In preparation for my talk at the CLHS/CUE Conference in Monterey at the end of November, I was doing a little research on some of the things that Picasa and other tools can really do and how they can best be used in education. I have found several tools that can be used in conjunction with Picasa and give teachers and students greater flexibility in the ways they can create multimedia content for the web.
While the basis of the talk I am doing is centered around Picasa, there are other tools available that will make it easier for anyone and everyone to create dynamic online content. One of the issues that arose as I began the process of planning this talk and the types of activities that I wanted participants to complete was... where were they going to get the content? I can't expect everyone to have a memory stick with a bunch of pictures on it ready to work from, so where are they going to get the content. Two places.... First, we will go through the process of taking pictures from your cell phone and uploading them to the Internet and then back to Picasa to create content. There is a great new blog from Liz Kolb, titled: "From Toy to Tool" that discusses ways to use cell phones in class. The second is from the computer itself. If you wanted to, you can create content using the 'Paint' application. You can take screen shots of web pages or other images and then using the 'Paint' application to add diagrams or highlight certain parts of the image.
Picasa: A Google tool with really two versions. The desktop version organizes all of the pictures and graphics on your computer, allows you to do some basic editing. (Far easier than Photoshop!) You can then upload your pictures to the Picasa Web Albums and share with family and friends and create online slide shows with captions on each picture. Once finished, you can copy and paste the 'embed' tag into any html page and have the slide show play within your page. I have used this process on this blog a few times earlier this year. (I'm doing a separate session on Saturday at CLHS/CUE Conference in Monterey!)
Animoto: I blogged on this last month, but a cooler version of the Picasa slide show that has some trick photo transitions and allows you to add music to your slide show. The site has some music from independent artists you can choose from or upload your own.
VoiceThread: A new tool that allows you to upload pictures to create a slide show and add voice overs (Several per page with multiple users. Voicethread refers to them as 'identities.') This would be great if you were teaching a process or wanted to have students narrate their artwork, etc. Imagine having a picture and recording each student's voice reaction to it... The possibilities are endless.
Photostory: A Microsoft tool that is free from the Microsoft site as a download. You will have to validate your version of Windows to download the application, but it is a very easy install. The way Photostory works is that you upload pictures which become slides. I am working on a test Photostory from one of my PowerPoints that I use for one of the large presentations that I do. Once you load the images, you can change the order and select the way pictures or slides transition from one to the next. You can then record a voice over for each slide. Not quite full motion video, but its free and you can do lots of amazing things with it.
The process of allowing students to create multimedia projects and posting them on the Internet has become easy and accessible for almost any student. A basic computer and cell phone give you access to a wealth of content and editing options. The only limits are your own imagination. If you have other tools that you use that I haven't mentioned here? Drop me a note!
Hope to see many of you in Monterey in a few weeks. If you aren't going to be in Monterey, stay tuned for more 'Google Almanac' presentations in the coming months.