Sunday, January 29, 2012

Videos (part 2)

Again, I just want to reiterate at the outset of this post that flipping is not all about the videos.  I think they are an important part of the execution, but not at the pedagogical center all all.

With that being said, let me address a lot of the questions that I had at the beginning and that folks have asked me since then.  As always, there are folks out there with a lot more knowledge than me.  I'd highly recommend the vodcasting ning site  which is a great resource for all things flipped, not just the videos.  There are folks like me who are just trying it out up to the real pros who led the charge in this movement on that site.

On to the questions:

What do you use to make the videos?
I use an awesome program called Camtasia to make all of my lessons.  There are a lot of programs out there, varying in price, storage, editing capabilities, etc.  I tried a few like Screenr, screencast-o-matic, and camstudio. These are all free and work fine...a lot of flippers use them and love them.  I do like free, but none of those made it as easy to edit (if at all) after recording the way Camtasia does.  Also, they don't all let you control where the videos go.  A lot of times they upload them to their own site, sometimes to youtube.  I use youtube, but I want control over the videos at all times.

Camtasia is pricey, around $200, though thanks to my awesome tech guy (@techcoor), I found a deal for $99.  Well worth the money in my book.

I'll make a statement that generally holds true for me and my philosophy on these things.  I'm not a tech snob by any stretch, but if I'm going to make 60-100 videos, I want full control and editing tools.  I'll pay for the ability to do that.  If you don't want to, I think that is fine too, this whole flip hasn't been cheap in my case, but it can be done cheaply.

I also make my shorter videos on working out problems using an absolutely amazing ipad app called Explain Everything.  Conceivably you could do your main videos there as well, but I find camtasia better for the longer stuff.  There are a lot of screencapture apps out there for the ipad, Screenchomp (which is from the camtasia folks), Show me, and Replay Note being notable.  Again, what made me actually pay for Explain everything is the ability to take files from a variety of places (dropbox, evernote, etc) as well as to export to a variety of places, including myself.  The others don't do that.  Additionally, EE is coming out with an update that lets you capture while browsing the web, which is making me drool a little.

This is one of my first EE videos, for my AP class:

What do you write with in the videos?
I use a Wacom Bamboo tablet when I make the camtasia videos.  On the ipad I have a stylus, though I've had kids make great videos just with their fingers on the ipad.

Again, it was an expense, and there are some cheaper options out there as well.  For a few of my early videos I actually used my smartboard at school and then went back in and added the audio at home.  The writing was a lot better that way, but obviously is more cumbersome.  That isn't possible with all of the capture programs.   And my PC at school definitely did not like camtasia, I think I heard it cry a couple of times...

Definitely takes some practice and I don't have the best handwriting in any case.  I did a couple of lessons by typing in the problems and revealing them as I recorded.  Takes a lot more prep, but if you don't have an input device that lets you draw, is still doable, just not ideal.

Since this post is getting super long, I'm going to sum up with the biggest question/stumbling block that I had when considering the video route:

How do the kids get the videos?
One of the things that almost made me not do this is that I don't teach in the toniest school.  I love my school, kids, parents, teachers and everyone, but I know for a fact that some of my kids don't have access to a computer, much less the internet on a regular basis.  This makes this a lot more complicated, believe me, and if I was in a 1:1 ipad school or something, I would LOVE it!  But I'm here to reach and teach the kids I have now and I'll come back to all of this tech divide stuff in a later post.  For now, here is what I did, thanks to the amazing advice of Sams and Bergmann:

1.  All of the videos are immediately posted on our school website (my teacher page for each class). This is not the best as it does some odd things to my vids in the compressing and uncompressing and all.
2.  I post the videos to YouTube.  They are under arnoldscience vodcasts if you want ot check any out.  This is my preferred medium and probably that of the kids.  HD quality in most cases and once I realize halfway through the term that I could do longer than 15 minutes, it made a big difference.
3.  Copy the videos to a jump drive.  On the first day of class I tell kids that if they bring me a jump drive with at least 2gb of free space, I'll copy all the videos for the semester to them.  I've had several kids take this option, or something similar, like the one that just brought in a laptop and I copied straight to it.  I love this option because it means they always have them with them, regardless of any internet issues.
4.  Make playable DVDs of the lessons This is the killer for me personally.  For each unit I make a DVD player ready DVD of the vodcasts.  To my eternal thankfulness, the TV production teacher at my school has his students burn 10-15 copies of each unit for me and I check these out to students who don't have access to a computer at all.  It also means that they can still pause, rewind, etc.  I could burn them myself, but his students have taken to it, and they even put awesome graphics that I supply on the dvds.

To this date, this has taken care of most of my issues.  I also make sure that I'm at school a little early every day and offer the option for the kids to come in and watch the videos on my ipad or they can hit the library in the morning as well.  I haven't had a student yet that we haven't been able to figure out something.

Okay, more questions next time, but this post is reaching novella state as it is!

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