Posted by: cgbblog | April 4, 2010

Online Project Presentation

Hey EDCI 339!  So my online presentation is up, and the video should be below.

My major project for the semester was to create a website with a series of video tutorials for the organization I work for. For Five years now I’ve been a summer camp leader with Byte Camp! We’re a non-profit organization that runs summer camps all around the southern island and now the lower mainland at recreation and community centres for kids aging 7 – 15 years old. right now we run 3 kinds of 5-day summer camps: Flash Video Game Design, Claymation Movie Production, and 3D Animation Production.

My project was to create an educational resource website for other instructors of the 3D Animation Production Camp.  Teaching kids 11-15 how to do creative things with computers is great – but it’s also VERY challenging, and the 3D camp is most definitely the hardest. For instance, we have to hire computer science majors to teach the flash video game design camp – because we’re actually teaching middle school students UNIVERSITY-LEVEL computer science! And the 3D camp is even Harder!!

So my project is a resource for other 3D instructors. On it, I’ve created a series of video tutorials on how to use and teach blender effectively. instructors hired to teach the 3D camp will have some background in 3D, but likely not with the software we use – open source Blender (www.blender.org) , which has a very steep learning curve.

By creating this website I hope to solve a lot of issues that popped up for me last summer while teaching this camp, and to best prepare other instructors to teach it too. The video series has 15 or 16 videos in all, but as the summer draws near, I’ll be adding to the list with some more technical and trouble-shooting videos – because instructors need to be able to solve problems fast.

Anyways, the website is at: http://web.uvic.ca/~cgb/ … enjoy!

**video should be fixed now

Also, I’ll post a link to a blog post I made for EDCI338’s blog, in which I posted one of the movies that was made in one of the 3D camps last summer:

http://massmediaandeducation.blogspot.com/2009/11/kid-created-3d-animation.html

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Posted by: cgbblog | March 29, 2010

Response: Mobile Learning online lecture

So as I began the semester I discovered to my dismay that one of my prof’s is a Luddite. She teaches my literature class, and believes in absolutely zero online or technology presence in or for her class: no laptops or smartphones in lectures, no moodle, blackboard, or blog – not even a single email from her all semester – and she doesn’t even post her powerpoint slides! Let it be noted that I was duly disgruntled with her class from the start.

So it’s pretty obvious that we’re all pretty hooked on technology by now – I find myself depending on it for so many of my academic needs, and classes that limit my use of technology are on my black-list. And for good reason, technology is darn useful. So useful in fact that we need not even attend physical classes anymore, nor buy paper textbooks.

In his (online) lecture, Dr. Dwayne Hrapnuik talked about his University’s mobile learning initiative, and he’s the exact opposite of my literature prof. Abilene Christian University has fully embraced mobile technology for educational purposes. So much so that they’ve even been featured in Wired Magazine. Specifically, for the past few years they’re been concentrating on using mobile technology to increase student participation, and to tear down the walls and boundaries of education.

As of Fall 2010, all new Undergraduate students at the University will be required to own and use either an iPod Touch or an iPhone. That’s right – EVERY student. The university investigated the usability and prevalence of mobile devices before requiring this of their students, and realized that most students already had a capable or similar mobile device. Apple alone has sold over 25 million iPods and 12.5 million iPhones to date, and users have downloaded over 3 Billion apps in the past 18 months. There are also 3 billion cell phones in use in the world – 1.2 billion of those were sold last year, and there are 150 million smart phones in use, and their prevalence is growing at 12% annually. With the advent of the iPhone, the most widely popular smart phone and mobile internet-capable device, and the ability to create mobile apps, it seemed it was the right time to more forward with integration of this technology with education.

The university uses mobile technology in almost every way imaginable and applicable for educational use – both for classroom purposes, and on-campus to create a community. Course resources are online, and educators can create and share interactive elements with their students. For instance, profs can create in-class surveys on-the-fly to reach a class consensus, they can even take class attendance on their iPhones, and chose a random student with an iPhone app to eliminate any potential bias. Their university faculty has jumped on board with the technology too, and have agreed to explore and report back on the different ways they’re finding to use the iPhone in their various classes.

But with all this technology, it’s easy to forget that their focus at the university is not about the technology – it’s about student and professor ENGAGEMENT.  Using mobile technology is done to promote students as full and active participants in their classes, research, and learning. Students are still required for the most part to attend brick-and-mortar classes – of which the technology is used as an invaluable assistant.

While ACU has chosen specifically apple’s platform in the present, they’re also looking to the future. Sure, the iPhone is the platform of choice now, and is the exclusive platform they’ve developed their apps for, but they’re also looking towards the developing HTML 5 web-app standard for future applications to widen the options for student and faculty for accessibility. With apps built with HTML5 rather than on the iPhone platform, content would be available from any future smart phone device.

Really, I think this is all great. I already integrate technology with all of my education – and do so much of my non-academic self-initiated learning online already. The use of mobile technology really attaches students to their academic life -for good, and for bad. While I think having a smart phone and being required to have it in every class, and use it regularly is great, I fear that students’ academic lives might be intruding into their personal lives. I can imagine a student in the US being at a frat party, when their iPhone pushes a school-related message at them. Both students and educators need R&R time, too.

Posted by: cgbblog | March 10, 2010

Flash Tutorial #3

Vimeo’s uploading process has issues, I’ll get this working ASAP.

Posted by: cgbblog | March 8, 2010

The March 7th Post.

Hey, Interweb.

I’m writing this post in response to the Open & Networked Learning online presentation/lecture presented by Dr. Alec Couros of the University of Regina.

But let me first interject: what exactly do we call  these online/interactive presentations? I want to call it an online lecture, but it’s so much more. They [these and other online presentations] have so much greater potential than your traditional lecture. It seems like we need a new [NON-branded] word for them.

When I think of a lecture, I think of an instructor speaking in front of a large group of students. If it’s at a university, some people are probably half asleep, some people are paying half-attention, while others are texting away on their phones, or playing  WoW on their laptops – most are only faintly aware of the content the instructor is wah-wahing [think, Carlie Brown’s teacher] at the front of the room. Oh and don’t forget the speaker’s powerpoint. These interactive /online lectures have so much greater potential for student participation and interjection. And I’m sure students are more likely to fully pay attention, too!

ANYWAYS, back on topic.

Dr.Couros brought up a myriad of interesting topics and talked about the ways technology is changing both education and lives. The basic idea that education ought to be open and not inclusive is fairly radical, and opens up possibilities both as an educator for expansion of an audience, but also for all the potential learners.

For me, it comes down to the basic premise: WHY should education be CLOSED? Why would we want to hold back the growth potential of others? The only and obvious answer is that we do so only out of desire to ‘stay ahead’ : out of a scarcity-based mentality which has people holding onto what they have. Even if it could and would benefit everyone including themselves exponentially if they and everyone else shared information and education openly, we don’t – because it’s human nature to greedily hold onto what may, as individuals or groups, give us a leg up on others.

for shame.

One of Dr. Couros’ topics was openness of resources – specifically regarding copyright. Open-source and Creative Commons are things I’ve been interested in for a good many months now, and I have been utilizing them for years in my workplace already. I teach computer-centric courses and camps to kids ages 8-17, and utilize open-source software whenever possible. More recently  I’ve started going more ‘CC’ in my own life – by using open source software programs personally – programs including Open Office, Gimp, Blender, InkScape; I even have Ubuntu Linux on my laptop now! But there are so many more possibilities, that I as a future highschool ICT teacher, I can’t ignore.

My favourite thing in the lecture was the website featured: NING. how absolutely awesome. It seems like the ultimate tool for making learning a community, and the perfect add-on to a highschool ICT class – or even an entire highschool. The ability to collaborate, share work, post blogs, assignments, feedback, images and new media actually has a chance to make bringing schoolwork home more attractive and realistic to students. I only worry about moderating such an environment for, say, a highschool setting (a big reason for inclusiveness, unfortunately).  But the digital tools we have today are too big and too useful to ignore. Just the ability as a teacher to post assignments/resources online and have the students submit online is HUGE – let alone all the other abilities NING has!

But an educator could use all of these awesome tools while entirely missing Dr. Couros’ main point and objective: using technology to ‘thin walls’ of education. This brings me back to my original question: Why would we want to hold back the growth potential of others? Opening up education is a directive worth investigating and investing in – it just needs to be done properly and with respect to both the educators and learners.

That’s all for today. I’ll post my third and final flash website-making video tutorial online tomorrow!

-Peace.

Posted by: cgbblog | February 9, 2010

Flash Tutorial #2

Posted by: cgbblog | February 7, 2010

Feb 1 – Feb 7

What week is it?! .. I really can’t recall.

Last weekend I submitted my project proposal – a series of educational video tutorials featuring Flash and/or Blender 3D. – a project both very related to this course and my employment as a kids’ summer computer camp instructor. Most likely, I will create an in-depth training video series on creating 3D animated movies using open-source Blender 3D software, to be of resource to new summer camp leaders who will teach it onward to kids 11-15 years old.

This week in class Valerie posted a video tutorial on the Moodle site about creating podcasts. I never really got into the whole podcast scene when it became a craze a few years ago when the iPod became popular, but I can see the benefits. I’ve used Audacity a bunch before + plus taught kids how to use it (very basically) for use in sound editing for video game and movie creation. I never knew how to work with multiple tracks, though – so Valerie demonstrating how to shift tracks over to the location of the cursor was *VERY* helpful, and much appreciated.

It would me nice to look a little more in depth about distributing podcasts, though. ie: how to have your podcasts listed through iTunes’ free listings so that people can subscribe through them and automatically have them downloaded to their ipod through iTunes. I did however appreciate information about using our Uvic webspace to host a website and the podcasts. It was something I knew generally was available but didn’t know the specifics – now I do!

Thinking of podcasts and subscribing/distribution brought me to thinking about a technology that I”m not yet very familiar with and that I hope we cover in the course, as it would be very applicable and useful in digital distribution and notification.: RSS. I still don’t know what it really is, or how to use it, other than that it’s a protocol for subscribing to web services/blogs/newsfeeds.. and that Firefox automatically comes with a special type of RSS bookmark called ‘Latest Leadlines’. I”m sure it would be invaluable to a distance learning environment. .. and very worth researching in the scope of this class.

I have lately been looking into exploring Creative-Commons resources. That is: finding video/audio search engines and sources for content that I and kids I teach can use freely in their mulimedia projects, so I appreciate all the links Valerie has provided, although what I have looked at is mainly nature-related. I downloaded some CC music which would be great for both podcasts and video projects down the road.

This week I made a part 2 of my video tutorial series on Flash animation using Sothink SWF Quicker (after many first bailed attempts on my part!). It’s currently uploading to my profile on Vimeo.com. As soon as it’s been transcoded to flv on their server and is ready to watch, I’ll embed it on this, my blog.

Cheerio!

.. I’m also considering making a video tutorial on creating video tutorials, using the free software I use for Windows, Camstudio.  It’s likely not as feature rich as Camtasia (as Valerie uses), and it takes many attempts to get it working right (plus codec issues), but I’m very happy with the results I’ve gotten with it in my tutorials so far.

Posted by: cgbblog | January 25, 2010

Flash Tutorial #1

Youtube only allows videos of up to 10 minutes in length, and this tutorial I made is just under 15mins, so I’m using vimeo, which is arguably more professional anyways. inserting a vimeo video into wordpress blog was a bit of a trick as it’s not visibly supported in the dashboard. just put the vimeo link inside [ square brackets ].

In the tutorial I use SoThink SWF Quicker, an inexpensive clone of Adobe Flash. You can find a 30-day trial at www.sothink.com.

Posted by: cgbblog | January 24, 2010

Week 3

Great video lecture this week in class w/ guest speaker Gordon Booth. Lots of food for thought.

A lot of what he talked about in the speech I can relate back to the ‘informal’ teaching principles I was taught by my employer and picked up along the way. I work for a non-profit organization that teaches kids fun things to do with technology: claymation, animation, flash video game design, web design, etc. The way we structure our class’ curricula  is very much akin to Gordon’s suggestion of breaking material up into manageable chunks and BIG IDEAS – buth in terms of amount of material covered but also in terms of amount of time. I laughed when he said that attention span measured in minutes was about equal to about that of kids’ age. It’s very true – both in that attention span to a speaker can’t be very long without some interaction or hands-on activity, but also for the need for time for absorption of learned material before new material can be added or presented.

Suggestion for Valerie: I feel a little out-of-touch with a particular piece of technology everyone seems to know about but me: what exactly IS a smart-board? I graduated high school in 2001, and we didn’t have them then, and having been around elementary Ed students last semester (and plan on going into ed next year), it seems like they’re well known and almost old-hat by now.. but I’m out of the loop – not good seeing as though I’m a prospective ICT high school teacher!! Could you maybe make  a video that’s more specific about how the smart board and video conferencing equipment works? Does the person at the other end of a video conference also need one of those absurdly expensive setups, or will a computer and webcam do to link up?

I realize that my education (a BFA in New Media) partially in film production and effects will aid greatly in producing content both for this class and in the future. Creating curricula that includes well-produced media, visual effects, and green screen, etc is something I’m going to pursue.

Back to Gordon’s lecture: he hit home on some of the key issues surrounding being an educator at a distance. Creating a program of instruction that works well at a distance requires a very high level of planning that could only be pulled off well by someone experienced and/or well-researched.  Tips included: having the kids break into groups, not needing to be a talking-head for the entire duration of the lecture, and ways of monitoring for student understanding and comprehension without immediate in-person attendance. Also, having kids become involved with the presentation and production of distance learning-related media is also huge. Kids are very well capable with instruction of creating their own media for online instruction. eg: video lessons and classroom activities. This could become a part of elementary and highschool curricula as technology progresses.

I’ve decided to start a series of online video tutorials centered around flash animation and web design, and possibly flash video game design down the road.  I teach this material to kids as young as 7 and as old as 15, and have uploaded my first video to Vimeo tonight (still waiting on the video to process at their end). I used a screen-capture program on Windows called CamStudio along with my microphone to produce the 15-minute video tutorial, which I will embed & post a link to on this blog as soon as it’s available. I’ll make this a weekly activity, time permitting. Specifically, this might be useful to students in EDCI339 who are interested in making a kick-ass website for their projects.

note:  I discovered that most users (myself included) are not able to upload videos longer than 10 minutes to youtube (although, apparently there’s a grandfather clause for users who had the ability before – they still do). So, while I talk about it being on youtube in the video, it should be hosted on Vimeo.com.  Again, link coming soon. Youtube loses a gold star.

Posted by: cgbblog | January 17, 2010

Week 2

So it’s my first official assigned EDCI 339 wordpress blog post.

I though I’d start with a review of the streaming video mini-lectures:  They’re great. Never before have I been able to attend a lecture in my Pajamas – without looking weird.  The streaming video quality is absolutely superb. I’ve never seen dual-screen streaming – let alone dual window HD streaming.  Less than a couple of years ago Vimeo.com was the first to offer free HD video streaming, and since even then internet speeds have sped up enough that these services are viable – and YouTube has since too upgraded to offer free HD streaming services.

I was encouraged in a 3D production class at the University of Lethbridge to explore dual-screen video presentation (something that is very rarely done), and it works well in this case. On the other hand, while streaming both videos works great most of the time, I’ll suggest that Valerie cut our class lectures down to just her camera ‘s video window. Viewers can simply download the PowerPoint slides and follow along with her rather than suffer (like I have, albeit only a very little) sitting through video re-buffering half a dozen or so times throughout the lecture.  Also, I was able to read the slides just fine in from the screen.  Let’s all save some bandwidth. (:

Web 2.0 is only in its infancy and it’s already offered us a myriad of potential for furthered education. Last semester I took EDCI 338  – Mass Media and Education, in which we were required to contribute to a collaborative blog hosted on blogspot.com regarding topics of mass media and advertising’s affects on children and education. It was the first time in a class that I have been encouraged (required) to engage in collaborative online learning and sharing of thoughts/findings.  I’d like to share one my posts from this blog now regarding educational possibilities on YouTube:

Everyone knows the internet is today’s largest resource for information on any and every subject, for good and for bad. But I’m a visual person, and going online in the past for educational purposes often hasn’t resulted in greater results than I have gotten by referring to books and other printed ‘traditional’ material. I’ve always learned most efficiently by having something explained to me visually with examples with live explanation.

This is one reason why the internet, now, has become such a valuable resource for me in both academic and personal education. Perhaps it’s a false dichotomy to separate academic and personal learning, so I will simply emphasize that Youtube, for me, has become a valuable resource for learning in subjects both directly related to my current studies and my personal pursuits.
I’ve found that even tech-saavy students I’ve talked to are unaware how valuable Youtube can be. Talking to another student in one of my classes who was, like me, having difficulty understanding the course material, he was astonished when I told him that on Youtube there were numerous very helpful and very clear tutorials on the same subject and lessons we were learning in that class at the time.

A few years ago I had some articles of clothing that I still liked but that had gone limp, and, having heard of it but never having grown up in a house where it was used, I had no idea how to use starch for clothing. Sure enough, I Youtube’d it (I’ve dared to use it as a verb!), and in moments I had mouse-click access to a little old lady showing me and explaining how to iron with starch. Absolutely awesome.

You can learn almost anything on Youtube. Try searching for ‘how to’, ‘how to use’, ‘lesson’, ‘for beginners’, ‘tutorial’, etc along with another keyword relating to the subject you’d like to learn or know more about. Thousands of tutorials and lessons exist in every subject and topic ranging from advanced math, lessons on how to play an instrument, applying makeup, using software, formatting a paper in MLA format, how to tie a tie, how to change the oil in your car, to how to use a toilet. (I’m not kidding)

While Youtube is an excellent resource, like any online source one must be both wary to the information it carries and patient enough to sift through the myriad of poorly made and taught lessons. Many universities, professors, and teachers though have begun posting quality online lessons and lectures opening up doors to all kinds of further and distant online learning.

Posted by: cgbblog | January 17, 2010

Introduction

Hey All!

My name is Colin, and currently I’m at Uvic.  Specifically, I’m enrolled in EDCI 339 – Distributed and Mobile Learning.  I’ve made this blog for that course as a way to post weekly blog assignments about my reflections on course material weekly throughout the spring semester.

About Me: I’m an undergrad student at Uvic. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in New Media from the University of Lethbridge, and I am currently planning on entering the Post-Degree Highschool Education program with teaching concentrations in Computer Science and ICT in September 2010.

The technology behind mobile learning is nothing new to me, but its applications as they are applicable to education purposes I have not explored in depth.  For several years I have taught after-school, summer and homelearners programs centered around technology to kids ages ranging between 7 and 15, but all my technology-related learning/teaching has been ‘local’.

Pictured above (as of this post date) are clay characters created for a clay animation project done by two 9-12 year olds during the summer.

Onward-ho!

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