Saturday, August 21, 2010


Final Post for EDT 520

Hmmmm, time for some reflection on the movie making process, and on the class as a whole.  Well, for starters, the movie did turn out to be a lot of fun, although really time consuming.  It was so time consuming mostly because of all the troubleshooting that I had to do with Movie Maker.  The program did its job for the most part, but it was REALLY difficult at times to get it just right.  All it took was to insert one transition and the whole thing got screwed up and I would have to go back through and fix the timeline for everything past it.  That, and I find it really cool that it has a lot of sweet transitions and effects that I could have used, but found no place for in the movie.

What I found to be most difficult about the movie making process was the storyboarding.  I really have a hard time planning things out (I really can't even do an outline before a paper, unless it's very general and vague), for the most part I have to just jump into it and see what direction it goes.  I run this way simply because the initial direction that I take with anything I do tends to be far more difficult than I realize, and then I have to either shave it down or scrap the idea entirely.  So I wound up doing what I usually do in this situation: make a very general outline so I can tweak and twist it around later and so I can have some creative breathing room.

Other than that, however, the experience was filled with yelled "Yes!"'s and "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH"'s (one very loud one at 4 in the morning which did not please my roommates....) and was overall a good one.  If I  were to do this project again, I would do a few things differently, and I would also be much quicker at it this time, so there would be more sleep this week, but I'm still happy with how it went.

The class itself, I found myself going back and forth about how I felt with the classroom, with how much we had to do and how projects came out and what we were doing with them, but it ended on such a great note that I have to say I think the class went well.  It had to in order to make those amazing movies that we watched yesterday.  Seriously, for any MATer that reads this, I loved your movies, they were awesome.  They were either incredibly professional looking, hilarious, informative, or any combination of those three.  Again guys, I really enjoyed having class with you, it's always a blast!  That's all for now, and we'll see how my blog progresses after this class!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Windows Media Player Will Be the Death of Me.....

So today our class started working on our final project, a movie about 2-5 minutes in length.  I've been working on this program for a little over 7 hours now, and guess how much I have done?  A whopping 1 minute and 4 seconds! WEEEHOOOO!  Just had to let that one out.  This is incredibly frustrating work, especially when I have to convert almost every file I import into this program, which takes time, and then getting the audio right, and making sure the video and audio match up, and so on and so on.  I mean, I will be happy when it's done, it's just frustrating because of how time consuming this is, especially when we have lives.  I understand that this is supposed to be an intensive program, but I also need money to eat, sleep and basically live, and it doesn't grow on trees that readily.  But hey, at least we're gaining new skills, right?

Well, I've come along with the video, and honestly, I am awful at planning things before I do them.  I'm a "Jump right into it" kind of guy, and I've found that planning this out has actually made it even more time consuming, because I get an idea of what I want, and then find that there's no way to do that, so I have to come up with something new.  I guess that doesn't say much for my planning skills, but it also doesn't say much for making a project on this that we're not necessarily so passionate about either.  Technology is cool; I love to geek out over little gadgets and gizmos that come out, seeing that the future is practically here.

This, however, is a little much.  This class, I'm realizing now, would be much better suited over a period of (at least) 3 weeks, so there's more time to soak in what we're using.  We've gotten so much lately that I've already forgotten my login info for a couple of sites, but luckily google Chrome has an auto-login feature which works well with my not remembering.  Oh well.  I'm sitting in my room, listening to Apocalyptica, trying to take a mental break, and I will be jumping right back into it.  I wish you all the best of luck with your projects, and wish me luck as well!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Well, this is news to me: I can have a website without paying for the url space.  Um, YES PLEASE!  This is a really great concept that I am really looking forward to playing around on.  It's so great that I can actually have a professionally looking site at my fingertips for nothing other than my own effort and time.  That makes me want to start doing more online, maybe even making a web-comic for teachers! *Gasp!* Seriously though, this is a fantastic tool, and in reality levels the playing field quite well.  I'm excited to use it more, and can't wait to see the full potential of this site.

I'm also really glad we had that discussion today about the direction of the class.  Things have been a bit ambiguous about what the purpose is within the classroom.  I knew that this was an Ed-Tech class, but the reasons behind what we were doing seemed very ambiguous and vague.  I was really unsure about the podcast, about the content and about what I could and could not do.  But I went ahead and took a stab at it, and it wasn't even the editing that I needed to work on, it was my own word choice and recording of the audio in the first place.  It's good to know that we can have these kind of discussions as adults to figure out where we are and where we need to be.  I just wish that we didn't have to take so much time out from today to do it, but it needed to be done.  Other than that, I really have very little to say.  Goodnight all, and sweet dreams!

E-Port... Wait, What the Heck is That?

Okay, so today we took a shot at making our E-Portfolios today, and I have to say, I'm a little bit of a jumbled mess right now. I feel like there needs to be so much in there to be able to meet all the ISTE standards, while at the same time it needs to look neat and clean and distinguished.  Seriously, this is going to throw me off completely!  However, as usual, I will figure it out, it's just a question of time, patience, how much hair I pull out, and playing around with it.

On the other hand, while looking for websites for homework, I found some really, Really, REALLY cool sites that I can use in my classroom!  The first one is from a website called which has many really cool maps that show how empires have progressed in different areas in the world during different periods in the world over a period of time.  It gives students a visual on how far empires expanded, where they reached, and when the next one took over.  What is so great about it is that it shows these maps over time, so you see how they expanded, how long it took them to expand, and where they slowed down, stopped, and receded.  Seriously, when I saw this site I geeked out like the History nerd that I am.

The other website I found was one from the University of California, Berkley website ( and it has lectures on many different subjects, ranging from Japanese to Philosophy to Electrical Engineering to (of course) World History.  It's just really great to see these lectures up from one of the best universities in the country sharing information that teachers can use in their classrooms.  You get to see what they know, what's currently being debated, if any new information has been found, and so forth.  This, I think, will be a great resource for myself, and hopefully other teachers, in the future.

Thoroughly Unimpressed Podcaster

So this weekend was my first experiment with podcasting.  Honestly, I would have liked more time this weekend to play around with it, but with so much moving this weekend, it make it kind of difficult to really sit down and play with Audacity and get everything out of my podcast.  That being said, I have to admit that I am really not too impressed with the idea of podcasting.  It definitely has its uses (such as the one I did as a "This Day in History" kind of podcast that can be reused), but it seems like so much work for very little outcome if you don't use it more than once or if the students completely do not use it.  

Then there is the whole "forcing them to use it" idea, which I don't like either because then they will be turned off from a media they may have otherwise liked.  My biggest gripe with this, to be completely and utterly honest, is the fact that it's TiVo for information.  I can see it's uses in the classroom, but to me these uses are quite limited.  For example, if a student is sick, he would have access to it, as well as other students who would not be in class for some particular reason.  However, I feel like it would be restricted to outside of class, otherwise it's just a video on information that you could just as easily have them do an activity involving the same information and would probably retain it more.  Unless you are using it to help a student who cannot be in the classroom, it seems rather superfluous to me.  

So yeah, it changes things up in the classroom, it makes things new and exciting, but it's so much work for it just to sound okay, let alone doing something that's going to catch the student's attention.  It just seems like more work than what it's worth to me.  

Anyway, I also read the 2010 Horizon report, and I have to say that I'm not actually sure I'm comfortable with the direction of the use of technology in the classroom.  I keep seeing statements about "keeping green" and other ideas about using electronics more and books less, but to be honest, in this regard, I'm a little bit of a Luddite.  I feel like the digitization of everything is getting to the point of losing grip in reality.  I don't know if it's just me (and I'm pretty sure it's not) but there's nothing like the smell and the feel of an old book in your hands, which sometimes even enhances the reading experience more than just reading it would.  For example, I have the first American editions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and the feeling and smell of these old books help me feel like I'm in the story a little bit.  

I'm also fascinated by the little nuances of an old book: How did it get this tear?  Who was this Jonathan Rosenkrantz and why did he have this book? Why was it kept in such a condition? and so on.  I feel like with the digitization of these books and writings, we're losing the personal feel of these books and making them as impersonal as possible.  And exactly how "green" is this idea, anyway?  Think about all the non-biodegradable parts of your computer: Is it really that much more green than a paper that rots back to the Earth millennia before your computer will?  Just a little food for thought with this paperless revolution.  It may be deforesting many thousands of acres of land, but if that was done with more sustainability, there would be little need for this.  Well, that's my two cents, hopefully it was interesting!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Systematic Death of Creativity

The videos that we saw from today were quite interesting, to be honest.  I feel like this is information that we already knew in some way/shape/form, but these videos seemed to organize the information succinctly.  We can look around us and see that for the most part, a lot of people who have desk jobs, and commute to work every day are not happy with their life simply because they are not doing in their life what they thought they should be.  Take, for example, a friend of mine from back home, Tom.  He's a great kid, and loves the outdoors, but works in a campus center at a private school for people he dislikes.  He's currently applying to the local community college to change where he's at and possibly go into either business management or the state park services.  He is changing his lot in life because he hated where he was at that much.

There are many others, however, that are told from a young age that they cannot do what they are passionate about because it doesn't make any money.  I really liked Sir Ken Robinson's  story about his friend that dances, because it shows that it really took someone who understood her and where her mentality was at to see what she needed, and that was dance school.  We, as human beings, can be quite lost without some sort of passion in our lives.  I have many passions I follow: I study history, I make jewelry, I watch musicals on Broadway whenever I get the chance, I love the outdoors, and I love reading Tolkien's books.  These things interweave through my life because I had been told at a young age that there was nothing that I couldn't do with something I loved.  That is part of the reason that I became a teacher: because the current system in education is not doing what it's supposed to be doing.  Students have almost literally become "another brick in the wall," where teachers teach to the standardized tests and then move them forward, regardless if they need to be held back or not.

Our education system, like Sir Ken Robinson stated, is truly like a fast-food restaurant.  Teachers have become these uncaring faces taking your order, so to speak, and it's killing these students' creativity, passion, and love of learning.  That is why I've become a teacher: to bring these ideas, feelings, and passions back into the classroom.  There is no reason that we should stifle a student's idea of what they'd like to become in the future simply because we don't think they can reach it.  Life has a funny way of working itself out, so try not to fight it.  Instead, let these students' ideas and passions flow from their work.  Give them many creative ideas, topics, and projects to produce.  Have them try new things that they may have never tried before, simply because they may like it.  It all comes down to nurturing the creativity and passion of these students, while at the same time leading them on an educational journey.

One way to get these students involved in this way is to use the digital story telling resources that we used today.  It's a creative way to get students to be involved with the content your teaching, while at the same time letting them explore their creativity and passions as a student.  I will admit, I was and still am, a student that likes to have parameters, simply because I don't know what to do with myself when I don't.  I don't work well on creative projects because my creativity has been stifled through school, and I have not nurtured it on my own.  However, I am working to change this, because as a teacher, you need to be creative with your work, so that your students don't get bored or tired of the same activities in the classroom.  This was a lot to take in, to be honest, and I am quite glad that I had the fortune of seeing Sir Ken Robinson and Dan Pink's videos today.  They have shed some impressive light on this subject.