Animoto: An Academic Use

I despise Animoto‘s use as evidence of learning in the classroom. It produces a veneer that implies intent but requires none. It allows people to put on the facade that their students are doing intelligent work. They seem to trick even themselves. That being said, I finally came up with a use that would require some thought. Pretend Animoto is an author with intent and intelligence. Analyze the choices in image juxtaposition, camera angles etc. Really break it down as if the director had some control and thought behind all the choices. You could do this with random videos from the showcase, have students contribute their own images etc. It’d also be fun to make comparisons between two auto generated versions of the same images. Which film was produced later in the artist’s career? What experiences caused the change in filming techniques. A simple idea but it does require some thought in a process otherwise devoid of intellect.

UMW Faculty Academy 2010 prt.1

cc licensed flickr photo shared by bionicteaching Here are a few of the things I’m thinking about after a great time at Faculty Academy. Raw notes are below. The big picture stuff is pretty simple. Work that is student driven, public and has a real audience results in all kinds of good things happening. We really ought to begin working on defining and publicizing best practice around blogs a lot of this stuff. And by “stuff” I mean things like student driven classes, online conversations, etc. Simple things like “when/why does it make sense to give people feedback as audio? ” Kevin McCluskey gave his theater students feedback via audio files and saw his language being reflected when students did in class critiques. So there are a variety of times we ought to be recommending this type of feedback for reasons far beyond simple convenience. Melanie Szulczewski had a really interesting look at how the action words her students used changed over time and focused on the idea that blogging allowed them to reflect as they progressed rather than after. So it’d make sense to make this kind of data visible and encourage people to look at it. Maybe a blog plugin that showed comments by user sequentially with chunks of additional information- maybe word count, links to outside content […]



I think about where we spend our money. We’re constantly trying to find easy ways out of holes, easy ways to scale metaphorical mountains. We look for processes to remove the chores of thought and decision. Education is floundering. We lost our faith in teachers. It is every politician’s easy drum to beat- after all. “Our schools are failing! The enemies are at the gate!”1 Who would argue that our kids don’t deserve better? Both parties agree. Education is failing. Our solution is not to work, to spend money and time on our teachers, to help them become better, instead we send our money away, spending precious time testing products of a system we insist is broken. We buy software. We buy content. We buy external experts.2 We buy reputation. We buy “trust” and “quality” because we don’t believe either really exists in our schools. Invest that money in our teachers, on smaller classes, on things that have been proven to matter. Make teaching a career that isn’t based on martyrdom. Martyrs die flaming deaths. Systems based on them don’t last. There are no easy answers. You can’t buy, process, software, magic your way out of this. There is no microwave dinner version of educational reform. 1 Don’t actually go to this site. I just liked that it was a […]


cc licensed flickr photo shared by bionicteaching My son decided to make a slingshot the other day. He disappeared for a while and showed up with this. He’s six. It’s not rocket science and it’s not perfect. That’s not the point. I love the spirit that drove him. He believes he can make things. He thought about the parts he’d need, what they should do and then he just did it1. I’d love for our classrooms to foster that kind of thinking and independence, that ability to make things you’re interested in. Now we’re going to use it and I’m going to see what changes when he makes on his next slingshot. 1 This can be a little annoying if you care about things that happen to become components but we’ve got those lines fairly well defined now.

A few things . . .

Currency Redesign This would be a fun way to look at our government (and other countries for that matter). It’s simple but complex. How do you redesign our currency so that it reflects our history and current values? There’s a lot of interesting analysis potential there. Partnering with an art class would give you some added advantage and would allow for more focus on art as problem solving. Monsters Inspired by this Boing Boing post, I thought it’d be fun to have students draw a monster of their choosing (maybe give it some particular talents) and then randomly assign them to other students who then write a story with the monster as a main character. The artist then works with the writer as a peer editor. I’d do this online and then mix in other monsters and story lines. Then the larger group has to look at the stories and figure out how they’ll merge. Drugs This list of the top 25 psychiatric prescriptions and a comparison to their numbers in 2005 would open the door for a number of conversations about our society and medicine in the U.S. I’d love to see overall prescriptions and a comparison of those numbers between countries. Random Thoughts This card trading game concept for medical students is worth thinking about more. I’m in […]