Monday, September 12, 2011

Data projectors - we need some training, don't we?

YouTube has come a long way in making it possible for anyone to make animations.  In the summer, YouTube unveiled a new service allowing anyone with a YouTube account to create their own videos.  Just log in to YouTube and go to  Here is one that I whipped up after a conversation with Dindy about the rationale for having a professional development blog to address concerns about the use of technology in the classroom.

This was done with the GOanimate option.  You are limited to ten lines of dialogue, and a handful of scenes and a couple of characters in the free version.  But in most cases, this can be more than enough.  You can type your dialogue and get the computer to convert it to speech (as I did here), or you can actually record your own voice.

One of the other options I tried was StupeFlix.  It lets you create Animoto-like videos of images with animations driven by the music you choose.  One big difference to Animoto is that you can add captions to your images.  Again, the free version is limited to 1 minute of video (about 12 images, with a few titles), but this is probably long enough for most people.  I was working with some Azerbaijani teachers, and wanted to share a bit about my home province of Saskatchewan, Canada, so I whipped this up from images I found in Flickr.  It will give you an idea of the output of the tool.

Possible ideas to use with students?
  1. Have students create dialogues in GOANIMATE to consolidate language points learned in class.  Play these back in class on the data projector and highlight the appropriate language.
  2. Ask students to create a STUPEFLIX video (with captions) of an upcoming reading/listening.  Play the video in class on the data projector to activate their content schemata before language input.
  3. Get students to have a conversation between two students to explain what interests them about their chosen field of study.
  4. Teachers can create a 'what I expect from my students' conversation between two teachers, and then have a YES/NO quiz afterwards to make sure students understand what is expected of them.
  5. Students can create a 'what I expect from my teacher' conversation between two students, and then have a YES/NO quiz afterwards to make sure teachers understand what students need from them.
  6. Have students create a STUPEFLIX to illustrate a process, with keywords and phrases as captions.  Use this as input for process writing in class.
  7. Create a 'soap opera' with different students assigned the following week's scenario, building up an ongoing serial that can span a term in one class.  Each episode could include language points from that week.
Nice things about this tool
  1. Super easy to use.  And the free version is usually enough for most projects.
  2. Great for visual learners and a nice break for students from traditional homework.
  3. Text-to-speech can illustrate the importance of spelling and proper use of punctuation.  Also, it will interpret abbreviations, e.g. ("e.g." in text is spoken as 'for example' in text to speech).
  4. It is also possible to record voices directly using the microphone, to encourage students to practice their own pronunciation.
  5. Both students and teachers can easily create these, and sharing them as a YouTube video is really convenient.
  6. As a YouTube video, you can use the free online editing tools.  This means you can create a longer video of several scenes, if you want.
Not so nice things about this tool
  1. Can produce some odd sounding English, if not careful with spelling and punctuation.  Also, English pronunciation of foreign names in text-to-speech can be unintelligible.
  2. You do need a GOOGLE ID and a YouTube account.  One would assume more people have this, but many students may not.
  3. Students may be reluctant to publish in YouTube, in full public view.  Such publishing does allow for comments from the general public, which might not be complimentary.
Any other ideas/comments?

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