At the Apple Store: When the Cynical Me Met the Maker Me

Storyboards
My youngest son is participating in a free “Movie Making Camp” through our local Apple Store. The cynical side of me thinks, This is such a sneaky way to get parents and kids into the Apple Store and get us hooked on Apple products. (not that we aren’t, already). But the kinder, more generous side of me — the Maker/Educator  me — thinks, This is a free and accessible way for any kid to learn how to make movies, and how can that opportunity be anything but a good thing?

Apple Camp. Creative creatures wanted.

It’s a three day camp that goes for about 90 minutes each day, run by three energetic young Apple people, and my son had a blast yesterday as they began learning about the basics of making movies on mobile devices. Now, my son has made movies before and much of what they are telling him he already knows. That didn’t matter. He is still enjoying it.

What the Maker/Educator Me liked about it?

They began with work away the iPads completely, by focusing in on the storyboarding process. It was a neat image, all of these young kids bent over their storyboard papers, mapping out a short movie project that they will be completing in just a few days. Now, parents are required to stay in the store (Keep quiet, Cynical Me!) and the program leaders offered up storyboards to all the parents, too. (See, Maker/Educator Me?)

I was on the only parent to accept a storyboard and as the kids were drawing and planning, I began working out my own movie idea, too. I guess no other adults wanted to play. But I sure as heck did.

After the storyboarding, they (we) moved into learning how to use the Garageband App to create their own original music that will become the soundtrack for the movie itself. Making original music? (Well, as original as it is when it is constructed out of loops). I’m down with that. I always have fun with the GB app.

Their homework assignment was to shoot about four minutes of video, based on their storyboard. The final version will be about 2 minutes long, or less. My son is working on this neat idea, inspired by the Fruit Ninja game, that involves fruit, a large knife, and a blender. Let’s just say, it does not end well for the fruit. We spent about 45 minutes shooting his raw video, and then I bribed him to be the star of my movie called Bottom of the Ninth, which is based on him playing whiffle ball in the backyard. We spent another 30 minutes shooting that raw video, which I shot and then edited entirely on the iPad last night. I was curious if I could do it all on the iPad. Yes, I could, and did.

Storyboards

For a free camp, the Movie Camp is pretty nifty. I’ll keep the Cynical Me at bay here so that the creative spirit can be open to possibilities, particularly when it embraces a shared ethos of allowing kids to be creators, not just consumers, of movies. On Friday, all the kids will be sharing their short movies, so that should be a hoot. I’ll share out mine here later this week.

Peace (at camp),
Kevin

 

eBook Review: The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies

Cover (CC BY { pranav }I am a big fan of Doug Belshaw, and his work via the Mozilla Foundation and on his own to shine a light on what it means to be a writer/composer/creator in the digital landscape. Belshaw thinks deep about what it means to be literate in this technological world, yet he offers an even eye on the world, too — being critical when criticism is needed and being a cheerleader when possibilities emerge.

Belshaw has now published an interesting ebook — The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies — that expands this thinking beyond his insightful tweets and weekly newsletter and short blog posts (with a few longer ones in the mix from time to time). He is involved in some interesting projects with Mozilla around digital literacies, including some mapping projects related to how we use the Web to learn, write, read, interact and more. What he wants to get a handle on, as do many of us, is how the influx of powerful and relatively cheap technology is changing our literate lives.

“As devices become cheaper and easier to use, the barrier to entry becomes less to do with technology and affordability and more to do with cultural and social factors. Digital literacies are not solely about technical proficiency but about the issues, norms and habits of mind surrounding technologies we use for a particular purpose.” Belshaw (45)

Belshaw’s ebook is an intriguing look  inside that shifting landscape, as Belshaw brings us on a journey to explore the difficulties of understanding digital literacies (or it is all just one larger Digital Literacy? This is one of the questions he tackles); how our sense of what has come before us in terms of literacy is shaping what is now in front of us, and maybe hampering our abilities to comprehend those changes; how memes are an interesting metaphor for the ways in which the spread of information and collaboration has taken hold in digital spaces; and how remixing content, in any of its many forms, is an act of purposeful composition that should be embraced and valued, and taught.

Belshaw helpfully breaks down his own view of digital literacies into eight main elements or lenses from which to view the digital world, and our own interactions:

  • Cultural
  • Cognitive
  • Constructive
  • Communicative
  • Confident
  • Creative
  • Critical
  • Civic

These eight elements become the threads of Belshaw’s analysis throughout the book, and I found these anchors to be useful as discussion pieces and reflective points in my role as a teacher. It certainly moves us beyond the harmful dichotomy of the Digital Native/Immigrant idea.

I  highly recommend The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies as an insightful look at how our world is in the midst of intense change, and how we can think of literacies at the heart of it all. If nothing else, put Doug Belshaw on your radar as someone to follow and learn from. The book is only available as an ebook, I believe.

Peace (in the book),
Kevin

 

Find Your Muse: Making an Animated Meme

I’ve tinkered with animated GIFs before (most notably, with DS106) and when I saw a fellow traveler in the Making Learning Connected MOOC world sharing an animated GIF meme, I thought: I gotta try that.

So, I did. Here’s how I went about it.

First, I found a clip on YouTube that I liked (of Lisa Simpson playing her saxophone).

Then, I grabbed the url of that video and went into a site called Make a Gif, which does what it sounds like it does: it creates animated GIF files out of YouTube videos. I took just the first three seconds of the video, as the loop of Lisa playing while Homer kicks back and dreams of other things while Lisa kicks out her saxophone jams.

Then, I went into an online photo editor called EZGif, which allows you to layer in text on top of animated GIF files.

I’ve run into problems hosting animated GIF files before and I have found that if I use Flickr and grab the “original” image (not the embed code that Flickr gives you, as that will flatten the GIF down to a static image) via copy/paste, and place that original upload file directly into my blog post, it will remain animated.

The result?

 

Pretty nifty, eh? Go give it a try and share out what you made as part of this Make Cycle around memes. We’re moving to shift gears out of this Make Cycle but it never really ends. You can enter into the conversation with the CLMOOC whenever you arrive.

Peace (in the sharing),
Kevin

There Are No Digital Natives

Here is yet another canon shot against that Native/Immigrant divide that we sometimes refer to … which does not exist with such clarity as one might be believe, so how about we stop using these terms? Agreed?

My friend, Bill Ferriter, wrote a post about this, too, focusing on how teachers are often called Digital Immigrants, as if they can’t find the power button on a computer or something.
Reading Bill’s post led to me make these two comics:
Not a Digital Native
Take that, Native Boy

Peace (in the shift),
Kevin

Making Pokemon Cards

My youngest son has suddenly sparked an interest in Pokemon cards. I don’t pretend to know the ins and outs of Pokemon cards and games, and worlds, and accept that this Pokemon universe is a kid’s world of knowledge. I’m Ok with that.

But I would love to steer him to make his own cards, and I remembered a site that Chad Sansing had shared with me a long time ago that allows you to do just that: make your own cards, online. The site was shared by someone else on Twitter this week, and I suddenly remembered Chad’s idea from last summer.

Check it out

So, I’ve been tinkering with the site, and it works OK. The trickiest part has been getting the image the right size so that it isn’t completely smooshed and flattened in the card. I’m still working on that. But my son (he’s away this weekend) will be thrilled by this activity. You can download the cards as image files, or share/publish them at the site.

Here’s one I made, using an art app on the Ipad. I was going for a saxophone-themed creature.
Saxophonius Pokemon

Here’s another I made for my friend, Terry, using Bitstrips to create an avatar of him as Captain Zeega.
captain zeega card
Pretty nifty, even if I have no idea of the different powers and rules of the Pokemon universe.

Peace (in the cards),
Kevin

 

Remixing Dave with YouTube Video Editor

youtube editor
I was watching a video interview with Dave Cormier, whose work around open learning is so thoughtful and interesting (and whose Rhizomatic Learning course was a fantastic learning adventure earlier this year), when I got distracted by a “remix this video” button.

Of course, I clicked the button.

And I got pulled into the YouTube video remixer/editing tool, which allows you to do a few things with online videos (but folks who put up videos have to allow it in their settings). You can splice the video, add text, change transitions, insert audio, and more. It’s interesting and I need to spend more time, but I had fun adding some words on top of Dave as he was being interviewed.

I’ve used the tool a bit before, but it has been some time since I’ve gotten back to it, and it has been improved. I love the remix element of it, too, and wonder how far it can be pushed.

Peace (in the remix),
Kevin

 

When We Fold Stories

I’ve been experimenting with a site called Fold That Story, which allows you to collaborate on a story, one small piece at a time (without knowing the pieces written prior to the one before you, so the writer is always in the dark about where things really began). So far, so good, and I may tinker with it with my sixth graders here at the end of the year, particularly with the option of allowing them to create their own stories.

Here are the results of two folded stories that I set in motion with teachers in our iAnthology writing space.

Inside This Poem

along the tops of trees

Peace (in the fold),
Kevin

Trigger Warnings: An Animated Poem

trigger warnings poem
You could not escape the phrase “trigger warnings” last week, as colleges and universities grappled with the idea of warning students about text before reading, and the battle over censorship and the protective society. I say, let young adults read without warnings, and if disturbed, so much the better for the discussions and experiences that follow.

Anyway, those news reports inspired me to write a poem that warns the reader about the poem, and recommends they take a chance anyway. I used Webmaker’s Thimble for this one.

Check out Trigger Warnings

Peace (in the text),
Kevin

Internet: Data Flow

You may have already seen this but it is yet another way to get your mind around how much flow is happening in online spaces. Or, you might not be able to get your mind around it. Still, our students and what they are doing is part of this mix.

Click the image to open the interactive version (via PennyStocks.la).

Peace (in the flow),
Kevin