May 25, 2014

Sold

It's embarrassing, the number of tabs I have open at any given time and on multiple computers. I have browser extensions that allow me to compare two tabs, group tabs into collections for using later, save pages for reading later, share pages I've already read...the list goes on. Today, I had multiple windows open, each with a row of tabs that were so small, the favicons didn't even show. I follow any number of edtech curated lists and groups (I won't even talk about the freeway system that is my gmail inbox) and furiously spend my time scanning, right-clicking, and opening new tabs. A few hours ago, I found myself just a little burnt (it is May) and overwhelmed with all of the tabs, so I just started skimming. Instead of ideas, connections, and new learning tangents, I found myself occupied with patterns of words.

You see, the day started with a nice little Google+ exchange about the balance between old and new ways. On the heels of having watched the decade-old BBC documentary series "The Century of the Self", and reading a terribly depressing op-ed piece on the direction/derelict of American intellect. So, like the first time I learned about the dangers of high-fructose/hydrogenated anything and began reading every ingredients label I could, I'm currently finding myself taking my edtech consumption a tad less encouragingly...and mainly, it's because of relatively consistent language patterns. I skimmed through the open tabs I had on my windows and found this laundry list of language. What do these words mean to you?

...kids enjoy...
...are everywhere...
...everyone has...
...most kids use...
...parents want...
...is/are boring...
...is/are exciting...
...the best way...
...trending...
...captivating...
...love to share...
...is amazing...
...engagement/engaging...
...21st century...
...growing in popularity...
...even more true now...
...become meaningful...
...can be successful...
...extend learning...
...make life easier...
...interactive...
...can change the world...
...personalize...
...transformational...
...slick new...
...great little gadget...

To me, this is marketing language. Not education. Without a foray into the 'many hats a teacher wears' metaphor, I ask, "What are we selling and why does it need to be marketed?"

May 19, 2014

Online Audio Production Resources

I'm compiling a list of audio production resources, be they browser applications or open-source resources for download. The idea is empowering students with tools to help them create original audio content for digital media. Pleas feel free to add to this list!



May 13, 2014

Tinkering with HTML5

A week ago today, I broke my wrist in a softball game. Long story short, I was playing catcher and fielding a throw from left field, but caught a base-runner instead. Snap! Ouch! The following two days involved hospital visits, x-rays, an anesthesiologist, and an orthopedist with an affinity for f-bombs. On the second day, I thought I'd start collecting visual documentation of this new adventure for me as I've never broken a bone before.

That's me on the left, just beginning to discover how much this sucks. Aside from my inconvenience, in the back of my mind, I'm thinking about HTML5, parallax effect in web design, and a tutorial by Joe Fellows with the Creators Project on how to animate a still image using After Effects. So, while getting a third and fourth x-ray, I started thinking about what I could do with an x-ray image along these lines. Certainly grander than my actual skills, I imagined a landscaping journey of my fractures of the radius and scaphoid bones in my wrist, highlighted with animated tracing of the fractures and descriptive labels. Then, I hopped on a unicorn and flew away on the power of rainbows, making sure to stop at reception for a CD-ROM (!) of the x-ray images. Made with Adobe Photoshop CS6, After Effects CS4, and converted to an HTML5 package with EasyHTML5Video (and hosted on Google Drive), I produced this:

While not exactly a parallax product, it does embrace the concept of animating multiple layers of content. There are lots of free resources and tutorials out there for anyone wanting to learn more about parallax effect. Web Features has a nice little online code generator that could be useful to students learning about how this code works.