Monday, September 27, 2010

Videos: Moving from Consumer to Producer/Contributor


My Own Personal Learning: Video Sharing in My Life
It became clear to me this week that I have always been much more a consumer of video and a user of video sharing tools than a creator/contributor. I enjoy watching video clips of my relatives on Facebook and have enjoyed many YouTube clips shared by friends. I learn a great deal through short video from sites like YouTube. I find videos through my Twitter network that give me inspiration as an educator.  I am obsessed with TED Talks.

But when it comes to producing video, I am much less enthralled. I have created videos for family events, forced myself to make videos in order to learn iMovie software, created classroom clips for workshops, etc. I also created a Google Search Story and uploaded it to YouTube this summer to see how that worked.  Once in a while I use videos for entertainment--the JibJab movies are my favorites for special occasion (although I don't think this counts as video creation!)

Video creation is one thing that I have played with over and over and can't seem to find a place for in my personal life. I recently purchased a FlipVideo camera thinking that carrying it around would help me live life as a videographer--noticing things that would make great videos. But for me, the work of editing and publishing is rarely worth end product. I have taught myself the skills to create a basic video, but I have trouble finding audiences for my video creations that would invite video sharing.

New Learning About YouTube
Although I have created videos over in various formats over the last few years, I have not done much with YouTube or other video sharing sites. Since I already know how to create videos using Flip and iMovie software, I wanted to play with some other form of video. I've wanted to learn more about Screencasting video as I would love to create how-to videos for school as well as for family members who ask for tips on how to do certain things on their computers.

One thing I have learned about my own learning is that I need to create something that I see a need for when I am serious about learning a new tool. To create something for the sake of creation without audience in mind, rarely allows me to create a quality product.  Since many of our students have Shelfari accounts, I thought I'd create a quick video to demonstrate how to add books to one of the shelves. I not only wanted to learn the creation tools, but I also wanted to see how long it would take to create this type of video and how simple it would be to create several for our website. I had no idea how complicated it would be. So, I gave it a try. My daughter and I created a Screencast using Snapz Pro X software:

The screencast was easy to make and to upload. YouTube really does make sharing simple. Because YouTube is blocked at our school, I will have to post the video to our school site.  (In my exploration,  I did notice that many videos like this one are hosted on a local site and archived on Youtube. Youtube seems like a great tool for this type of collection.)

I had no idea that YouTube could do other things, but when I went in to tag the video later, I noticed an Edit box that had some interesting options.

I went to the option marked "Annotations" to play around and found out that once the video is there, you can add all kinds of text bubbles and boxes throughout the video to further explain things. What a great tool!

You can also invite others to add annotations to the video.

As excited as I was about learning to Screencast, I am just as excited about this surprise learning-- the annotation option. I had not idea this was even possible until I accidentally discovered and played with it!  Imagine what fun annotating can be on videos created with a camera!With my new learning and the new option for Screencast video, I am more interested in becoming a producer and contributor of videos.

The Role of Video Sharing in the Library

The video above is one of the first videos I saw that helped me see how powerful video could be in sharing the message about libraries with the public. I love the video and have shown it often since seeing it for the first time. It is a great message and is a fun clip to watch. I kept thinking about this as I read about video sharing this week. I realized how viral this video had become and I realized how amazing it still is to me that, even though I live in the United States, I could learn almost immediately from colleagues in Australia who were working toward the same things that I was.

In the "YouTube and Libraries" webinar/slideshare at Netspeed 2007 in Calgary, Jane Dysart suggested that we "View YouTube as a marketing & communication tool". In my research this week, I have seen this done often. Our own public library has created a video urging voters to vote yes for the upcoming levy on the ballot. I discovered the video on the library's homepage and then realized that it was also part of the Columbus Metropolitan Library YouTube channel that I didn't know existed.

Although I see the importance of this tool for library communications, especially in a school library, this type of video supports the idea of our students as consumers rather than creators of media.  My main interest is in what video can do for student learning. I was especially interested in the article "Flipped: Want to Get Teens Excited About Summer Reading? Just Add Video by Jennifer Wooten (May 1, 2009 School Library Journal Online Newsletter). I thought that the purpose of teen created videos did more than get kids into the library. It did more than communicate a message about the library. Instead, it gave students an opportunity to engage in books in new ways and it invited non-typical patrons to begin to see the library in a new way. The author states,"For some of us, the goal of library programming may be to simply get kids into the library, while others strive to serve existing patrons. The idea behind our contest was a bit of both."

My Own Learning About Videos and Video Sharing with Students
Because I am interested in what role video plays in learning, I spent time observing our students. One of the things that I have enjoyed about the organization of this class is the ability to focus on one type of tool at a time. I notice that I tend to be thinking about the tool at work as I observe and reflect on student learning. I worked with 4th graders over 4 days inviting them to visit a few websites on a topic. I watched carefully as the students scanned websites quickly, only to discover they were looking for videos. I watched as students noticed another child had discovered a video and asked where to find it. It seemed that nothing else was worthwhile on a page--they were set on scanning for games and videos. I found that students expect for there to be a video on every website they visit. And, I was surprised to realize that on most children's websites, there actually are videos (and games and coloring sheets and puzzles...). These things seem to attract students because I think it is the videos that have the most potential for learning.  Children of today are definitely consumers of video.

So, how do we move children beyond being merely a consumer of video and is that a goal we should have?  Because video has become an important tool for communication of information, we need to think about what the role of film making is in today's libraries. This summer I had the opportunity to hear Joyce Valenza at BLC10. In her session, she mentioned that students in the library were comfortable with filming going on around them. I was amazed at the photo she showed of a group of kids filming a project, with others reading and studying in the background.(You can see a few kids in the background in this short clip.) I see film-making as an important way for our students to share information and I have been thinking about what this means for the school library. Can we all assume that our libraries will become places where film is created on a regular basis and it is just one of many things that students do in the library.

Taking Film to the Next Level--Video Sharing
Last year, I did a great deal with students about critical viewing as well as creation of film. I felt that the study was effective and students grew in the way they took in information because they had created it. Before the unit began, students believed everything they had seen in video "because it's there on a movie". But once they realized the abilities they had as a filmmaker they watched more critically. I found this to be a critical piece to media literacy and was happy with the results.

But, after this week's work, I realized that creating film is not enough. Just as with my own video creation, my students need a purpose and an audience for their work. If no one is to watch their videos, why put in the time to create them?    I agree with Will Richardson in his book BLOGS, WIKIS, PODCASTS, AND OTHER POWERFUL WEB TOOLS FOR CLASSROOMS when he says, "Once again, the part about all of this that I love the most is that whatever you and your students create can be shared widely. And to me, that just changes the whole equation." (p. 123)

I spent time examining videos on sites I had heard about--students that were doing incredible things with video and making them public. One of my friend's children has a Youtube channel. One video on his channel teaches kids how to play a game that he created.  He posted it on YouTube so kids would know how to play before they joined in the neighborhood game.

I also found several sites of student created book trailers and reviews. I wonder if that is where to start with video in the library. One great site is Book Trailers for Readers. I also LOVE the book reviews featured on the McKillop Library site. (McKillop has a unique way of creating book reviews without showing a photo/video of the student.) One of the things I realized is that many book reviews and videos made for a local site are also hosted on a global site such as YouTube or SchoolTube.

I looked at Mabry Middle School's site and Parkway's Film Festival Site. It seemed that the film-making was no different form other projects I had seen. The difference in all of these sames was in the public sharing--the authentic purpose and audience that students had for their work.

Because of sites like these, our students are capable of creating great pieces of film and sharing them with a global audience. In all that I have been reading, it seems that film gives students a way to communicate in a way that no other media does.

The Possibilities of School Tube for Elementary Students

I see possibilities for film in the school and library. The challenge for teachers seems to be in how to share these globally in a safe way. YouTube and other video sharing sites are blocked in our district as well as in many other districts. YouTube is the tool I knew best when it comes to video sharing. So I decided to take a look at School Tube and to really study it. In a recent article on School Video News, it was stated that, "The new clip culture is expanding rapidly, and SchoolTube provides organization, locality, and national exposure for our students’ quality videos." (September 2007) To be honest, I did not enter with an open mind. I am one who believes that we should teach children to navigate what is out there (YouTube) in a safe and responsible way) rather than create something that isn't used in the real world. I believe that teaching Internet safety is critical and that it would be best done in the real online world. That being said, I was more impressed with School Tube than I expected to be.

School Tube is a bit more complicated than YouTube. Channels for classrooms, schools and districts can be created with various features. School Tube has some free options for classrooms but it looks like the benefits come with a fee. For $495, schools can get a channel that allows for more options, including deciding which videos are private and who can view them.

I see huge possibilities with a service like School Tube. First of all, it is moderated by educators. Before you can get a channel on YouTube, you need proof that you are an educator and it appears that SchoolTube checks the information before allowing you to have a channel. Every video must be moderated by a teacher before it can be uploaded. (Students over the age of 13 can have their own account IF they list an educator as a moderator of their videos.) The site also allows for no comments. While this takes away a tiny bit of authenticity, it seems worthwhile since comments are often the things that become inappropriate or offensive. The site allows for public or private videos and members can view and use the videos available on the site. School Tube seems like the perfect solution to schools trying to incorporate video sharing but afraid of the issues surrounding YouTube.

Another thing that I liked about SchoolTube is their copyright policy. In uploaded videos, no copyrighted materials can be used without written authorization. This means that as students create video to upload to SchoolTube, part of the learning will be about Creative Commons as well as finding music and photos that are copyright free. To me, this seems to be a very purposeful way to teach kids about these issues.

If we want our students to be not only consumers of information but also producers and communicators of information, we need to give them the tools they need to do so.  Video sharing sites give kids the tools they need to make video sharing purposeful.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Photo Sharing in the Elementary School: Is It Worth the Time and Energy?

Photo by Brittney Bush on Flickr

I think many of us in the elementary school are overwhelmed by all that is possible with technology. We want our students to have great opportunities but we don't want to use technology for technology's sake. So, we have to be picky about the tools we commit to.  With so much else to do in the elementary classroom, is Photo sharing worth the time for teachers and students? What are the benefits to our students?

I have always understood the importance of images and the need to have a "photo library" of sorts for kids.  But until exploring Flickr this week, it merely seemed like one more thing--one more huge thing to add to my list of things to figure out.

I could never understand the reasons a Flickr account might be important for elementary students.  Most of my work this week has been in trying determine the benefits of Flickr for elementary school. I went into the week wondering if Flickr is really a tool that is worthwhile for elementary students.  With so many other tools available, is it really important that our students have access to photo sharing tools such as Flickr?

One article that impacted my thinking was “The Promise of Social Networks” by Derek E. Baird on Tech and Learning.  In it, he says, "Today’s students have grown up surrounded by the digital world, and as a result they have developed new ways of understanding, learning and processing information. As new types of social media are developed, teachers will need to find new and innovative ways to harness the power of these technologies to enhance their curriculum, and support differing learning styles. Flickr holds great potential as part of a multi-faceted approach that blends learning theory and social technologies in the curriculum."

I have heard about many schools and  libraries with Flickr accounts but they seem to be mostly for public relations purposes. Much of what I read about Flickr and libraries tended to talk about how Flickr could raise awareness and communication about your library or classroom . Although I see this as one possible use of Flickr, I think for it to be worth the time, it must have an impact on student learning.

Our students are using photos constantly. As I watch over their shoulders, they have somehow learned to take photos from wherever they would like.  Because most image searches are blocked in schools, our young students are teaching themselves to pull photos from websites without regard for copyright or citation.  Many of our students have no idea that there are photo-sharing sites available that provide great photos with a Creative Commons license.  Many have no idea that what they are doing is not right.  In my reading, I found that this is not so uncommon.  In her article, "Teaching Students About Creative Commons and Appropriate Use of Images", Kathy McGeady states, "Little do many people know, you can’t just use any images off the internet in your blog posts. Not only is this ethically incorrect but you could leave yourself open to copyright infringement.”

My youngest daughter is a perfect example of this. She is in 5th grade and blogged quite a bit this summer. She has a blog called FUN THINGS TO MAKE and I was alarmed to realize how she had taught herself to take photos and put them right into her blog.  I quickly showed her how Flickr worked and taught her to do an advanced search looking for Creative Commons photos.  This box in the advanced search allows for searching of only photos licensed by Creative Commons.

I also showed her where to find the information on who took the photo. After the initial whining about having to do something that didn't sound fun (she had already found her photos after all) she realized how many great photos she could find on Flickr. After seeing how easy it was and how many great images were available, she went on to use photos from Flickr to create a birthday invitation and other projects.  Now she would like her own Flickr account.

Teaching about Creative Commons is only one way I can see Flickr being used in school.  If a school or classroom has a Flickr account, students can begin to build a photo library of the school year.  Photo sharing safety could be addressed in a very authentic way as students determine which photos from the field trip should be put into the Flickr account. With a Flickr account, students can learn about tagging items for future use and for sharing purposes.  They can learn about citing sources and about licensing their own photos. I can see Flickr as a very easy way to teach so many of the skills we want our students to have when working with all kinds of media.  And if we teach them early, our students will be able to use these skills for life.

Another thing makes Flickr or other photo sharing tools worthwhile for elementary schools is the global piece and the ways in which Flickr allows for global collaboration. Giving students ways to see and participate in projects like THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN 21 COUNTRIES WALKING IN STOP-MOTION- a project done by photo sharing site Blipfoto. For kids to be able to see and participate in global projects using photos from around the world would teach important lessons about collaboration.

As an elementary librarian, it seems critical that our students have access to photo sharing tools such as Flickr

My vision for a Flickr account in the school library is a basic one. Since our students are young (grades K-5), I think that teacher management of the library account is important. I hope to set up an account so that we can:

      -add photos from classroom, school and other events.  When a group goes on a field trip, we can determine as a class which photos get downloaded and how to tag them. After we finish a science experiment, children can choose to include photos.  For school events such as assemblies and art shows, a team of students can choose photos to be placed on the Flickr account. We can create sets and collections when appropriate.  Over time, I see the library of photos building quickly so that students have a huge variety of photos to use in projects--photos that connect directly to the curriculum they are studying.    Adding photos will also provide a great opportunity to help students understand district guidelines of not posting student faces online. 

     -learn about Creative Commons licensing. By adding photos to our Flickr library and learning to use the Advanced search options on Flickr, students will begin to understand the ethical responsibilities of using and posting images. 

     -tag photos and learn about tagging and organizing. This will be an important skill students can learn from participating in a Flickr account.

     -have conversations around responsible posting of images of others can be taught as groups of students work with teachers to determine which photos from events to post. Determining which photos are acceptable for public sharing and how to stay within our school's guidelines and agreement will help students' see their own responsibility with their work.

There are definitely things to be aware of if using Flickr.  First of all, it is a self-monitored site so there is the potential that an inappropriate photo will be found once in a while.  Flickr is blocked in many schools, as are many image sharing sites, and although Flickr is listed in many articles as one of the most child-friendly photo sharing ( sites, there are other options for educators. One such option is SMUGMUG.  These other sites provide some different options but the Creative Commons tools are not as easy to navigate or as global  as in Flickr.  Flickr is a tool that is easy for young children to navigate and learn with.

I now see the benefits of a Flickr account for elementary schools and libraries. I think it is imperative that our students have access to safe ways to contribute and use images in this way.  I agree with Will Richardson when he says, "Personally, I think Flickr is one of the best sites on the Web.  It's true social software where the contributors interact and share and learn from each other in creative and interesting ways.  And for that reason, it's educational potential is huge." (Blogs, Wikis , Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, p. 102) I think the possibilities for teaching are endless and a school library account would be a great scaffold for our youngest students. By understanding the issues and concerns about images on the web and also seeing the possibilities for student learning, I am convinced that Flickr and other photo-sharing sites are not just one more thing to learn. Instead photo sharing sites like Flickr can support our students as they learn incredibly as they learn about creating and using visual images.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Learning About New Possibilities for Photo Sharing Tools

I had read Will Richardson's book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom (an earlier version) last year. But going back to the chapters about Flickr after I had begun using it really helped me see how much more it could do.  

After having used Flickr for personal photos and playing with some of the features, I loved reading about some other possibilities with Flickr.  Will Richardson's Chapter, "Fun With Flickr" helped guide me to explore new things that Flickr could do.  Some new things I discovered based on Richardson's book were RSS feeds. I had no idea that I could subscribe to a topic of photos. I was also interested in the Google Maps feature. I am in the process of starting a Google Map with my photos--placing them on the spot where they were taken. I see huge implications with this for kids. One of my colleagues created a Percy Jackson Google Map with his 4th graders.  I can see expanding that great idea to include photos/scenes from the book in some way. I was also fascinated by the Jane Goodall camp photo on page 104 of Richardson's book.  I can see this as a great tool for students especially in the area of science. 

For me, this last week was spent building on my knowledge about what is possible with Flickr.  I felt like I understood the basics of Flickr as a Photosharing tool but this weeks' explorations helped me to see how this could support students in the elementary grades.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Playing With Photo Sharing Tools-Part 1

Photo by Eli Nixon via Flickr
I love to take pictures and I have high hopes for myself when it comes to what to do with them. I see photos as a way to save and share life's best moments.  I love scrapbooks and  have even taken scrap booking classes. I have hundreds of dollars of scrap booking tools in my basement.  But, the truth is...I am terrible at following through with photos.  My photos are in large boxes in various closets around the house. I have completed exactly one scrapbook page with my hundreds of dollars worth of tools and I very seldom even have a picture of my family in my wallet to share with friends.  And, I must also admit that  I still sometimes find rolls of undeveloped film in drawers while cleaning.  (I have not owned a camera that takes "real" film for at least 5 years....) 

Photo Sharing tools started out the same way for me.  I did not really see the point.  I had an iPhoto account and could keep all of my photos there. They are about as organized as my boxes of print photos,  but with time, I can find what I need.  This summer, I decided it was time to open a Flickr account. My friend had one and she made some pretty cool things.  She had participated in the Flickr 365 project last year and was proud of the photos she had collected. I was pretty impressed with the variety of photos she had collected and the ways that her photos told stories in the monthly mosaics she created.  I started to read about the ways taking 365 photos a year had impacted others too. 
So I joined Flickr this summer.  I opened an account and waited. But I quickly found  that I began to live my life differently. I carried my camera with me and was constantly on the lookout for a good photo opportunity. I used the account for photos with personal use, not professional, and I quickly found out how much easier and more fun it was to share photos.  

Because I logged onto Flickr more often to download photos, I found myself exploring the site a bit.  I learned to make sets of pictures and to tag favorites from others. I learned that almost any photo I needed for a presentation or project could be found on Flickr.  I created a Mosaic of pictures using Big Huge Labs with friends who had been on a trip with me. I used iMovie to create a birthday card with other photos I had collected. And I created the best Keynote presentations I had ever created because of the photos I found on Flickr.

And then, when I attended November Learning, I learned about the fun of Flickr Groups.  A group was set up for others who had attended BLC 10 and we could all add our photos to the group's page.  It was fun to see others photos of the event and fun to add my own.  I connected with a few of the speakers through the photos that I posted. 

I became fascinated by the concept of groups and found that there are more groups than I could have imagined. Groups of cookie bakers and cupcake eaters.  Groups of librarians and accountants. 
The summer was a great time to play with and learn the basics of Flickr.  I had the extra time to play and have fun with it and I was out and about enough to have some photos worth sharing. For me personally, Flickr has helped me become the kind of person who takes and shares pictures that I have always wanted to be . I can quickly and easily download photos to flickr and put them into a set or collection.  I am able to organize them and share them quickly and easily.  From a professional standpoint, Flickr has really given me a new way to think about my own presentations and projects.

I know that there is more that I can do with photo sharing sites but this personal learning has been a great start for me.   I feel that my learning about Flickr has opened up so many realistic possibilities for me when it comes to photos. Although I may still come across a roll of undeveloped film in a drawer, here or there, I won't be adding any new rolls to the collection.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Playing with Trailfire-Kids Who Are Making a Difference in the World

I was thrilled do discover a new tool to guide students to various websites. Trailfire.  I enjoyed using the tool in my course and thought I'd explore it as a tool for my own teaching. We are getting ready to start an integrated research unit with 4th graders at our school.  We want them to find things they are interested in and want them to know that kids can make a huge difference in the world.  So, I created a Trailfire on kids who are making a difference. I am hoping to introduce this Trailfire to them during the last week of September. These are certainly not the only kids making a difference and we will also be looking at picture book biographies, news articles, and artists who make a difference.  This will be an intro--an invitation to them to begin to think about the things they are most interested in. I think I have a good variety although I would love to find others.  Let me know what you think.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Welcome to Web Tools for Schools!

My name is Franki Sibberson and I am a teacher-librarian in a K-5 school in Ohio. I am in my third year of this job.  Prior to becoming a teacher-librarian, I have 20+ years experience as an elementary teacher with experience in grades K-5. All of my work over the past 23 years has been in supporting students in their literacy development.  Recently, I had the opportunity to work on NCTE's focus group on 21st Century Literacies.  Our committee worked with NCTE's definition of 21st Century Literacies in order to create NCTE's Framework for 21st Century Literacies. This experience started my interest in the ways that the tools of technology are changing and expanding the ways we think about literacy.

Over the last few years, I have been playing around with lots of new tools and trying to learn about them myself.  I quickly found myself becoming more and more interested.  I have another blog (A Year of Reading) that I cowrite with Mary Lee Hahn. That blog focuses mostly on books and children's literature, but as we have both evolved as teachers, our blog has also evolved and I noticed I was thinking more and more about tech tools.After becoming a librarian, I looked hard for a Master's program that would support the kinds of things I was thinking about--one that matched my vision of what I was trying to create in our library. So, I am currently a student in University of Alberta's Teacher-Librarianship Distance Learning program and learning so much about the ways these tools can impact learning.

The purpose of this blog will be to focus on the way these new tools can be used in schools in authentic ways. I am excited by the new opportunities that new tools provide for student learning.  But, I also think it is a challenge as educators to make sure the tools are aligned with our beliefs and knowledge about the ways students learn.  This blog will be a space for me to share my own learning and thinking about the role of these tools in elementary schools.