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Pixlr (http://www.pixlr.com/editor/) is an online image editor that allows you to upload your images and edit them in your browser (Firefox or Internet Explorer). Pixlr is perfect for students when they want to create or edit images to be used in multimedia presentat ions l ike PhotoStory, PowerPoint or imovie. They can also use it at home as it is online and free!
While it’s not the most full-featured image editor you will ever use, Pixlr makes it fairly easy to do some sophisticated graphics manipulation with images online. The Flash-based web app has an impressive set of tools, from graphics tools like paint, blur, pixelate and emboss, to layers and filters for masking and effects.
Students can create a painting using the pen and paint tools or import images from digital cameras or the web … or even better via a web address (URL). For instance, as shown in the example, students were given the task of studying rainforest birds and their characteristics. The students did a search for pictures of rainforest birds as part of their HSIE unit. When an appropriate graphic is found, the web address can be copied and pasted into the ‘Open from URL’ window. Pixlr will then open that graphic in its own window. With the lasso tool, the bird was selected, copied and pasted into the main project window. A selection of birds were copied and pasted into the project and text and drawings added. For example, foliage could be copied or drawn in. The finished graphic can then be saved as a jpg to import into other programs.
Pixlr has a number of features similar to PhotoShop and other quite expensive software applications and can therefore be used to teach many of the graphics skills students need. Pixlr uses built in Flash so you need to have a Flash plug in for it to work. If Pixlr doesn’t function automatically see http://www.adobe.com/ products/flashplayer/ for details.pixlr

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The Pics4Learning collection consists of thousands of images that have been donated by students, teachers and amateur photographers. Unlike many Internet sites, permission has been granted for teachers and students to use all of the images donated to the Pics4Learning collection.

Browse by topic, look at the most popular photos or do a search for specific images. Topics include  Animals, Countries, Education, Food, Geography, History, Signs, to name a few. Some of the over 50 topics have numbers in brackets – these refer to sub-topics i.e. Animals has 49 sub-topics which include Marsupials, Bats, Insects, etc.  In the Marsupial section, there are 96 jpg images which can be copied or downloaded and used in multimedia presentations and information reports.

Students can also contribute photos they have taken. An example activity could be setting the students the challenge of taking digital photos around your school of mathematical concepts e.g. acute angles, parallel lines or symmetry. These can then be uploaded to the Pics4Learning site. This activity is not only an authentic learning task to consolidate students mathematical understanding but also a very engaging activity where students would be using a range of ICT knowledge and skills as well as collaborative and decision-making skills.

http://www.pics4learning.com/details.php?img=greyroo5.jpg

ARKive, www.arkive.org is a centralised library of films and photographs of the world’s endangered species. Hailed as the digital Noah’s Ark, it has won numerous conservation, education and communication awards since its launch by Sir David Attenborough in 2003, and has now profiled over 2,500 of the world’s endangered species, using over 3,000 movie clips and 18,000 photos – all freely available for schools.

Multimedia resources are organised in categories and alphabetical groups e.g. Threatened Species –> Mammals –> W –> Western gorilla. In this section there are 19 images and 11 videos of the endangered gorilla as well as information relating to its biology, habitat, threats and conservation. There is also a facility to view larger images which would be ideal for displaying on a SMARTBoard.

ARKive is an initiative of Wildscreen (www.wildscreen.org.uk), a UK-based educational charity working globally to promote the public appreciation of biodiversity and the conservation of the natural world, through the power of wildlife imagery.

Making use of the stunning imagery available at the award-winning ARKive website, ARKive Education, www.arkiveeducation.org provides downloadable, ready to use modules on a wide range of curriculum topics, suitable for geography, biology, environmental education and citizenship lessons.

Resources are organised in age groups (5-7, 7-11, 11-14, etc) and subjects (Science, Geography and Other). There is a mixture of PowerPoint and pdf files containing activities and information. For example, an 11-14 years Geography resource called Adaptations: Investigate the world of animal and plant adaptations, using camels, snow leopards and even palm trees as engaging multimedia examples. Use the question and answer video clips to test your students. There is also an online games section which has a few simple activities relating to animals and the environment.

In April 2008, at Google’s UK headquarters in London, Sir David Attenborough launched ARKive’s new layer on Google Earth. Sir David said, “Google has come together with Wildscreen, who have this unique distillation of images of the natural world, so that any one of us can go to a particular area on the globe and see what lives there. Google can take you to parts of the world where you can actually see a flock of flamingos and know whether they are there, or whether they are on the way out.” To download your free copy of Google Earth and view the ARKive layer visit http://earth.google.com. The ARKive layer can be found in the Global Awareness Folder in the layers panel.

This website (http://www.teachersdomain.org/) is a growing collection of downloadable multimedia resources and lesson plans. Currently the majority of resources are in the Science field (listed below) but they are planning to add Language Arts, Social Sciences and Mathematics resources. It has a free registration although you need to align yourself to your educational institution.

I am not a huge fan of downloadable Lesson Plan websites but this site has suggestions which are not only practical and constructivist but also resources and links which students could use. For instance, the Polar Sciences Special Collection focuses on issues relating to Global Warming effects on the Arctic and Antarctic.  The collection includes a fabulous range of interactives, documents, lesson plans and video clips which can be viewed online, with some downloadable. Each with a brief description and suggested year level e.g. Earth as a System (Grade 6 – 12) is a visualisation adapted from NASA maps and shows progressive global changes on a rotating globe. You can also turn captions on or off to accompany the clip.

The collection groups resources in 5 areas: Atmosphere, Ice, Oceans, People and Land.

 

 

The Science K-12 resources are listed in major strands and sub-topics:

Earth and Space Science (292 resources) i.e. Earth in the Universe, Earth System, Structure, and Processes, Water Cycle, Weather, and Climate

Engineering (204) i.e. Engineering Design, Materials and Tools, Systems and Technologies

Life Science (399) i.e. Ecology, Evolution and Diversity, Genetics and Heredity, Organisms and Their Environments, Regulation and Behavior, Structure and Function

Physical Science (395) i.e. Energy, Fundamental Theory, Matter, Motions and Forces

Thanks to Dean Mantz for sharing this website via Diigo.

 

http://voicethread.com is a free Web 2.0 tool which provides easy-to-use features for students to create multimedia projects. This is exciting in itself, but even more motivating for students is that viewers of the project can leave comments via the internet. Look at this example to see how it works: http://voicethread.com/share/107896/

The online media album can hold essentially any type of media (images, documents and videos) and allows people to make comments in different ways – using voice, text, audio or video. They can even be exported to an Archival Movie for offline use on a DVD or video-enabled MP3 player.

Comments: as seen in the little thumbnails down the left and right side of the example. Simple voice recording within your web browser allows students or viewers to add their voice. All you need is a microphone! Comments can also be written or recorded on video.

Doodles: the Doodler is a way of annotating the presentation. It captures drawing as an animation and synchronises it to the voice or text commentary. See the red circle drawn around “name” in the example.

Identities for easy classroom management: to leave a comment, you need an identity and be logged in. One class account can have multiple identities so  a number of students can easily switch identities on-the-fly without having to sign-out.

Sharing your VoiceThread

It is totally safe for your students. You can set the access privileges – from completely private to completely open and variations in between.

Moderation: comment moderation puts the teacher in charge of the conversation. Only the comments that are deemed appropriate are exhibited on the screen.

A family picture was the inspiration for VoiceThread. One of the program’s creators was looking at the photo and thought it would be really great to hear each person commenting on the picture. They would all have different stories. This thought was a spark for the creation of the Web 2.0 tool. It is an extremely easy online application that allows you to create multimedia using your own photos, video clips, audio, etc… and then allows others to comment with text or audio in a way that will play along with your presentation.

It has been enthusiastically used by many teachers all over the world as a simple way for individuals and groups to work together on a presentation and storytelling. Visit VoiceThread to see more great examples!

 

 

Thank you to Bob Sprankle at Seedlings for this great Web 2.0 tool. Students can type in text or upload Word or pdf documents to the Read the Words website. A ‘voice’ is chosen to read the text. The resulting sound file can be embedded into a blog (as I have done to the right) or downloaded as an mp3 file to listen to. A great motivator for students to encourage a more effective proofing and editing process as well as providing a bit of a giggle :-). Free registration provides a wider range of voices. Below is the text from my Read The Words audio – a reworked excerpt from a paper Lesley and I wrote for AAEC conference in 2006.

The use of ICT tools such as word processing, graphics packages, database and spreadsheet applications, has often been proposed as evidence of technology uptake and integration into learning and teaching. While many worthwhile uses have been made of these tools, their integration has largely been as an optional ‘add-on’ to an unchanging traditional teaching environment (Bottino, 2003). In contrast, I recommend educators take advantage of the potential of new technologies, including Web 2.0 tools and provide a variety of multimodal ICT project-based learning activities to enhance children’s learning. There are many benefits associated with this approach. Students have a high level of engagement while they are actively designing and making multimedia presentations for real audiences. Teachers report that not only are students gaining a greater depth of understanding of curriculum areas but their collaborative, communication and problem-solving skills are also being developed. Research also testifies that students display increases in mental effort and involvement, interest, planning, collaboration and individualisation (Lehrer et al, 1994). The acquisition of ICT skills and confidence, independence and risk-taking when using technology were also a valued consequence.

New media, Web 2.0 tools and software have many beneficial impacts in the classroom. Key aspects of this kind of learning is not so much the technology itself but the interaction of the learner with the technology (Gros, 2003). Using ICT has tremendous potential for reaching, motivating and fully involving learners. Any teacher who has used ICT project-based learning strategies should be able to attest to the power of a project topic to capture a student’s energies and enthusiasm for exploring knowledge (Richards, 2005). Project-based activities encourage collaborative talk around the computer screen. Students also freely and easily share resources and skills. Multimedia projects can encourage students to be better learners as they are getting immediate feedback as they work through their project and reflective evaluation from peers and audience when they have completed their product.

The most successful classroom projects involve the interweaving of learning, student engagement and presentation. Teachers provide a framework for students to scaffold their learning by balancing support and the explicit teaching that needs to occur. The result is not only improved learning outcomes but your students will learn to use these emerging technologies and communicate effectively in ways that are visual, dynamic and interactive.

Do you have only a few computers in your classroom? Do you want to engage your students in a motivating project? Why not think about having your students create a multimedia slideshow which interweaves words and pictures, movies, voice narration and music.

ICT projects provide excellent opportunities for group interaction, which improve students’ collaboration, communication and decision-making skills. Multimedia learning projects provide an especially useful focus for reflecting on the interactions between individual and collaborative or team efforts (Richards, 2005). A group project relies on constant communication and understanding between team members as they work together to produce their final product. This builds a sense of worth and belonging as well as engagement in the project.

By collaborating, students can develop thinking and problem-solving skills. Specifically, students can learn to approach and solve new problems as well as project and time management skills. These skills will transfer across all Key Learning Areas and many related concepts and processes. Collaborative multimedia projects can be projects which have a duration of several days to lasting the whole term.

Another important aspect of a  collaborative project is the final product.  Student groups should publish their  multimedia project to an audience, whether that be their classmates or more preferable via CD or the internet to a wider audience. This  encourages greater application and commitment to the project and motivates students to improve the quality of the work.

Suitable software for collaborative projects can include PowerPoint, PhotoStory, imovie and Moviemaker. It could also involve collaborating with online Web 2.0 tools, like Google Earth, Google Docs, Picasa and VoiceThread.

Richards, C. (2005). The design of effective ICT-supported learning activities. Language Learning & Technology. 9 (1) 60-79.

 

Capturing learning experiences can be a very powerful tool for teachers as well as for students in their learning cycle. With a digital camera you can take a large number of photos of classroom activities, special events, excursions and student work samples and choose the best to include in multimedia presentations, online photo galleries and websites or print for display or reporting purposes.

Students should also have opportunities to use the camera to take photographs. These can be used to illustrate research and collaborative activities, as accompaniment to their writing and as a visual supplement to presentations. Some other ideas for integrating digital cameras into your classroom include:

  • taking a visual pictorial history of a project or activity
  • creating an archive of photos over the year for use in an end-of-year project: ‘My Year at School’
  • acting out emotions, historical events or scenes from a book
  • observing growth or change over time e.g. weather, plants, seasonal change, height, etc
  • illustrating a mathematical or scientific process graphically i.e. how to use a protractor, measuring water temperature, etc.
  • documenting a science experiment
  • demonstrating a sport skill, rule or PE activity.

Digital cameras are not only an excellent tool for enhancing writing and recording learning activities, but they can also play an important part in the assessment and reporting cycle. Photos of Visual Arts activities, musical and dance performances or oral presentations can be used for student reflection, self assessment or reporting to parents.

Multimedia software like PowerPoint, PhotoStory, MovieMaker or Stop Motion Pro use photos for backgrounds, title pages and credits. Instead of using clipart, why not have students taking their own photos and using a graphics program to edit, if necessary. Using graphics software like PhotoShop or Fireworks, students can manipulate photos they have taken to create artwork. For example, students could take photos of each other and experiment with interesting filters to create humorous effects. Photos can also be used to create personalized calendars, placemats, invitations and Thank You cards for school activities like Grandparents Day.

Audacity is free, easy-to-use Windows and Macintosh software which schools can easily and successfully utilise to record and edit audio. Teachers and students can use Audacity to:

· read and record their own stories to accompany PhotoStory or PowerPoint slideshow,

· record and produce a ‘radio show’ or podcast,

· record singing, choirs, music groups and musical instruments,

· record sounds e.g. sounds in the playground, classroom, in nature,

· generate special sound effects,

· create a narration for a multimedia slideshow,

· edit a recorded interview,

· cut, copy, splice and mix sounds together,

· experiment with sounds and sound waves,

· change the speed or pitch of a recording, and

· edit MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files.

Download at http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/ It also has a range of professional features, which include:

· built-in effects processing,

· mixing of tracks, and

· recording overdubs while playing previously recorded tracks.

Audacity can record live audio through a microphone, line input or other source. It has Level meters which can monitor volume levels before, during and after recording. You can import sound files, edit them and combine them with other files or new recordings. Export your recordings in several common file formats e.g. wav, mp3. These can be used to accompany PowerPoint presentations, PhotoStory movies or used in video production. Editing is easy with Cut, Copy, Paste and Delete. You can edit and mix an unlimited number of tracks. Fade the volume up or down smoothly with the Envelope tool. It also has a range of built-in effects e.g. Echo, Phaser and Reverse. Sample rates and formats are converted using high-quality resampling and dithering.

All you need is to download the software, access a microphone and away you go!

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