My latest venture took me into the land of multimedia sharing sites which included Animoto and Voicethread. My technological travels have taken me across the internet and this week I’ve landed in web 2.0 tools that I really enjoyed and can see myself using in my Kindergarten classroom. It felt like a cruise on a sparkling yacht. There was music, voices, and showy presentations. Everywhere you looked something caught your eye.
Reflections on the process of learning about the tool:
It started out like many Web 2.0 tasks, excitement to be learning a new tool. Surprisingly, I had used Animoto once earlier this year, so I was thrilled about having some knowledge about the task. I was eager to be learning about these two tools as they both involve photos and I enjoy working with pictures. On the other hand I had never heard of Voicethread and wasn’t sure where to start. I missed having something to read in our texts and get my mind in the right direction. Usually after reading the text book I have a better understanding of what the tool can do. So to start things off I tried to follow the trailfire. I was very frustrated on not being able to view it because the sites kept coming up blocked. I tried and tried and would get more distressed as time passed. I tried on various computers and also tried to view the sites in creative ways to no avail. It didn’t help matters any to be the only one in the class with this problem. I kept thinking, “Why me? What am I doing wrong? I didn’t have any problems with the trailfires before this.” I felt discouraged and pressured as I had a strict plan on how I was going to get everything done this week and not being able to do the trailfire wreaked havoc with it. I felt like I had enough background knowledge that I could make an Animoto video anyway. I couldn’t remember very much about the site but I recalled it wasn’t difficult. I used this video from Youtube to familiarize myself with Animoto again. The first thing I noticed when I went to the site was that it had changed. It was very well laid out and easy to follow using the step by step directions. It took a long time for my computer to download the twelve images that I was allowed but it did work. I put my video together with ease. After taking my time in selecting music from their limited collection I posted my video to Facebook which was just a click of a button. Posting to my blog was a different story. I couldn’t get it to fit and tried many times until I just manually changed the object size in the copied link. I felt pretty smart that I thought of that and was able to get it to work! I still didn’t understand what Voicethread was until I went to a friend’s house and used their computer to follow the trailfire and view samples of Voicethreads. I also found the Digitally Speaking Wiki a useful resource in understanding what Voicethread could do. http://digitallyspeaking.pbworks.com/Voicethread#TeachingStudentstoCreateandModerateThreads. I was then able to sign up and follow the directions easily. Voicethread.com has many videos on how to do each step. I had to watch a help video on adding another speaker and was able to add my children’s comments to my Voicethread right after. The hardest part for me in making the Voicethread was to sound natural. It was easy to embed into my blog. The entire process did not take very long and I enjoyed it. I added it to Facebook as well. I feel very comfortable using both these tools and will do so in the future.
Discussion of the tool in terms of my own personal learning:
If anyone has been following my blog posts they might notice that I finally used pictures of my family in both multimedia tools this week. Up to this point I have been very hesitant to do so. And I certainly wouldn’t have done it two months ago. This has been a huge learning curve for me personally. I am letting go of the need for total privacy. This will impact me and my family in many ways. I will not be so reluctant to let my children use web tools and they will be allowed greater freedom in internet exploration while keeping safety in mind. I have shown my children how to use both tools and they can easily make multimedia projects to share with family, friends and for school assignments. As a family we can send little videos and picture clips with our voices to grandparents who live far away. This will draw our family closer together and allow our extended family to see the changes in the kids. I feel more comfortable in sharing photos, video, and my voice with family and friends. It can also be viewed by strangers which isn’t bothering me. I really enjoyed making the Animoto video and the Voicethread. I have added two Animoto videos and the Voicethread to my Facebook and love reading the comments. After posting the Animoto video and Voicethread on Facebook some of my friends have asked me to show them how to do both things. I will be showing them how and then they can also start using multimedia sharing sites. I also want to make a longer video for my parents’ anniversary next year. I am the family scrapbooker for special occasions and now I will become the family video maker instead. It’s much easier and can be shared with all family whether they make it to the event or not.
Discussion of the tool in terms of teaching and learning:
I will enjoy using both of these web 2.0 tools in my classroom and sharing them with other staff members and my Kindergarten teacher colleagues at the division level. I agree with Sprankle’s, (2009) comments about Voicethread being, “an incredibly easy tool to get up and running and a perfect tool to bring 21st century skills such as creativity, innovation, communication, and collaboration with a global audience into your classroom.” In my Kindergarten class I will be able to use Voicethread to share art work, writing, and projects that each child has done and they will be able to talk about them. I can get around the privacy act we have, by having the child hold the work up in front of them. Also I can not use each child’s picture but I can use a symbol for their image instead. I can easily share this tool with other Kindergarten teachers. I can convince them how easy it is to use and how much parents will enjoy seeing and hearing about their child’s work. Another idea for using Voicethread is that each child could make a picture and talk about their dad as a Father’s Day gift. I will be able to show other teachers in my school how older students can use Voicethread. They can comment and engage in global conversation on Voicethread about specific topics that would enhance their reflection and communication skills. I will use Richardson’s (2009), Youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oNwOkctpOs on Voicethread to help them understand how Voicethread works.
I like the video style of Animoto. I will be able to use it to produce my year end video for my Kindergarten graduation. It will seem very high tech and professional. Once I do this some of the other teachers in my school will want to do the same. After watching this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqlGGllwT0c, I was able to show teachers how to use Animoto for Education. Some have signed up already to get their students to make video projects. After I read Marcinek’s (2009), post on the Classroom 2.0 Ning I shared some other ideas for our students. These include making movie trailers on books, vocabulary ideas, social studies and history topics, math concepts and life skills how to videos. These videos can be used as teaching and reviewing tools. Students will be able to share these videos with others and this would promote communication and global citizenship. Some other ideas in using Animoto taken from Valenza (2008), include “any projects for which we'd formerly create a collage--the gathering of multiple pieces to create new context. A collage showcasing student work or art, gathering historical images and relevant music or soundtrack to introduce a time period, paintings and sound to introduce an artist or artistic movement. You could easily use it to promote school programs or activities.” I think the possibilities for using Animoto in education are endless.
Some issues I may have in using Voicethread and Animoto in my class is that I would need to upload the images or get another adult to do it. Uploading can be time consuming. I would also need microphones which we don not have even though they are inexpensive we have a tight budget. Another con is that I would have to be very careful not to have a child’s picture showing on the site. The positive support for using Animoto and Voicethread in schools is that they are both easy to use and can take very little time to make. They are also engaging for students as you have more than one medium. Having sound and pictures together will embrace more learning styles. They are both relatively inexpensive to use. The fast paced video style of Animoto is very appealing and looks professional when completed. The positives outweigh the negatives for both these web 2.0 tools.
I am Kindergarten teacher who is interested in upgrading my technology skills. I am presently taking a Web 2.0 technology course from the University of Alberta. I am enjoying the challenge of exploring the web and learning to use a few of its many tools. This year is my 20th year of teaching, all of which has been at the elementary level. I am also the Special Education and Early Literacy Coordinator for our school. I am married to a wonderful guy and we have two children, who probably know more about technology than I do.