Our World, Our Stories

Edublogs alerted me to the Our World, Our Stories blog set up by set up by 7 primary school teachers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ghana, Belize and the USA. The classes talk to each other and share videos and photos realting to a set topic each week, such as food or traditional songs, I’ve had a bit of a look at the comments made by the students and they all seem excited by the idea of being able to communicate and make freinds with kids on the other side of the world. This is a really good idea and I think  it could be transfered to a high school setting…might work well with a humanities class, anyway I reccomend having a look.

After Effects – task one

Hey!! I have been neglecting my blog for a while now, in that time I have been doing a bit of travelling around Europe and moved back to Australia and started my fourth year teaching rounds. I am lucky enough to be taking a year 10 and a year 11 Media class at a school with not one but three mac based computer labs!!! I have been able to learn a bit of after effects from my supervising teacher and have been able to share this with the year 10’s by setting them a unit based around the software.

After Effects is an Adobe  software package used for video effects and basic 2d animation, there’s a lot to this program and a lot that it can do, I recommend either taking a short course or spending a good couple of weeks playing around with it and doing some online tutorials (this is my plan for my upcoming holidays).

The first task I set for the students was to create a holophone special effect using video footage provided by my supervising teacher. For the first task I took the students through using the software and creating the effect step by step, (you can find my pdf with screenshots here…AFTER EFFECTS HOLOPHONE EXERCISE) the finished videos ran for about 10 secs each and took 2×75 min classes to complete keep in mind these students are reasonably computer savvy and have used editing software before, you need to allow at least 10 mins for a 10 sec video to render and export.I found that the students really enjoyed this task, it was a little tedious going through it step by step, I found some of the students skipped ahead using the PDF guide, but most needed the step by step instruction.

Here’s an example of what one of the students came up with

Tom’s Holophone

I found most of the students really engaged with this exercise, it helped to build their confidence as every student in the class ended up with a end product of a reasonable standard regardless of their computer skills.

Classroom Blogs

Hey, you may have been directed here from my wiki…if not check it out here. Since I am still a pre service teacher and don’t have a real class yet I haven’t set up a blog for them, once the wiki is being used in the classroom I will change the link to the classes blog. In the meantime I thought you may be interested in this article about the benefits of using a blog in the classroom.

5 benefits for creating a classroom environment for student blogs


Assignment over!!!

I originally started this blog for a uni assignment, which is now finished but I have decided to continue with my blog and exploration of technology in the classroom. I am currently setting up a wikispace for a secondary school photography class and i’ll keep you updated on the progress. I am setting myself the goal of exploring one piece of technology per week and writing about it in my blog, this way ill have a experience of a vast range of technologies by time I become a teacher. Watch this space.

Interactive timelines

I do a little volunteering here in the UK for a charity called Kindling and they have just started using an interactive timeline widget on their web page, I was updating it and started thinking about how this could be used in a classroom.  The interactive timeline widget can be customised and downloaded from Simile Widgets. Students or teachers can put dates and times in the timeline with information about what was taking place…sound like a timeline so far, But when you click on these dates and times further information and pictures come up as well as the option to discuss the content, which takes you to a forum. I think the discuss option is what makes this tool so interesting, students could work on individual time lines or whole class projects and leave questions and comments for each other and their teacher.


Photostory- first impressions

Photostory is a free program that allows you to put together still images and music to create short films. Photostory has a default setting, where you can choose the photos and the program will do the rest (transitions, effects etc.) or you can customise your project choosing from a range of transitions, effects filters, audio effects, and music from the built in library or import you own music and record your own narrations.

Photostory is used across a varied range of subjects and age groups. I think it would be helpful when teaching media students about story lines and sound design. I also think it may be a good tool for stop motion animations as you can use bulk actions to change the duration of the still image, where as in windows movie maker you have to change the duration one photo at a time…which is boring, frustrating and time consuming. The program is really easy to use and the results are impressive, the layout looks like a simplified video editing program, I think this would help to boost students confidence when introducing them to video editing. The only downfall I can see so far is that you can only export projects as WMV and would not be able to burn them straight to DVD.

I found a open source student handout online, it can be found here

I had heard teachers talking about photostory but never used it or seen it used in the classroom. After downloading the program I google searched for a video to give me a bit of an idea of what photostory was all about.

Audacity – part two

Have a listen to my track ICT in the classroom I made on Audacity using samples from YouTube (see previous post) and A track from aussie hip hop greats The Herd.  

I found Audacity a bit hard to use, every time you want to do anything ie, move a clip, highlight a clip you need to switch between tools, a lot of the settings and effects have to be found in the drop down toolbar menus, and its hard to see where you are on the timeline… I find garageband so much more user friendly.

Here’s what my finished track looked like.


I had to put the YouTube samples on two separate tracks as it wouldn’t allow me to increase the volume of one clip without increasing that of the entire track, you can however decrease the volume of a singular clip using the envelope tool.

I didnt do a whole lot of editing , I cut the parts of the song that had vocals out, this was a lot more difficult to do than on garageband because Audacity is a lot less sensitive. I then places the YouTube samples where I wanted them, made them fade in and out to make them flow better, adjusted the volume levels and that was it.

I found exporting the track to be really simple, you just choose export in the menu and save the audio track as a Wav, Mp3 or whatever you want. I wouldn’t recommend this program to a school unless they didn’t have access to garageband or something similar, I found using it frustrating and I image that students would loose interest after a while because it is fairly limited as far as effects.


O.k so I seem to have gotten a little distracted from my audio project by Go!Animate. Go!Animate is a free online tool for making animations, They have also produced Go!Animate4Schools which like the name suggests is an animation tool created with students and teachers in mind.

Here’s an animation I made in about 30 mins…it really is that easy!

GoAnimate.com: goanimate by jmshaw

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It’s free and fun!

Students and teachers are able to create animations and share them online with others in their school or around the world, here’s an example of a history project that made me giggle.

GoAnimate4Schools.com: I am Caesar by Matthew Tarwater

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate4Schools. It’s free and fun!

I think that this would be a great tool no matter what age group or subject area you teach. This would be a great way to get students engaged in a topic that may be a bit dry. I particularly like the fact that you share your creations with other schools. I think the fact that people other than the teacher will see their work will make the assessment more meaningful for students, also students get a chance to see what other students are doing and hopefully be inspired.

I think it would be worthwhile upgrading the school to a pro account because there are limited characters to choose from in the free account, especially if the students wanted to represent real people or well known characters, the moderation feature would also be useful.

Audacity project – part one

I have decided to make a piece of audio putting together music and  samples of students talking about how they use ICT in their classrooms and why they like it,  I think it will be interesting to hear students talk about ICT in their own words. I have chosen to approach the project in this way partly because I don’t have a mic and am unable to record audio and partly because it will allow me to explore multi track editing.

The first thing I had to do was to learn how to sample audio from the Internet I am sourcing the majority of my audio from YouTube videos. I found that there is an audio recorder program built into windows that is extremely easy to use, the only downfall is that you can only record 60 sec of audio at a time, for what I’m using it for 60 sec is plenty but if you wanted to record a whole song for example you would have to use something else. 

Step One – Open the sound recorder.

The recorder can be found in the entertainment folder in the  accessories folder (same place as the calculator and notepad) in your program folder


Step Two – Record

Recording is really easy, press the red record button and it will record any sounds your computer makes for up to 60 seconds. I had the YouTube video paused at the start of the bit of audio I wanted, pressed record, then pressed play on the video…Easy!


Step Three – Save

Just like in word and  pretty much every other program, to save simply go to file – save as.



 I recommend saving the sample as a WAV file, there are other options but this is  the most common and the only one that Audacity will recognize, if you want you can also change the bit rate and choose between stereo and mono, but I think for most purposes the default settings are fine. 


Aberfoyle ICT story

While searching the Internet for sound bites of students talking about ICT for my Audacity project I came across a series of videos produced by Aberfoyle Park High School showing their 6 year ICT journey, from planning and funding, training teachers as Mac and ICT specialists, employing an ICT learning mentor, to students using what they have learned to help others become ICT literate…including showing Alexander Downer how to make a podcast!!!! I really enjoyed watching how ICT can be used effectively in a school setting and getting more of an insight into the challenges faced by schools when planning and implementing ICT programs.

Students teaching adults, including their own teachers how to use computer technology.

To see more videos go to the Aberfoyle YouTube channel