Thursday, November 15, 2012

Using Popcorn Maker to Edit Online Videos

Popcorn Maker is an online video editing tool that allows users to edit online videos and add multimedia-rich content.The following video provides a demonstration of what is possible:

I've attempted to create a test video in Popcorn maker using a video I already own and share on YouTube. A few observations:
  • It's important that the video is already publicly online, because that's the only way to import it into the editor; there is no Upload option.
  • There is a bit of a learning curve for users who don't do a lot of editing. I found that I could add text, but I couldn't change the color from the default black -- there is a box to enter a number code to change the font color, but no color wheel or swatch sampler to let me pick a different color. I was able to add a shadow behind the black letters, but even so they aren't always visible against the background.
  • Some prior knowledge of video editing is also helpful to understanding the timeline and how to arrange layers of text and images on top of videos. This resource may not be for beginners, unless they are willing to spend some time self-instructing by experimentation.
  • Once I added something that I wanted to remove, the only way I could find to do this was to move the item to a new layer and then delete the layer. 
  • Twitter option: This seems to give the option of posting a person's feed or search terms, but I couldn't get it to display either. It's possible that it displays differently after the work is saved, but I also wished that I could embed a single specific tweet rather than a feed or ticker of multiple tweets.
  • There doesn't seem to be a way to trim the length of videos. I was able to pause this one and then skip to the very end, but I couldn't cut the section I wanted to remove.
My Popcorn maker video:

All in all, it's a fun resource, but not as robust as software like Camtasia (my current favorite). It does, however, get points for adding social media content like Google Maps and Wikipedia (though Twitter is not yet as functional as the other two).

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Few Useful eLearning Resources

This past weekend at the 2012 Ubiquitous Learning conference, I attended a session by Mark A. Woolwine, who showcased several online resources for use in education. Several of them were already familiar to me, but there were just as many that were not.

The following is a selection of resources from Woolwine's presentation, "Engaging Students with a Mosaic of Technology" that might be new and useful to eLearning instructors:

To Share with Students --

Cramberry -
A free online flash card tool for students. Students can make their own flash cards or use ones that are already available on the side, then see their progress. The free account allows students to study 30 cards per day.

My StudentBook -
StudentBook is a free application to help students manage assignments, exam dates, and grades.

Time Management / Organization --

Sandglaz -
This is yet another free-with-basic-options time-management app, not specific to students but more general for anyone looking to boost productivity.

Wunderlist -
Another free task management app, with desktop, mobile, and web-based versions.

Concept Mapping and Collaboration --

Concept Board -
This service allows for real-time group collaboration on concept mapping and other documents. There is a free 30-day trial, but then users need to pay an annual account fee.

Creately -
This is another concept mapping tool that allows users to create online diagrams, flow charts, etc. The free version has more limited options.

LucidChart -
This is another concept-mapping tool that lets collaborators work on a diagram in real time. it's free for a 14-day trial and then has a monthly fee.

Vyew -
This is another real-time collaboration platform. Users can work share documents, multimedia, etc. in a shared space. Free with limited real-time users.

Lesson Plans & Testing --

Lesson Plan It -
This is a free online lesson plan builder.

McScoring -
This is a web app that lets teachers create an online form for simple multiple choice tests. Test questions and other information will need to be provided separately, but this makes it easy for instructors to process test scores.

Visually Powerful -- -
This is an online, open-source graphing utility, apparently. The link goes directly to a graph with a small formula box and no explanatory text.

SlideRocket -
This is an impressive multimedia-rich presentation builder/social sharing platform for people who want to move beyond PowerPoint, free-with-basic-options. There is also a free iPad app.

BioDigital Human -
This application may not be terribly useful in the College of Business, but it looks cool. BioDigital Human is a 3D platform to help students understand anatomy and medicine in a virtual simulation.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Camtasia automatic captioning?

The issue of creating captions is something that comes up very frequently and we would like to have all videos captioned but it will take a huge amount of time. Now Camtasia offers the possibility of automatic captioning bu using the Speech-to-text feature, which automatically creates captions from voice narration or audio on the timeline. It has to be trained, and can only be used in the PC, but i think it is a good solution, if the instructor uses his / her own PC to create the mini lectures with Camtasia.
Here a tutorial on how to do it:

Peer reviews

Creating surveys for peer review seems to be a task that many faculty find themselves immersed into at one point of the year, especially when team assignments are an important part of every students' grade. UCLA decided to make it easier for all, and they have created a site that allows users to create peer reviews... Prof. Sachdev shared with me the site, and it think it deserves a closer look... some instructors may find it really useful.

Customizing embedded YouTube videos with EmbedPlus

EmbedPlus is a service that promises to enhance the way that YouTube videos display when they are embedded on a page. For users who intend to embed videos in WordPress, there is a WordPress-specific plugin that can be installed onto the blog's dashboard. For all other uses, the application on the EmbedPlus website itself walks users through the process of customizing the embedded content.

I tested this out with the following video from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a YouTube-based vlog adaptation of Pride and Prejudice:

Since our eLearning Team blog is hosted by Blogspot, I used the web application of EmbedPlus. First, it asked me to enter in the video's URL. Then, I had to check whether I intended to post the code on a WordPress blog (if "yes", the page gives instructions for installing the WordPress plugin).

The next step involves selecting customizable options for the embedded video: 
  • video size
  • start/stop time -- which would be handy if you want viewers to skip ahead to a specific timestamp rather that viewing the entire video
  • scene markers -- perhaps more useful for longer videos, or important points within a lecture
  • real-time reactions -- which displays pop-up comments on the video from YouTube, Digg, Twitter, and Reddit
  • annotations -- this adds annotated notes at specific points within the video
Screenshot of the EmbedPlus Options window
Of any of these functions, the scene markers and annotations might be the most useful to embedded video lectures in online courses. I doubt the usefulness of the real-time reactions option, but left it checked in the above video for curiosity's sake.

At this time I still have not tested the WordPress plugin version of this service, and depending on how the video displays on this blog, it may or may not be worth further investigation for use in eLearning. Still, the customizable display options seem to be potentially useful. I'm looking forward to testing its functionality with real lecture recordings.

EmbedPlus online service

Explanatory blog post by 404 Tech Support

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New Synchronous Collaboration Tool: Co-Meeting

Co-Meeting is a new real-time collaboration tool with multiple features like document storage, to-do lists, meeting minutes, etc. Lifehacker is touting it as a replacement for people who miss Google Wave (which may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the way you felt about Wave).


via Lifehacker

Statistics for Plagiarism

The plagiarism-checking company Turnitin has recently published an infographic that shows statistics for students' plagiarism of online sources.

The graphic compares statistics for unoriginal content by both secondary and higher education students, and how those rates have grown over the past few years. Unsurprisingly, Wikipedia is among the most plagiarized sources. At the college level, however, more and more students are copying and pasting content from social media sources than anywhere else -- including the popular academic site SlideShare.

If you are at all curious about plagiarism in higher education, this infographic is worth a glance.

View the larger version of the infographic here >>

Via the Don't Waste Your Time blog >>

Engaging students in interaction during Internships

Finding ways, by which students can stay connected with their mentor and class mates when completing their internship will result in a more engaged experience and enhanced learning. Some of the most frequent requirements for students to stay in touch with their supervisor, instructor or mentor, is to maintain email communication, or to exchange notes, or to write one or several reports and/or present their experience at the end via a paper or oral presentation.
Are these traditional communication techniques still the best way to engage students and create a more permanent memory and reflection of the time as intern?

In a time when social networks are an important part of every student's life, it makes sense to use one of the social networking systems available to allow peer collaboration, live or timely sharing of experiences, peer feedback and social learning.
The following table presents other options that can be used to engage students when they are doing an internship. If you have other ideas about how to engage students while they are in their internships, please share them via comments in this blog.


Public Blog
Works as a journal

Instructor may provide open instructions or create a guide or key questions that students will use to follow in their postings.

1- Students can post updates to their work and the system will order it chronologically
2- They can receive and moderate other people comments
3- It is in the public domain, access over the internet should not be a problem
1- a blog is good for journaling but lacks the tools that a course management system will have such as discussion board, dropbox or file sharing.
2- Being in the public domain may be a challenge, names or other data should not be mentioned, public blogs are easily found and indexed by search engines.
interns are required to provide updates of their work, without other information sharing.
Private Blog (i.e. University of Illinois hosted blog)
Same as above
Same as above except (3)
3- Because it has restricted access by others, interns may share more information and feel better to provide honest peer reviews
1- Same as 1- above

Same as above
Wiki/ google docs
Works as a web page.
Organization can be customized by the user: By topics, by dates, by questions, etc.

1. Students will create a web page about their experience.
2- the webpage can last after the program and can become part of their portfolio
3. they can receive comments
4. it may be public or not
If the interest is chronological account of events, this is not the best solution.

The goal is to have a document that will reflect the work during internship, with a customized structure according to the user. Instead of having only a set of chronological posts as in a Journal.
Learning Management System (Moodle, Compass 2G)
Has multiple features hosted in one same place:
.Blog or Wiki,
.Discussion forum for interaction
. Document sharing
. Peer assessment and / or ratings
. surveys and other poll or assessment tools
1. Allows multiple ways for interaction
2. is private, so privacy settings will not be an issue

1. will not be available indefinitely when the student graduates
2. can only be temporarily part of the student’s portfolio
3. Cannot be shared with outsiders as is because it will contain information about other people as well.

The goal is to have multiple ways of interaction with the student during a finite time (the duration of the semester).

Facebook or LinkedIn (or other social networking option)
Has limited feature for interaction and sharing, but are embedded in the students’ daily communication habits
1. User friendly systems for interaction and communication
2. May have options for privacy settings.
3- Works as an organizer by topic or by date
1- If not private or closed group, may result in a disorganized recollection of events and reflections.
The group of interns has more than 5 participants, who are used to social networking sites, and enjoy working in that environment.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Free Q&A platform

Piazza is a question-and-answer platform designed to communicate with your students or colleagues fast. I think it looks like a web 2.0 version of WebBoard, (remember that?).

The system makes it easy to enroll participants, you can suggest that you only want accounts if your participants have your same affiliation. The instructor may enable 'anonymous' posts too. It has a unique way of handling participants' responses in the sense that it allows multiple responses or only one student answer, in which case the students edit the existing response and have to add to it. And there is a "followup" feature that can be used when responses or questions are not clear or a new thread needs to be added. Posts can also be tagged so that it is easier to find them, and formatting is very simple. I hope you find interesting uses for this platform. I will be testing it with the team and we will have some comments after our testing.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Editing or clipping YouTube Videos

I found that the following sites may be of good help for an instructor trying to clip or use part of a youTube video. The first three provide similar functionality: clipping and providing embed code for a clip in an existing youtube video. They are:
1) TubeChop:
The last one offers more options for editing and interacting with videos. It is called "" and it promises more functions than the other three....

I tested them with this "Milonga"

1) One minute edit with Tubechop

2) One minute edit with Splicd

Submit your comments if you try them... or if you know of others.