Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Screencasts in the class

Often when new computer/internet tools come along I feel like it could be useful, but is probably more trouble to learn than its worth. I often question how useful it will actually be compared to amount of time consumed using it. Rarely, does something come along where I instantly see the potential and immediately think it outweighs the time needed to learn it. Screencasts were the exception. It is easy to learn and makes learning easier for EVERYONE else. As a teacher you can tell students how to do something and it if forgotten quickly, you can show them and they learn better, but they still forget how to do it 5 minutes later. If you type up the instructions it is sometimes hard to follow and confusing. However, screencasts work by filming the screen you are using as you use it. All you have to do is send the link to the students and they have a video that shows them the instructions of how to do something. I have used it to show students how to set up their energy savings on their computer, set up a blog, print double sided, etc. I also used it to show other schools our recycling center set up. Personally, I use Jing Project and found it to be fairly user friendly.

It can be used to help with homework and assignments, but I believe it is most useful in showing students how to do something on a computer. People can learn something as simple as opening and saving files, searching on Google, uploading a picture, or even how to make a movie, blog, etc.

In our dept it can be used to get everyone (hmmm Peter) up to speed, for example we used it to show everyone how to use google docs. It can also be used to help with Panthernet.

Web-based Videos

How has the explosion of web-based video changed the teaching and learning landscape?

This is something I have totally taken advantage of. No more ordering the video and rewinding it to the right spot. Even though DVD was much better, it still had some drawbacks. Internet videos are more up to date and you can find videos on all kinds of topics for FREE. Before you would have to order and pay for a video that you weren’t even sure if it was what you wanted. Now I can view it myself and download it if I like it. I literally have about 50 or more videos for my class. I prefer short ‘to the point’ videos over longer movies and the internet seems to provide this.

Now with easy download tools, such as download helper, it makes it very convenient to build a collection of web-based videos.

Digital Story Telling

What a cool assignment to give kids. They get to make a movie about some subject they are learning about. For my course, Environmental Stewardship, this is a key piece since there are numerous issues and a big part of the solution is getting the word out to increase awareness.

I have made several movies myself, but I would prefer to show you a very recent movie I received from a student helping the Green Panthers spread the word of reducing waste by renting the Green Panther dishes.

Presentation ZEN!

I was all set to give a presentation during synergy. I had about 14 synergy groups ready to join for a total of over 140 students. The presentation was a follow up to an environmental speaker, Stuart Scott, we had the week before. I liked Mr. Scott's presentation, but wanted to follow up with more practical solutions of what kids can do.
I quickly put together some slides looking at our daily actions and then eventually having 140+ students go to Google Docs and compile a list of solutions. Afterwards, students would select 5 of the solutions/actions and pledge to do these for 1 month.
I thought I was all set, until I went to my tech course Saturday morning (3 days before the presentation). We learned about Presentation Zen and how boring presentations with only bullet points were. My project needed some serious help. I had to overall this thing and do it fast. Unfortunately, the downside is there is no fast with Zen. It takes time to find the right photos and get the right message and even the right atmosphere across. In the end I think I accomplished this.
Unfortunately I deleted the old bullet point version for comparison, but i'm sure you have seen enough of those to relate anyway. Enjoy the new and improved version.