Review of Academia.edu

Week 5: Feedback, Reflection & Social Networking

Click on the image to see the Prezi presentation of Academia.edu

Notes on using academia.edu:
1. when connecting the path, make sure it clicks on the edge of the frame, not something inside the frame.

Use of VoiceThread

CUIN Module 4

We consider briefly three theoretical frameworks: Knowle’s theory of adragogy, constructivism, and  Wedmeyer’s Theory of Independent Study

My collaborators for this voicethread production were the very cool Emily Vinas and Joyee Vachani.  We used Tokbox to provide audio/video and IM commmunication while we collaborated using Google Docs to produce the initial presentation used as input for VoiceThread. At times it seemed we were in a Rod Serling production, but that was when my mike was generate too much feedback.

Cool sites – but what do they do? Screenvader

while searching for uses of bubbl.us I found a mention of  screenvader at http://discuss.pcmag.com/forums/thread/1004369823.aspx.  Screenvader: what does it do?

I quote directly from a review by Benyamin

Screenvader” employs a flash animation technique that my former partner and collaborator Perre Dicarlo ( , click on “websites” ) calls “interface coupling.” Use the term to describe graphic interface devices in which the mouse simultaneously determines more than one aspect (usually two) of the interface display…such as the coupling of “mouse pointer location” with “icon magnification” in the application dock on OS X. But it can be more creative than that: in the case of screenvader, the mouse moves both an elegant pointer icon AND (in an opposing motion algorithm) the grounding images over which the pointer moves. The second aspect is also interestingly three-dimensional, observe its more radical (yet still continuous and logical) behavior when you move the pointer to the extremes of the screen space, even off the window.

Note the “panopticon” image at the lower right of the gallery, which might serve as reminder of Foucault’s thoughts on vision and surveillance. There’s also great music/screen interaction in the “media et algorithmes” region of the site.

Screenvader is a creation of French artist Stephane Bourez.

Addendum to my review of Animoto

Addendum:

In my review of Animoto’s value as an educational tool, I wrote

“What are the disadvantages of using this tool in a teaching environment?

No easy path to add a voice overlay. There is very little place for content. Two thumbs down as a teaching tool- until someone can show me”

Perhaps someone has! (July 21, 2010). Professor Bernard Robin sent me this link to Wesley Fryer’s  blog review, more favorable than mine: http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2008/08/07/animoto-for-education-use-it-for-thoughtful-media-creations/ .

Checking back with http://animoto.com/education I discovered this animoto from http://animoto.com/education/casestudies/#science.  This video reports on the End of Year Science Project  at Westlake High School.  Teacher Norman Morgan is quoted:

“Making science music videos about a scientist or science topic using Animoto, my students will present their research to the rest of the class.”

His robotics class used Powerpoint, Animoto with sound via Audacity to display their end of the year assignment.

The examples still seem to be in the nature of slide-shows. Producing an Animoto in this way would be exciting for students for whom just learning to integrate the technology is an important learning experience.  Animoto’s auto-formatting however makes it a bit like learning to ride a bike having someone hold it up for you- not bad for beginners.

No doubt that as a exercise in integrating the concepts of a project, focusing on the key elements so they can show up in a 30″ spot- basically what goes into an abstract or commercial- that’s an added benefit. I teach grant writing- and it is important to get the key ideas into the abstract. Perhaps I could use Animoto to help students reconceptualize how to write their abstracts! Hmm…

Review of eyeplorer

http://prezi.com/d6dzfmoi4ddn/review-of-eyeplorer/

Synopsis of Review: EyePlorer is a really cool tool for seeing a subset of conceptual connections in Wikipedia. It is a “reverse concept mapper” in that EyePlorer starts with a map of terms, and shows the viewer the major terms, leaving the viewer to decide if there is an important conceptual connection between terms. I have found it useful in identifying links I would not have picked up in standard search engines. There are a few caveats:
1. The “intellectual commons” used by EyePlorer is Wikipedia only.
2. EyePlorer doesn’t seem to be able to pick related terms if there is more than one degree of separation between them.
3. EyePlorer doesn’t seem to be able to pick up connections between two ideas UNLESS they are in the same sentence.

None of these caveats are really surprising, but EyePlorer should really be thought of as another kind of search engine, not really a “concept mapper”.

Addenda:

8/15/2010.  EyePlorer does look at adjacent sentences, or sentences in the same section within a Wiki article, at least.  This might be the function of the secondary search terms- to look at entries within the primary search term, which corresponds to Wikipedia article names, that have the secondary search term somewhere in the article (?).  A spot check of some instances supports this model of their search engine.  If so, the secondary search term is a way of reducing the number of entries, functioning as Boolean AND.

Footnotes

I had many technical problems putting this together. I wanted to accomplish the following in this review:
1. use a non-linear Prezi-presentation.
2. stand-alone using voice.
3. an edited voice-over technique to avoid the hems and haughs I usually have.
4. A speaking avatar

Results:
1. The resolution of the Youtube files at least as viewed through Prezi are terrible.
2. The Voki avatar worked but (1) I don’t like the advertisement that Voki has with the free version. There is an educator’s version though that might avoid that. The video resolution wasn’t good. Screenr and Jing wouldn’t pick up the audio off the web, so I had to jump through a few hoops to create the youtube file.
3. The mixed-media with edited voice-over for the “Concept of EyePlorer” involved recovery of a captured videocast and assembly using Microsoft MovieMaker and WavePad Sound editor.

4.  The “Demo” segment involved quite a few unedited sessions with Screenr but I could post it directly to Youtube.

5. The “Caveats” segment used Screenr to capture unedited video capture using VUE (demonstrating its flexible links), OneNote, and EyePlorer in “one-take”.

2. Review of Animoto

Web 2.0 reviews

  1. Name of the Tool    Animoto
  2. URL of the Tool http://animoto.com/
  3. Please select the one, primary category for this tool: Communication Tool, Collaboration Tool, Productivity Tool, Creativity Tool, Critical Thinking/Problem Solving Tool, Reflection Tool, Feedback Tool, Networking/Social Tool, Presentation Tool

This was listed as a creativity tool but I see it chiefly as a communication/presentation tool.  It is creative only in the sense that one can use it to create a product, and therefore can make use of creativity.  However, there are very few options (choice of input  images) and sound track.  One could assemble a soundtrack in a separate tool and synch it, but that would be rather cludgey.

4 Please describe this tool in your own words in about 250 words.

    Animoto produces swf  video file consisting of a moving photomontage of images with semi-random transition modes between images (still or video clips) and a soundtrack.   The transition moves resemble those in  PowerPointTM but this is automated, producing the kind of transitions  you’d expect from high-end professional photographers.  The sound track makes use of a library of stored sound tracks but users can supply their own.  The product resembles a commercial. It is strongest on presenting images and thus emotive content but not specific information.   It is a fancy slideshow.

    This tool is great for showcasing images.  Thus, it can be used at testimonial dinners, wedding dinners, graduation dinners, or in studies of professional photographers.  If you want to spruce up some video or images from your recent vacation, this is your tool (except that it costs beyond 30”).

    5 What do you need to know before using this tool? (What skills do you need to have?)

      Unless you want to produce your own audio track in another tool (not provided), there is little to do and little to learn: upload a dozen image files, choose a sound track and start her up.

      6 What do you need to have before using this tool? (Resources)

        Access to web; a modest PC; access to images.

        7. How do you use this tool? (Write the basic steps using a numbered list)

            1. Upload images
            2. Highlight an image if desired
            3. Choose music
            4. Add text

              Here are the steps with screenshots:

              1. Choose a visual background:

              2. upload your images.  The 30” free video will use no more than 12 images.

              This shows the uploaded images at Animoto.  3. Select music:

              4. Customize by adding title and subtitle

              4. push the “create video button”!  It’s very straightforward.

              1. Please create an example with this tool and either embed in your blog or submit the URL.

              Here’s one I made attempting to show procedures (high content, low emotive content) http://animoto.com/play/RX8sH8Ec7sAwxWLWsJvllg

              This is not at all effective!  There are technical reasons on my side: low resolution image, for example.  But the content goes by too quickly, and having it flip in and out is distracting rather than appealing. Too much visual “noise” for this purpose. Note that for a longer video, one could dwell longer on an individual image.

              In contrast, here’s one that strikes me as very effect.  It uses the same  music.  The intellectual content is low, but the emotive content is high. This is “David’s Biscotti”  created by Edward Ard. Makes me hungry!

              Here’s one I made showcasing a few paintings of bats.

              1. Please describe a scenario of how you might use this tool in a teaching environment (about 500 words).

              I would be surprised to find a significant application in teaching. The animoto website contains testimonials from elementary schools- where it is used to spruce up student presentations –essentially it is a low content pleasing attention getter.  I think students might think they had done something impressive because it creates a fancy look.

              8. What are the advantages of using this tool in a teaching environment?

                If you have a reason to show a photomontage in class- this is the tool for you.

                9. What are the disadvantages of using this tool in a teaching environment?

                  No easy path to add a voice overlay. There is very little place for content. Two thumbs down as a teaching tool- until someone can show me!\

                  Review of Tokbox

                  Tokbox  http://www.tokbox.com/ is an on-line communication tool, allowing for videoconferencing with up to 20 participants for free.  There is fullscreen view with almost no options, and a reduced screen with the option of sending text messages.  In addition there is a dropdown menu that opens screens to a few other web sites to allow sharing over other tools:

                  Of these, EtherPad.org seems to be the only one that allow for collaborative work during the session.

                  I tested TokBox with a colleague, one of us on a Mac; the other a PC, both working from home.  It worked well.  What you cannot do, it seems,  is to  share other images such as Powerpoints, spreadsheets or jpegs using other programs- everything has to work through the dropdown list.  I imagine these options will increase if they continue to develop the site.

                  You can also record videos off your web cam and send them to others by email. These can be viewed by going to Tokbox itself, or you can find the flv file in your Firefox cache and save it for use with other video players.

                  With a standard webcam and built-in mike you are ready to go.  We had to play with our sound settings a bit but once we got that adjusted the discussion went well.

                  Needed skills?- really not many except to play with different buttons- and there aren’t too many.

                  Needed Resources: a pc, webcam and access to the internet. There was a bit of a delay so I imagine fast internet is important.

                  Usage:

                  1. Go to the website and sign up for free.
                  2. Add contacts manually (using email addresses) or through other services such as Facebook.
                  3. Invite contacts to a session.  As with instant messenger you can see if they are on-line.
                  4. Test your camera and sound settings and lighting so you can be seen- you see your own image on the screen.
                  5. Start the session.

                  Here is a screen shot of setting up a conference:

                  Here I am videoconferencing with my colleague Dr. Criglar

                  It wasn’t possible to record the session itself off the screen (Tokbox cannot capture what is going on the screen itself – but we could have it with http://camstudio.org/ or perhaps with http://screenr.com).

                  However, you can record videos from your webcam: Here is a video review I made using the Tokbox video tool.

                  Please describe a scenario of how you might use this tool in a teaching environment (about 500 words).

                  I am interested in conducting remote conferencing with graduate students from our institution who are working at remote facilities.  I think this would work fine for this purpose with the limitation that you cannot “show your data” or “go to the blackboard”.  On the other hand, you don’t need elaborate facilities, either.  You could send Powerpoints, for example, containing prepared images, in advance, so that everyone in the group can independently view them during the session, with the voice-over provided by Tokbox.

                  What are the advantages of using this tool in a teaching environment?    The chief advantages are ease of use and zero cost.

                  What are the disadvantages of using this tool in a teaching environment?  Again- it doesn’t have the ability for real-time demonstration of other files, or the ability to use a drawing tool in real-time.  There is a bit of a time delay so it would be hard to have an effective multi-voice conversation, so you’d want to have a the equivalent of a “talking stick”- perhaps that could be handled through the texting box at the bottom of the screen.

                  The audio continues to work even if you open a different window, so it MIGHT be possible to open a concurrent session with a collaborative “whiteboard” such as www.twiddla.com It also allow multiple users.

                  Tokbox http://www.tokbox.com/

                  This is my review of tokbox.

                  Questions students will try to answer include:

                  • What is the tool you explored?
                  • What is needed to begin using it?
                  • What can you do with it?
                  • How do you use it?
                  • What does an example created with it look like?
                  • How might this tool be used educationally? Or if not, should we discard this tool from our toolbox?

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