Monday, December 26, 2011

Fotobabble Vs. Video: Two Ways To Feature Projects And Reflections

I love using video cameras in my class. When Cisco announced that they were shutting down production of this classroom-friendly Flip camera, I went out to Best Buy and bought the ones they had left in stock. Just by their very function, they do such a great job promoting cooperative learning that it’s hard for me now to imagine a classroom without them. Children at this age love to be on camera, they love to manage cameras, and they're in awe of the responsibility of doing both on their own. There are very few times when I can’t trust my kids to do exactly what they’re supposed to be doing when I send them to work independently with a Flip camera in hand.

This is the second year that I’ve used the interview format to show off some of the stuff we do and think about during the first couple of months of school. I like the interview format for several reasons. First, it gets the children to learn how to talk about what they believe, what they enjoy, and why they did what they did for some of the projects they made. Because the production of each video takes a long time with reshoots and editing (a definite drawback), I can also give the parents a trailer of the interviews to come:

The post-production of the interviews is a pain though. They don't have to be, but there are some things I want each interview to have. The first is decent audio, although this can be a challenge. Because the Flip cameras have a terrible microphone, I try to have the children record while holding an audio recorder. Synching up the audio and video is time consuming. The second is music. This is just my own personal preference, but because it is a preference, I spend a lot of time trying to set up when the music should get louder and softer. I have lousy speakers though and I don't always get this right. Here is an example of an interview where the music works fine on my laptop speakers, but when I hooked it up to a good set of speakers, it tended to drown out the voice at one point:

Those issues are on my end though, during my personal time. Because I enjoy putting them together, they're not too major for me.

This is the first year I tried using Fotobabble to present the children's work on the same unit. Fotobabble is a web based application that allows you to attach audio with any photos that you upload. What makes it an attractive way to feature projects is that it allows slideshows of photos as well, with audio that goes along with each photo. In Fotobabble's case, the post-production is almost non-existant. And with in my class we have the benefit of a laptop cart and headphones that act as microphones, so there's not as much error with the audio either.  Even setting up the accounts don't take too long. Fotobabble is kind of quirky in the way it sets up slideshows, but once you understand that, it goes pretty quickly.

You don't get to see your subject so I think it feels less personable. It also wouldn't be good if there is nothing to show- if there is a reflection with no product that can be photographed. In general though it's a huge time saver and looks great for E-portfolios.

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