Saturday 30 July 2011

Digital Storytelling

(This entry also appears in my ePortfolio for an Instructional Design course that I am taking as a part of my master's program)

Digital storytelling is a big part of what I do as a Technology Integrator.  Most teachers tend to want to use technology in their classrooms as a way for students to showcase their work and want me to bring tools that can be easily embedded into student ePortfolios.  Some tools that we have worked with are XtimelineZooburstAnimotoXtranormal and VoiceThread.  Scratch is my all-time favourite and students from grade 3-10 have used it to tell digital stories.  Here is an example of a grade 7 project from this past semester:

Learn more about this project

A tool that I have been meaning to play with for a long time is Prezi.  It allows you to create cool, zooming presentations that add a very nice twist to the traditionalPowerPoint.  It was very easy to get started but I imagine that once you have made a few, you learn some tricks to save time and make it look even more interesting.  In the meantime, I am very happy with what I was able to produce over the last few days and now that I have taken the time to get this one up, it will be very useful.  I will be teaching a number of MYP Technology classes this year and at the heart of the MYP Technology program is the 'Design Cycle'.  I put together a presentation to help others understand what the Design Cycle is and how it works with a project in the classroom.  Please take a look and let me know what you think:

The Design Cycle: Reusable Shopping Bags on Prezi

The next time I work with Prezi, I will try to play around with themes a little more, change the orientation of some of the text for a little fun and insert more multimedia content.  I have seen a few really nice presentations that included audio and video.  I am pretty sure that I will get a lot of use out of this presentation, since the Design Cycle is central to pretty much everything I teach.  This presentation will likely go through several iterations.  I think that seeing everything on one field as opposed to various slides makes everything appear connected in a way that is not apparent in a traditional PowerPoint.  I did put some thought into how everything was laid out in this one but I can see a lot more room to play around with this, deciding which images/information I want the camera to zoom past on the way to the desired destination image and so on.

Here's another digital storytelling project that I feel went really well when I was teaching a grade 5 class a few years back.  We were inspired by some old Choose Your own Adventure that I found in a second-hand bookstore.  The kids were doing a unit about conflict resolution and they decided to explore it through their own Choose Your Own Adventure style movies.  The idea was that some choices we make may cause a conflict to escalate while other choices we make may cause it to de-escalate.  They storyboarded (using a concept-mapping tool), wrote, directed, performed, filmed and edited the projects themselves in their groups.  This is one of the better ones:


Tuesday 7 June 2011

I want a 3D printer!

In this video, a kid explains why he loves his 3D printer. He is as humorous as he is eloquent and very inspiring. I need one of these in my MYP Technology program!

Why I LOVE My 3D Printer

Wednesday 9 February 2011

ADE Application

Apple have put together workshops for educators to help us hone our skills (on Apple hardware and software, of course) and to develop a community of innovative teachers to share projects and ideas. They are usually 3 day workshops and the people that I know that have taken part really do keep in touch with one another and do continue to collaborate long after their training sessions. It really does seem like a worthwhile program. Here's what they have to say about themselves:

The Apple Distinguished Educators (ADE) program was created to recognize K-12 and higher education pioneers who are using a variety of Apple products to transform teaching and learning. Today it has grown into a worldwide community of visionary educators and innovative leaders who are doing amazing things with technology in and out of the classroom. That includes working together — and with Apple — to help bring the freshest, most innovative ideas to students everywhere.

This year, I have decided to put in an application. One of the requirements is to submit a short video. Here's mine:


Wish me luck! I should know by March 1st.

Saturday 8 January 2011

Your Own Page Flip Book

I am working on the school yearbook at BISS. We had a cut to the budget this year and I have had to do a lot of cutting and cramming to squeeze everything in. I decided to make a digital edition where we could make up for the missing content. There are a lot of options out there if you are willing to host it on someone else's site such as Issu.  At our school, we use Issu to host the student-generated school newspaper.  But I wanted more control.  There are online services that will host your yearbook for you such as iYearbook.  They charge $10 per user but encourage you to use it as a fund-raiser, possibly to generate funds for a hard copy of your yearbook.  When you login, it looks a lot like something that you could create yourself using Elgg or something similar.  The images are laid out using what appears to be CoolIris which, again, is something you can do yourself.  And I was looking for something that felt more like a book.

Then I found Megazine3, an open source, flash-driven, page-flip engine.  It is a simple download and if you have any experience with html, it is pretty easy to set up.  If you already have your pages as .pdf files, they have a script you can run that immediately converts your .pdf pages into the page flip book.  It can make a version for your website and another version for CD--pretty handy if you want to include the CD with your yearbook, which is what I am going to do.  You can embed sounds and videos into your pages too.  they have lots of documentation available to show you how to get started.  I was just fooling around with my CV and some letters of reference while I was on the plane to Bangkok for the job fair.  You can see my example here.  I still have to embed the videos and make the cover stiff like a real book but you can at least see what i was able to do in about 10 minutes.  Here is an example of what the code looks like from their quickstart guide:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<img src="src/cover_outside.jpg"/>
<img src="src/cover_inside_and_inprint.jpg"/>
<img src="src/content.jpg"/>
<img src="src/some_picture.jpg"/>
<img src="src/cover_back_blank.jpg"/>
<img src="src/cover_back_outside.jpg"/>