I started thinking about this task from the perspective of where our staff are at with their ICT. In order to confirm my intuitive understanding, I created and circulated a survey using Google Forms. The results can be found here. Our school is a relatively small, regional college offering both curriculum and co-curriculum options equal to those conducted by far bigger schools. This means our teachers are incredibly busy, and professional learning needs are thinly spread to cater for our diverse programs.
We have had interactive whiteboards and tablet PCs provided in our workplace since 2007 yet the change in pedagogy has been minimal. There has been an assumption by some of our leadership team that ICT does not need further professional learning opportunities because the need has already been met. Given the nature of the changing technology and software programs, this means that teaching and learning through technology has primarily been focussed on presenting and processing.
Since 2012, year 9s have been issued with a tablet PC with digitised pens similar to those used by staff. The power of the pen is something that has been seen as critical by the team choosing the device (and research is now starting to support this decision). The students new to devices, years 6 to 8, will be issued with an iPad. In order to prepare for this, all staff working on the senior campus have now been issued with an iPad so that they can prepare for next year.
This decision has been met with concern, and there has been a groundswell of discussion about why our current devices are educationally appropriate, and the new devices will not offer the same power or flexibility. It is this educational future that I wished to target with the design of my artefact.
When we commenced work on our digital artefact, Powtoon was the first platform I investigated, and the content I included summed up what I was hearing from my colleagues. The clip is incomplete in terms of content, as I ran out of time – an issue with using free versions of such software! I have not attempted to add a voice over – just wanted to set the scene.
I also investigated the new Office Mix add in for PowerPoint as an option. This would work well for teachers who have a number of already created PowerPoints and would like to revamp them for the digital world. This option allowed me to use some beautiful images but the recording of voice plus music wasn’t obviously possible and the end result was not well rendered. The mobile quality was very poor. This is the lower level of computer quality which was better. Note how the transitions make the voice over patchy.
The third option was using screen capture software to create a film of something that was on my computer screen. For this I learned how to use Microsoft Lync recording. This is the Internet based phone system in our school, and offers webinar capabilities and screen casting. Last year I used the meeting capability for my Creative Coffee morning to include two of my classmates from CSU (Liz and Deborah) in our local event. You can read about it here: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2014/09/15/creative-coffee-inventive-format/. The list of conversations between the two external participants was exported straight from the Lync “chat”.
This is what the screen capture option looks like. You can see why I rejected this option as unsuitable for this task: I could cope with my name and school appearing at the start but the “looks like you’re the only one in the meeting” did not convey the professional finish I required. I believe I could have edited this out, but I ran out of time to work out how.
The program chosen affects the end product. Several scenarios were considered during the design phase: a circus type theme (ladies and gentlemen… plus drum roll); magic potion or superhero; and the selected beginning – and animated smile and voiceover inviting participation. This was considered more authentic, easier to deliver and more inclusive. It is important to have a story that allows the audience to feel included, and which quickly indicates why the message is important for each individual (Air, Oakland, & Walters, 2014, p. 34). That’s why some of these examples are so different from the finished product.
So, in summary, teachers wishing to make digital artefacts need programs that offer the easiest option for creating and publishing the end product. Our role is to assist with the learning process, and too much time taken away from our primary focus is a disadvantage to our students.
Summary of pros and cons:
I did have problems rendering the scribe to film, and I contacted @Sparkol and @VideoScribeApp via Twitter. They advised me to lodge a ticket with support and provided the link to do so. I was really pleased to get a punctual reply. Unfortunately, it was too late to save my original production, which I had altered dramatically in order to meet the deadline for this task.
This reflection is on the process and programs that were used to create my artefact which you can find here. The reference is produced by the VidoeScribe team and is useful for any type of digital artefact, although it is based on scribing as the presentation device.
Air, J., Oakland, E., & Walters, C. (2014). Video Scribing; How Whiteboard Animation Will Get You Heard. Sparkol Limited.