Friday, November 28, 2008

Topic 4 - 5 Video Pre-Production Storyboarding

Since my overall project is to prepare my students for our Spring Break trip to France by creating an informative, multi-media website, I will be shooting some video segments of myself and will include close up shots of the places I am talking about either by zooming in on images I have or, if possible, I would like to try to prepare the segments ahead of time as a SMART board presentation which I will then stand next to as I am filming. This could be very interesting, but it may be more work that I realize.

In the meantime, I have begun laying out the storyboard by using the index card function provided by

Monday, November 24, 2008

Topic 3 Animation and Video uses in Education

After looking over the various options, I thought that Voki animations would work best in my presentation. Here they are...

This one was created using text-to-speech by typing the script and then choosing a female French voice to narrate it:

Get a Voki now!

This one was created using Garageband to create a podcast that allowed me to record my own voice and then insert sounds, like an airplane landing followed by another that is taking off.

Get a Voki now!

Now that I have used Voki, I think my students would have fun creating their own animations too. I wonder if there is any way to upload a Voki into a Voicethread...?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Topic 2 Podcast

As I was unable to upload the podcast to this blog, I added it to another blog that I created on my school district server:

What I have learned about pod-casting:

I have learned that pod casting is relatively easy to do, although I still have a lot to learn before I can go pro. (There are so many special effects that I haven't explored yet!) Until recently I had been using Audacity for recording audio files in my classroom, but now that I have experimented with Garage band, I will probably continue using the pod casting function of this great, multi-media program. Once again, Apple has made it so user friendly that it almost feels like I am cheating. But then again, who says that technology needs to be difficult?

One thing I need to remember to do before I begin using podcasts with my students is to warn them that they will need Quicktime or Windows Media Player on their computers before they can listen to them. I should also attach a link to a website that will allow them to download one of these tools for whichever format they need. Another thing I should verify is whether or not listeners who are not using a Mac computer can actually see the images I attach to the sections or 'chapters' of the pod cast. I also need to find out why iWeb asked me for a URL address when I tried to upload the podcast to my Final project even though I chose the menu option 'Publish to a Folder' .

What I found was tricky:
The hardest part, as far as I can tell, seems to be publishing. I tried several times to publish the podcast to this blog and to a couple of other blog sites that I have been using at school such as technology and . Despite the fact that these sites contain built-in podcast options, I was never able to upload my recording to either of them. Each time I tried, I received the same error message telling me that the file size is limited to 50MB, although when I checked the size of the MP3 audio file, it wasn't nearly that large. I will again attempt to upload my podcast to these sites, but in the meantime I have sent an email inquiry to the tech support department at my district about this problem. Consequently, I have realized that I still need to figure out how I will be able to upload my Final project (using iWeb) at the end of this course.

Managing file sizes still seems a bit tricky to me, and I also don't understand what it means when a file I am trying to upload has 'timed out' or even if there is anything I can do to prevent this from happening.

What I would do differently next time:
Since I knew that the fan motor on my desktop is so loud that it would be heard on the recording, I started recording my podcast on my Macbook. I was surprised when the motor on my Macbook kicked in and also made noise, although it wasn't nearly as loud. I stopped recording each time this happened and waited for the motor to stop making noise. For this reason, I now think it would be better to use an external, unidirectional microphone when recording my voice. Another thing I learned, and will do differently from now on, is that I will start off a project by 'scripting' my session ahead of time. I originally thought I could record the pod cast spontaneously since I knew what I wanted to talk about and I had gathered the information I needed and even had it written out on several small pieces of paper. After several attempts at recording this way, however, I quickly discovered that it is indeed important to have a script to read from, which ultimately allowed me to focus on my diction rather than on what I was going to say next. I would also plan to use the same computer to complete the project once it is started since I discovered that the podcast I created on my new Macbook (using Garage Band in iLife '08) was not able to be exported to the iWeb program on my desktop computer which has the '06 version of iLife

How would I use podcasts to teach students or have students to produce their own podcasts to enhance learning in my classroom?
As a World Languages teacher I can think of a myriad of uses. I could show my students images and video clips and ask them to comment on them. I could also ask them to publish a 'talking journal' entry each day or once a week to promote fluency in speaking the language. I could ask them to listen to podcasts that are already available on iTunes so that they could get practice hearing other voices speaking in French while reinforcing their grammar and vocabulary. I could also connect the sound enhancement system in my classroom to my computer so that I could potentially record my lessons 'live' and make them available with the accompanying 'notes' on my classroom web log for students who were absent or for those who wish to review the material.

My ideas on adding audio to my instruction.
Since I am contemplating using more podcasts in my classroom to record important lessons, I really must solve the problem I encountered when I tried to publish this podcast to the district server. I must also find a URL address that will allow me to publish and archive these recordings.

I now know that podcasts are being used more and more commonly in university environments all over the world, so I am starting to wonder why they have not yet been integrated into the online courses of the Instructional Technology program at Regis University? This is not a reflection on my current professor, merely a realization that podcasts could have been very helpful and would have made some of the online instruction more interesting and relevant. In fact, now that I am thinking of it, why aren't there more screencasts and video tutorials to help students with the technology we are learning to use? After all, isn't example the best teacher?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Topic 1: Photo and image manipulation, image composition, color theory and text use

Do images enhance text understanding?

Compare what these authors say and come up with your own theory about using images with text to generate understanding. Post your ideas to your blog.

"In facilitating L2 reading comprehension, the use of sound, pictures, and animated pictures or video in addition to text have played an important role in vocabulary acquisition and in overall text comprehension, and are unquestioned components of instructional materials for language learning (Chun & Plass, 1996a, 1996b; Cohen, 1987; Hanley, Herron, & Cole, 1995; Leow, 1995; Oller, 1996; Omaggio, 1979; Secules, Herron, & Tomasello, 1992).

As a second language teacher who has taught all grades and levels from Pre-K to Adult Ed, I have drawn from many sources over the years to create instructional materials for my French and Spanish classes. When I left a public high school to teach Spanish to students in grades K-8 in a new, cash-strapped Charter School, I quickly realized that my artistic talents were of great value, especially with the youngest students who could not yet read. Even now, I will frequently draw an image on the board to jog my high school students' memories when trying to elicit a word or phrase in the target language.

As I am writing this I am reminded of one of the first topics we discussed in EDTC 617- the importance of matching the media to the audience and to the instructional goals. I believe that the key to successful teaching and learning is the ability to stimulate the learner's imagination by promoting personal and sensory connections without overshadowing the message. Students of all ages tend to like visual stimuli and are frequently bored by text-only formats, yet some of the textbooks I have seen and used lately seem to have taken the use of color and images to an extreme. The textbook I am now required to use, for example, is so 'loaded' that the students can barely identify the important points. As with everything else in life, the key seems to be striking a balance.

This belief seems to be supported by the findings of the Eyetrack III project from the Poynter Institute with regard to recall of factual information (, namely, that research suggests that "Users who received information in text form seemed to have better recall of specific factual information." and also that "multiple, potentially conflicting streams of information (graphic, audio, and text) might impede some types of recall rather than help it."

I wish I had seen this site sooner as it provided very useful information concerning the use of text fonts and how they might appear on different screens and on different platforms since "displays and resolutions vary widely and Macs and Windows machines make significantly different guesses about them… Type specified in points (or any point-based measurement) will appear larger on a Windows machine than on a Mac". As a MAC user, I now understand better the issues I had when designing my final web site for EDTC 616. .

Create 5 quality images/photos- cropping for optimal composition, using various filters, and adding text to create visuals that will improve students comprehension in a subject you teach or envision teaching. Post these images on your final portfolio project for this class on an image page and also save them as .jpg or .png and email them to your instructor.

On a personal note...

I really had a lot of fun with this week's topic, and I have also begun to discover iWeb, another integrated Mac tool that will undoubtedly facilitate the completion of my final project for this course. After all of the incompatibilities and technical difficulties I experienced when trying to complete the digital storytelling project in EDTC 617, the integrated software on my new Macbook is a welcome relief!