Tag: images

A Sad Passing…


…of a product.

Recently, Cisco announced that it would be discontinuing the Flip Video Camera.  I think that’s a shame.  I remember when it was announced that Cisco was purchasing the product.  I thought that with Cisco backing and some energy, real innovation could come with this technology.

Thanks, andyi (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I recall my first experiences with this.  It was actually a few years ago.   I had had a number of meetings with my superintendent.  We were both wrestling with the concept of YouTube and what impact it would have on students.  At the time, YouTube was blocked but students were finding all kinds of ways to get around the filters so that they could be entertained.  There’s no sense putting the time and effort into bypassing a filter for the educational value so there was a great deal of “Cat Flushing a Toilet” viewing happening.

At that level of intake, certainly YouTube wasn’t worth the time, effort or bandwidth.  The IT Department had cautioned us that we didn’t have enough bandwidth to open it to the system.  We weren’t terribly excited about just passively watching videos anyway.  We were more interested in the construction of the video.  A few years earlier a large amount of money had been infused into Technology Departments to kick-start the system with the offering of Communications Technology to secondary school students.  After a bumpy start, the program was flourishing.  In fact, some students were doing amazing things with video production.  Shameless family promotion starts here.

Every year, we would purchase a small piece of technology and put it into the hands of our Computers in Education School Contacts for use in the school.  We had experimented with iPods, Palms, and more in the past and so I suggested that we purchase a small digital video camera this year around.  We both quickly brainstormed some ideas and decided that this could be a “YouTube killer”.  After all, we had full day release time with the contacts for five days throughout the year and I would make working with this technology an integral part of it.  So, we decided to make it happen.  I started to do my homework and narrowed the field down to two pieces of technology that fit in this genre – the Flip Camera and the RCA Small Wonder.

Quite frankly, I didn’t think there was a bad choice to be made.  I liked the technology and I liked the potential.  We ended up purchasing the Small Wonder camera.  I liked the larger screen and the lack of a flip out screen for durability.  It was quite an event when 80 of them, one for each school, arrived on our doorstep.  Our inventory control involved my secretary labelling the boxes so that we could ensure that every school got one and the technology was distributed at the first meeting of the year to quite a mixed response.  The elementary school contacts loved them and had them unpacked and looking for the power switch immediately.  A couple of the secondary school contacts were Communication Technology teachers and saw them as toys and could never produce the same results that they could with professional quality equipment.  I even had a colleague in another board ask me “Can they do this? as he pulled out his dynamite high-end camera.  No, but does every school have one of those?  Well, no….”

All of these groups were right.

We stayed the course and it was great.  The intent was never that they would contend for status in a Communications Technology course.  In fact, it could be argued that they would seed student interest in video production to the point that they would choose this as an option.  They were designed as a “first person shooter” for students to just be able to shoot and tell a story.  They weren’t “cheap” but if one got dropped and broken, it wouldn’t break the bank to replace it.  With replaceable batteries, there should never be a reason for no power again.  Since it contained a memory chip, you could replace memory in a moment rather than scrambling for a video cassette.  Or, just plug the device into the USB port of your computer and pull the video or images from the camera to your desktop.  The uptake everywhere was so successful that we quickly had schools wanting to know how to purchase more – my science colleague wanted to document science experiments – and even the Communications Technology folks wanted more because of the portability.

We started to see:

  • videos of school productions on websites;
  • green screen video productions; (just set your computer to a green background colour and display it on your SMART Board)
  • public service announcements from the child on the street;
  • three word stories;
  • parts dropped overboard on a trip to Pelee Island on the Jiimaan;
  • earth day videos;
  • birthday party celebrations;
  • graduation videos;
  • video book reviews;
  • videos created for every type of project imaginable;
  • video from angles like lying on the floor looking up that would normally cause one to shudder with an expensive camera;
  • special education students using new words in a sentence with immediate feedback of their performance for self evaluation;
  • and so much more.

As a Windows Board, we used Microsoft’s Photo Story and Movie Maker to edit and assemble our stories.  They were absolutely awesome.  I was recently at David Suzuki Public School to help out with a Grade 1 class for a Reading Project and part of our multimedia production involved recording a rap.  Guess how it was recorded?  I can’t speak highly enough for how much of an impact this sort of technology provided us.

While we used the Small Wonder, the Flip Video has as many or more success stories.  It’s a shame that Cisco couldn’t find a way to financially keep the product alive, or at least, sell the division to someone else who could.

There is a lot of speculation as to why this happen – including the use of the Smart Phone for video production instead.  Definitely the functionality for creating short videos is there but at a different price point; different level of durability; and without the potential of putting it in the hands of all students to tell their story.

It is sad to read this about the Flip Video camera.  The devices are so strong and durable that they’ll be around and used for a long time yet.  Perhaps we’ll see another life breathed into it or a subsequent technology.  It seems to me the next step would have been to add wifi capabilities and some simple in camera editing.  The Flip Camera will really be missed.  Witness the response so far…

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Cobra in the News


For the past while, the cobra that went missing from the Bronx Zoo has been in the media. Everywhere in the media!  It makes sense that the New York media covered it but the story even made it to our local Windsor Star in the form of a collection of pictures that documented where the cobra reported her travels.

How did she report? With her own Twitter account, of course.

In tribute to all this media, I decided to create a little media of my own. I put this all together solely on the iPad. I’m writing this on BlogPress. The media is assembled in the fabulous Strip Designer application. The content was retrieved from my Diigo account and Amplify links and added after editing by the Photoshop Express application.

Here goes….

I learned a great deal about the software putting this post together.  It is a powerful suite of tools and certainly replicable in the classroom.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

The Power of Images


We all know of the power of images.  They bring forth human emotions stronger than mere words.  It’s part of the reason why so many use cameras and images so effectively in the classroom.

One of my favourite applications that use the power of images so strongly is PicLits.   Using it is pretty easy – just click on an image from the gallery, and in one mode just drag and drop nouns, verbs,  adjectives, etc. onto the image to tell the story behind the image.  In the freestyle mode, you have the ability to write your story in a little text editor.  The program can be very effective for use in the classroom.

Watching students motivated by the image has convince me that this application is a real “keeper” for primary and some junior classes.

I’ve been looking for a similar way to inspire research and writing in older students.  The game changes there and you can make things more authentic by providing real-world problems and situations for deeper comment and proposals for solution.  This morning, I ran into an absolutely incredible website for setting the stage to some thoughtful writing.

Amusing Planet wrote a book review with some imagery that is absolutely powerful.  The book is entitled “Where Children Sleep“.  It’s a collection of images and short stores from students around the world.  The common denominator in all of this is that a picture of each of the children’s “bedroom” is shown along with a short biography of each child.

When you read the stories behind each of the children, you can’t help but get a sense as to what life must be like in each of their realities.  I can’t help but think that this readings would serve to inspire some insightful research and writing by students old enough to understand things.  Even an activity where you choose two of the children and compare their realities would serve as a starter that would undoubtedly inspire the students to read and try to understand all of students in the article.

Beyond that, I would think that copies of this book should find a welcome home in school libraries everywhere.

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Pummelvision for Month Two


It’s been two months now since I committed to the Daily Shoot project.  I did it to try to force me to take more photos and hopefully become better at doing it.  I post them to my blog on Tumblr and I suspect that I’m like most people.  Some days, I feel like I’ve nailed it and other days not so much.  Some days, I have a goodly collection of shots on a theme and other days, I know that I’m stretching to find something that’s appropriate for the day.

Every now and again, I’ll head over to the blog and just take a look at some of the photos to relive the photography moments.  It can be a little time consuming and a little boring at times but I get the image and I also get my thoughts about the image.  At times, I do wish that I could get a little more pizzaz into the display.

Then, I discovered Pummelvision!  It does an amazing job presenting images.  First, you need to grant access to your Daily Booth, Dropbox, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, or Tumblr account.  At that time, Pummelvision gets access to your photos.  Next thing, it runs away and does some magic only to have it reappear as a YouTube or Vimeo Video, posted to your account!  It doesn’t happen immediately but an email is sent to you to let you know when it’s done.

So, here’s my YouTube video of the images that I’ve taken so far.

I enjoy the way that we get a little audio going on in the background.

So, this is a cool way for me to quickly and easily play back the images from this project.  Imagine how you could turn your web site, wiki, or blog into a multimedia experience.  Just create an account at one of the above services and pummel it to your website.  Ideas are just exploding with me for school use.  Virtual tours, field trips, sports teams, graduations, scanned artwork, student portfolios – any time that you have a substantial number of images on a theme and you’re interested in posting them as a multimedia display makes them perfect for this utility.  Of course, there are the logistics about student pictures, etc., but you’ll take care of that, right?  For my CIESC friends, you’ve got to see that this would be a vintage activity for a meeting!

If you’re looking for a way to create such a project, you’ve got to check Pummelvision out.

A Great Confluence


I’ve had FourSquare on my portable device for a while.  I wouldn’t say that I’m a power user by any extent and mostly use it to check in to restaurants after the food is ordered and we’re waiting delivery.  I’m also a mayor of three locations.  Two involve park benches and seagulls and the other a Tim Horton’s.  I wouldn’t exactly say that I’m changing the world with my check-in habits.  But, I do like the potential of discounts from vendors if I give them a little notice when I check in to their stores.  I just have to find such a place…

One of the recent upgrades to the service was announced just before Christmas included the ability to post pictures and comments as you check in.  What a great concept – now when you’re checking, you can also document it.  That certainly makes things more interesting.  I remember thinking at the time that it might inspire me to use FourSquare more often if I could find an interesting angle other than the exhaust pipe of the car in front of me.  At least, my current use amuses Ron_Mill.

But, when you think about it, it does diversify any photos that you might want to share.  So, you’d have FourSquare pictures documenting where you’ve been and another service like Flickr where you share and document your life.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a meld between the two?  There is now.

The service FlickSquare fills that gap.  It seems like a natural evolution.  Post your FourSquare pictures and they’re posted to your Flickr account at the same time.

The concept makes both services immediately more valuable and it’s not hard to see that this functionality is a natural match.  The most immediate use that springs to mind is staying in touch with folks as you holiday.  (Of course, you have a housesitter…)  But, for the vendor that will give discounts or recognition for folks that check in, they get more advertising for free immediately.  For you, there’s no more finding time when you’re home to locate and upload the pictures after the fact.  In education, imagine parents staying in touch as you document a field trip on the fly.

Right from the start, this is such a great idea.  Perhaps it will be the inspiration that FourSquare needs to build right into their application or to acquire this startup.  The natural extension would, of course, be to extend posting options to any of the other photo sharing services so that you can update any of them as well.

Sprixi


I just found about Sprixi.  It looks like a new search engine devoted just for finding images that are licensed for friendly use under Creative Commons or in the Public Domain.  It’s so new that random searches create new topics but that’s OK.

I really like the concept for use in the classroom.

The interface looks like so many simple search engines.  You’ve got a box to enter your search terms so you type a term and let Sprixi do its thing.  Unlike simple search engines, though, the results of the search are what are so impressive to me.

The results appear in a dual-paneled screen.  In the left panel, you’ll see thumbnails of the images that Sprixi is offering up as a result of your search.  Preview them and choose the one that appeals to you.  It appears full-sized in the right panel.  Then, the magic begins.

Roll your cursor over the image and you’ll get a chance to rate the usefullness of the image – Sprixi is learning – and an opportunity to click on a button to resize the image for your purpose.  At the bottom, details about the image, its source, and its licensing appear.  On the right side of the screen is a “use” tab which provides you with the opportunity to download the image with credits or to just link the image and display the rights.


In a day and age when we’re trying to teach about copyright and respect for the works of others, this website really helps out.  They’re looking for a little love to share their presence so I would encourage you to give it a try and follow their “love” link to get some ideas about how to share the information on your favourite social platform.

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