Saturday, April 24, 2010

508: Digital Media final project

This is a very quick post for Wilkes IM students in taking 508 -- for which the final project is to do Google Earth tour. I have posted some resources in the Q&A Discussion of my section, but I realized that not everyone can access these.

Here is my list:
as well as another one from Tom McGee the instructor for my section --
plus some new ones I found in Thomas Cooper's wikis (see an earlier post about his excellent work)
If you're looking for some basic ideas about how to handle HTML code inside GE, Thomas will have instructions embedded in the GE tutorial information in his wikispaces links.
And mashing up Google Earth with HTML code we get:
I hope these give you some help and some ideas. Cheers!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Getting creative with ToonDoo

I am getting ready to do several presentations on using internet tools and resources at ACEC 2010 this week, and one of the tools I’ll be inviting the audience to take a look is my creativity tool pick for the week: TooDoo. My workshop partner, who could not come to Melbourne, is the ToonDoo expert in our duo, so I figured that I'd better become learn more about how to use this cartoon-making online software. Let's take a look at how the basic ToonMaker works.

ToonDoo is really 5 different tools in one:

  • the ToonMaker which allows students to create from 1 to 3 panel cartoons using the collection of backgrounds, characters, objects, and features provided. It's also possible to import images created in Paint or regular photos into your cartoons.

  • the BookMaker which turns a collection of previously made ToonDoos into an online book with pages that flip. This is a great way to compile students' work into a collection that can be posted online for parents or other classes to see. (Earth Day projects anyone?!!?)

  • Traitr allows you to personalize characters that can can be saved and used in other cartoons.

  • Imaginer is the tool for distorting the features of a photo. These can also be saved and used in other cartoons.

  • Doodler is the draw tool. (I assume it works with a tablet, but I haven't tried mine yet.)

There is a new educator version of ToonDoo called ToonSpaces ($), but the main functions of the program are still free. At the Learning Centre we signed up with a gmail account and create one user name. All the students make their cartoons using our account and that name so no Canadian laws regarding the storage of student information on servers outside the country are violated. Creations can be public or private -- whichever you prefer.

For people used to using other tools, ToonDoo features may seem a little constraining. However, this tool's simplicity makes it accessible to youngsters (I found one how-to video by a grade 2 student) and also means that older students have to concentrate on the product rather than becoming overly enchanted with options and effects.

Several creative projects are shown below as examples of ways pther teachers have used ToonDoo to give students a different way to tackle what in the past have often been pretty dry assignments. In the first a French teacher used it to get students to write and illustrate the use of French phrases. In the second, making a cartoon strip replaced writing a traditional book report. The students imported images to populate the cartoon with characters that were more in keeping with the content of the novel. Finally the Toronto teacher of an Advanced Learning Strategies course had her students create ToonBooks to illustrate effective work habits. In these examples, the teachers have given imaginitive, creative twists to old assignments and the students don't have to be "artistic" to produce satisfying results.

The 7 Habits by Seannoel | Make your own at

My favourite application is the one dreamed up by my workshop partner. She wanted her grade 10's to summarize the key causes underlying the hostility between settlers and the Metis just before the Northwest Rebellion. Prior to this the kids had done the standard "copy/delete/compile" writing of paragraphs, but the events had little meaning for them. Debra wanted to bring the emotions and tension to life, so she invited students who wanted an alternative way to meet the learning objective to create a convincing 3-frame scenario. Now they have to imagine their way into the situation and play with characterization, symbolism, and dialogue to represent the conflict.

I've also known teachers to use ToonDoo as a storyboarding tool, and I think that this creative tool has a lot of potential for helping students learn to express main ideas (often a difficult task for to do well) because it empowers them to show and reveal rather than always having to tell and explain.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Animation Webinar

Hey everyone --these tools look like loads of fun! Last fall I attended a attend a webinar about using free online software (Go!Animate, Blabberize, and Xtranormal) that was offered by ISTE/SIGMS. These are free, and as you know most everything ISTE offers has a big $$$ sign attached to it, so these are a great deal.

The presenter is Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones, a teacher librarian, but lest you get the impression from her name that she's a prim and proper wallflower type --

-- her Animation Studios wiki looks crazy-dynamic!

The link for this event can be found in Classroom 2.0 at

If you're not a CR 2.0 member yet and can't bring up the webpage, here are the instructions:

  1. heck that your computer is set up for Adobe Connect by visiting Adobe Connect Pro Connection Test (link --
  2. Use this URL to enter the webinar room 10 - 15 minutes before starting time:
  3. Enter as a guest and type your first and last name.

If it's too cold or too hot for your kids to play outside and they're keen on animation, here's a free downloadable program called SqirlzMorph.

This is a little like the high tech version of what I used to see when my dad riffled through the pages of a "Big Little" book really fast and made the individual drawings on the corners of the pages dance for my little girl's eyes.

Here are two very different video examples of work done with this free program.

[Exo-Perfection] Reznic
Uploaded by Reznic.

There are loads of tutorial videos in YouTube, and I'm going to have to take this one into school on my laptop (we're not allowed to install at school) to let my students test drive it. I'm doing some experimenting with giving them visual ways to remember times tables. These a older kids who need to pass trade tests and we're working on creating dynamic visuals that will help them stop counting because they can see the images in their minds.

Squirlz also has tools you can use to animate water reflections, a Lite version.

Here's a page that can give you all sorts of interesting visual programs to play with:

Christmas Myspace Animated Gif

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Invitation to an hour with Ian Jukes

Link to this week's Elluminate room:
Password (for speaker series only): credenda-wilkes
Time: 5:30 p.m. PacificDaylight time

It's with great pleasure that I invite you to a conversation with Ian Jukes -- one of Canada's most passionate 21st century educators and self-professed education evangelist.

I first heard Ian speak about integrating computers into classroom work back in the late 80's or early 90's when he was a principal in a school in Whitehorse, Yukon,who had traveled south to tell a group of Surrey teachers how to use data bases creatively to enhance critical thinking skills in our students. Now he's away from home many weeks of the year helping educators all over the world understand why it's so vital for us to provide instruction to students in a way that will better promote their learning.

This is the second in the Tuesday group's speaker series. We haven't yet come up with a catchy name, but we meet online in Elluminate on Tuesdays to discuss our work in the Instructional media program -- to lend each other support with technical issues, to compare courses, and to challenge each other to put our learning to practical uses. If you'd like to join in and haven't yet been in a course where the link was provided, just let me know and I'll send it to you.

The time and link for the speaker series, however, are different. We'll be starting at 30 minutes early to give people in the east a chance to get to bed at a reasonable hour or to get in some last minute lesson prep (or catch the last half hour of The Biggest Loser).

This promises to be a challenging discussion. I hope you'll join us.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


The next speaker coming to the Wilkes Tuesday group on April 13th (5:30 Pacific time) is Canada' own Ian Jukes, so I started this morning looking at his Committed Sardine blog. One of the contributors had posted something about Infographics which are charts, graphs, and visuals that can communicate data by turning it into information. If you like astoundingly big numbers these will grab you:

(Image and other infographics found at Gizmodo:

JESS3 / The State of The Internet from JESS3 on Vimeo.

(For more infographics see: Cool Infographics , Noupe, and just google 'infographics'.)

This week in 508, we've been looking at Howard Gardner's Chapter about developing the what he calls the "creating mind." Gardner has quite a narrow notion of what constitutes creativity. He writes that creativity is not a spirit or a feeling, but often grows out of synthesis and “breaks new ground” (p. 82). It is not the act of one person alone. The creating mind exerts an influence through innovations that become recognized in a particular domain (pp. 80-1). He seems to think of creativity not as a quality but as an action -- not something you are or have, but something you do that has a lasting impact on others.

I find myself often looking back at sections of the Cognition and Technology course (501) as I've been adding my replies to others' discussions. Recent neuroscience (catapulted forward by observers ability to use fMRI's to watch electrical impulses fire along people's brain's neurons) is telling us a lot about what happens in the brain when we are learning and even when we're making decisions. But what is known about how ideas develop? where they come from? what chemical and electrical signals in the brain we experience as the germination of an idea?

That took me to this piece below in an article in ISO50 about overcoming creative block by Alex Cornell. I think he's on the right track. Feeding the brain with as much thought-provoking stuff as you can must create the electro-chemical soup from which the big bangs we experience as ideas and inspiration explode.

I wonder though whether the development of the Newton Virus (or any virus for that matter) meets Gardner's criteria for creativity.

All of which take me back to Ian and one of the videos that presents some of his ideas about 21st century learners. One of his astounding statistics is that elementary teachers and parents and grandparents of the young children among us is are raising the first generation to grow up with a mouse in its hand.