I continue to be busy plugging away at writing my dissertation chapters. I have almost completed chapter 4 (Results), giving me about 10 days to finish chapter 5 and stay on my schedule. I met with my advisor two days ago to talk about my progress and I told her that I think I have found an opening sentence for when I do my defense in November:
Recent investigations on emerging educational technology too often try to prove "what is better" before uncovering "what it is and can be."
...that made screencasting as a qualitative formative assessment tool successful. Though some of things may seem obvious, I'm proud to say that these findings are actually research-based. I'll share external elements and factors in a separate post, and a third category of findings about teacher's changed beliefs on formative assessment when using screencasting with students.
This is the most exciting finding for me. Students who were engaged in the process of creating screencast representations of understanding played back recordings, listened to and watched themselves, and made revisions and adjustments without the teachers ever prompting them to engage in this reflective and revisionary task.
Guided Independent Work
When students were planning, designing, recording, or listening to their screencast artifacts, the teachers were free to move about the classrooms or workspaces, and check in and provide individual guidance for every student. Some students needed more face-to-face time than others, but the media artifacts allowed the teacher to see where all student were, regardless of having a face-to-face check in or not in a given class.
Diminishing Novelty, Continued Engagement
The use of any screenacsting software and hardware brings a certain amount of novelty to any learning environment. However, when students were using the technology over a extended period of time (2-3) weeks, the novelty diminished but the observable engagement and enthusiasm did not. The teachers gave students authentic tasks and timely feedback, and they also permitted students to vary how they used the tool for their work.
Desire to Make it Work
This probably falls the most under the category of 'Obviously,' but in all of the cases the participating teachers' professionalism, constructivist learning tendencies, and genuine care for the students played a role in making screencasting a formative assessment tool.
That was an incredible week. Usually when I go to a conference I meet like 5 people with whom I immediately feel common energy, purpose, and interest and know that I am going to stay in touch with them from the first hello. Now imagine that those 5 people from every conference all over North America were gathered for an entire week in one room. That's how it felt. I don't think I can articulate it in a way that people who weren't there would understand, especially after reading @KristiMeeuwse's post (http://iteachwithipads.net/2013/07/19/reflection-on-the-apple-distinguished-educator-institute/) which captures the essence so well.
So what I will do is share a cool trick from each tool-oriented session I attended.
iBooks Author - Full page photo gallery widget
If you make a photo gallery widget the full size of the page (or slightly bigger) it will disable the full screen popout and hide the navigation dots. Doing this allows you to create the illusion of turning a page when you are actually just swiping through pictures. WIth the right combination of locked background images and transparent PNG's, you can create amazing effects. Download Andrew Kim's 90 Degrees Multi-Touch book (http://www.minimallyminimal.com/blog/90degrees) which is a bargain a $1.99 and will provide a ton of great ideas for elegant design using iBooks Author.
Andrew Kim's 90 Degrees - a book about 'Knolling'
iAD Widgets - available for iBooks Author
When you sign up for an iTunes Connect account and are taken to the screen to download iTunes Producer, you can also download iAd producer. iAd was originally designed to allow advertisements using widgets. Those widgets can now be used in iBooks Author and published in the books. There are some really nice tools that extend beyond what is in the Widgets menus in IBA.
iTunesU Course Manager - Save documents as .ePub
Instead of uploading .doc, .pdf, or .pages files to an iTunesU course, save the file as an .ePub (Pages allows you to easily do this) and upload it to the course. This will allow you to leverage the note taking and aggregating features that are already integrated into iTunesU.
Final Cut Pro X - Keyboard shortcuts help a lot
I am new to using Final Cut Pro and one thing that was reinforced during a session which is really valuable are all the little keyboard shortcuts that make workflow more efficient. Some of these work in other media editing apps, but I never bothered to internalize them before.
Fn + LEFT Arrow - rewind to start of playback
Shift + Z - fit the timeline to fill the viewable space
Q - connect a clip
N - snap the clips
There were lots more that were shared and you can find great resources on @ajmanx's FCPX delicious page (https://delicious.com/ajmanx/fcpx).
Like Final Cut Pro X, Motion is not a cheap piece of software. However, when you see videos like the one below you can understand why it is an industry standard for professional video editors. My goal for the next few weeks is to figure out 1/100th of what is going on in this ADE video below (this doesn't look like it was shared by Apple so when they make theirs official I'll replace it).
Thanks to FontSnob (www.fontsnob.com) for offering some helpful ideas about layouts, fonts, and colors for this site. I'm going to continue to find the right green and serif font for the headers.
On Sunday I am heading down to Austin, TX to participate in an event put together by Apple for members of its Apple Distinguished Educators program. I am really looking forward to it. I am going to attempt to capture the week using Evernote and Explain Everything as my create tools, Evernote as my curation tool, and Postach.io as my publishing platform. I used Postach.io a few weeks ago to document some PD events I helped coordinate at my school and loved it. I'll still plan to summarize the whole experience as a post here when I get back. Stay tuned...
Header photo by Robert S. Donovan