Arts & Society Presentation is Completed!

My presentation, “Arts & Society: An Exploration of Historically Significant Communities of Artists and Their Ability to Spark Social Change,” is finally completed.  It is on-line and can be viewed below.  Patience is needed, as the file is quite massive and will take several minutes to load.  The PREZI presentation contains hundreds of images and even a few video clips.

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On-line PD – Augmented Reality – iSchool

The 3rd Annual Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference in Second Life (VWBPE) took place on-line in the virtual world of Second Life last Friday and Saturday.  This conference was absolutely massive, and brought together educators, researchers, academics, and business professionals from around the world with a focus on 3D virtual collaborative environments and how they can best be used to support education.  Just one glance at the 48-hour schedule of this conference will give you a sense of just how massive this was, as it offered a vast array of topics  through more than 170 presentations in the virtual world.

Unfortunately my real life schedule didn’t allow me to spend very much time at this conference in Second Life.  However, I did pop in and out a few times to check it out, and did watch a lecture about the fascinating topic of Augmented Reality that was posted as a video by treet.tv.  I’ve learned a lot about augmented reality, and see that this is something that poses a lot of potential impact to education.  Augmented reality is essentially the data and information, aided by tech tools, overlaid upon the real world in real time.  This is the direction that our technology infused world is heading.  Tools like the iPhone and iPad have already made augmented reality a reality, and I suppose that it is only a mater of time before education finds a way to embrace this. I love this young man’s argument about this point.  I love this  iSchool Initiative argument because I believe that such a one-to-one initiative could be a solution to many problems that face education today.  iTools allow students to bring augmented reality into the classroom, and therefore all of the worlds recorded history at there fingertips, all day, everyday.   Its happening anyway, and it would be wise for education systems to take some leadership before we have chaos.

As it stands now, many of our students are showing up to class with ‘smart phones’ in their pockets.  And for the most part, we tell them that they are not allowed to use them.  There are a couple of very important issues to consider here.  One is of course an enlarging generation gap between teacher and student, or perhaps a growing disconnect between students and the system.  These smart phones are becoming an essential part of how many students communicate in this world.  When students bring these small computers into the class, the education system essentially responds with, “Well that is how you can communicate ‘out there’, but in here, we’re going to communicate the ‘old way’ [even if we have computers in the room].”  Of coarse this is going to cause some disconnect.  Another issue is the issue of equity and equality.  Some students are showing up with powerful Blackberries, others with iPhones, some with much simpler cell-phones, and still many with no technology of their own.  This is an area in which schools will very soon need to take some leadership in order to ensure that all students have equal access to the ‘augmented’ layer of information that the Internet provides.

I understand that this post is getting quite lengthy already, but I want to finish with a short example.  In my art room, many students depend on having a image to look at in order to practice their drawing or painting skills.  If students want an image, they often need to leave the room and use the computers in the library or computer lab in order to print an image.  When they return, they have a black and white image that they found through a Google image search.  They often get started with their drawing, but then come back again to ask if they can see the image in colour, or if it can be printed in colour.  Now, this year, I’ve had a few students who have a large image printed in black and white for their drawings, but use their smart phones to view images in colour.  Of coarse there are many ways to provide equal access to colour images in my classroom, and last year I had a student printing station set up [that lap-top has died].  The point is that it seems logical that all students should have their own devices that allow them to see images in colour, thus no longer requiring colour prints, and making access to this advantage fair and equal.  Student prefer to use their own devices, and are using them in class anyway, but the students that can afford the best phones, have the best access.

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Playing with Prezi

The latest tool that I have discovered and added to my virtual portfolio [along with Wordle, Animoto, Visions, 23, and Voicethread] is the newly developed presentation software known as Prezi.  Prezi is a new web tool with great potential, and has been discussed by many of the great bloggers in the community of Ed. Tech experts [‘edubloggosphere’? ‘edtechosphere’?].  I believe I first read about it on David Warlick’s blog, 2 Cents Worth.

Take a look at the short intro video by clicking the image above.  I love the idea and potential of Prezi, however, I haven’t decided whether or not I actually love the app itself yet.   Prezi promises to replace Powerpoint as a standard for presentations.  Instead of creating slideshows that flip from one slide to the next, Prezi allows you to create a very large ‘canvas’ and move around the canvas to present information.  It’s flashy, it’s interesting, and more captivating than a traditional presentation.  However, I’ve had some trouble, and the application seems to still have some ‘bugs’.  I’m sure it works just fine for straight text presentations, but I’ve had some trouble when inserting images.  Although Prezi promises that the program is easy to learn [in ten minutes], I’ve spent hours trying to get things just right.  In the end, I’ve got a presentation that runs great from my hard-drive, but when streamed on-line, it is quite choppy.  See below for the example I’ve created.

There are a few things that I really like about Prezi.  I love how the information is presented in a linear format as an interactive Flash video.  All of the presentation editing can be done on-line, right at Prezi.com, or you can download an off-line editor to work on your own computer.  If I manage to figure my way around some of the choppyness of the final video [perhaps my images are too large], I will likely use Prezi for all of my future presentations.  I’m currently working on a presentation for my EC&I 874 project, and I think Prezi will work great if it can handle the large images.

In this video, educator Ryan McCAllum, shows the true potential of Prezi with his interactive video explanation of Web 2.o in the classroom.

Building in Second Life

I’ve been attempting to build in Second Life.  Building is a bit tricky and it’s been a bit of a challenge,  but thanks to my SL cousin TinMan Telling, I’ve been pointed in the right direction.   The image above is my avatar, Rasta Telling, looking at an aisle and canvas that he (I) built.  I suppose I built it, using him.  Weird.  Anyway, I have build something, with some success, although if you look closely, it is certainly not perfect.

TinMan has given me some good advice.   He pointed out that the best way to learn to build is to search for building tutorials on YouTube.  He also noted that in order to build, I need to find a sandbox [those are building places for beginning builders in Second Life].  So I found the sandbox for our EC&I class, and I followed a couple of tutorials.  It was rather cumbersome at first.  A few more tips from Trevor at work, and I found it was getting a bit better.  We met with our laptops at work, and also met in Second Life.  It was handy to have someone right there with you to show you some tricks.  Building is all about camera angles, and Trevor showed me the keyboard short-cuts for the most important camera functions.  Another problem that I was having, and didn’t even think of, was that I was running Second Life over a wireless internet signal.  Once I plugged in, I figured out quite quickly that SL runs much more smoothly with a wired connection.  It is not as choppy, and there is less lag, which is important when you are trying to build and are constantly changing camera angles.

Another Animoto

A couple of weeks ago I began to play with Animoto and created a couple of Valentine’s video clips for my loved ones.  I’ve been quite impressed with how slick Animoto is and have been contemplating its value in my classroom.  With Animoto, you can create 30 second video clips for free.  However,  I’ve been so impressed with the videos that Animoto has enabled me to create, that I decided to purchase a one year All-Access Pass.  For $30, this allows me to create an unlimited amount of full length video clips.

In terms of educational value, I’m thinking that creating short video clips to introduce art units will be good attention grabbers.  This will work well with Wordle images, as the Wordle images that can be created at the beginning of units can be the starting screen images for the videos.  This should also enable some continuity, as the images that will be shown in these intro videos will also be shown and displayed on screen as the students work through the projects in the unit.  I always like to have examples visible for students, and I have sneaking suspicion that my students will request to see these videos more than once.

In many of my courses, students are expected to research significant movements in art history.  In addition to other forms of evaluation, students could create short 30 second Animoto clips made up of selected artworks from the movement.

Photo Sharing with Visions and 23

In my last post, I’ve described my liking of the Visions 3-D Image Management System and its excellent features for displaying batches of photos.  The program also has great editing features as well as image creation features that allow you to create holiday cards, greetings, calenders and a variety of other neat creations.

click for larger image

click for larger image

However, it is Visions’ photo sharing feature that makes this a Web 2.0 tool for the read/write/share generation.  Visions is associated with social photo sharing web-sites Flickr and 23.  The Visions application lets you upload batches of images from your visual galleries to your on-line account with a photo sharing site.

click for larger imageHere is a screen shot of Visions uploading images to share on 23.  The next image shows the resulting 12 images uploaded to my 23 account, and now published for anyone to see [in just one click – pretty slick!].  Although Flickr is obviously the most popular photo sharing site on-line [Flickr has thousands of images uploaded every minute], I chose to use 23 as it does not require you to create a Yahoo account.  Here is a quote from the ‘About 23‘ page: “A community should be open to users of all photo sharing services and not force one to use one in particular to participate.”

My avatar in Second Life

Click the image to view images of my avatar, Rasta Telling, in a few interesting places in Second Life.

Now that I’ve created an account on 23, I’ve begun to think about educational advantages for using photo sharing web-sites.  Flickr, 23, photobucket, or many other photo sharing sites could be used by teachers or students to share galleries of images.  Perhaps my art students could use 23 to create digital portfolios of their created artworks.  I’ve liked the idea of one photo every day for quite some time.  This would be a good way for students to develop their visual skills, and their ‘camera eye’.  23 might be a good place for such projects.  Ideally, I’d like to have students share one photo every day, as well as an image of one creation every day [sketch, painting, sculpture, poem, collage, anything creative].