has been designed to quickly and easily visualise the web by identifying the key elements of a post or a page. Similar to Adobe Spark Video, it provides access to a range of Creative Commons images and music to create posts. The goal is to automate the creation of content through the use of artificial intelligence. For more information, see Kevin Hodgsen’s post.


So what about you? What applications do you use to create visual content? As always, comments welcome.


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Speaking, Listening and Intervention


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

Teaching intervention raises many opportunities that aren’t always as possible in a normal classroom, such as the use of Lego to represent Mathematical concepts (although Mark Anderson provides a solution for this, suggesting that each student gets a small bag). Another opportunity that has arisen has been the use of technology.

From my experience there are a range of reasons why students end up in intervention. For some it is the support, while others it is about confidence and encouragement. However, there is a group who sometimes just don’t necessarily care (see both Tom Barrett and Dave Cormier for discussions on this matter). Although limited as to how much I can modify the tasks at hand, I have instead focused on modifying the product that students produce.

Here then are some examples of the ways I have used technology to improve student outcomes:

Interactive Vocabulary

Vocabulary has been a particular focus this term. At the start of a session on persuasive language, students worked collaboratively to make a word web, where each word had to be connected with another word. This forced students to not just brainstorm words, but look closely at the words that were already there. They ended up with roughly twenty words. I then used an iPad to capture the finished product and added it to Book Creator and gave students the challenge of not only writing definitions for the various words, but recording them as well. Using small whiteboards, students wrote their definitions and before recording did a practice run. Just about every student rewrote their definition after the initial run-through, not because anyone told them that they were wrong, but rather as they read it out loud they found things that they wanted to change. After recording, we were left with an interactive page full of definitions.

Multiple Representations

Students were exploring the representation of fractions and were given the challenge to show a fraction in different ways. They were then required to provide a short explanation of what they created which would be recorded using Adobe Voice. The intent was to support students with the appropriate use of language. This was also a useful activity for identifying various misconceptions in regards to fractions.

A Current Affair

One of my groups was working on recording their own episodes of A Current Affair. Having recently purchased Touchcast’s Studio in a Box, a collection of resources designed to help make any space a studio. I set up the green screen on the board in our classroom and students used the TouchCast app to record the different episodes. To do this they emailed their scripts to me which were then copied into the teleprompter. After some trial runs, students ran through their presentations. What was interesting was that although all were willing to sit in front of the class to present, the addition of video forced many to reconsider how they spoke. This added a level of feedback and self-critique was something that was previously absent from the activity.


It can be so difficult to find experiences which allow students to develop their speaking skills, especiallying in regards to fluency and intonation. Here are a few things that I have found, but what about you? What are some of the things that you have done? As always, comments welcome.


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Creating and Making with Adobe Voice

Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 http://bit.ly/quickmakes

Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 http://bit.ly/quickmakes

Adobe Voice is an iOS application which allows you to easily present ideas and information in an engaging manner. A part of a suite of mobile only apps created by Adobe, including the website creation app Slate, it provides connections to range of content to create slick and stylish presentations in minutes. Once finished, you can upload videos to and share via Adobe Creative Cloud or download them to the camera roll and publish elsewhere.

One of the best features of Adobe Voice is the access to range of Creative Commons content. Whether it be images, icons and music, each of the different sections provides the option to search from within the application. This means that you do not have to leave the application in order to find appropriately attributed content. The issue though is that, like with much of Creative Commons content, it can be hard to filter out inappropriate images. It is often for this reason that many popular sites are blocked in schools. My own workaround has been to simply use original content gathered via the iPad camera. However, this then limits the potential of the app.

Some possible uses for Adobe Voice are:

  • Create a video timeline
  • Record a picture book
  • Develop an instructional guide
  • Gather together different reflections

In regards to data and privacy, although you can avoid uploading to Adobe Creative Cloud, you are required to create an Adobe ID Account to use the app. This includes providing a range of information that is used to identify users. In addition to this, Adobe may also collect data in regards to how people use their applications through the use of cookies. This information is used to identify improvements with the product.

Here are some additional resources:

Adobe Voice & Slate Blog – A blog with a range of tips and tricks about how to get the most out of Voice and Slate.

Adobe Voice An Introduction – A guide to making a presentation using Adobe Voice

Adobe Voice Ideas and Examples – A range of ideas for getting started with Adobe Voice in the classroom

Adobe Voice YouTube Channel – A collection of examples and guides associated with Adobe Voice

Adobe & Privacy – Answers to common privacy topics associated with Adobe Voice


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Adobe Voice – Ideas and Examples


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

Adobe Voice is one of those applications that once you get you head around what it can and can’t do with it, there are so many different possibilities.

Although I have posted about it before, here are some examples of things that I have done using Adobe Voice include:

  • Create a persuasive advertisement
  • Present a historical timeline
  • Record a picture book
  • Collect different examples of figurative language
  • Make a guide to creating an Adobe Voice Presentation
  • Explain thinking
  • Collect reflections
  • Publishing poems

Overall, Adobe Voice provides an engaging means for sharing student voice in a safe means. I have seen many presentations delivered by staff and students. However, I have never seen students want to watch one over and over again, to the point where they actually memorise certain phrases and messages.

In addition to this, Adobe Voice also provides an authentic example of fluency and feedback. With the ease in which you can record, playback and rerecord, it is one of those applications that allows students to achieve mastery often on their own accord.

So what about you, have you used Adobe Voice in your classroom? How could you use it in your class? As always, comments welcome.


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Adobe Voice – An Introduction


creative commons licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Hazzat

There are many elements which make an effective application. However, what I think stands out the most is the right mix between constraint and creativity. An iOS app that I have used quite a lot lately with this mix is Adobe Voice. Not only is it easy to use – my daughter of four managed to use it with  little support – but it allows for a great mixture of media, whether it be text, visuals, music or voice. Here then is a step by step guide of how to make a presentation with Adobe Voice.


Adobe Voice on iTunes

Downloading the App

The first step to using Adobe Voice is to download it from the App Store. It is available on iPad. Once this is done, you will need to create a free Adobe account, used to store finished stories online.


Adobe Voice - Create a Story

Create a Story

There are so many potentials to Adobe Voice. Once you have your head around the constraints then the sky is the limit. I have used it to get a class to reflect upon a project, share advertisements, solving a problem, celebrating goals, recording a poem or creating a how to guide. The thing to do then is start your story.


Adobe Voice - Starting with an Idea

Start with an Idea

Whether you are recording a book or sharing a problem that you have solved, the next step is deciding exactly what your story is going to be about. If you are short on inspiration and just want to be creative, Adobe also provide a whole lot of prompts listed within different categories, such as business, school and instructional. These can be helpful in getting a feel for the potential of the program.


Adobe Voice - Pick a Structure

Pick a Structure

Once you have decided on a story, you then need to choose a structure. Along with the suggestions for ideas, there are a range of templates to help structure your story. These include:

  • Promote an idea
  • Tell what happened
  • Explain something
  • Follow a hero’s journey
  • Show and tell
  • Share a growth moment
  • Teach a lesson
  • Share an invitation

Each template provides a range of prompts about what to include. This can be useful for students exploring the different elements of text types or if you are simply trying to make something quickly. In addition to this though, you can simply create your own from scratch. It needs to be noted that you can start with a template and then modify that as well.


Adobe Voice - Choosing a Layout

Choose a Layout

Once you have started your story, the first thing that you need to consider of the layout of your slide. There are five options. Some with a mixture of mediums, others with just one. It all depends what you are trying to create. Remember though that each slide can be different.


Select Content

Once you have selected the layout, then you add the content. As stated already, Adobe Voice allows for a range of different media. In regards to the slides, there are usually three options: icon, photo and text. At a very basic level, you can search for images and icons. Adobe then finds images online tagged ‘commerical use with modifaction‘ via sites such as Google, Flickr, 500px and the Noun Project. The catch with this is that such searches do not filter content, therefore students using it can come back with anything. In addition to this, you can connect with your own images via the iPad, Creative Cloud, Dropbox, Lightroom and Facebook.


Adobe Voice - Recording Voice

Recording Voice

Once you have the text and images organised, the next step is to then record your voice. All you do is hold down the orange button and release it once done. At 10 seconds, you will receive a warning to keep it short. One thing that I have found is that in order to make sure you capture the whole thing, it can be good to hold the button for an extra second when recording. What I like the most is how easy it is to playback, assess, reflect and re-record if needed.


Adobe Voice - Repeat til Complete

Repeat Until Story is Complete

To complete the story, you repeat the steps associated with layout, content and voice slide after slide until you have finished.


Choosing a Theme

Choose a Theme

Before finishing your story, choose a theme. Each will structure the content differently, applying different effects. For those wanting more, you can customise themes by changing colours and fonts.


Adobe Voice - Selecting Music

Select the Music

Along with the choosing the theme, you can also select the music. There is a range of soundtracks provided, organised into different categories, such as happy, playful, relaxed and thoughtful. Like the image search, the tracks are all available under Creative Commons licensing.


Adobe Voice - Sharing the Story

Share Your Story

The final step is to share the finished product. You can actually do this at any time by clicking the button in the top right hand corner. Before publishing, you can assign a category, as well as edit the credits and author information. In addition to this, you can decided whether you want to make it public or private. By making it public, the video is stored within Adobe Cloud and gets added to the collection on the Adobe site, while keeping it private means that only those with the link can access it. To publish, you simply choose how you want the link shared, whether it be via Facebook, Twitter, email, iMessage or to the clipboard. A recent addition has been the option to save finished product to the camera roll. This provides the ability to then publish elsewhere online, such as to Youtube or Vimeo, and ‘co-claim‘. Although please note that once you have removed the content from iPad, you can no longer download to the camera roll. Once published online, Adobe provide options to embed the finished product to place within a blog or a portfolio.

Below is an example of a presentation made with Adobe Voice:


There are a range of programs out there that support presentations. I think that you could easily create a similar product with Explain Everything or Book Creator, however what always brings me back again and again to Voice is its simplicity and style.

What about you? What is it that makes a good application? How have you used Adobe Voice? As always, comments welcome.


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Goals, Learning and Technology

creative commons licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by mrkrndvs: http://flickr.com/photos/aaron_davis/16508914665

Goal setting has been a staple ever since I have been teaching. However, I had never worked with students in early years. Faced with the task of introducing them, I wondered how I get from the desire to be a rockstar to something a bit more ‘SMART‘. I decided that instead of standing in front of them and getting lost in words, inspired by Mark Barnes’ 5-Minutes Teacher, I created an animated video introducing the different aspects. So after getting them to write down what they thought there goals this year were, we watched the short Powtoon:

After answering their questions, I got them to revise their original goals to try to make them SMARTER. I then conferenced each student, discussing why their goal was or wasn’t SMART, whether it be too vague or have no point of measurement. One of the challenges involved in these conversations is to not squash the dreams, but instead make them more possible. To finish the exercise I got each student to celebrate their goals by recording what they considered their most important goal using Adobe Voice.

What is important to remember is that when we talk about technology in the classroom, it does not always have to depend upon booking the laptops. There are many ways which technology can improve learning in the classroom. Sometimes all it takes is a laptop, a projector and an iPad.

I would love to know what you have done to  use technology in order to change up instruction and work through goals with students.


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Take Away Teaching – A Reflection on Intervention

creative commons licensed (BY-NC) flickr photo by William M Ferriter: http://flickr.com/photos/plugusin/13092406743

The other day I was perusing Youtube, as one does, when I came upon a clip by Yeasayer. It was Take Away Show produced by La Blogotheque, a live performance recorded on the fly on the streets of France. Instead of the plethora of instruments that usually fill out their sound – guitars, drums, synthesisers, samplers – it was cut back to basics: voices, a few beer bottles and some simple woodwind. Although this was a step away from the original, it was interesting what remained. The melody, the rhythm, the form, the feel, the essential essence of the song. There was something raw, intimate and real about it that grabbed your attention.

This all got me thinking, imagine if education were like this. No schools, no classrooms, no fancy touchscreens, no scripts, just pop up installations, with a basic plan, at the point of need. Learning and support for the problem at hand. Similar to what Mel Cashen posed with her question, what if food vans were schools? Of course they are not and education seems inextricably linked to classrooms, but there is something in the question. Something about capturing the essence of learning. What is important right now in the context I am in. This thought of capturing the moment reminded me a little of what I have been doing with numeracy intervention this semester.

I started this year using Marian Smalls ‘Gap Closing’ program to support students flagged as struggling with numeracy. The basis of this was a diagnostic tool which then identified areas for growth. Once completed, students would work through various activities to fill in the gaps. Although the program works in theory, it was hampered in practise by two limitations: student absences and the time allocated. After one semester, students had only managed to work through an eighth of the program. In addition to this, they were becoming progressively restless and disengaged with the tasks. Something had to change.

After some reflection and feedback from the students, it was suggested that one of the issues was that what was occurring in intervention often had little connection with what was actually happening back in the classroom. They still felt like they were struggling. In addition to this, although the diagnostics provided areas for improvement, they did not encourage student self-reflection and empowerment within the process. I therefore decided to change tact and focused on creating an environment where students reflected on their learning as a group and worked together to identify problems and errors. For as John Hattie has suggested, one of the key reasons for success is that teachers know every lesson and every day where a student starts.

An issue with this change was that there were no pre-defined tasks. As I focused on the students who were present, this limited my ability of predictive planning. Instead I entered each session armed with a tub of random resources, paper, a whiteboard and my iPad. After beginning with a starter designed to get students engaged into learning and open to risk, I would then pose two questions in a T-chart: what have you learnt and what have you found difficult? Although I had a fair idea where the students were at, different classes were always at different stages, so ‘going off the planner’ was always difficult. After working together to brainstorm ideas, these ideas would then be organised into clear topics and students would place themselves based on their own point of need. For each topic I would come up with a learning intention and discuss who as a small group we would work through the problem.

Some groups would talk together and work on identifying what the problem actually was, others would grapple a task I had designated for them. More often than not though, we would reflect by actually recording our findings. Using Adobe Voice, students would verbalise their learning. For example, one week one group came up with different strategies for working out 24-hour time, while another week a group went through and defined the different angles. The powerful action in all of this was that these videos were then shared back to the class and celebrated on the big screen. Not only were they recognised by their peers, but their work was being celebrated. Not only was there a significant increase student engagement with numeracy, but they were also excited by learning. On a side, it is an important reminder that even one device in a room can make a different.

So what about you, have you ever run an intervention program? What did you do? How did you focus on each student each week? I would love to know, for together we are always made better.


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It’s Been That Way and It Always Will Be

creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by mrkrndvs: http://flickr.com/photos/aaron_davis/15426475257
 
We got talking the other day at school about our NAPLAN reading results. Again, the reading results were below the state average. It was therefore raised that maybe this needed to be a focus and that maybe we should investigate bringing in a coach from outside of the school. So even though we have several great coaches already working within in the area of literacy and we had a focus on reading a couple of years ago, it was believed that the answer was to get a new perspective on the problem. As long as you are seen doing something then that’s alright.
 
Having been a part of the push across the region a few years ago in regards to literacy I posed the question as to whether anyone had carried out any sort of audit of the current practises to identify any areas of improvement. For I was told that to bring about deep and meaningful change takes between three to five years. The comment that I got in response really startled me. I was told that it wasn’t anything that we were doing or not doing, that what I needed to understand was that reading standards in the region have always been poor, a consequence of our clientele. Maybe I’m too much of a dreamer or just naive, but I think that before you go chasing the silver bulletin maybe you stop and reflect on your own practise and back your own staff.
 
This subsequently got me thinking of some simple things we could introduce tomorrow to improve reading and responding within the school. Here then are three changes that I would make:
 

Share the Conferences

A few years ago I investigated the idea of digital workbooks as an alternative to the usual exercise book. Going beyond the cliché of ‘saving paper’, I wanted something that I could check in at any time without having to go through the rigmarole of collecting books at the end of the lesson. After moving to Google Apps, I then realised that there were benefits far beyond the workbook. One change I brought in was making reading conferences collaborative.
 
Before that moment, the conference notes were kept by the teacher, with students writing their goals in their reading journal. Other than being owned by the teacher, rather than the student, the process of a literacy coach checking how students were progressing was rather tedious. In moving the notes to a collaborative document, sharing with all the various stakeholders was just a click of the button. This provides a means for teachers to possibly touch base with students on a more regular basis, even if they are not able to literally conference them. It also allowed the process, which was done by Session Five teachers, whoever that maybe, to be shared with English teachers in order to gain a better perspective as to where students are at.
 

Recognising Digital Literacy Too

One of the things that has always confused me in regards to reading and comprehension is the dominance of the written text to the digital text. Although there are differences between the two, I feel that the ability to be critical is pertinent to both. As I have spoken about elsewhere, I wonder how we are modelling the way we read online within today’s curriculum.
 
Personally, a majority of what I read is online now. One of the reasons is that I feel it supports my comprehension, allowing me to annotate texts, as well as is interact with others in a way that was not possible before. In the past such sharing was often stunted by whether they too had read or were interested in what I was reading. Now online I can find my niche community, those who are also interested in the same topics as me and connect with them whenever I like.
 

Fluency and Authenticity

Another interesting idea in regards to working on areas such as fluency and accuracy (see the CAFE menu) is the ability to record yourself and become your own critique. Usually when working with Secondary students I suggest reading to sibling or finding someone else. However, the challenge associated with this that not everyone has a sibling and for many it feels contrived. An alternative to this, that I came upon, via +Corrie Barclay, is to video yourself reading. Not only does this make learning visible, but it also allows students to watch themselves back and be their own critique.
 
A way of building upon simply recording yourself is to create an audio book. For example, I had some split kids in my class the other day and they had finished all their work, so I asked them to get a picture book and record themselves reading it for a Prep class using Adobe Voice. Not only does this then bring in visualization, as they need to choose the appropriate images to support the text, but I have found that the authenticity of the task brings something out in the students. Instead of recording a one take performance, they would read over each line, play it back and then often rerecord it until they felt they had perfected it.
 
 
In the end, the problem to me is that the search for a silver bullet is a facet of the fixed mindset. A belief that if we just get the right teachers or brought in the right coach that somehow everything will magically click and we will get the results. The only silver bullet for success is hard work. No outside coach can bring that in my view, this sadly needs to start at the top with the question why do you want to change and what is the desired outcome. So let’s start there.

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Surely Presentations Are More than Just a PowerPoint?

creative commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by Chris Pirillo: http://flickr.com/photos/lockergnome/6258696195
In the last few weeks, many of my students have been grappling with the creation of digital products. Even though I more often than not leave the decision up to them as to what medium they choose to use, too often they arrive at the same conclusion – Microsoft PowerPoint. Now I am not saying that using PowerPoint is wrong, I just question the why it is always the first choice.
 
This wondering got me thinking about how we have arrived at such a situation. My feeling is that the students are often rushed in regards to choosing the medium for their presentsations and given little scope or encouragement to branch out. I love +Michelle Meracis‘ phrase ‘student voice, student choice’. Yet for too many, in sticking with PowerPoint, this supposed choice is reduced to ‘images and text‘ as +Corrie Barclay warns.
 
I think that this perceived lack of choice is sometimes brought about by teachers who themselves feel uncomfortable about offering different options and only model one way. I was really encouraged by a recent post from Barclay ‘1 iPad, 1 Task, 15 Ways‘. In it he outlined what he saw as some of the options available for a particular assignment his students were completing. The reality is that there are always alternatives, I guess the challenge is being aware of them.
 
Coming back to my point about PowerPoint, here then are three simple alternatives to the traditional presentation:
 

Haiku Deck

Initially built for the iPad, but now accessible in the browser, Haiku Deck allows you to create highly visual presentations by quickly access Creative Commons images. Sadly, the appropriate use of images is too often overlooked in and out of the classroom in my opinion as for many it involves too much effort. Anything then that simplifies this process is only a good thing.
 

Becoming a Connected Educator (TL21C) – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
 

Powtoon

An online platform, Powtoon allows you to create catchy animated videos with ease. With a wide range of images and icons, it often dragging items into the slide and then deciding how things will appear and for how long. In addition to this, there are a wide range of templates you can use as a starting point.
 

 

Adobe Voice

A free iPad app that Dale Pearce put me onto, Adobe Voice is both easy and effective. Like Haiku Deck, it provides access to a wide range of Creative Commons images and icons, as well as an array of themes. What makes it different though is that, like Microsoft Photo Story 3 for Windows, it provides a means for easily narrating various slides. The only issue I have is that the videos are housed within Adobe’s storage system, which can be a bit cumbersome.
 

 
 
For those who do wish to persist with PowerPoint, George Couros recently wrote a fantastic post outlining ten things to consider when creating a PowerPoint (and not animations). Another interesting resource I found was a presentation by Jesse Desjardins on Slideshare:
 
 
Although as I have suggested elsewhere that it takes more than an app to make a good presentation, the medium does at least have a part to play. So what presentation tool are you using or should I just give up the ghost and learn to love PowerPoint?

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