Monday, June 21, 2010

Farewell to the grads of 2010

It seems fitting to say farewell in a digital way to the grads of 2010. We already hugged them and wished them well; and yes, there will be more tomorrow night at prom but I wanted to 'do it digitally'.

I used my new toy, (Flip Ultra HD camcorder) but this time did not use the Flip software but Adobe Premiere Elements. (I tried the Windows Movie Maker for Windows 7 but it speeds up the voices and we sound like Daffy Duck!) I'm not impressed with the image; where did my ultra HD go to? I'm still learning the digital movie editing mysteries and maybe someone who is familiar with Elements can give me a hint because it seems the HD thief is there. I posted the 'Digital Learners' to my vimeo account and the resolution is perfect and I didn't use Elements for that one.

One more time...farewell and good luck to the grads of 2010! Remember, when you get to Cegep and if your teachers are stuck in the 19th century, demand better! Show them how and use your new learning tools tools to maximize your learning.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Digital Learner Tools

My students have been willing guinea pigs all year and the result has been positive for everyone. I was able to ‘test run’ many web 2.0 tools and they were able to leverage their learning as a result. Off they go to the next step in their education, Cegep (Junior College for the American readers), with a variety of cool tools at their disposal. These web 2.0 tools will help them become more confident learners. They know how to blog, screencast,(most used Screenr) make and share documents in real time with Google docs, share bookmarks on Delicious and Diigo, share opinions on Google groups and do advanced searches with Google. But of all these tools, their wiki skills please me the most. Some have even made their own wikis!
They graciously shared their answers to my question “which digital learning tool helped you the most this year?” and the video below is the result. I made this with an Ultra HD Flip camcorder but unfortunately, the sharp image of the HD is lost when uploading to YouTube. I hope this inspires teachers to incorporate some web 2.0 tools into the classroom. The students love it and the results are stronger and more confident learners.

Digital Learners from Daryl Bambic on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Flip Cameras

Flip Camera
After eyeing the Flip camera for over one year, I finally decided to buy one.  I bought the high end(Ultra HD)  with the guarantee for three years; this covers the cost of a replacement battery (Lithium Ion internal for $50).  It captures video at 1280 x 720 resolution and produces them in a MP4 file format that you can upload using the pop-out USB connector.  I’ve been playing around with it and I’m impressed with its simplicity; four buttons and that’s all folks.  It has a zoom in/out function and software that makes creating and sharing your videos (by mail or uploading to your favorite site) super easy.   Shoot and upload with the ease!  Here’s a silly sample I made using the software that comes with Flip. .  I'll be making videos this summer to use in my classroom this fall.   

Here's another using the same clips from the Flip camcorder but I created the video with the Windows Movie Maker for Windows 7. I think the music file is superior.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Of Tears, Awards and Accomplishments

I’m coming up for a very brief gulp of air before I submerge back into the work. Not only are the teachers swamped with exams and corrections but this past week we’ve also been swept away in the tide of emotions that characterizes the end of the year. This is that special time when we recognize and applaud the creativity, effort and accomplishments of those involved in our educational community. As well, for the graduating students, this is a pivotal moment when they step out of high school and into a more adult world of Cegep where they will put their independent learning skills to good use! Some will find their high school friends with them and others will be challenged to navigate the strange waters of thousands of young people swimming in different directions.

I’m always surprised at the tears I see when they approach this moment. Some students are afraid to step out beyond the comfortable and secure walls that have protected them over these past five years; others are simply sad to leave friends. Honestly though, in this ‘facebook’ day and age, you don’t really leave your friends. The tears are for something else; maybe the ‘carefree youthful days’ or the ‘we’ll never walk this road again’ sentiment. Explanations and motivations of tears aside, I must say that they have made me proud – so very, very proud.

My students have been willing guinea pigs for me this year and have faithfully tried every new learning tool that I brought into the classroom. When they whined, I admonished them to presevere and they did. In the very last anthropology class of the year, the students spent one hour using their new personal learning networks (and without speaking to each other) to construct and collaborate their arguments for a class debate. (One student filmed it and I’ll be posting excerpts of that soon.)

And so it is with great affection and much pride that I bid adieu to these graduating students of 2010. I will never forget their standing ovation during the grad ceremonies.  May their learning journeys help them discover the joys of service above self. Congratulations!