Making of the #etmooc Lipdub

I’ve been busy with #etmooc, a MOOC focused on educational technology & media. We’re nearing the (official) end of our first topic, Connected Learning, and late last night, we published a crowdsourced, #etmooc lipdub project. I feel that the video accurately captures the energy and personalities of #etmooc participants, and the spirit of sharing and connecting that has dominated this experience. Take a look.

Several people wanted to me to share the process of creating this lipdub, so I am detailing the steps in this post. The inspiration for this video came from the project Dean Shareski crowdsourced and edited for my 40th birthday. He’s previously shared his process which is similar to what we ended up doing.

So here are the steps:

  1. After getting some support for the idea of a lipdub project, I created a Google Form which collected nominations for the song we would eventually choose. I also gathered nominations directly in our #etmooc Google+ Community and via Twitter.
  2. I took the top 10 most nominated songs and added them to a PollEverywhere poll. It was a close race, and you can see the final results here.
  3. I created an editable Google Doc (see it here) that included a background to the project, song lyrics (found easily via Google), and instructions for submitting video. As you can see in the document, people volunteered for a specific line in the song and were asked to create and upload a video.
  4. Video was uploaded to my Dropbox account by using a connecting service called DropItToMe. This latter service allowed participants to upload video to a specific folder in my Dropbox account without me having to explicitly share that folder with every single person. As well, people couldn’t see, edit, or delete the videos of others,  so this made this project potentially more manageable. DropItToMe worked really well, and also has great application for other classroom projects.
  5. For people using mobile devices, DropItToMe wouldn’t have been as convenient. Instead, I specified an email account where files could be sent. If you notice, the email address was couros+etmooc@gmail.com. This is actually an alias address based on my real, couros@gmail.com account. If you have a Gmail email address you can add +’anything’ to the username to create an email alias – this makes it easy to create specific filters for special projects, to sort email as it comes in.
  6. It is important to note that I specified a naming convention for files. I had people include name, geographic location, and song line #. This made these videos fairly easy to manage and reference.
  7. Once the videos had all been uploaded, I shared my Dropbox folder with @stumpteacher who agreed to do the actual video editing – that was the hard work!
  8. After a few drafts, the final copy was uploaded to Youtube. Like magic! Kinda.

There were a few minor things that would have made things easier.

  1. The naming convention that I chose had the line # at the end, instead of at the beginning. Had I asked for the line # at the beginning, it would have made it easier to sort these videos in numerical order in Dropbox.
  2. I  should have asked for slightly longer clips so that there would have been the possibility of more overlap. A few clips ended up being quite short.
  3. Perhaps, I should have asked for a standard aspect ratio from participants – we had a mix of 4:3 and 16:9 – as well as a minimum resolution (480p or better?). Yet, in some ways, I feel that the mix may have actually added to the overall feel of this video.
  4. Perhaps I should have shared this PSA on Vertical Video Syndrome (VVS). Yet, again, the mix may have added to the overall feel. I’m really not sure.

That may be it. Thanks to everyone for being part of this project, and special thanks to Josh for his tireless editing and attention to detail. It’s truly a project that makes my heart warm – that helps to represent the human connection in these learning networks – the joy, the fun, the passion, the creativity. And, as @cogdog tweeted:

 

10 Ideas for Classroom Video Projects

“… ten years ago, not one student in a hundred, nay, one in a thousand, could have produced videos like this. It’s a whole new skill, a vital and important skill, and one utterly necessary not simply from the perspective of creating but also of comprehending video communication today.” (Stephen Downes)

If you follow my Twitter-stream, you know that I spend a lot of time viewing, collecting & sharing videos. In this post, I share ideas on certain types of videos that I’ve gathered and how educators might use related methods or styles to engage students in constructing and deconstructing media while becoming critical consumers and producers of digital media.

1) Conversation with Future Me/You:

“A Conversation with My 12 Year Old Self: 20th Anniversary Edition” is a recently popular video by Jeremiah McDonald. In the video, McDonald has created an interview with himself through the use of 2 decade old footage that he created as a 12 year old. The video had me kicking myself for not having the forethought to have produced something like this, but I suppose there’s always interviewing my 60 year old self at some point.

While presenting with my brother George (he’s likely blogged about this somewhere) in Australia this past Summer, I remember him discussing how this activity would be an excellent beginning/end of year exercise that students of all ages could enjoy and learn from. I agree. If done well, this type of activity could provide a student with not only a rich assessment of learning/growth throughout the year, but provide individuals with a precious artefact to be collected, shared, and cherished.

Another angle for this activity could be to create a video or a dialogue with a literary, historical or popular media character. This Vader/Skywalker version of McDonald’s video may give you some ideas.

2) Genre Shifting Movie Trailers:

One of my favourite types of video projects are the genre-shifted movie trailers where creators take movie clips and retell the plot of the story in a different genre than the original. Popular examples include The Shining as a romantic comedy, Mary Poppins as a dark horror film, Home Alone as a horror/thriller, Superbad as a thriller, Ferris Bueller’s Day off as an indie “coming of age” film and Mrs. Doubtfire as a horror film.

Genre-shifting video projects are valuable in a number of ways. As video creation projects, they would not require a high-level of technical ability. In fact, I would argue that students with basic video editing capabilities could create videos like these from a purely technical perspective. However, if done well, such projects could challenge students to think deeply about the grammar of storytelling while considering essential elements of creating video (e.g., music, timing, edits/cuts, effects, pauses/silence, etc.) for various genres . As well, students would have to acquire a keen eye for the curation involved in finding & gathering elements that would support a chosen genre. But, even without offering students a hands-on component, these videos would be great for discussing questions around how film directors/producers make us feel a certain way through the thoughtful use of various edits & visual/auditory/stylistic elements.

3) Storytelling Lip-Syncs:

I’ve recently discovered BoredShortsTV, a Youtube channel where kids write & record audio stories and adults reenact the stories while lip-syncing the original audio. My favourite video so far is this “Salesman” clip, but see also “Principal’s Office”, “Dance Class” and “Basketball Class”.

I would love to see schools take on a video project such as this where elementary school students were responsible for writing, narrating and recording audio stories and then had middle school or high school students act out and lip-sync the video in creative ways. This could provide an onramp for greater collaboration amongst teachers, across grade levels, and also provide a project that would be humorous and fun for the entire school community to view.

4) Plot Synopsis in 60 Seconds:

There are a number fun plot synopses videos available on Youtube (and other video sharing services) that do well to provide summaries of Hollywood movies or novels in 60 seconds. Notable examples include “Forrest Gump in One Minute, One Take”, “60 Second Fight Club”, “Jaws in 60 Seconds”, “Kill Bill 1 & 2 in One Minute, One Take” and “Lord of the Rings in 60 Seconds”. There is also the excellent 60 Second Recaps site that is a great resource for students and educators needing comprehensive and enjoyable plot summaries.

Projects like this could help students gain skills needed to become more effective communicators with digital technologies, skills that are essential in our attention-scarce reality, while providing entry points into a wider comprehension of literature & popular media.

5) Stop Motion:

I’ve been enamoured with stop motion films since I first saw Norman McLaren’s anti-war classic ‘Neighbours’ when I was a boy. In the last several years, I’ve seen countless examples of conventional stop motion videos such as “Tony vs. Paul”, “Western Spaghetti”, “Rwandan Grand Prix”, ““Sorry I’m Late”“, ““Human Skateboard”” and “PEN Story”. I’ve also noticed a number of stop motion music videos such as “Wildlife Control”, “Dream Music 2″, “Against the Grain” and the incredible “Her Morning Elegance”.

What I like about these videos is that there is so much variation and creativity among these pieces. There is no simple recipe or formula and from a technical standpoint, the method for creating stop motion effects is done in a number of unique ways. And, if you consider a video like “Amateur” by Lasse Gjertsen, you will realize that stop motion is more than just choppy video. Rather, it’s a method of construction that allows artists to create things that could not be formed similarly through other methods. Gjertsen states at the end of his video, “I can neither play the drums nor play the piano”, yet through his video editing mastery, he is transformed into a talented musician.

6) Course Trailers:

Back in 2007, I used a course trailer to provide information and to get potential students interested in the open online course I was introducing. It was a fun experiment and I’ve since had many people interested in taking on the idea. I just noticed this Vimeo Channel from Harvard where there are a number of good examples.

The conciseness of the course trailer has similar advantages to what was expressed above about the plot synopses. However, I also think that educators taking on projects like this not only learn a lot from creating the project (e.g., technical skills, core focus), but also, it can provide a message to students that you are willing to push your own learning and have some fun while doing it.

7) Summaries of Learning:

For the past several years, I’ve been asking my students to create a “Summary of Learning” that captures and describes growth and key learnings throughout our course. Students have utilized a number of different formats of video to take on this task (e.g., stop motion, vlogging, podcasts), but the most popular format has been screencasting. Popular screencasting tools used include Screenr, Screencast-o-matic, and Camtasia (and a bunch more here). Dozens of examples of these summaries of learning can be found here but to get a sense of the different types, I’ll point you specifically to Leslie’s (stop motion), Lauren’s (video on identity), Kevin’s (traditional video cast) and Matt’s (stop motion + Photoshop).

This assignment has been very popular with mystudents and I’ve been quite pleased with the results. Our students need the opportunity to reflect on their learning, and providing them with alternatives to written summaries helps to improve their communication abilities while providing potentially rich artefacts of and for learning.

8) Kutiman-Style Mashups:

Kutiman’s 2009 Thru-You project was a great inspiration to me and many others. In the project, Kutiman curated samples of music from various amateur musicians on Youtube to create original musical pieces. Time Magazine named the project one of the best 50 inventions for 2009 as it was an unique way to both curate and combine samples. Recently, Gotye, inspired by Kutiman’s project, released a mashup encompassing samples from dozens of covers from his own song, “Somebody I Used to Know”.

There are two major things I like about these projects. First, I see this as moving beyond the ‘digital essay’, to achieve what we’ve always wanted to do in classrooms, to take and build upon the work of others and while doing so, to create something uniquely original and new. And second, this type of project allows student to play within the boundaries of fair use/dealing, not to only better understand copyright, but to execute our rights in current/emerging copyright legislation. If we do not act upon our rights, we are sure to lose them.

9) Video Re-creations:

My brother George introduced me to Ton Do-Nguyen, the sixteen year old who recently created the Snuggie version of a Beyonce music video. If you watch the side-by-side comparison, it is easy to see the incredible skill and attention to detail of this young man. And to know that he learned this on his own without any formal instruction makes this even more amazing.

I don’t have many examples of this type of thing, not that I don’t think there are any, but that I just haven’t been looking until now. But I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the process of discovering, recreating and reverse-engineering complex editing processes like seen in this video must lead to deep learning, and thus I do believe this is a worthwhile type of project to pursue.

10) Social Commentary & Critique:

9 year old blogger Martha Payne recently made headlines when her Scottish school district tried shutting down her NeverSeconds daily food blog, one that critiqued the quality of food at her school cafeteria. Ewan McIntosh outlines the series of events in his blog which eventually led to the school district backing down from the ban after increased media pressure and bad PR.

This type of social commentary and critique is greatly lacking in our schools. I would love to see more students take on social causes of interest, to speak their minds in support of change, and to learn how to do it with candour, respect and persuasion. We have the ability to look into a camera and record our words and to be heard locally or globally. Yet, is this happening in school? Let’s make sure it is – let’s be sure to educate this generation to take advantage of these new forms of empowerment. If we are not heard, if we do not engage in these participatory forms of media, I fear these freedoms will not be around for long.

Student Work – Fall 2011

For the third year in a row (see 2009 and 2010), I wanted to use the last post of the year to share a few examples of the great work that is being done by my graduate and undergraduate students. I am so very fortunate to have creative & hard-working students who are committed to improving their knowledge of teaching and learning in light of our new digital landscape. I hope that some of these examples will inspire you to take up new challenges in your own context.

From EC&I 831 (Open graduate course, Social Media & Open Education):

 Summaries of Learning:

  • Leslie – used stop-motion technique.
  • Tannis – used Glogster, an interactive, digital poster-making tool.
  • Shauna – used Freemind (free & open source mind-mapping tool) & video-editing.
  • Laura – used Xtranormal, a freemium “type-to-create-movies” tool.
  • Gail – used Screenr, a free and easy screencasting tool.
  • Kelley – used Jing, another free screencasting tool.
  • Lorena – used Voicethread, a group conversation and presentation tool.
  • Katy – used TikaTok (a tool for creating books) and Jing.
  • Alison – used Prezi, an less-linear Powerpoint alternative.
  • Kevin – used Knovio, a video-enhanced presentation tool.

Final Projects:

From ECMP 355 (An Undergraduate Technology Integration Course):

Summaries of Learning:

Electronic Portfolios:

There were many other good projects to share, but this represents a good sample of the student work from the semester. I’m looking forward to one more great semester before a 16 months hiatus from teaching as I move toward my sabbatical planning.

Happy New Year everyone!

Student Work – Fall 2010

Exactly one year ago, I shared some of the great work my students created in the Fall 2009 semester. This past year was another amazing year in that I was fortunate to have had some incredibly creative and hard-working students in my classes. So, with the possibility of creating a New Year’s Eve tradition, here again are two very short lists of notable work from my graduate and undergraduate students from the previous (Fall 2010) semester.

Projects & Portfolios
There was a wide-range of possibilities for portfolios and projects in these classes. In some cases, you will only be seeing a small portion of what was actually assessed. However, these pieces may be valuable to others.

Final Reflections
Both undergrad and graduate students were asked to produce or perform short final reflections of what they learned in their class. It should also be mentioned that a few of the best examples aren’t shown here, as they were done in ways that were difficult to record digitally.

So, that’s a bit of what my students did this past semester. Many of these students had very limited technical ability coming into the class, and I feel very happy to know how much many of them learned through the process.

Oh, and Happy New Year everyone!

Technology & Social Media (Special Issue, Part 2)

Last December, I announced my contribution to Part I of the Technology & Social Media (Special Issue) of in education journal. I am now pleased to announce that Part II of this Special Issue is now available, featuring nine academic articles and an edited book review. Acknowledgments are made in the Editorial, but I do want to thank, once again, all of those individuals (e.g., editors, reviewers, authors, readers) who helped make this issue a success.

Technology & Social Media (Special Issue, Part 2), 2010, 16(1)

Enjoy.

Student Work – Fall 2009

I truly enjoyed teaching both my graduate and undergraduate courses this past semester. There were a number of really hard-working students who produced some very meaningful work, and overall, I can say that I am increasingly excited by the quality of students I am encountering both in schools (my graduate students) and soon to be teachers (my preservice groups).

I thought I would quickly share a few of my favorite student reflections and projects over the past semester. These represent various forms of digital expression, and will help provide inspiration to my students in future semesters.

I hope these are useful and/or entertaining to you.

Oh, and seeing that it is New Year’s Eve, Happy New Year to all of you, and all the best in 2010! Thank you so much for taking the time to visit this space, and for connecting with me in other meaningful ways. I am truly a lucky person to be tied to such a caring and passionate network of individuals.

Seminar: Social Media and Open/Networked Learning

I am very fortunate to have been asked to teach a seminar this summer with UBC: Okanagan in Kelowna, BC, as part of their Summer Institute in Education. The seminar runs from July 27 – July 31, and I will have 15 hours in total. I am looking forward to meeting my new students, learning with them, and pushing the possibilities for immersion given such a short time-frame. My goal is to provide much more than a ‘taster’ for social media & open learning, but to help nurture a passion within these learners: to foster genuine interest and active participation through social learning, to nurture critical producers & consumers, and to convey the benefits of media sharing in education & society. I believe that the success of a workshop/seminar/course can only be measured in its effects on learners well after the official experiences are complete. I hope to someday know that this summer experience made a difference for all of those involved.

I am currently working on the course wiki (btw: quite enjoying the use of Wetpaint) and I would be happy to receive input from critical readers. Also, if anyone would like to suggest readings or media that could be shared with this group, I invite you use the tag edst499k in your Delicious links. That will automatically add your suggestions to the Readings & Resources page of the wiki.

Thanks for connecting.

A Busy Week

The last seven days have been very busy for me, especially with presentations. Here are some of the highlights, and a few things to come.

Last Friday (Nov. 21/08), I presented Academic Integrity and the Culture of Sharing to instructors of the Faculty Certificate Program with SIAST (in Saskatoon). View slide deck.

On Saturday (Nov. 22/08), I presented on the use of technologies in the research process for the Learning From Practice conference. I created a wiki to support this presentation.

On Monday (Nov. 24/08), I co-presented with Dean Shareski on The New Interactive Classroom: Education, Teaching & Globalization for the Talking about School & Society series. Related to this, there was something quite interesting that happened earlier that day. My colleagues, Patrick Lewis and Marc Spooner, were interviewed for a local CBC Radio program called Blue Sky. While this was going on live, I asked people from Twitter to call in and ask questions and email the program. Before we knew it, we had calls from Virginia and Massachusetts, and an email was reported from Holland. Not bad for local radio, and I really have to want to do more with this idea. The radio program is well worth listening to, so here’s the link.

On Wednesday (Nov. 26/08), I spoke to a group of undergraduate students about social justice and technology. We were INCREDIBLY lucky to have had Howard Rheingold join us from California to speak about the concept of smart mobs and technology for political action/activism.. Howard is a pioneer of online communities, has been doing great stuff recently with the Social Media Classroom, and is one of my heroes. I put together a wiki to support this presentation as well.

On Thursday (Nov. 27/08), I presented from my office to Manitoba for Awakening Possibilities. I was joined by a list of terrific presenters as we were tasked with “5 minutes to make a difference.” These presentations have been archived, and are available here.

And now, after this busy week, it is time to switch gears as I will be leaving to Ukraine next week. A colleague and I are involved in the project “Youth Development of Democratic Citizenship” funded by a Partnerships for Tomorrow Phase II grant. My role will be to look at how technology can mediate long-term partnerships in the Ukraine, and focus on concepts of democratic media, digital citizenship, and social justice.

And when I get back … I have a week to finish my annual review forms, and write a chapter on the concept of open teaching.

I am happy (and lucky) to be busy … but I’m just a little stressed.

Centre for Future Storytelling

The MIT Media Lab has announced the creation of the Centre for Future Storytelling through a Partnership with Plymouth Rock Studios.

With the establishment of the center, whose research program begins immediately, the Media Lab and Plymouth Rock Studios will collaborate to revolutionize how we tell our stories, from major motion pictures to peer-to-peer multimedia sharing. By applying leading-edge technologies to make stories more interactive, improvisational and social, researchers will seek to transform audiences into active participants in the storytelling process, bridging the real and virtual worlds, and allowing everyone to make their own unique stories with user-generated content on the Web. Center research will also focus on ways to revolutionize imaging and display technologies, including developing next-generation cameras and programmable studios, making movie production more versatile and economic.

Future of Storytelling

This is an exciting project and I look forward to the innovation and possibilities that emerge in the coming years.

Canadians In Space Project

Diane Hammond recently sent me notice of this exciting opportunity for grades 4-12 students.

Registration is now open for the Canadians in Space project!

http://space.yesican-science.ca/

2009 will be an exciting year for the Canadian Space program! Two Canadian astronauts are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station ‑ Julie Payette on Shuttle Mission STS‑127 and Dr. Bob Thirsk as the first Canadian on a long‑term post aboard the ISS!

YES I Can! Science is thrilled to announce that we will be working with the Canadian Space Agency this coming school year to bring the Canadians in Space Project to teachers and students from across the country and around
the world! Have your Grades 4‑12 students take part in the project blogs research activities, classroom experiments, and web conferences to learn from Canadian scientists, engineers and astronauts what it’s really like to live and work in space.

Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and supporters, there is no cost to take part in the project.

See you online!

Please pass this around to teachers in your school.

Spheres of Influence (Sharon Peters)

Sharon Peters gave an amazing presentation to EC&I 831 this past Tuesday around the theme “Spheres of Influence”. Sharon presented via Elluminate and the session was streamed to Ustream. Below is the recorded broadcast and Sharon’s slides.

I really believe that the combination of Sharon’s great enthusiasm and her strong experience with collaborative projects will have inspired some of my students. And this comes at a crucial time where many are beginning to connect these learning theories to practice as they create their own connections and begin their final projects for the course.

Thanks again Sharon. We were very lucky to have you as a presenter.