Thursday, 31 July 2008

Searching for surveys - network to the rescue

For a while now I have used the first Japanese lesson yr7 have with me to gauge their impressions of Japan and try to find out exactly what they think of when they think “Japan”. Until last week I have done this via the whiteboard and class discussions – first asking them what words they come up with and then discussing stereotypes. This week I thought that I’d try to combine this with the ICT available, feeling that this would allow me to get through things quicker and represent things visually to the students through word clouds, so that our discussions would be more meaningful. So I though I’d search for some sort of online survey.

Enter my slowly but surely expanding personal learning network (PLN). Within a few minutes of posting a question on Diigo, asking if anyone had used surveys effectively, Jess McCulloch came through on Skype and the ensuing discussion led me to a variety of sites that could create surveys (Thanks Jess!). However, the forms function in Google spreadsheets seemed the simplest way – and worked a treat! I was able to email the students the question and they could simply click on the link in the email and type their response. The responses are automatically updated in the spreadsheet – magic! You are also able to add a variety of gadgets to the spreadsheet – I added a word cloud as this is exactly what I was looking for in the first place. A visual representation of the student’s impressions (stereotypes) of Japan. The result is below.

So, when I got to class, some boys had already responded and some results were in the spreadsheet already. If this had not been the first class with the students I could have got them to answer before class, for homework. This would cut out the initial time spent responding.

All in all I was pretty pleased with the way it went; simple but effective - and all I did was use the Google Docs Help centre. The word cloud was good but when you put it into wordle it looks so much better ...

Thanks network!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Windows Movie Maker

It's holidays here in NSW and holidays means a little extra time to investigate things further. So, inspired by Dianne Krausse's clip Que savez-vous, and compelled by the fact that I needed to come up with some trivia questions and challenges for our Year 7 Languages Day, I sat down to create some simple photo story / movies using Windows Movie Maker. Now, for the seasoned campaigners out there, some of the following may be old news or no news, but lets hope there is some good news in here. Regardless, having found the time to play around in movie maker, I discovered a couple of useful things to share:

Video Effects - In the Edit Movie menu of movie maker is the "View video effects" button. Clicking this provides you with the opportunity to change your photo or video clip in different ways - subtle and not so subtle. If you are using a clip that is not of the best quality, use the "Film age, Old" effect; I found that as it is designed to make it look older, it covers up the fact that the clip is old or pixelated - not perfect, but it helped.

Splitting Clips - The ability to split clips into two or more parts and to take snap shots of movie frames enables you to have some fun with your video clips and edit them. Change the order of events in a clip, place photos or text in between parts of a video clip or simply edit out certain parts of the clip. My first ever attempt at a screencast is at the link here to help you with this - I did try to embed it, but it was huuuge (took over the whole blog). I used jing to create the screencast.

And here is the resultant movie. The finished product: