Fake it till you make it – Some easy ways to make great quality media for the not so creative person.

  • by Ben van Trier

It’s a phrase that we have all heard and it is also a phrase that we all have a stance on.

flickr photo shared by built4love.hain under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Amy Cuddy shares a great TEDtalk  about body language and how ‘pretending’ to be one way might help us to become that way.

While the focus of this blog is not about body language and personal identity, it is about a few quick tips, tricks and tools to build engaging and dynamic media that will impress your audience.

It is important to note that if you are working within an educational context it is vital that you ensure the privacy of your subjects, particularly if you’re making media that includes identifiable images of others. Check with your leadership team or organisation for their policies and guidelines when it comes to photographing or filming within a school context.

When creating media, you also have a responsibility in relation the intellectual property of other creatives. The ResourceLink wiki created by Kay Oddone Copyright and Copyleft is an easy starting off point to learn about copyright and creative commons licencing.

Firstly great media isn’t about access to technology or possessing a high level of skill – it’s all about the story you are sharing! The Humans of New York story is a sensation that has captured the hearts and minds of many on the internet. It began as an artist small idea and grew to a worldwide phenomenon. The portraits are beautiful, nothing overly staged or digitally remastered, and why are they so engaging?
flickr photo shared by ForbesOste under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

You as an audience member read a story from the image. This is the most important question to consider when starting out building media, what is the story and why is it important to share.

Secondly, great media isn’t about access to technology or possessing a high level of skill – it is about following some simple rules. Photography Mad is a beautiful blog that has stacks of tips, tutorials and techniques. Whatever type of product you are making be it print, still photography or a film if you don’t capture your subject well the product will always look amateurish. Great composition will always mean that you have a quality end product.


flickr photo shared by blacktsuba under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Thirdly:  great media isn’t about access to technology or possessing a high level of skill – it is about putting all the pieces together in a simple and engaging way. If you have access to professional editing software, great!

If you don’t, here are my current favourite apps and web tools for making great media:

1. Replay is a simple high quality app for iPhone or iPad, edit together video and still images to make high quality videos. It’s free to download but you do need to pay for removal of watermarks and some theme packs.
2. PicLab and PicLab HD are photo editing apps for Apple and Andriod devices (PicLab HD is only available for Apple users), once you’ve mastered this user friendly app you’ll be making high quality images in the palm of your hand. It’s free to download and you can upgrade to PicLab HD for other features.
3. Video Scribe is an online tool by Sparkol for making whiteboard style animations. Once you master the user friendly web tool you’ll be making high quality and dynamic animations. There is a cost to subscribe but with a few different pricing options you can find a plan that best fits your needs.
4. Canva is an online tool and iPad app https://marketing.canva.com/ipad/ for creating highly quality graphic designs. Make fliers, posters, photo collages and more easily and quickly.

Finally great media isn’t about access to technology or possessing a high level of skill- it is about sharing the story with your audience in a safe and responsible manner. As mentioned earlier, if you are working within an educational context, it is vital that you ensure the privacy of your subjects if you’re making media that includes identifiable images of others. Check with your leadership team or organisation for their policies and guidelines when it comes to photographing or filming within a school context.

With the ability to build media so fast and so easily, it is also vital to remember that you have a responsibility in relation the intellectual property of other creatives. Don’t forget to check out the ResourceLink wiki created by Kay Oddone Copyright and Copyleft is an easy starting off point to learn about copyright and creative commons licensing.


flickr photo shared by mrsdkrebs under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

So there you have it – a few simple tips that will help you ‘fake it till you make it‘ as a producer of high quality media! Making your own media is a bit like DIY home renovations – sometimes it’s best to bring in a qualified and experienced expert to ensure the products success.

What does it all Meme? The whys and wherefores of a modern communication phenomenon.


See more on Know Your Meme

By Kay Oddone.

An internet meme is that thing that everyone is talking about. The blue/gold dress. Charlie bit my finger. LOLCats. Some of the most well known internet memes are the image with a pithy quote overlaid. They can be in turns hilariously funny, insightful or just crude, however they are a contemporary form of communication which many young people seem to instinctively ‘get’ and which leave many adults feeling like they are missing the joke.

The term meme was coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins, in his book The Selfish Gene, as a way of using evolutionary principles to explain the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena such as melodies, catchphrases or fashion. These small units of culture were spread through imitation and innovation upon an original idea – a spread that is similar to a virus, as they go through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance, each of which influences a meme’s reproductive success.

The meme above, known as ‘One does not simply’ is a good example. Drawn from a quote from The Lord of the Rings, where the character Boromir makes the quote “One does not simply walk into Mordor”.


The meme spread across sites such as Reddit, Tumblr and Imgur, with variations firstly on the word walk –

See more on Know Your Meme

 

See more on Know Your Meme

 

and became so well known it was included as an Easter Egg on Google Maps:
Google_Maps_'Mordor'_easter_egg

Now, the phrase “one does not simply” is well known enough that memes such as the one shared at the beginning of this post can be applied to a wide range of scenarios, with an underlying understanding of the context – that whatever is being suggested is no simple matter.

It is this rich intertextuality that makes memes both worthwhile, yet challenging. One must know the context of the initial post before the meme truly makes sense, but if the shared understanding is strong enough, the meme becomes a powerful and viral mode of communication.

Internet memes, and their viral spread, are an example of participatory culture, as the reproduction, imitation and re-interpretation of these nuggets of society are practices which have become a huge part of contemporary digital culture. In fact, Limor Shifman, in her text Memes in Digital Culture goes so far as to say that we live in an era driven by a hypermemetic logic, where almost every major public event sprouts a stream of memes. He argues that although at first glance they appear to be trivial pieces of pop culture, upon deeper reflection one sees that they play an integral part in some of the defining events of the 21st century.

Limor Shifman also takes the time to define internet memes differently to the original concept of a single cultural unit as described by Dawkins. Her definition describes an internet memes  as

(a) a group of digital items sharing common characteristics of content, form, and/or stance; (b) that were created with awareness of each other; and (c) were circulated, imitated, and transformed via the internet by multiple users. – http://henryjenkins.org/2014/02/a-meme-is-a-terrible-thing-to-waste-an-interview-with-limor-shifman-part-one.html#sthash.NfZt8OrC.dpuf

So why do educators need to be aware of memes and their role in communicating culture? They don’t. Educators don’t NEED to be aware of memes, anymore than they must play Minecraft or read Twilight. However, there are several compelling reasons to consider taking the time to think about memes and how they might play a role in teaching – particularly of older students.

Reason One: Engagement

It is true – memes are fun. They can be playful, humorous and, well, there is a reason they spread so quickly. Select use of memes can hook students in, and challenging students to create a meme actually demands higher order thinking at a level students often are not required to meet. The need to not only respond to a context, but respond creatively and concisely is difficult, and the most successful internet memes are often actually very clever. This is not to say all memes are clever; like everything online, there are many in poor taste, and with little depth. However an example of inferential comprehension required to understand a meme is evident with the popular ‘Soon’ meme:


See more on Know Your Meme

What appears to be an innocent cow in a field is rendered threatening by the simple addition of the word ‘Soon’…why is this so?

Reason Two: Information Literacy

Dr Alec Couros argues that the digital participatory culture within which students communicate, socialise and learn provides essential opportunities for information literacy, and suggests that memes are a powerful way of discussing many different aspects of this literacy. He begins by suggesting that students examine memes with a view to understanding how information travels and is distributed online. The viral nature of memes means that whether by merit, messenger or manipulation, a chunk of information/culture/art may be spread via networks at an astonishingly fast pace. Students who understand this are not only more likely to be aware of their responsibilities when sharing online, but are also more prepared for a world where marketing is pervasive.

Reason Three: Critical understanding of current world events

The Australian controversy with our previous Federal Parliamentary speaker is a very recent example of current events becoming a viral meme (helicopters anyone?).


See more on Know Your Meme

One which we can examine with the benefit of hindsight is below:


See more on Know Your Meme

In a hypermemetic world, it is completely possible that current events filter into our Facebook feed as a meme before we even realise the deeper story behind them. A case in point is the Pepper Spray Cop (also known as “Casually Pepper Spray Everything Cop”) –
See more on Know Your Meme

which went viral after the image of a police officer casually pepper spraying a group of Occupy protesters at the University of California  was captured in 2011.
See more on Know Your Meme

The image was photoshopped into a variety of contexts, which enflamed what was already a very tense political situation, and when the police officer’s contact details were made public online, he was the target of a huge text and email campaign critiquing his actions. This meme influenced news reports, customer reviews of pepper spray available for sale on Amazon and spawned songs and videos. The repercussions of this single (questionable) action resulted in the resignation of the police chief and the loss of the police officers job, as well as compensation claims and legal suits. The full detail of this meme can be read on Know Your Meme, however it is clear that a much larger and more serious story lies behind what many probably thought was a humorous internet joke.

Internet memes are an interpretation of the fad joke that has always been there, however with the power of the crowd and the potential to manipulate and remix in the hands of so many, they have become a much larger part of internet and general culture. It is important to be aware of the complexity behind many of these simple jokes (and be able to enjoy the ones that are indeed just simple jokes).

Have you taught using Memes? Please share your experiences and resources in the comments!

 

References:

Couros, A. (n.d.). open thinking [Blog]. Retrieved 11 August 2015, from http://educationaltechnology.ca/couros/
Gladwell, M. (2002). The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Boston: Back Bay Books.
Internet Meme Database | Know Your Meme. (n.d.). Retrieved 11 August 2015, from http://knowyourmeme.com/
Shifman, L. (2013). Memes in Digital Culture. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.

 

Ebooks revisioned with the launch of “The Boat”

The Boat is a book of short stories, authored by Nam Le, which has been extensively used in education to stimulate discussions and elicit challenges about the way Senior students (aged 15 and up) might think about concepts such as war, refugees, resilience, family, intercultural perspectives and more. Extensive teaching guides are available via AustLit & Reading Australia. As a text, it is powerful, and critics admire how Le writes with authenticity across a variety of worldviews and experiences.
To mark the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, SBS has launched an interactive graphic novel, specifically for online audiences, which brings the title story, ‘The Boat’ to a whole new audience, in a whole new way. The work, in Le’s own words,

” is strange and powerful. More importantly, it opens up new ground.”

Using a combination of illustration and movie-making techniques, the online story draws the reader in, as they scroll down at their own pace, immersed in a soundscape that engages the senses and following text that flows across the screen like the ocean the boat is traversing. Experience it here.

As a librarian, this is what I imagine ebooks truly should be. To use Puentedura‘s terms – this is not just a substitution – backlit text on an electronic page – but something that reimagines and redefines storytelling and the experience of story, taking advantage of flexibility in form and function, and drawing together word, image, animation and sound.


flickr photo shared by laura pasquini under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

While movie sound designer, Sam Petty, reflects on the challenges he experienced while creating in this new media form:

“I’ve had to break up what I do into very specific moments that relate to a particular drawing, extend the mood for as long as someone lingers and provide atmospheres that blend into one another. It’s been fascinating… and quite a technical challenge.”

it is clear to see that this style of publishing requires a whole new literacy to be taught to students. No longer just dealing with alphabetic fonts on a static page, readers must move with the text in a non-linear way – sometimes fading into dreams which feature a collage of line drawing and historical photo, then returning to the main storyline, simultaneously combining their understanding of the interplay of many different forms of expression.

Screengrab from 'The Boat' - click image to access the site.

Screengrab from ‘The Boat’ – click image to access the site.

Will there be more re-imaginings of the ebook, and even more interactive and engaging stories being shared via changing technologies? I hope so. I also hope that educators continue to deepen their definition of literacy, so that students are able to not just consume, but begin to create innovations such as this.

shape-of-text-cover-250-320

 

The shape of texts to come by Jon Callow as well as the work of Anstey and Bull are great places for teachers to begin exploring multiliteracies and the development of visual literacy. Another avenue to explore is that of graphic novels – the format which shapes The Boat – as complex, stand-alone plotlines are developed using text and sequential art. You can read more about the potential of graphic novels in the classroom in this recent ResourceLink blog post, Getting Graphic.

So please, take the time to explore ‘The Boat’ – both interactive and traditional versions. Introduce it to your students (even younger students can access the story as retold on the site); and consider how literacy has changed, is changing, and the impact this has on your practice. Share your thoughts below!

 

 

Creative Commons and Flickr – a solution found!

Flickr

I’ve written before about the amazing collection of Creative Commons images that are available on Flickr, which are perfect for students (and teachers!) to use when creating any sort of visual content.  It is so important that as educators we model the use of Creative Commons licenced materials, because even though we do have some flexibility in education due to various copyright exceptions, if students wish to publish their work publicly these exceptions do not apply.

You can read more about Creative Commons if you are new to this term on this previous post on the ResourceLink blog.

Unfortunately, the solution which is described in this earlier post, using Greasemonkey to access Creative Commons licence information came unstuck late last month, when Flickr updated their image pages, which ‘broke’ the script.

As Cory Doctorow writes in this article about this issue, having no easy access to this Creative Commons licence information is extremely frustrating; such a wonderful range of images, which are so very difficult to attribute puts users off, and certainly sent me off looking to other sources for images when I was putting together some presentations last week.

The solution Cory suggests, using the Attributr script available through Github is terrific, but not for the faint hearted. It isn’t easy to navigate Github and get the script working; in fact, after reading this Lifehackr article about Github, I decided to look elsewhere for a solution.

2014-04-14_1305_001

Thankfully, Alan Levine, the creator of the original Greasemonkey script that I blogged about earlier, has again come to the rescue! He also has used Github to create a bookmarklet, but the difference is he’s designed it in such a way that it is really easy to use.

Simply go to his page (click the screen grab image above to access it), click on the Bookmarklet button and drag it up to your bookmark toolbar.

Now, when you go to any page on Flickr which has a Creative Commons Licenced image on it, click on the bookmarklet button, and a window will pop up with all of the attribution information you need! Too easy!

It looks just like this:

This means once again it is so easy to attribute creative commons images found on Flickr – and this is thanks to the work of others sharing their scripts and work generously under a Creative Commons Licence which allows us all to benefit from their technical skills. So thank you Cory Dodt (even though I found your solution too complicated for me) and thank you Alan Levine (Work found at http://cogdogblog.com/flickr-cc-helper/ / CC BY-SA 3.0) and thank you also to all of the other creators who share their work via Open Source or under a Creative Commons licence; together we is bigger than me!


creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by opensourceway

Making Multiliteracy Manageable: Movies, iPads and Kids Connect

Tech on the Edge image(84)Recently ResourceLink staff have been involved in two Kids Connect conferences: Key to the Sea run by Unity College and Tech on the Edge, run by St Thomas School at Camp Hill.

Unity College hosted Key to the Sea at Underwater World, the well known marine aquarium at Mooloolaba, while Tech on the Edge was held at The Edge, which is  an initiative of State Library of Queensland which provides space and equipment for users to  explore creativity across the arts, technology, science and enterprise.

This year, we decided to implement some recent work we had done with Michelle Anstey and Geoff Bull on multiliteracies, focusing particularly on supporting students to develop a multimodal text, in this case a trailer for a movie, using the iMovie app, as well as supporting apps such as Word Foto and Storyboarder.

This was the blurb which described the two day workshop to the students:

Edge of Your Seats: The Movie Mystery Box!

Be taken to the edge of your creativity by diving into the Movie Mystery Box. Armed with a mobile device and the contents of the Mystery Box, you will be challenged to create a short film inspired by a famous movie.

Become a professional movie maker as you script, shoot and star in your own film, created entirely on an iPad. Learn tips and tricks from movie making professionals to start you on your way to Hollywood.

The key to assisting the students to develop really quality end products lay in the learning that took place prior to the students beginning to film.

We began by showing the students a short and amusing advertisement.

After the viewing started deconstructing it using the five semiotic systems defined by Anstey and Bull:

  • Linguistic – the screenplay, the script, any text on screen
  • Visual – lighting, editing, pace and transitions
  • Gestural – acting, setting, props and costumes
  • Audio – sound effects, soundtrack, dialogue
  • Spatial – camera movement, shot type, camera angle

Once we had discussed each of these semiotic systems, and identified them in the advertisement, we asked the students to create freeze-frames where they used their bodies to depict them. We then edited these images in WordFoto, using the words that describe their representation in film:

Students model the audio semiotic.

Students model the audio semiotic, and edited in Wordfoto.

Once the students had explored each of the systems, we focused on the visual and spatial semiotics, particularly on camera angles and types of shots, as these would be the things the students would have most control over when creating their trailers.

To introduce the idea of different camera angles and shot types, we used a series of flashcards which depicted each of the main types of shots used. Students then watched the Tyre Commercial again, identifying the different shots, and then created their own, using Lego figures.

These are the flashcards used to teach students about different shot types.

These are the flashcards used to teach students about different shot types.

The images the students created using the Lego figures were then shared with the group, and we evaluated them using the 2 stars and a wish strategy, where students shared two things they liked and one thing they would improve about their shots.

Next the students revised the concept of a story arc. Using the well known short film ‘For the Birds‘, the students were encouraged to identify each of the phases of the story, as seen below:

The story arc sheet, completed with images from 'For the Birds'.

The story arc sheet, completed with images from ‘For the Birds’.

Now the students were ready to receive their mystery box!

Opening the mystery box

Opening the mystery box

Inside the mystery box were a range of props and a well known quote from a movie. The students were challenged to use at least one of the props as well as the quote in the construction of their movie trailer.

Creating a movie trailer meant that the students had to plan the entire movie using Storyboarder, and then draw from this plan the key ideas which they would include to tempt viewers to see the film.

After taking time to plan their story and scout for locations, the students dove into film making, applying their new knowledge to create trailers that displayed a wide range of film techniques.

Here is an example of what they achieved:

Making Inquiry Mobile – Apps for Inquiry Learning

Inspired by the work happening at St Oliver Plunkett Cannon Hill  (which you can read about here), I decided to undertake further exploration into how iPads might support inquiry learning. A followup post will take this one step further, focusing on using the inquiry learning process to frame workflows to stimulate deep and authentic learning.

The model of inquiry I chose to use was the LADDER model, which I developed several years ago in an attempt to create a model which had an easy to understand language that both students and teachers could understand.

What is LADDER?

The LADDER model takes it name from the stages of the process, which are not linear, but iterative, as learners work through the process of creating responses to the inquiry question. The stages are:Launch, Access, Develop, Demonstrate, Evaluate and Reflect.

Ladder

Linking apps to the inquiry process

Let’s examine each stage of the model more closely, and identify apps which might be useful during this phase.

L = Launch

The launch is a time when an area for inquiry is established. Initiated either by curriculum demands or student interest, a topic or issue is introduced and students are immersed in the content and context of this. Students’ prior knowledge of the topic is elicited, and ideas and planning for how the inquiry will take shape occur with varying levels of teacher support. During the launch phase, apps that provide immersive material such as images and videos, as well as brainstorming and mindmapping apps come to the fore. Great apps for this stage include:

Ted app The terrific TED Talks, inspiring and informative, terrific for inspiring questions and stimulating class discussion.
Lino it A collaborative pinboard where ideas, images and more can be added – use as a ‘wonder wall’ or for brainstorming.
popplet (Copy) Create beautiful looking flowcharts and mind maps to dig deeper into inquiry questions.
wikinodes (Copy) Browse Wikipedia though a visual interface which makes breaking open concepts even easier.

A = Access

When the inquiry has been generated, students need to access content knowledge and sources of additional information to meet the demands of the inquiry and to further clarify their thinking. Formal teaching of concepts and content may occur during this time also, so that students have the skills necessary to make links between the new content knowledge they are gaining and their prior experiences and understandings. If the students are being required to present their learnings in a genre or format which is unfamiliar to them, explicit teaching of this may also begin at this stage. Accessing and sharing information begins at this time, and so some of the apps useful during this phase include:

Google Earth  Use the Google Earth app to access geographical and natural science information.
Skype  The Skype app allows students to interview others from all over the world, for exceptional primary source information.
Merrium Webster Dictionary  Accessing information includes understanding all of the terms used throughout the investigation – this dictionary app makes it easy.
QR Reader  Product and company information is often accessible through QR codes on packaging. Alternatively, engage students in their search by creating a QR Code scavenger hunt.

D = Develop

When the information has been gathered, students can begin to develop their responses to the inquiry, and organise the information into the form required for presentation. At this stage students would be researching, designing and constructing their responses to their chosen inquiry. The role of the teacher is as guide, assisting students in developing a plan so that their approach to the inquiry is divided into manageable steps, and continuing to teach skills as they are required as part of the process.

Skitch  Skitch allows annotations over images, documents, maps and more. Great for developing plans and designing innovations.
Evernote  Evernote is an exercise book on steroids. Use it to keep notes, record lectures, add photos and to share information with others.
Comic Book!  Plan out a storyboard using the terrific comic creator app. This could form part of the inquiry response.
GarageBand  Create new music to be added to movies, to play behind presentations or to express understandings of concepts and ideas in song.

D= Demonstrate

By this stage, the students should have created some kind of response to the inquiry, and will be readying themselves to present their findings, research or constructions to the intended audience. This part of the inquiry process involves students communicating, sharing and presenting their new knowledge and understandings. The mode of presentation depends upon the inquiry. This stage may not form the major assessment piece – depending upon the ways of working that the curriculum is focusing on, other parts of the inquiry may form part of the assessment.

Videolicious  Use the Videolicious app to create short videos to capture demonstrations of learning.
Creative Book Builder  Creative Book Builder makes it easy for students to create their own ebooks to present their inquiry through.
Aurasma  Embed a video into a poster, book cover, painting or more, using Aurasma, the augmented reality app.
PicPlayPost  Pic Play Post combines photos and video – students can photograph their work, make a short video of themselves explaining or performing it, and combine the two to post online on a learning management system or webpage.

E= Evaluate

The evaluation stage is a vital and often overlooked part of the process. It is where students participate in self and/or peer evaluations and where what has been learnt is discussed. Students need to honestly evaluate their actions and take time to consider the strategies chosen and how effective they were.

Dropbox Using Dropbox is an effective way of exporting student work into a shared space for easy evaluation by teachers and peers.
Goodreader  Goodreader is a powerful tool to collate student work and to annotate pdfs, allowing teachers and peers to add feedback and improvements to student documents digitally.
Eclicker  E-Clicker is an interactive polling tool, where one user may send out questions to multiple other users who can respond in real time. Excellent for checking understanding of concepts and for gathering students’ honest evaluations of their learning and their thoughts about the learning process.
Evernote Evernote could be used at almost every stage of the inquiry process. Used as a digital portfolio, it makes collating student work for evaluation easy and efficient.

R=Reflect

The inquiry process is a cycle where each inquiry builds upon the skills developed in the previous one. Therefore at the end of each inquiry, students and teachers should take time to reflect upon the understandings and skills gained, and plan for future inquiries. Students may reflect upon processes and procedures that they would change if they were asked to complete a similar task in the future, and teachers could reflect upon the success of the inquiry and changes that might the process an even more effective learning strategy in the future.

Camera  Simply using the camera app that comes native to iPads and iPhones is a powerful way of creating a reflection of learning. If a student takes photos at each stage, they will have a great record of their learning to reflect on and to base changes for next time upon.
Twitter  Invite students to tweet their reflections using a shared hashtag. These can be collated using a tool such as Storify, to gather a whole class picture of the successes and failures, and how the process may be improved next time.
VoiceThread  The VoiceThread app allows students to create a narrated slideshow. Multiple students can add their narration to a single image, allowing for reflections to be compiled and shared with others.
KidBlog  Blogging throughout the learning process is a terrific way to build reflective strategies throughout the inquiry. Kidblog is terrific for younger students, as teachers manage the accounts and there is minimal personal data required.

But wait, there’s more!

Of course there are many other apps that would be fantastic to use throughout the inquiry process.

This poster may be a useful one to stimulate discussion and to introduce you to some apps that you may not have considered before.

Click on the image to download an A3 version. For links to all of these apps, go to http://pinterest.com/kayo287/inquiry-learning/

App in Inquiry

Click on the image to download an A3 PDF version of this poster.

apps poster

iPad uPad wePad; Going 1-1 at St Oliver Plunkett

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be invited to St Oliver Plunkett to be a part of their 1-1 iPad rollout to the very excited Year 6 class.

Oliver Plunkett logo bannerLed by their fabulous teacher librarian, Ann-Marie Furber and fearless class teacher, Brooke Maguire, with consultation from the very dedicated and talented Education Officer Learning and Teaching Technologies, Danielle Carter, the Year 6 class participated in a series of workshops in order to develop their skills before they were officially given management of their very own devices.

While the school maintains ownership, the students manage the purchasing of additional apps, and the care and maintenance of the iPads for the time they are at the school. This means the students have 24-7 access to their learning. The rollout has been a carefully managed process, with a great deal of professional development and pre-planning being done before the students had access to the devices.

The bootcamp itself was a terrific opportunity to work with a group of enthusiastic and excited Year 6 students. The workshops they participated in dealt with simple tips and tricks for managing their iPad, Email etiquette, run by Ann-Marie Furber, Teacher Librarian, Successful Searching, run by classroom teacher Brooke Maguire and Copyright and Creative Commons, run by myself, Kay Cantwell, Education Officer Digital Learning. Once the students had completed these workshops, they were officially licensed to take ‘ownership’ of their devices.

Evidence of the planning undertaken prior to this 1-1 rollout was the well established resources that had been developed in order to maximise student learning. Rather than be overwhelmed with apps, or being seduced by limited, content focused apps that had all of the bells and whistles but little quality pedagogy, lists of Core Student and Core Teacher apps were developed, as well as a list of apps suitable for Inquiry Learning.

Core Teacher AppsCore AppsInquiry Learning Apps

This, along with a ‘workflow wall’ which creates a visual list of apps the students need to access in order to complete a task, allows students to make use of their iPad as a tool, rather than as a source of low level learning or as a time filler activity and games device.

The students loved both the Bootcamp, and of course the idea of having these devices to aid their learning; some of their feedback after the sessions included:

I give today a 5 because learning all these new things about this amazing device
& that we are the class to be chosen is pretty cool.

I give today a five because we had lots of learning opportunities and it was totally AWESOME!!!!!!!!

I give today a 5 because it was fun and cool way to learn

I give today a 5/5 because it was a very good learning experience for me.
Thank you to all the teachers for making it a great day!

This is a list of what the students learnt:

Bootcamp Summary

I’m sure the 1-1 iPad rollout at St Oliver Plunkett is going to be a huge success – due to the careful planning, the focus on learning, and the fact that the iPads are not being viewed as the be-all and end-all, but just another (albeit incredibly powerful) tool for the students to utilise in their learning journey.

Postscript:

See below for the Copyright Resource that I created to help the Year 6’s begin to understand the crazy complexities of copyright, and the potential of Creative Commons. With a content creation tool such as the iPad at their fingertips, it is vital that the students know how to access resources that they have permission to use when creating multimodal works. Link to the Presentation and Booklet.

copyright_cool

Faith inspired by contemporary media

Catholic schools are not only places that foster the educational development of students they are increasingly provide the school community, in all its cultural and spiritual diversity, with opportunities to engage with the Catholic Christian Faith Tradition.  In a contemporary context with fewer people regularly attending mass it is often the school that not only teaches the wider school community about religion it also provides the community with religious experience.   It is in this dual nature of the teaching and ministry of Catholic schooling that the wider community needs to be invited into a rich and meaningful dialogue around faith.

Who will be the ‘digital missionaries’ of the church?

The Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge spoke at Brisbane Catholic Education’s Powerhouse of Leaders 2012, a gathering of the diocese year 12 student leaders (read more about this event in an earlier post) calling those present to be not only leaders of their schools, but also leaders in the Church.  Leading the Church into and onto the ‘digital continent’ is the perfect opportunity for today’s youth in the church to lead.  His Grace asked the student leaders, who will be the ‘digital missionaries’ of the church?  Watch the Archbishop’s homily to hear more of what he shared.

The call to become ‘digital missionaries’ provides school and parish communities with some challenges but also with many exciting new opportunities to reflect and imagine how this might take place.  An aspect of this challenge is the belief that technology can be seen as a way to replace much of what makes life and living so rich and vibrant, especially a catholic Christian life.  So it is important to engage with technology and media in a way that sustainable, American psychologist Sherry Turkle, in her TED Talk Connected, but alone? examines the way technology is used by people to feel connected.  Ultimately Turkle concludes that contemporary technology must be embraced not as an alternative but as a vehicle to deepen traditional experiences.  This is a balance is not commonly achieved in the secular world, but, perhaps this is where these emerging digital missionaries are needed most.

How might this look in a school or parish community? 

Click on the image to access the Religion and Ethics course.

Click on the image to access the Religion and Ethics course.

It is timely to pause and ask the question, how might this look in a school or parish community?  It is also timely to look to those organisations and groups who are engaging with contemporary media and technology in some really exciting ways, locally, nationally and internationally.  You’ll see it’s already happening.

Locally, Brisbane Catholic Education’s newly developed Religion and Ethics course is a quality example of using media to engage and extend students learning with a blend of traditional and contemporary pedagogies and ultimately providing students with a learning experience that challenges students to be active, critical and powerful members of their communities.

The Faith and Life team of the Archdiocese of Brisbane are also engaging with contemporary technologies and media in exciting new ways.  Hosting a YouTube channel means that now the entire diocese and beyond can connect to the Cathedral and Archbishop Mark.  In addition to this, the recently published prayer resource atimeofgrace for the Year of Grace further engages with technology in an exciting way.  Using a variety of prayers and QR codes or links to online content, this resource merges traditional prayer types with contemporary resources and ways of praying.

Nationally the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference host a media blog and a YouTube channel, both of which provide schools and parishes with a wealth of resources, reflections and ideas.

Caritas Australia are successfully using social media to help communicate to the wider community news about their work and to promote their annual Project Compassion.  Students and parishioners can follow Caritas Australia on the official facebook page or twitter account and can watch the many great films made by Caritas Australia via YouTube.

Click on the image to learn more or to download this app.

Click on the image to learn more or to download this app.

Internationally His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has compelled to the church to engage with social networks.  He himself has almost 1.5 Million English speaking followers on his official twitter account and many thousands more followers across His 8 additional non-english accounts.  Follow His Holiness on twitter here You can also down load The Pope App which provides access to news, photos, video and much more.

Also the team of WYD RIO 2013 are engaging with social media in a way that is quite exciting.  With a presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, this team are producing and sharing some fresh and youthful media.  Truly engaging and connecting pilgrims in the conversation of World Youth Day 2013 before the official gathering begins later this year.

How can a school or parish compete with large organisations?

Now that you are more aware of how the wider church community is engaging with contemporary media, the question still remains, How might this look for a school or parish?  Most of these sites produce and distribute media are from bigger institutions with budgets and paid staff.  Many can also draw on the services of in-house professional graphic designers.  So how can a school or parish develop media at the same level?  Again turning to contemporary technology and in particular to mobile devices and the wide selection of photographic apps available schools and parishes can produce media at the same level of quality as these groups.  The following brief list is a collection of some great apps that the team at ResourceLink have used to produce quality pieces of media in a faith context.  Such as the reflective image shown.

Basin and Towel prayer/reflection card

  1. Camera+, add vintage filters, frames and text to your photos with this easy to use app.
  2. WordFoto, turn photos into stunning word art!
  3. PicPlayPost, collage and frame together images and video.
  4. InstaQuote create quotes that are easily shared and beautiful.

What’s a way forward?

Harnessing the power contemporary technology combined with the energy and capacity of young and the young at heart, schools and parishes can be inspired to answer the call of both His Holiness Benedict XVI and His Grace Mark Coleridge to boldly lead the church into and onto the digital continent.  By do so schools and parishes will engage their communities in a conversation about their Catholic Christian faith and to do so in ways that have the potential to challenge and transform believers and those seeking faith.

Young People using Social Media positively: Authentic, real world learning opportunities

Many of you will have heard about Martha Payne, the 9 year old Scottish girl whose blog, Never Seconds, came to international attention earlier this year. If you didn’t, here’s a brief rundown:

Martha began writing her blog as a record of her school lunches.
She promised a photo, and a score:

Photo credit: Sakurako Kitsa / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Food-o-meter- Out of 10 a rank of how great my lunch was!
Mouthfuls- How else can we judge portion size!
Courses- Starter/main or main/dessert
Health Rating- Out of 10, can healthy foods top the food-o-meter?
Price- Currently £2 I think, its all done on a cashless catering card
Pieces of hair- It won’t happen, will it?

Within two weeks her blog posts had gathered more than a million viewers, and enthusiastic posts from other students sharing their own lunch photos, not just from Scotland, but from Finland, Germany, Japan, Spain and the United States. She was garnering so much attention that she even raised a sizeable amount of money for a charity; Mary’s Meals, an organisation that funds school lunches in Africa. Seven weeks later, the local council made the controversial decision to ban Martha from bringing her camera to school; thankfully this decision was quickly reversed after protests from some of her most well known supporters (including Jamie Oliver and Neil Gaiman) as well as a massive media protest at the short-sightedness of the move.

This is just one example of the extraordinary potential young people now have to influence what was previously beyond their reach; using social media and other 2.0 technologies, the thoughts and actions of young people can have powerful influences across the entire globe.

Another example is the recent news that Hasbro has revealed it will release a toy oven in shades of black, silver and blue, after McKenna Pope, 13, submitted a petition with over 40 000 signatures that she had created on Change.org.  The thirteen year old was planning to buy the toy oven as a gift for her little brother, but became aware that it only came in pink and purple, and featured all girls in the advertising. Using YouTube to raise awareness of her petition, McKenna showed how social media can be used to create positive change.

With examples such as these for inspiration, there is no end to the possibilities for teachers looking for ways to engage their students in real world action. In fact, as Marilyn M. Lombardi’ suggests in Authentic Learning for the 21st Century: An Overview, thanks to technology, authentic, real world learning has never been more achievable.

Why not consider the following:

* Use iPads and iMovie to create documentaries on student issues – post to a YouTube channel for a world-wide audience

* Publish student research as a Wikipedia page

* Tweet results of student surveys; ask other schools to comment and compare results

* Create a Google Map of the local area around the school, locating community services and resources relevant for the school community; publish on the school blog

* Participate in a global project such as the Flat Classroom or a local one such as Witness King Tides

* Use real data sets to create suggested strategies for real-world problems – try Saving Migratory Animals as an example

As you can see, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination, and the projects can be as simple or as complex as you wish.

Looking for further inspiration? Check out these amazing young people and what they’ve achieved using passion, energy and technology!

A small beginning has led to Random Kid – a website that helps kids solve real world problems:

Using YouTube to share a great message:

Have your students taken on a great real world project? Share in the comments below!

Marilyn Lombardi. (2007). Authentic Learning for the 21st Century: An Overview | EDUCAUSE.edu ( No. ELI Paper 1: 2007). Educause. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/authentic-learning-21st-century-overview

Bringing Augmented Reality to Life – in the classroom and the workplace

The team at ResourceLink decided to follow up our recent blog post on Augmented Reality by testing it out in the ‘real world’. We have had two major opportunities over the past weeks to play in the augmented reality sphere, and we would like to share with you our experiences and hopefully inspire others to branch out into this exciting area of edtech.

The first opportunity we had was at the annual Kids Connect, which is a conference run by kids, for kids, organised by Paul Shaw and the Year 7 students at St Thomas Camp Hill.

The organising committee for Kids Connect, from St Thomas School Camp Hill.

Last year was the first time ResourceLink team members had participated, and we blogged about our experience of developing interactive historical timelines here.

This year, with the theme of ‘Escape 2 the Future’, we decided to use Augmented Reality as a way of providing windows into the past and the future. As the Kids Connect conference was once again at the amazing Brisbane Powerhouse, we knew that we could use AR technology to give the students a way of exploring the way time can be viewed as a continuum from a particular point in time.

Click on the image to access information about how to download these apps to try them out for yourself.

We introduced the students first to the concept of Augmented Reality by giving them a number of experiences using some of the apps we blogged about previously. The students were immediately engaged and excited by the possibilities before them, as they viewed the different animations and movies made possible using apps such as String, HeartCam, SpidermanAR and Floodlines.

The marker was a printed A4 page, with a black and white icon on it. You can see the marker to the left of the black and white photo, which is the ‘aura’ – an historical photo of the Powerhouse prior to its redevelopment. The marker was placed on the glass entry to the Powerhouse, and the exterior of the Powerhouse as it appears today can be seen through the glass in the background of the photo.

Once the students had an idea of what Augmented Reality was, we sent them off on a discovery journey around the Powerhouse. We had placed markers around the building, and the students had to find the markers and using their iPad or iPod touch, view the marker through the Aurasma app. Each marker had been placed in a part of the Powerhouse where we had sourced an historical photo of the same spot. As the students viewed the markers through Aurasma, an historical photo of the place where they were standing emerged, so the students essentially had a ‘window’ into the past history of that part of the building.

Once all of the markers had been discovered, the students used the app PicPlayPost to create a frame that featured their favourite ‘window’ into the past, and a video explanation of why they chose that one. To get an idea of the way places change over time, the students viewed a few short clips from Back to the Future, and made observations about the way the locations changed, and yet in some ways stayed the same as Marty McFly travelled through time. With this idea in mind, the students then explored and discussed images of the future, suggesting how they thought life might be improved through technology in the future.

We then introduced the students to the Aurasma app. Aurasma is also an AR technology, and it allows you to create your own ‘auras’ which are embedded into a marker that you create. The students used a number of apps on the iPads and iPod touches including iMovie, Toontastic and Screenchomp to put together a short video depicting their vision of the future, which would act as their ‘window’ into the future.

Finally, the students created their ‘markers’, which were simply A4 posters. We had pre-created ‘location’ channels for each of the mobile devices, so when the students went through the process of embedding their auras onto the posters they had created, they could upload them to the channels and share amongst each other. We did experience a few ‘glitches’ with this process, as the wireless internet was quite weak, and the student’s videos were in some cases over a minute long, however we also experienced successes with this process.

The final result was that the students were able to share with others a glimpse into the future that they imagined, via an augmented poster that they had created – take a look at how they worked…

Our second AR project involved an art installation in our office, which we enhanced using the Aurasma technology.

“The Earth in the Balance” on display in ResourceLink

A staff member using an iPod touch to view Rick’s video from the marker.

When the artist, Mr Rick Dalmau offered us the opportunity to display his work at ResourceLink, we jumped at the chance. However it quickly became apparent that Rick’s sculpture had many meanings, and that the story behind it’s construction was fascinating. So, with his permission, we created a short video of him explaining how the piece came together, and we used the Aurasma Studio app to embed this movie into a marker we created using one of his photos of the piece. Entitled ‘Earth in the Balance’, the piece is created from a variety of found objects. If you wish to hear Rick speak about his creation, simply download this PDF Leviathan over granite . Download the Aurasma app, and search for the ‘ResourceLink Auras’ channel, and subscribe.

Once you have subscribed, simply hold your device, with the app open over the printed pdf, and the video should begin playing. Double click on the video to make it full screen. Make sure your volume is on full!

Augmented Reality has really added to ways we can share information, and enhance our resources and displays – if you have any exciting ways you have used AR, please share in the comments below!