• 27Jan
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Mind Amplifying Tools, Technology Comments Off on Animoto


    The educational potential may not immediately jump out at you, but Animoto is a great technology to explore, and anything that can put an end to PowerPoint presentations is thumbs up in my book! But seriously, any visually-heavy educational content fits perfectly into the Animoto model.

    Teach an art history course? Imagine the impact of your presentations.
    Teach about music composition? Show the music as you play it.
    Photography course? That’s a no-brainer!
    How about architecture, drama, social networking technologies or film making?

    Tons of educational value in this tool!

    Here are some case studies available on their site. Take a look at examples of what fourth graders can do with a little imagination and some accessible technology, or how a language course can benefit from a multimedia injection.

    Interested in knowing more about how to get setup and give your students access? Click here. It’s not totally free (although there is a free basic account that allows you to create an unlimited number of videos up to 30 secs in length), but this won’t be as gutting as other pricing schemes 😉

    Have you used this technology with your students? Share your experiences 🙂

  • 26Jan
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Technology Comments: 2

    For those of you who’ve read through some posts on this blog, you’ll have noticed that I am quite the advocate of a technology that affords the less tech 20090126 postsavvy content developer with the opportunity to easily create flash content. I’ve published some of my materials here already, and I even started a “Learning Object Series” which was going to provide readers with a breakdown of all aspects of what a learning object can be. Not to mention all the other ideas I had in store…

    Pick up on that fleck of the past tense in that last sentence? Well, it seems that I’ll no longer be able to use that amazing technology. ‘Why?’, you may ask. Well, because recently I received an email from the Sprout Team advising me of their new pricing scheme. A technology that was previously free and accessible to all is now going to cost US$599.50/yr! Here’s the pricing scheme for those who would like a kick in the gut along with their morning coffee!

    I’m not going to dwell on the dozens and dozens of hours I’ve spent creating content using SproutBuilder. I’m not going to spend any more time feeling sorry for myself that I’ll loose all my work (because there’s no way of saving or backing up your sprout on your own machine). I won’t think a minute more about all the students who will be affected by this ‘new development’ since a number of my Sprouts are currently being used within virtual learning environments as tools for university students. I’ll even shelve all the other ideas I had for new uses of Sprouts – ideas that until a couple days ago were still cheerily sprouting in my mind. I’ll eventually move on to a new technology and probably even gain a few new skills along the way…but that’s really not the point…

    What I am quite disturbed about is the relationship between accessibility and money, and even more so, about the potential for the provider of the technology to abuse its power in order to dis-empower the user. In this case, the user was just one person – me – but what are the implications when the user is a university or a college with minimal funds available in its IT budget? The accessibility of technology is vital in today’s world. Taking a look at their pricing levels, it looks like the Sprout Team is targeting their product to high-end design firms with lots and lots of mulla to dish out, and most probably who are already Sprouters themselves and who will have to think a lot longer and harder than me about the implications of the investment they’ve already made in this fabulous new technology. Is this another sign that open source is the way of the future? At least for the disappearing middle class, it seems.

    Dear Sprout Team, let’s not get ahead of ourselves! Even sliced bread is affordable to the little guy!

    On a side note, anyone notice the strategically planted comment that the Sprout Marketing Manager planted on my blog, coincidentally only a couple days before the news broke about their new fees? …funny…

    armydavidsTo leave off on a more inspiring note, here’s a book forum discussion presented by the Cato Institute spotlighting a book written by Glenn Reynolds entitled, ‘An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths“. The latter part of this panel discussion gets quite politically heavy, but in addition to a brief glimpse into the history of beer (!), the panel discusses the implications of ideas presented in the book such as, “Technological developments are putting more and more power into the hands of more and more people.”

    My question is, what happens if technology providers become the Goliath’s? Where’s the empowerment supposed to come from then?

  • 19Jan
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Educational Technology Comments: 1

    “A teacher that can be replaced by a machine should be.”

    ~ Sir Arthur C. Clarke

    20090119-postThe accessibility of education must be a primary focus of all educators, for education is worthless if it is not shared and applied in a way that allows all of us to work together to make life not only livable, but enjoyable, enriching and prosperous.

    During his talk at the Lift Conference in Geneva, Sugata Mitra discusses the implications of the remoteness of education as it relates to primary education. He puts forth the following questions:

    Is it true that the more remote the school, the lower the quality of education?
    Where is educational technology better suited at this stage of its integration – remote areas or urban centers?
    Can technology alter the acquisition of values?
    Can education be self-organizing?

    Mitra found that the motivation of teachers was directly correlated to the quality of educational delivery. This brings us back again to the foundation of Teacher as Inspire-or. If you do not derive joy from your work, if you do not believe in what you are asked to teach, if you do not see the possibility inherent in the passing on of information and the support of the cultivation of knowledge, how can you teach anything?

    If you are told by your Department Head that you must start using technology in the classroom because your faculty is falling behind in the polls, in the rankings, in the ratings (or in whatever popularity contest you participate for the sake of funding and politics) but you do not believe in the connecting power of technology, how can you inspire its use?

    Is educational technology really ‘over-hyped’ and ‘under-performing’? Can we really come to that conclusion if we haven’t really given it a chance? How many teachers who have been asked to begin working with educational technology (and educational technologists) have really given it (and them) a chance? How many have considered the student ‘s perspective when coming to their premature conclusions? How many have acted out of fear?

    There is something to be said for walking through life with a child-like innocence. It allows one to look through the eyes of an open, curious and light-hearted perceiver. It allows one to make choices from a place of flexibility, acceptance and promise. How many teachers do you know who teach from a place of fear and ego? How many do you know who inspire?

    “We need a faster processor and a better mouse.”

    The Hole in the Wall Project – a phenomenal example of the spirit of humanity. How could you not want to help inspire?