SconicPics is an iPhone/ipod touch application that allows you to create custom slideshow movies. The movies are made from still photos which you can add from the photo library or take with the iPhone’s camera. You can then narrate a voice over and create and enhanced m4v video with chapters.

In this example I’ve just used some pictures from classrooms I’ve been teaching in recently. It only took a few minutes to create and I am sure taking a little more time would have produced a more professional result and few plosives. I exported the 4v to reduce the size which removed the chapters too.

This looks like it could be a useful app in a classroom equipped with iphones or iPod touches. With touches pupils could use images downloaded from webpages or screenshots.

A while back I made a simple flickr search tool this is not as slick as some of the beautiful search tools out there but it was designed for pupils to use to get images to embed into their blogs and to create the attribution, clicking on a thumbnail gives this:

Flickr Ccstamp

Which has a text box with the html code to embed the image and attribution, you can choose to align left of right and to use small or medium images.

The tool if far from perfect an needs quite a lot of work but it has proved useful to quite a few folk and I believe used in glow training by LTS. Recently at the suggestion of a fellow ADE I added a more somber style to the rather bright colours I had used (a link at the top right of the page toggles the styles and sets a cookie to remeber your preferences).

At the Scottish Learning festival I was delighted to see Neil Winton‘s pupils using my tool and working with the images. This gave rise to the thought that it might be useful to create images that could be used without the embed code that show attribution. I’ve added a feature, above you can see stamp medium and stamp original links. Clicking on these will produce an image with the attribution stamped on.

Stamped by flickr cc
my crop

So I am wondering would this be useful in your class and two, is this legal (stamping a No Derivs photo? ) and is the wording (Flickr photo by name – license) and I would appreciate your comments on both of these questions.

picPosterous is a photo and video publishing app for the iPhone.

Picposterous 0Picposterous 1

At first glance I could not see the advantage of using this rather than the iPhone’s mail application, and neither could TechCrunch but a tweet or two from Sachin, one of posterous’s founders both put me on the right track and gave further evidence that the posterous guys never sleep.

The idea of the applcation is that during an event (or day or meal or whatever) you take photos and post to posterous. The difference is that you can continue to add images to the post after the first image is posted. This will certainly make it a useful application. Instead of waiting until the end of an event you can snap and post without crating a series of posts. picPosterous will also queue up the photos and post then when it can. You can quit the app and it will try to post again the next time you open it.

Lock28posterousscreen

So the app is a lot more useful than I first thought. A couple of drawbacks/limitations: the only text you can post is the title and the media is limited to pictures and video (on a newer phone than mine). The auto post feature, which I have turned on for twitter, flickr and a test blog only posts the first photo, which makes sense for twitter but if I used posterous as a means of posting to flickr I’d probably want the whole album being added.

All in all a handy addition to ways of posting stuff online if not a whole solution I think I’ll be using picPosterous regularly.

I also imagine that if the development of posterous itself is any indication the application will be upgraded and improved regularly. Posterous itself has had an incredible rate of feature addition. The founders are very responsive to any suggestion for improvement making it the most exciting blogging platfrom out there.

Aside, I used Camera Genius for iPhone as a replacement for Night Camera for Anti-shake stabilization. night Camera didn’t make the upgrade to the 3.0 version of the iPhone software. Unfortunately Camera Genius doesn’t seem to take photos with location exif data so posterous does not get to produce a nice wee map.

Yest another mapping/iphone post. This might not seem like education but I consider the mapping of walks etc. a sort of trial for possible Teaching and learning activities. At Sandaig I was always interested in blogging trips (Sandaig Netherlands 2008 or Glencoe 06 for example). I am interested in trying to get pupils and groups to tell stories in different ways, audio, text, pictures and video adding location into the mix seems like a good idea. This week i was talking to some of the instructors at Kilbowie Residential Outdoor Centre Oban discussing some of the potential for adding some more ict into their mix through Glow.

On Friday I was going for a walk and decided to try a few different ways of recording the walk centred around the iPhone.

WalkMapBenDonich

As usual I recorded a gpx file and took some photos with the phone for A Mapped Walk

I also took other pictures with my camera and geotagged them once I got home with gpicsync suggested by Dan Stucke in a comment here. gpicsync is a visual front end to exiftool that I’ve mentioned before and works well, unfortunately my iPhone battery gave up early as I was using lots of apps, but a few were mapped by Flickr. The rest taken on the way bak down are untagged.

At the top of the hill i decided to try audioBoo. I love the way Audioboo combines a picture, the audio and a wee map and is simple to use. Unfortunately I didn’t have a good enough signal to post the boo from the hill.

Posterousimgaudio

Instead I turned to posterous. The really good thing about posterous on the iphone is that because it used email you don’t need a signal, the mail app will just wait until it gets one and sends the mail. I found this out on my holiday this year when I seemed to get an occasional signal overnight, making posterous the easiest way to blog.
I’ve also found out how to combine images and audio in an email from the iPhone and because posterous now geo locates your post if there is a location in the exif data of any images posted you get the same effect as audioboo. See Ben Donich – John’s posterous.

The trick is, take a photo, switch to the camera roll and click the share/mail icon. choose the picture and copy it (This will work with several images). Then open up the Voice memos app, recods some audio and then mail it. You can paste the image(s) into your mail and send.

Lifecastingicon

The last thing I tried was the lifecasting app iTunes url, this allows you to choose some photos and then record a narration over a slideshow of the images. The result can be uploaded to youtube or downloaded to your desktop as a m4v file (the app like many others acts like a wee server and puts up a webpage with the movies to download.)

Lifecasting works fairly well, the fact you cannot mail the file is a pity. The other problem is that the slides are shown for a fixed length of time, the example below is the longest, so you have to fit your audio to the show. I did duplicate a couple of images to give myself longer to talk. If the slides could be set to last the length of the audio and you could use mail or the metaweblogAPI to upload them this would be a great app for mobile learning.

lifecasting Example

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I’ve downloaded a couple of other slideshow apps to investigate (at the vast expense of 59 pence each and will try them out whenever I can find them and have a bit of time).

Them ore I use my iPhone the more I believe that a device of this sort has a real place in the classroom for creating the sort of thing I used to use digital cameras, videos, imovie, garage bands and a blog for; the types of activity listed by Margaret Vass in her recent post on Learning, Teaching and ICT » Digital Storytelling ….. and ePortfolios?. We might need to wait a wee while the the right combination of price and feature set but it is getting more interesting every week.

I’ve been thinking of how I’ve used digital camera in class over the last few years. I know this is not a very ‘new’ topic for a post but I think my experience and thoughts are worth noting. I blogged about the use of cameras as part of activities countless times but I want to work out of a sort of practical overview here.

When I started blogging with my class at Sandaig, I was assuming that quite a lot of our visitors would be on dialup and kept photographs on the blog to a minimum. A year later we were adding photos but keeping the size down. At that stage I was often taking the photos and certainly helping loading them onto the computer. Another year on (2006) we had settled for 400 pixels as a good with from the blogs and all of the posts had at least one photo, the children were using MS photo editor to resize the photos.

By the time I left Sandaig I had the children taking photos every day for different purposes.

I know that this is still relatively unusual, in many classrooms it is the teacher, or PSA who takes photos or children use cameras under tight supervision. I think we need to relax that.

First you need a purpose for taking photos, I had a rota of class bloggers, even if they never finished their posts they usually took photos and transferred them to a pc.
We also had a photo a day section on the website How does our Garden go a simple image gallery, were a different pupil would take a photo in our garden each day, rain or shine, of anything they liked (within reason). This activity linked to our eco schools efforts, but its main purpose was to give the children practise in taking photos so that they should then use them in other areas without thinking about the practicalities.

By linking the activity to public display on the school website you immediately have an excuse to talk about appropriate images and responsibility. Children of course want to take ‘silly’ photos of their friends grinning and fooling around, discussing why we would not use these when reporting on a class activity cuts down on time wasting pretty quickly.

The only time it is worth a member of staff taking photos is when the children all want, or the teacher wants them, actively engaged. In these cases the photos can become part of a follow up activity.

Once you have your photos they can be used in many ways. These ares some I’ve used.

  • In a one computer classroom photos of events or activities can be printed as part of a template for children to write reports on. you can do this on the fly as groups of children finish a practical activity.
  • As a stimulus for writing, a slideshow of images, promotes discussion and can be run during the actual writing. If the writing is word-processed photos can be added.
  • For blogging, as part of a post, writing of any type, or as a slideshow made with various online tools (oneTrueMedia example).
  • For comic-life, a great way to motivate those children reluctant to write, for quick sequencing etc, etc. Examples: Eco Ninjas, 3D Shape.
  • To make ‘movies’ on movieMaker or iMovie (with one computer this can be a class activity, each child dealing with one picture, titling and adding transitions, the whole class discussing sound tracks.) individual examples, whole class example.
  • After an art lesson I often had a pupil take photos of all of the work for a web gallery (example), I think I’d now have each child take their own. These could be used for a portfolio, say in powerpoint with 2 stars and a wish, building up a record of all the art produced in a year. This ould be part of the clean up routine, clean brushes, take photo…
  • As a quick and dirty scanner, taking photos of drawn work to incorporate into a report, not necessarily the cleanest looking pictures, but effective: for example.

All of these are pretty simple ideas and the list could easily be extended. What, I think, makes the difference is the attempt to make use of the cameras an everyday activity, owned by the pupils, and familiar enough so that they use technology transparently. Using the images in blogs and wikis etc gives the task an audience and makes it real and purposeful.

Picnik tn

Athole recently blogged about the online picture editor Picnik. I had noticed that flickr now incorporates editing with picnik and it is fitted into the up and coming version of pivot PivotX.net the blog software we use at Sandaig.

So I was quite interested in trying it out in school. Unfortunately we cannot use flickr in school and when I tried to upload files at school it did not work. I think this is to do with the protocols allowed in school being http only which stops the flash uploaders from working. We have had problems using other flash based tools.

somewhat despondently I mooched about the picnik site when I spotted the API whixh of course is the clever stuff that lets flickr and pivot connect to and work with picnik. A quick look convinced me that this would make it possible to work around the flash uploader quite easily. I signed up for an API key and basically copied and pasted an example to make a very simple form.

This form allows my class (or anyone else) to upload a photo to picnik bypassing picnik’s own uploader or to load a image on the web in picnik.

Burns Picnik tn

We had a chance to try it out this afternoon, I asked the children to use picnik to add titles and speech bubbles to some of the photos taken on burns day, and they did.

Picnik preformed very well with just a couple of children having problems with the flash interface sticking.
The uploading and editing of the photos was surprisingly quick and the interface was easy for the children to use. The only problems they had was selecting text placed over a shape and I missed the ability to move objects forward and backwards (maybe that is in there somewhere?).

Picnic looks as if it is going to be a useful addition to our ict toolkit, we don’t really have a image editor that can handle layers on the school pcs and i can see how this might be very useful. I am also thinking about how I could use the API for a photo gallery in school.

Blogged from tm

sandaig_image_background_youtube
sandaig image myspace background

A while back I was involved in a discussion about copyright on John Connell’s blog, I’ve just had another though about teaching copyright.

I occasionally look through the stats for the school website and see were links etc are coming from. today I noticed some connections to youtube and myspace. I followed a couple up and found that they were using images from Sandaig blogs as background images. My first though was to be a bit annoyed about the use of our bandwidth. Then I started to wonder how the children would react. How would they feel about their images being used on someone else’s site without attribution. I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to discuss this with the class (my p6 from last year), but it might be an interesting example to spark some discussion.

Gower Bell telephone

© National Museums Scotland. Licensor www.scran.ac.uk.

I am delighted to have noticed that the wonderful folk at scran have improved their blog this facility.

I noticed this a while back, but at that time it just supported scribble and elgg, I suggested this could be extended to a flickr like blog this, or even giving an html fragment. It now does, and I am testing it out.

Here is an interface screenshot:

I had a wee bit of difficulty with some of the links, but it looks like this could be a great tool of children to write blog posts about the images on scran.


ImageWell
Originally uploaded by troutcolor

I just noticed and downloaded a mnew version of ImageWell which looks like giving Skitch a run for its money.
ImageWell is free with paid extras, I’ve only tried the free version, you could use it for quick editing and upload of photos (dotmac, flickr, webdav, ftp, sftp ImageShack and smugmug supported) but it is the annotation tools that look really good to me.
Text, bubbles and shapes can all be added and all support colour and drop shadows. skitch has drop shadow text but ImageWell can drop shadows on the bubbles and lines, Skitch’s arrows look good but Imagewell’s are bezier curves.
I could also paste another image onto the first one (the imagewell image on my imagewell pic).
The ImageWell Xtras cost $14.95 and adds batch processing and upload and a pile of extra shapes.