When Connected …

Joining in Nile Conference

I was able to join in a conversation taking place in Egypt yesterday, hosted by two friends named Maha. It was a conference called NileTESOL  and the session by Maha B. and Maha A. was about using online resources in the teaching of English. I participated in a Twitter chat for a bit and then jumped into a Google Hangout for a spell. (TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)

Think about that for a second: from my home in Massachusetts, USA, I was engaged in a discussion about teaching at a conference taking place simultaneously in the Middle East, chatting with folks in a hangout from South America (I think that’s where one of them was from) and listening to a student in France talk about how he uses digital media in the classroom (with my friend, Simon).

When we talk about the connected world and how it can open up new avenues for sharing, that’s the power of the connection.

Peace (across the world),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Where No Dog Dared to Go

(This is a post for Slice of Life, a regular writing feature with Two Writing Teachers).

Neither the dog (his name is Duke) nor this dog (my nickname in social networks is Dogtrax) wanted to brave the great outdoors this morning. The blizzard is here, and even as I write this, I can hear the winds whipping around the neighborhood.

duke in winter

Juno has arrived.

We think we’re ready: extra food, extra water, generator near the garage door, a trip to the library to stock up on additional books, etc, etc. I sort of wish I had slept in a bit more but the howling winds and the antsy dog had me up and outside.

Outside this morning, Duke was nearly dragging me to get back home, jumping on his back legs as if he were kicking his motor into high gear. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad out there, and I hope the snow is cold enough that it won’t cause power lines to fall.

Hang tight, if Juno is near you. Stay warm.

Peace (in the winter),
Kevin

PS — I brought my camera outside, but most of the shots didn’t come out. These two did, and the hues of the world are interesting, particularly against the black lab background of Duke.

Book Review: The Boundless

Maybe it was because I had recently watched the intriguing movie¬†Snowpiercer with my older sons, but as I read aloud the latest book by Kenneth Oppel — The Boundless — I had some strange reverberations of story. Both tales involve a large train that seems to carry humanity forward into the great unknown. Unlike Snowpiercer, however, the world is not at an end in The Boundless. But our hero here — Will Everett – is on the adventure of a lifetime as he seeks to avoid murderous thieves and make his way to the front of the train where his father helps run the seven-mile train barreling its way through Canada.

Oppel is a fine storyteller (Check out Airborn) and he is in fine form with The Boundless. There is just enough magic and the unexpected here to keep the fires of the story burning, and the relentless hum of the train in motion nicely partners with Will’s predicament, in which he finds an old friend and joins a traveling circus … all just to stay alive, even as a larger plot unfolds to steal something that has echoes of the Fountain of Youth.

The Boundless has good adventure, and solid characters, and the pace makes for a perfect read-aloud.

Peace (on the train),
Kevin

The Snow Tells Stories: A Video of Vines

After sharing yesterday’s post about using Vine to make a multimedia poem about Vine, Terry suggested that maybe a collaboration with Vine might be something to consider. Yep. We jumped right on that, with each of us shooting our 6 second segments and then pulling them together into this video story:

Director’s Notes

Script:

Terry set up a Hackpad for us to write collaboratively. He started with the beginnings of a poem about snow, and even linked to some published poems. That would have been great, but reading Terry’s poem and thinking of the snow falling outside, I hit on the idea of a short narrative about the stories of snow. The script came together quickly (helpful, when each scene is only a line or two long at most).

Video Shoot:

Terry, in Kentucky, and me, in Massachusetts — we each took our phone or device outside for a little walk. I went as far as my backyard, and had to time my shots with the sounds of the city plowing crew. Terry has more room to roam, although you can just glimpse the cat and hear the famous rooster crowing in the soundtrack. That rooster made my day. I don’t know about Terry, but my shots went pretty smooth. A few retakes but nothing too bad. The most difficult part is that Vine requires you to hold the screen with your finger and getting yourself in a shot while doing that is tricky. Terry has a few shots where the last word gets either clipped or cut, particularly in the last shot. I suspect the six second rule was challenging for him. But he took some beautiful footage of the snow.

Sharing of Files:

I suggested we use Dropbox for him to send me his files. Terry set up a shared folder and invited me in. He could have emailed them to me, too, I suppose.

Editing:

Here’s where it got tricky for me. Terry’s files were in an odd format that my iPad did not want to accept as I tried to transfer the videos to my camera roll to use in the PicPlayPost app for a media collage. So, I had to get on my laptop, figure out the right file format and convert all of his files to something my iPad would like (which I first did as .mov but that didn’t work and then converted again to .mp4). I had to straighten out a few of his video files, too, which were taken with the lens on its side (although I thought about keeping them, just to add the odd effect). Then, I had to upload those back into Dropbox, then open my iPad and try again. (It worked).

Now I had all of the files — Terry’s and mine — on my iPad and in PicPlayPost, I began to discover another difficulty: the labels of the video files are not visible when importing into PicPlayPost, so you have to go through each one and figure out not just which video to import, but the sequence of the import (so that the overall collage will run in order). Terry sent me a lot of files of winter, so that took some time.

Publishing:

PicPlayPost allows you to publish directly to YouTube, so that was a snap. I decided to try out an alternative version with the Storehouse app, too, just so I could use more of Terry’s winter footage as buffers between the “story” we were telling. I still like the PicPlayPost better as a more seamless narrative, but Storehouse allows you to scroll through the story with a bit more agency. One drawback is the viewer has to allow the sound through, or it seems muted. Odd default setting that I can’t figure out how to change.

Peace (in the snow, with more on the way),
Kevin

Teachers Teaching Teachers: Game On

This is a video I never got around to sharing, but I had joined Paul Allison, Chris Sloan and others at Teachers Teaching Teachers webcast a few months ago (!) to talk about gaming, game design and learning a few weeks ago. Here is the video of that discussion:

Peace (in the teach),
Kevin

A Video Poem About Vine, Using Vine

I am not a newcomer to using Vine, but I still wonder about how to best utilize the restraints of its six seconds. Here, I wrote a poem about Vine, recorded it in pieces in Vine and then used an app called PicPlayPost to coordinate the Vine videos together as a collage.

Interestingly, the first time I uploaded to YouTube, I had the settings wrong, and it was set to run all of the videos in the collage at the same time. It’s a bit of cacophony, and yet …. it’s interesting, too. Your mind tries to grasp at the words, and the last sound heard is in the first video, a little “uttt.”

Director’s Notes:

I kept the poem rather simple. Four lines, two couplets. Each line had to be around six seconds long, of course, to fit into a single Vine post (I wonder what my Vine followers were thinking as I posted one after another.) I added a fifth intro video when I realized that the poem might need a little context.

With Vine, your videos also get posted to your Camera Roll, which allows PicPlayPost app to access them for a multimedia collage. I really like PicPlayPost for the way it can use various media. As noted above, you can also sequence the playback of videos. I did it rather linearly here, but I didn’t have to.

The shots themselves were simple, too. I did try to move the lens a bit for each of the posts, to give a bit of variety to the eye. As it is, the collage looks strange, with all of my faces looking at you. Sorry about that, but it will lay the grounds for a joke in my “how to” comic coming up for my Got Some ‘Splaining To Do Tumblr.

A look at Vine .. Give it a try …

Yep, We’re Yodeling

Blame this one on me .. but yesterday’s Daily Create at DS106 was my idea — getting people to yodel. And darn it if they didn’t. In fact, I completely forgot it was even my idea until Mariana called me out on it with a “Hey, where’s your yodel?” So I got my yodel on this morning and added it to the Soundcloud group.

How about you? Do you yodel? Come add yours.

Peace (in the yoleheehooo),
Kevin

Convergent/Divergent: Two Videos and One Song

I wrote a new song this week called Tell Everyone You Know.

Then I asked Terry Elliott to Zeega it up, as he has done in the past. He did.

Before I saw Terry’s final version, even as he was working on it, I thought to myself, what if I used Mozilla Popcorn Maker to do my own video version. How would my digital work compare to Terry’s? What would he focus on for the visual? I found myself thinking of phones and dancing ..

So what choices did we make?

Where the pieces converged:

  • Obviously, the music. I uploaded the song into Soundcloud so that he could use it in Zeega. Both Zeega and Popcorn have search functions within Soundcloud.

  • There’s a line about holding hands, and I think we both heard that as a visual cue. My hand-holding scene goes a bit longer than his, and he instilled some humor while I went for the emotional scene.

  • We both used mostly animated gifs. Actually, that’s all I used for mine. While Popcorn allows for videos to be edited and used, it seemed like the gif was the way to go. Terry sprinkled some static images in his.

  • Both videos conveyed the theme of the worlds, of coming together to change the the world for the better.

Where the videos diverged:

  • Interestingly, Terry went very political in his, right from the first shot. He tweeted me about it, saying that the song coming out near to MLK Day had him in a political frame of mind. I was moving into another direction, choosing a lighter theme — with the dancing, and the phones. The tone of each piece is different due to those choices.
  • Zeega and Popcorn are similar as video construction tools and yet, not …. particularly from the experience of the viewer. In Popcorn, you (the viewer) follow my editing trail, so I was very careful in where gifs started and ended, trying to sync ideas directly to the music and words. With Zeega, the reader has more agency. You (the viewer) click when you want the image to move on. Terry is thoughtful in the sequencing of images, and there is even a rhythm you can achieve with Zeega, if the viewer plays along.

Now here is where it could interesting, if you want to play along. Both Zeega and Popcorn allow the viewer to remix a project. If you have a Zeega account, you can hit the “reply” button on Terry’s project and it will bring you to a platform to remix his media in a multimedia reply. When you remix a reply, it gets tacked on to the end of the original project, which is interesting and disruptive in itself, right?

remix terry zeega

So:

In Popcorn, with a Mozilla Webmaker account, you can also remix any project. Just find the “remix” button at the top of the screen, click it and begin. So, if you go to my project, you can use your own vision for the song.

kevin popcorn remix

kevin popcorn remix2

Think of it as an invitation. If you do remix, be sure to leave us a note. I’d be honored …

 

Peace (in the muse),
Kevin