As I ease into retirement (over the next five to ten years), I’m giving myself permission to learn some new skills that I always wanted to try my hand at, but never made the time. One is learning to create animations.
Here is my first attempt at an animation with a message. Its message is based on a blog post I wrote for Smart Blogs a few months ago but never got around to reposting here. This is version 4.1 5.0 of the video, which has been edited and re-rendered MANY times and will likely be rendered many more times.
Enjoy! ..and let me know what you think…
I understand that the recent focus on classroom projectors and especially interactive whiteboards, has been questioned and the the source of many contentious conversations, and I agree with most objections. Any focus on any one information and communication technology as “the” solution to the “ed tech problem,” is narrowly considered and jeopardizes the effective and appropriate education of it’s children.
But that aside, if you do have a classroom computer, projecting its images to a wall of your classroom in some way, what is that wall doing when you’re not teaching with it. It’s a question that has occured to me before, but this morning, as I glanced at Martin’s (my son) Video-A-Day posting, I began imagining a classroom, before the bell rings, students walking in for 50 minutes of instruction, and a video playing, with no audio besides some appropriately spacey music, illustrating The Known Universe. How compelling can you be?
Does this even have to be a science class? Can’t it be a communications class, where students communicate their impressions of the message, or math, where students are asked calculate relative distances?
The term that floated out of these thoughts was Class Dashboard. It may not be an entirely accurate description, but I wonder how your projector and wall might be utilized to facilitate learning between and beneath the bell schedule?
“There are a ton of these out there.” That was my first response when watching this North Texas, student-produced video. But there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact I would suggest that more classes create, craft, and produce message commercials — but not so much for the world as for their local community. I wish someone would do it here so that our school board might get their heads in the right place and out of their …
Did I say that out loud?
What made me decide to post this was the initial teacher blog post. It is followed (reading up) by reflective articles from students. Here’s the text of the initial post and a link to the video (YouTube) and the blog.
As a teacher, I’ve always believed my job is to pose questions, not answer them. Fittingly, this whole project began because of a question. The class was reading Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” and the students were wrestling with a seemingly simple question: Could children, using the internet, have a dramatic impact on the world around them? Could they influence public opinion, and make a mark on their world?
Perhaps I should’ve seen what was coming, but it still caught me off-guard. Their question to me was simple enough, though: “Can we try it?”
It did seem the simplest way to settle the question, and so began the greatest experimental education project I’ve ever had the privilege of leading. The scope of our project was mind-boggling. First, figure out the most pervasive internet message-spreading tools. Then, determine the best way to harness them to our advantage. Next, craft our message such that it will spread as best as it possibly can, and finally, prepare all the supporting tools, media, and gear required for such a huge endeavor. I never imagined the variety of tasks that would be required:
- Negotiating with principals for space/allowances
- Negotiating with the district for extra desks and props
- Contacting websites, publishers, recording industries
- Researching all kinds of legalities about Fair Use
You name it, we probably did it. Here’s the best part, though: We had to get the entire thing done and released in four months, using no more than two hours a day, five days a week.
What follows is the account of that adventure – the highs and lows, good moments and bad, through the eyes of the incredible students who made this project happen. If I am to be credited for this, let it only be as the organizer or the conductor of the symphony. The students were the talented musicians who crafted this masterpiece.
From the video, United Breaks Guitars
From the video, United Breaks Guitars
I’m pretty sure that it was in Pittsburgh last week, that a young man came up just after my address, to tell me the story of “United Breaks Guitars.” It was my first exposure to the story, as I’ve not been paying enough attention to my RSS reader lately.
It appears that after landing in Chicago for a connect to Nebraska, Dave Carroll and band, Sons of Maxwell, were alerted when another passenger exclaimed, “My god they’re throwing guitars out there.”
Here’s a short version, from Carroll’s web site says…
In the spring of 2008, Sons of Maxwell were traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour and my Taylor guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. I discovered later that the $3500 guitar was severely damaged. They didn’t deny the experience occurred but for nine months the various people I communicated with put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do nothing to compensate me for my loss. So I promised the last person to finally say “no” to compensation (Ms. Irlweg) that I would write and produce three songs about my experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world. United: Song 1 is the first of those songs. United: Song 2 has been written and video production is underway. United: Song 3 is coming. I promise.
You can read a longer version of the story on the same page.
Between July 6 and my finding of the video (Aug 23), the first song (United Breaks Guitars) had been seen 5,129,955 times. As a result of the viral penetration of the video and the apparent uproar aimed at United Airlines, United offered compensation, as indicated by this statement, YouTube’d by Carroll four days later (July 10).
The second song was posed on August 17, where the band pokes more fun at the whole affair.
There are two elements of this whole story that dovetail into my standard threads of conversation. First of all, we are experiencing and participating with a new information landscape where the message — the spin — is no longer issued exclusively by the few who can afford the spin-mongers and media outlets. We all have a voice today.
But just having a voice is not nearly enough. Secondly, a video on YouTube did not make this story. It was a young man, his band, and a very clever and well-performed song that made it. They communicated their message compellingly with charm, humor, and bite — and they got the attention and response of a giant.
This is why teaching writing is not nearly enough for our children to be fully empowered members of their society. It’s not that everyone will produce viral videos for YouTube. But, because of YouTube and the avalanche of information that characterizes our society, messages must compete for attention to earn audience, customers, collaborators, etc. — and this means that beyond learning to write well, students must learn to communicate with images, sound, video, and animation. They must have a command of the entire spectrum of content.
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