The iPad 2 For Learning: Not So Great for Video

My students have just completed a unit of discovery based on creating video news reports. The idea in the course is that students are trying to use the iPad, but not past the point of frustration; in short, they are problem solving when the iPad gets in their way. Students found that it was difficult to get decent video with the iPad and that the audio was very poor. iMovie on the iPad was deemed by students to be useful for sprucing up a single video clip for quick upload to Facebook or YouTube, but not for anything else. Additionally, video was difficult to get off of the iPad. Email attachments have size limits and, for some reason that I am sure is related to copyright protections, they couldn’t put any video file longer than one minute into their Dropbox accounts.

When students had video off of their iPads, they opted not to use our Lenovo tablets’ native Windows Movie Maker, which really is awful in Windows 7, but opted instead to edit the video at home on Macs with the full version of iMovie. I found this really interesting, and wonder if Microsoft hasn’t punted a bit on their formerly useful Movie Maker software as a concession to the primacy of Macintosh in this arena. The Windows Live adaption is just weird and I can’t understand how this is better for users. Final video products, which I will share once I ask students for permission, show decent fluency with the medium, but also show clearly the limitations of the iPad for academic or amateur quality video products.

The verdict is clear. No students said they would edit video on the iPad. Only three said they would shoot video with their iPad again, and several said they would rather use their smartphones. The limitations of the iPad for quality media production appear obvious.

I Flip the Classroom, Sort Of

I maintain deep and abiding distrust of the “flipped classroom” model, because I see it largely as just the same boring lectures with more time to drill, baby, drill in the standardized testing-focused classroom. However, I see the possibilities of refining and recording moments of direct instruction for students via video lectures. Since I am missing two days of my IB course this week due to an adventure day with grade 10 and an IB conference (oh, sweet irony), I decided to revisit the mini-lecture from today and record the rest of the instruction I would try to give individually or in small groups as kids worked over the next two classes via screencasting. The focus of the series is “Essay Skills,” focusing on dissecting a prompt, writing a thesis statement, and organizing an outline while revising a thesis statement.

I used Jing and put the videos together in Camtasia Studio, thanks to a free 30 day trial. I managed to complete all of the screencasting, but then found that I only had the audio for the first two pieces of three. I was aiming for around 15 minutes total in length for all three videos and that should be about right. I’ve really doubted how useful this model would be for kids in the reading and composition classroom and am interested to hear student feedback after my return. I’ve embedded the videos below and welcome any feedback.



Technology for Questioning and Exploring

Today my Digital Journalism class took the governor off and explored a current event or newsworthy situation through questioning. They identified what they knew about a topic, wrote questions using the 5 W’s of journalism fame, and jotted down a list of possible sources. Next, off they went. Some took notes on their tablet. Others recorded their interviews with Audacity. Still others recorded video of their interviews directly into Microsoft OneNote. I taught them none of those tricks, but another teacher did show a group of students how to use OneNote in this manner.

Once they had their first set of information, the next set of questions came flying in as they made connections and created new understandings. More sources became obvious. Off they went. They recorded more information. The cycle continued, and then they wrote. They began to lay out rough articles with spaces for the possibilities left open to them. They tore down earlier preconceptions and filled their new concepts with actual information. They struggled with how to present facts without bias. It was beautiful, and it was just the beginning. In our next class, they get the iPads and we’ll see how that platform opens venues for questioning and exploring in comparison to the tablet. And, they’ll have the option to choose whichever they would rather use. After the novelty wears off, I think functionality will win the day. We’ll see.