Early Draft of the Gardner Campbell/Doug Engelbart Mashup

Here is round one with the mashup video that may be used for some of the promotion for Gardner’s MOOC this summer. It’s in early stages right now. I want to match up the audio so that the echo-y feel of the Engelbart presentation is carried through and I am considering replacing chunks of video elements of Gardner’s pieces because the first two don’t bring much value (and the first one may actually cause confusion1). I’ll also be looking at what other video might bring additional context. In any case, I think this has a few pretty golden moments but it’s a fine line between that and getting too cute with things.

1 Not always a bad thing but . . .

Squirrels In My Pants

I did a presentation the other day on how one might use the Promethean software to do some interesting things with video. I don’t think the software is essential to do any of this but it did make it pretty easy and we already have it on all our computers and all our student computers. In any case, I used the video above to demo a few easy things for kids to do using screenshots from virtually any video.

Yes, it did make my kids’ day to use a Fineas and Ferb song about squirrels in someone’s pants. I’m not sure what the teachers thought of it but sometimes you have to amuse yourself.

Simplest- Visual Answers

Take video screenshots to answer questions. Easy but a different level of involvement with the video. Depending on the questions this could be low level stuff or something more sophisticated.

You could do simple things like ID the protagonist. Or you could ask harder questions like- Capture the most dramatic frame in the video.

Summarize or Cartoonize

Using simple screenshots you can add word balloons to summarize the video or just use the frame captures as fodder for comics in general. You can make it more complex by adding restrictions (see below) – things like you have to summarize the video in only four frames and 6 lines of poetry. Stuff like that. It can make things more interesting and done with the right examples it could even be at least amusing.

Scary Mary Plot Reversal

The still picture version of a Scary Mary type plot reversal. Simple stuff, I know.

Time Intervals

This is a rough and dirty way to do something similar to what Dan Meyer did with the basketball shot image (at least for the still portion). Essentially, you just hit the frame capture tool at semi-regular intervals and then lay the images over the top and mess with the transparency some. Not super, but really easy and all done in one program that we have and people use.

My example used Angry Birds. I don’t think it was the best choice. I think the basketball shot Dan uses is more interesting to most students- especially if you are the one taking the shot.


Once again, I’m just trying to find ways for teachers/students to mimic stuff Dan Meyer is doing but with as little tech knowledge as possible. I saw his use of an embedded timer in his falling rocks series. That is one nice aspect of the way the Promethean software works. I can add all sorts of useful objects from a built in library- the timer being one, grid overlays are another (it’ll default underneath objects, you can set it to the topmost level under object properties).

The main goal with all this is just to show that it doesn’t have to be hard. We can use simple software and simple ideas to do some pretty interesting things with students. All of our students have this software yet usage still tends to focus on duplicating things you might as well do in PPT.

Based on Faulty Information

Their opinions are based on faulty information .

I shot this quick clip in one of the classrooms that was doing the performance based assessment. The audio is terrible but what this student says is perfect.

It’s actually kind of scary because there are people who don’t do this out in the public- like they don’t check their sources and stuff, therefore their opinions are based on faulty information.

Now if we can create more assessments that cause students to come to those simple, yet powerful, conclusions I’ll be very pleased.

360 Degree Classroom Video

We’re looking to get more classroom video for a variety of reasons and that led to a demo from Teachscape and their Reflect product. It’s a decent idea, 360 degree video of the classroom and another camera with a specific focus. You can’t see anything about the quality in the demo videos. One major warning flag is that they don’t have any video from the product. No obvious prices. Let’s just say it’s really expensive, really expensive. Expensive enough that I can’t remember the numbers properly because my brain filed it under crazy.

It looked even more insane when I happened to find the Sony Bloggie. I’d never heard of it but it seems pretty similar to the Flip and it has an attachment for 360 degree video.

There’s also some interesting ways to hack it to get higher quality 360 degree video out. All for $170.

If I was going to spend the money that Teachscape wants for their unit, I’d want quality like Yellowbird. This stuff is slick and interactive (you do have to fly in a team from the Netherlands though).

I’m also playing around with the idea of trying one of the 360 degree lenses on a 5DMKII and seeing what I can do with the video.

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.

Questioning – Elementary Math

Dan’s post on math questioning reminded me of the video below and how impressed I was by this teacher’s questioning skills. She ran the whole class like this and made it work well. It really was so much fun to watch.

This is an elementary math classroom but I promise it’s worth watching for any teacher.

I filmed this a while back. Sadly, it’s too easy to do these projects and put them in the heavily fortified garden a lot of our school video lives in and forget about them.

Here is a Word document that was related to this series and adds some context.

Here’s the question the students are trying to solve. Although I think she had the questions more clearly delineated. I would suggest heavy reformatting before using it with students.

more good teacher questions

21st Century Video Remix

I remixed1 this video for our new specialty center which is focusing on teaching. Once you pass Obama, there’s some decent video covering students working in groups with computers, Promethean boards 2, and digital probes. It might be useful to others.

1 I swear it does change.

2 AKA the giant, wall mounted mouse- my opinion of the IWBs, obviously, remains pretty low.

Some Improvement

Here’s the revised video for our 21st Century push.

Improved 21st Century Plea from Tom Woodward on Vimeo.

Old Version

Another 21st Century Plea from Tom Woodward on Vimeo.

I find video work to be incredibly time consuming and difficult to do right. After I watch something 1000 times, it’s gets far harder to be objective and not let my mind fill in gaps. I’ll have to figure out a trick similar to reading an essay aloud that will give me fresh eyes. Until then, I’ve found getting other people to watch the video and give me feedback to be invaluable.

This minor clip still has many ways it can be improved but it has improved thanks to the comments offered by people on this site. Thanks for that.

There is now one continuous track in the background that helps unite the disparate clips and improve the mood of the piece. The tricky part about that was trying to lay that track down behind clips where people were speaking and the clips themselves had background music. I tried removing it the original background music in a variety of ways using Soundtrack and Logic but had no real luck. I did, however, get really good at making Ken Kay sound like a robot.

Another issue that was hard to deal with was video formats. Since I was getting them from other sources I didn’t have much choice in the matter. I did learn that Final Cut does not like editing the mp4 format. It does not like it at all. It will stall and balk in horrific, patience shattering ways. Do not attempt this. I ended up using Apple Pro Res 422 and it was good for editing but the files were large and not as clear.

Finally, I’m going to have to watch film critically a lot more than I do. I learned a lot about photography by submitting my shots to “Hit, Miss or Maybe- Why?.” It’s not that I believed all the comments I got from that group but there were things that made me think and I also had to critique three other people’s work for each picture I submitted. It helped to look at other images and analyze what made them work/not work. I need to do that with video.