Friday, February 19, 2010

Voice Threads

This is such a unique tool. What I like about this is that students can utilize this to improve on their speaking and listening skills. Every semester I do a lesson on listening skills (in my Work Internship class). The lesson is based upon an activity that identifies students that choose to NOT listen under direction. This activity starts the “listening” dialogue and we discuss strategies as to how to listen better. This lesson launches our communication unit. We then go into body language, interpersonal communication skills, conflict/resolution, speaking, and writing skills.

I am excited to learn about this tool because we just began the communication unit this past week. As the culminating activity of the unit, the students are required to host a TV show, interviewing an industry professional (of their chosen career path). They are graded on their interview (listening skills during the interview, body language, speaking skills, and on-camera presentation) and also their written outline with questions.

I would like to use voicethread as the last part of the activity so that the students can critique each other’s interviews while watching them. What a great way for instant feedback from each other, while demonstrating their knowledge of each aspect of communication.

To answer the question, “Would you use it?” YES!!! I’ll set it up for the unit I am teaching right now. And, I don’t mind paying the 10 dollars for 60 minutes of phone commenting! Although, can we get a school subscription?

I recorded my audio comment on the last photo that Alicia posted. All others, I typed. I did try to upload a sound file from my camera, but I needed to upgrade to do so. I think it would be a good investment if the school did purchase a subscription. I can see many teachers utilizing this.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wacky Wikis

This is my first time using a wiki. What I like about it is that you can add links and other items to people's topics. I like how you can quote from the person's thread, too.
Would this be something for me to use in the future? Possibly. I am wondering if I can get the same kind of "look" and editing capabilities with the Ning. The homepage and drop down menus are very similar to Ning. There is a great deal of ads; so I can understand as to why people pay 20 dollars a month to have it ad free. Jason Welker's wiki is very clean and easy to navigate through (he doesn't have any ads). Personally, I wouldn't want to pay a monthly fee to keep it professional. However, I would like to use this tool for a one-time assignment.
He gave me some good ideas as to how I can incorporate a wiki within the blogs that we’re posting on our Ning. I could also utilize it that way.
I think wikis are a little different than Google Docs (which is a tool that I use). I feel that Docs is more of sharing files and editing documents and wikis are sharing ideas, links, edits, etc. Wikis have more of a “web page” look to them.
I am glad we studied wikis (all I was ever familiar with before this lesson was Wikipedia). Thanks, 17 Things!
I also added a picture of olive...see above; she's had better days.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Interesting tool. I have to tell you, it was a little frustrating uploading the photos. (1) because it took too long [I'm used to copying and pasting into a drive, which takes seconds instead of several minutes] and (2) I couldn't see or build the video project [they do it for you]; I didn't feel a sense of ownership to it (maybe because I was a video editor in my former life).

1. What I did like were the segment effects that were used. These effects may take hours to build in a sophisticated editing software program.
2. The out-of-focus and z-axis footage looked great in the background (again, it would normally take a long time to layer that effect)
3. This is a great tool for students to use that do not have access to editing software; however, most computers now come with free software (imovie, movie maker, etc.). These programs allow you to "build" the project yourself.

1. I didn't like the "helplessness" feel of the video project. I couldn't "cut" the photos to the beat of the music and I wasn't able to see it instantaneously. I had to wait for it to do its thing.
2. I couldn't make changes to it once it was finished; I had to start from scratch again, uploading the same photos...taking more time...I couldn't just access the photos from a "saved" section on the site. It took me over an hour and a half to keep uploading the same photos. SIDE NOTE: just figured out how to edit the video without seems simple, yet I'm not interested anymore.
3. I had to make three different versions of the video before I felt that one was adequate. This one was okay...I would have rather opened up on Manny Ramirez, instead of me with the St. Louis arch at the Cardinal's stadium; plus, the video was supposed to end with the three of us (me, husband, father-in-law), not the Braves' jumbotron. Although, I didn't want to have to upload the photos for a fourth I just left it as-is.

For me, I feel like I could have created a better-produced video on editing software that RBHS owns in the same amount of time it took me to upload the same photos 3 times. Like I said before, I didn't feel a sense of ownership to this project because all I did was upload images and added text and music.

However, I can understand how it would be successful in other applications and for students that do not have software access or experience in producing a video.

Create your own video slideshow at

Creative Commons

Being a teacher of media literacy, I continuously stress the importance of copyright usage to my students. No matter what application (class demo, video project, web project, graphic design) the medium is used in, I expect my students to follow all copyright laws when utilizing photos, videos, music, etc.

Currently, I have two practices (I would love to hear about other ideas that I could use):
1. My students contact the artist, publication house, music label, etc. to get permission from the organization/artist to use the media. This provides students an opportunity to learn how to write professional emails, business memos, practice telephone etiquette, polish their research and time-management skills, and to identify the intricacies of copyright usage.
2. If they cannot get permission from the appropriate copyright holder, then they are to either (a) create/design the media themselves or (b) use creative commons to retrieve what they are looking for.

One example:
In the broadcast news class, the student producers and writers have been using creative commons since the beginning of the school year. It is amazing how much free media is available for them to use. They have used it to design over-the-shoulder graphics, video for b-roll (that they can't capture themselves), and music to lay under features.

I think CC is a great tool to use, especially in an educational setting. Alicia asked, "Could this help or hinder their understanding and respect of copyright law?" My answer is simple: Educate our students on copyright law and model YOUR knowledge of it (basically, don't break the law and show them how to access copyrighted information legally). Once you have done that, using CC can definitely help the students to not only understand the law, but also respect it.