Sunday, 20 October 2013
I suspect I heard this Yeats quote as a student teacher back in the 70s but came across it again recently. Feel free to download and redistribute if useful. Continuing with my Moovly explorations I discovered how to make the "pre-animated" clipart work...
Moovly is fffiltered for students at my school. Why does this not surprise me?
Tuesday, 15 October 2013
I've been busy with home stuff lately and have been neglecting my blog more than a little/
More than this, the context for my teaching has been somewhat erm.. problematic. It would, of course, be deeply unprofessional of me to say more than this; suffice it to say I've been drawing on existing resources most of this term and very few new ideas have been crossing my classroom threshold. Perfectly legitimate to re-visit the tried and tested but not much to blog home about.
I've been working with my Year 8 on a unit of work on the Black Hole I wrote about a couple of years ago. I've freshened it up a bit technologically speaking but the basic ideas are unchanged. It's an introduction to some basic concepts of film literacy. The film features a protagonist seriously undone by greed.
It was my intention to continue using The Gamer unit (also created a while ago) but for technical/financial reasons it was looking erm... problematic. Creativity was called for.
For some time I've been thinking about using Aesop's fables as the basis for making short films. Fables are complete, easily mined, stories; sufficiently diverse and skeletal to allow choice and interpretation and... very short. Potentially extremely useful especially given the limited time we have to write original, good quality scripts. The fact that they're still around after a couple of thousand years suggest they still have something to say. The Goose that laid the Golden Egg seemed a perfect link from The Black Hole.
Live action filming takes a considerable amount of time and resources. It's virtually impossible to manage more than four or five at a time in any one classroom. That was the joy of The Gamer scenario. So how to make our fable-based movies?
Whilst it would be untrue to say I've given up on Twitter, it requires energy to maintain the ducks-and-drakes approach Twitter demands if you're using it as a personal learning network. Increasingly I find myself reading a restricted range of tweeps. Increasingly I use the excellent Scoop-it which suggests posts on my topics of interest and new posts on the accounts of people who share my interests. So it was through Nik Peachy's Tools for Learners topic that I found Moovly were offering a Plus account for free (too late, the offer runs out today).
I liked the look of the app and signed up. Moovly uses animations in the PowerPoint sense of the word, but allows the construction of a sequence using a time line like a proper movie editor. Multiple animations and 'sprites' can be combined. There are only two style libraries of sprites in the free version, though you can upload up to twenty images of your own for a project to supplement those. In the movie below the motor bike and feathers were edited offline and uploaded to my Personal Library as transparent PNGs. All the rest were in the doodle Style Library, accessible from the free version. The complete absence of poultry forced me to find a creative way round the problem - it was only later I discovered how to create your own sprites. I especially liked the 'Move and Zoom' animation which also allows you to rotate images. It would be possible to make a Photo Story-like rostrum camera movie. Moovly has a built-in voice over recording function, though I haven't tried this yet. The finished movie can be published on YouTube or facebook or shared via email. Alternatively you can download a copy as an mp4 or Flash. I converted the banner at the head of this post using Free Video to Gif Converter.
I'll let you know what my students make of it...
Monday, 2 September 2013
Whilst things have been fairly quiet on the blog front (summer break etc.etc.) the devil hasn't had much chance to make work...
It was perhaps a little odd starting by making an advert for a non-existent site but, needing a bit of fun and a mission statement, I used Bitstrips and Photostory to make the trailer above. It's worth watching for the appalling music alone...
I've been thinking off and on for some time about setting up a definitive collection of online tutorials on making media. I first started six years ago with a project for (the now defunct) Screen East, called Movie Kit. Back then I was using the good, free, screen capture software CamStudio. That works fine for swift, relatively simple projects, but since I was aiming for something a little more sophisticated, I bit the bullet and paid for the excellent Camtasia Studio from TechSmith. I'm not sure where the (ahem) rather clever name Tutoreels came from, but when I searched and found no-one else was using it I coughed up and bought the domain tutoreels.org.
One of my aims is to make the tutorials short (2 minutes or less) and entertaining. While trawling YouTube for tutorials, I came upon lots and lots of very tedious stuff. My most recent tutorial is about setting up a Google Site. One of the great things about Sites is the ease and speed of setting up. Yet I found a tutorial explaining how to do it lasting 8 minutes - hesitant, unscripted and explaining absolutely everything. Mine lasts 1 min 16 seconds including the title sequence and includes graphics, scripted and brief narrative, music and silly sound effects. If it's too quick you can always watch it twice or use the pause button to work through the video on one tab while setting up a site on another.
I also came across the new online course maker Versal and started building a course. Versal has a beautiful, intuitive, drag and drop interface and I have little doubt I'll be using it a lot. I'll keep you posted.
All this thinking about online learning led inexorably towards looking at Massive Online Open Courses - MOOCs a current buzzword in online learning. Studying the Coursera MOOC lists I came upon one called 'Creativity, Innovation and Change' run by Penn State University. It runs for eight weeks and promises to support a creative project. I'm hoping it will help me develop the Tutoreels concept creatively. I'll be using this blog as a MOOC thinking space for the next couple of months.
Unless, of course, I'm one of the (up to) 90% who drop out...
Tuesday, 23 July 2013
Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked,
I cried to dream again.
I've been building a toolkit of free online apps for making media. The Planet Birdsong project I'm working on (unsurprisingly) needs to handle sound files. Searching for tools and functionality that support sound, I'm struck by how much less well-served sound in comparison to video. Free video hosts abound, online video editors fairly common - Youtube has its own simple editor and Vimeo has a new one in the pipeline - video can be embedded most places. Not so for sound. I can only find one, albeit excellent, online editing app - Twisted Wave. It integrates with Google Drive and Soundcloud but it's in beta at present and will undoubtedly cost some when launched.
All over the place you'll find links to the Aviary suite of programmes which offered an excellent collection of creativity apps, including the Myna sound editor and Roc (geddit) which enabled you to mix loops into original, copyright free music. But that was closed down last September.
I'm rather fond of the applet Record Mp3 which will produce an mp3 recording you can download or link to, at the click of a couple of buttons but the sound can't be edited and it has no embeddable audio player. And speaking of embedding. Google appear to think audio is below their consideration. Blogger has no ability to simply insert audio, nor does Google Sites, Drive needs an external app added to play sound files (I like this one), you can't add sound to their slideshows, nor yet, disappointingly, is the recently launched Google Maps Engine Lite able to add sounds to maps.
Audacity still reigns supreme for free offline sound editing. Maybe that's the problem - for a piece of completely free software it is so excellent it puts off competition. Though, that said, I've recently been playing with Music Editor Free which is good, has a slicker user interface than Audacity but only exports files in wave format which are often just too large to use easily online.
The big beast in the world of online audio hosts is SoundCloud. You'll doubtless recognise their embeddable widgets like the one below. I've downloaded and played with half a dozen Android sound recording/editing apps on my phone and none of them are quite up to snuff, but SoundCloud's new-ish, free, phone app is impressive. It allows for simple trimming of clips and then uploads straight from your phone. Should you have no internet connection the files are saved and upload when you enter a wifi zone. The disadvantage is that, should you wish to edit your file further, you will need to download, open in Audacity and re-upload. This where Twisted Wave app comes in: you simply add the URL for the SoundCloud file and it will open ready for editing. Do your edit and send it back as a new file to Soundcloud. The lovely piece was normalised and cropped using Twisted Wave.
In a friend's garden, earnestly trying out recording procedures for workshops, I was tiptoeing closer to record the call of a Green Woodpecker when this sound started up in a neighbouring garden. Irritation turned to delight when I noticed the workman with the saw had a bright green mohican and was cutting lumps out of a piece of wood...metamorphosis?
Saturday, 13 July 2013
I wrote this post for Edudemic and, after 10 days or so, on the principle of waste not, want not, I posted it here with this hostage to fortune, by way of a prologue
Originally written for Edudemic this piece turned out to be an opinion piece that would probably sit ill amongst their upbeat edtech.
But it seems I'm too impatient for words. Checking my stats I noticed rather a lot of visits from... you guessed... Edudemic. Since, when you submit your work you agree that the post will not appear elsewhere, I thought I'd better take it down. You can of course read it
Sunday, 7 July 2013
The other evening a friend arrived, sans husband, at our singing practise night and I asked where he was. She began,
"Oh he's got a touch of..." and paused.
Unbidden a phrase came into my head to complete her sentence:
"... the oh-be-joyfuls?".
She laughed and said "The what?". I explained that it was a phrase remembered from childhood; used to cover an event when one felt out of sorts, internally. As I pondered, the voice uttering the phrase in my memory was that of my Mother.
My Mother was born in 1927 and brought up in Deptford, South London. Her Father was a lighterman and auxiliary fireman who was killed during the Blitz in Surrey Docks. She and her family lived in her maternal grandfather's house and he was a blue-collar office worker in the docks. Her Mother, Kate, seems to have considered herself a "cut above" refusing to allow the family to go on the traditional working-class Londoner's summer jolly - hop-picking in Kent - as she considered it too 'common'.
I searched the net for "a touch of the oh be joyfuls" and found plenty of references to religion and alternative therapies. But perhaps the most curious link was a recording from Bruce Forsyth (now Sir Bruce) dating from 1962.
In 1962 I was seven. So the date fits, but quite how Mum could have translated the title of a Bruce Forsyth B-side into a term for an upset stomach? Listening to it does indeed induce mild nausea, and my Mother has been known to adopt and adapt phrases for her own purposes. But, still, I wasn't completely convinced, especially since the song itself borrows other slang phrases then in reasonably common parlance - 'The screaming abdabs' for example.
So to the horse's mouth I went. Today I asked Mum where the phrase came from. She replied immediately "My Mother used to say it". So I asked her where she thought Grandma Kate got the phrase, to which she replied, "From her mother... she got all her sayings from her mother." Since Grandma Kate was born in 1900 we're heading back into the Victorian era here...
Grandma Kate was indeed a source of sayings, I blogged about one some time ago. Obviously my father also shared my curiosity about the derivations of her sayings, since I can still remember his delight in finding the word cagmag in the dictionary. My mother was often sent on an errand to the butcher with the words "and tell him we don't want any of his old cagmag neither" ringing in her ears.
So is "A Touch of the Oh be Joyfuls" an ironically mock-religious London phrase from the Victorian era? Or is it a term my Mother unconsciously commandeered from the BBC Light Programme for reason or reasons unknown?
If you could shed a little light on the matter, please do.