Saturday, October 31, 2009

Screencasting for Learning

In the two streams of teaching I am responsible for screencasting is accessed, or used by all students. In the IT class it is modelled and taught through Smart Recorder, iMovie, with the end products differing.

With Smart Recorder students develop a screencast that will teach other skills within programs such as Excel, or Word. It takes a sound knowledge of the subject to show, while at the same time confidently tell, how to import images, or make and label a bar graph. For many students it took a number of attempts to be satisfied that it was an effective teaching tool. These screencasts are saved in a file that is able to be accessed by each incoming class.

iMovie was a more open ended project and allowed creativity in combining images to tell about one of their passions. Because it was not content driven the students had a lot of fun, and freedom to choose images and music that appealed to them.

In the Humanities classes, screencasting is used by teachers and students. The teacher generated screencasts from Notebook software or SmartRecording can all be used as an all class teaching tool, as a reference for those who need review, and for students who are absent. In a co- teaching and EAP situation that I work in - it is perfect to view in small segments.

Students all have used Smart Recording for novel review, and geography terms. These have been uploaded to YouTube and onto blogs for sharing. Some students have worked with iMovie to bring to life novels, and have motivated others to experiment. There continue to be many other ways and programs to introduce and use screencasts and those are next on my list.

There's about 200 milliion websites today and there will be more tomorrow.

Five Mind-Blowing Web Stats You Should Know

How to...

Learning, inside and outside the classroom has continued to be impacted by the exponential growth of on line information in many forms - video notwithstanding. If you want to learn how to upload something, there is a video; want to learn how to build a glider, carry out an experiment, there is a video, define a geographical term - it's there.

I can search for appropriate videos to support outcomes. Students can search for videos on their own to enchance their understanding, or students can create their own videos. YouTube provides an excellent host service to upload videos that can easily be accessed by students, their families or indeed anyone who accesses YouTube. Students then can download their videos into their own blogs.

All this is well and good but what are needed are the skills to analyse, assess (accuracy and content), reflect, apply... These have not changed whether it is digital information, or not. If anything, there is more of a challenge when wading through a plethora of information and videos to find the best fit for the subject and ascertain its accuracy.

I'm lucky to work on a team where we work collegially and are always looking for improved ways to support learning. This IT course continues to remind me of the options 'out there'. For someone like me who likes to follow the most obscure lead, finishing blogs have been the lowest priority. It's about the journey for me, and I have expanded my 'bag of tricks' from understanding of programs, to new tools, questioned my use of technology, changed tools - and best of all I know I will continue to do so. Thanks Jeff and Kim

Digitally Exploring

Mixing It Up

As a summative project for a novel studied, students could choose from podcasts, powerpoints, iMovie clips, movie making, Smart Recorder - to name but a few.The intent of whatever mode of story telling they chose was to clearly show the themes within the novel, and to entice others to read and understand the novel.

Logistically I wondered if it might become a nightmare due to computer bookings, cameras and the diverse groupings the students selected. The only real issue, as it turned out, was that the students who chose to make a movie did not realise how long it would take them to pull it all together. None of them saw it as work and once given extensions spent much of their weekend editing and re-filming. There were issues such as group dynamics to deal with but many told me how much they loved the experience and how hugely proud they were of their final product. They clearly showed understanding of issues in the novel and key concepts.

When we played the completed projects it was a celebration of group work portraying clearly showing understanding with more than a twist of creativity.

From their reflections I know that there is enthusiasm to try something new, different, challenging. There is a pride in their newly acquired skills. Raising the bar...

From basic powerpoint such as

Less is More

The Grade 7 Team has 4 new members this year and so, 5 weeks into the year, it was time to present to parents our curriculum, we reviewed the Powerpoint presentation from the previous year. Apart from the curriculum content changing, the slides had too much information on them. We agreed to go for minimal words and more powerful, thought provoking images.

We divided up the 16 slides amongst the four of us, and each added our own perspective to the presentation. At the next meeting we ran through the slides and critiqued each in terms of clarity and conciseness. One of the images was changed as it didn't make the same connection we felt we needed, and we wordsmithed in order for succinctness.

Because the slides were much more minimalistic is allowed us each to have a common base but to add our own personalities into the presentation whilst keeping it consistent content and theme wise, across the grade. As much of the curriculum is current, as opposed to historical, the parents were made aware of the possibilities open to their child's learning. It made for excellent discussion.

It is not only within the G7 classes that I am constantly working to make presentations more precise, and I find Powerpoint an effective vehicle to do this. It is not on the web so we are not reliant on the server - which can still be inconsistent - and powerpoint has so many temptations to clutter up a presentation is is easy to showcase from the sublime to the ridiculous in terms of clarity and purpose of each presentation. Skills learned within powerpoint are easily transferred to other visual presentations.