Monthly Archives: March 2013

Camtasia relay

Last year, for a distance course, I had to prepare a powerpoint presentation for the teacher by using camtasia relay, a tool used to add voice while recording your screen. The first point you have to consider when you want to use this software, is the different advantages that the brand tries to demonstrate. I will comment these aspects and try to define them in a more critical point of view.  If you want a great overview of the software, see this document.

You can also watch this video for it gives a great overview.

 

1. It is easy to use.

The program is indeed really easy to use. You just click three times and thats it, your done.  Actually, I would say it is too easy to use and that makes it somewhat  not a very creative tool. You will be able to record your voice, even your face as algonquin college demonstrates it but that’s all. You can’t really modifiy anything and with some versions of the program, you can’t even cut anything from your recordings.  If you want to do so you can use camtasia studio and that’s the main difference between relay and studio.

2. Its ready to use.

Indeed, the program is really easy to install. If you have power point, you can expect the software to install itself almost instantly. Nothing else to do except register and most schools have already registered for you so great.

3. Its cheap.

Unfortunately its not free. However, I believe that for a whole school, the program is not too expensive.

Now that we have gone through the different aspects presented by the company itself, lets see what are some other aspects of the software :

– Its a great way to easily use flipclass. Indeed, it’s so easy that you will only have to click and that’s it, it’s almost done. Since you can also share it with others, its a perfect tool for it.

– It uses power-point and since almost everyone nows about power-point, it gives the tool great accessibility.  Since it basically records your screen, you can also use other softwares which makes it very easy to use.

– You can also use hotkeys so you don’t have to go around and play with your computer while recording.

The only negative comment I can give this tool is the fact that you can’t really modify anything. However, you can use camtasia studio in order to do so.

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Comic strips on the internet : which one to choose?

I am preparing an activity for grade 6 students and I decided to have them make comic strips on the computer. After researching on the internet for a software, I found what I believe to be the best of them all for comic and story online creation : Toondoo.

I will first tell you about the different ones I have tried and I will tell you why I didn’t choose them and why I choose Toondoo. I’m not going to have extensive descriptions and research on them since I want to concentrate on Toodoo but a comparative is always important.

1. Make belief comix :

Make belief comix is great for teachers how make strips and have the students fill in the balloons . For a creation activity where the students have to  create a story and make a comic strips out of it, however, there are definitly not enough options for them to be creative. Furthermore, you can’t save them online and you have to print the strips or send them by e-mail. Another problem is that the software only offers a three frame layout and the possibility for characters, backgrounds and such are not extensive which makes it an okay tool but definitely not the best one. Also, as Sarah Kessler shows it in her review of comic strips creators, colours aren’t really present in this software and rends it not very good looking after all.

2. Comic creator

Comic creator is approximately the same thing as Make belief comix but worst. Less characters, less props, no colours… lets say it is not the best and probably the worst one I know about. It may, however, be used for small kids since the pictures are made for them.

3. Toondoo

Toondoo is and will be my choice for comic strips creation for many reasons :

1. There is a fair amount of props, characters and backgrounds that come with the software. Almost all the themes are covered, sometimes not extensively, but it gives students the possiblity to do anything and that is a major point. On the same level, as a teacher’s guide to toondoo presents it, it offers the possibility to really transfer concepts and ideas into pictures and text. Furthermore, Toondoo  offers a creative path in the sense that there are two tools called TraitR and DoodlR which helps you create new characters and background. The program also offers different ways of importing pictures and other items to put in your comic strips.

3. The software allows the students to save their work online, to download them and to share them. This way it is easier for a teacher to leave feedback and see the progress of students. It is something most of softwares don’t offer.

4. As sgmires acknowledges it, toondoo offers so many possibilities that all types of students can find their share of the creativity it offers.

5. For the utility and application department, a wonderful webpage is offered at ICTAcrossCurriculum2012 where you can find a lot of ways to use toondoo and all its functionalities.

The only real problem I have found for this tool is that it is sometimes heavy for computers. It, sometimes, doesn’t work well for a short period of time. I guess it is the price you have to pay for such a great tool.

To conclude, I must say that toondoo is  a great program and that it should be used in schools for comic strips creation. I will use this program soon in an actual class for a term project and I will be able to experience it even more with the students and write more about it later on.

Go on and create!

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Ipad : what about it?

With today’s new tactile technology, devices such as the ipad are being offered to consumers all over the world. Some may think that these tablets are expensive and not much better than regular computer, but many schools have adopted this tool in their teaching. I intend to write about certain facts and opinions on the matter of using electronic tablets, and, in a more particular way, the ipad.

There are many ways ipads can be used in classroom. David Savenije on edudemic, proposes 14 ways to use it. As much as these ideas are great, they cover two major themes: interactivity with knowledge and practicality. Ipads in education, a website dedicated to the use of ipads even offers  applications packages for teachers and students. This website also presents ways of using the ipad that links with the two major themes presented earlier. What about statistics? On emergingedtech, researchers have found that ipads are well used and that they increase motivation and academic accomplishments and that over 60% of people in schools think we should use it. Great!

There are many ways of using this tool but apart from its usage, let’s have a look at why we should use ipads in classrooms :

To help us on the matter, and especially to help teachers, ETML presented 12 questions one should ask himself before using this tool. However, here are some advantages I found :

1. It gives access to multimedia. As Amber’s educational blog says it, having a webcam, access to internet and a video camera in a tool no bigger than a book is a great asset. Your students can have exchanges with other students more easily and there is no need to move to a computer lab each time you want your students to use multimedia.

2. Alike the IWB, the ipad is visually attractive and, as Steven David Pearce writes it, it can fit many types of learners and intelligences. It also takes creativity into account since many applications help students use their creativity.

3. Ipads are really resistant and easy to use, just like all apple products. I know from experience that apple products may be more expensive but they are dummy proof and last a long time.

Now let me give you the main drawback of what I feel is a wonderful tool : it is somewhat expensive. I can’t see how, unless funded by the government, everyone could get an Ipad that costs somewhere around 500$.  Erik Duval and many others agree on that point, making the cost probably the major flaw of this tool. Parents would have to pay for it and not everyone can afford it. It is a bit like social programs where the idea is great but when we see the price, we realise that we can’t afford it as a society. On the other hand, by using the ipad, we save money: money on paper, pencils, pens …. which may be something positive on the long run? Furthermore, as Mike Silagadze acknowledges it, ipad can lead to a lot of distraction in classrooms if not used properly.

From my point of view, I think it is a great tool, I would most likely integrate it in my teaching and here is why. Previously, I have written about the IWB and how it should be used as a great tool for both students and teachers. When we think about it, ipads has the potential to be the same intuitive/creative/practical tool the IWB is. It can be so for a lesser price, and for all students. Imagine if we could easily transfer data from the ipad to the IWB. We would therefore have a really efficient tool where teachers and students can communicate and share information easily. Furthermore, having interactivity in teaching is great since not all students are good at classical classroom memorization and practice. Some students learn a lot better when confronted with a practical problem. These are the main reasons why I strongly support the use of ipads in class.

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