Thursday, April 30, 2009

I dove into two new kinds of technology recently, actually three, in a bit of desperation that I am so far behind in some ways, with some things that so many people take for granted. One of these is movies. It's a world of clips; young people have and shoot clips around, and watch a lot of youtubes, and pass them around as if they were a bunch of grapes. But I have a hard time even getting information out of them, let alone making a good one, or using them to teach a language.

So, it's about time, I thought, and maybe I better make one and see how possible it is to make a good one, before I start laying plans to teach a language through it.

The first kind I tried was facebook movies; I figured that if every single computer in our lab (now) has a working videocam, then there's no reason we couldn't consider a movie as a mass effort and make one like that. What I was really after was computers around in a circle; people inside; many movies made at once; multiple facebook event kind of thing. That will have to wait though. That would be theatre in the round, which is way over most people's head, even when it's live.

So we settled for written messages put in front of the fb screen, usually my account; altogether we made four or five movies. Often the messages were blurry or, worse yet, hurtful, though done supposedly in the spirit of teasing. They were grammatical. I have no idea if they taught grammar or reinforced it, or both or neither. It was a class I was subbing in; I barely knew the students. They played along, and made lots of facebook movies. You can see two in my profile, if you look.

Second, a real movie. This happened yesterday. I borrowed a CESL movie camera, new, and challenged my students; I put ideas in their hands. We were covering facial communiation, and the claim was made that faces communicate in universal ways, and communicate ten distinct emotions, which we wrote out. Then we produced the faces; finally, we challenged others to come and do the same. We shot lots of faces, and downloaded the movie for splicing & editing. I have no idea how it will come out.

Finally, in the world of audio files, I made an audacity file of eight students reading Big Fish stories; they read into a mic and it was stored at the LMC computer. It turns out that it would have been easier to upload their stories onto Voxopop; but, I didn't even know the difference, and had to find out. In their audacity form, they are difficult to deal with, but manageable. Voxopop, though, turned out to be quite a find. I learned a lot here; I plan to do some more of it.

It was all new to me; there was no way to get around it. I had to just jump in, get the classes to understand it was the first time, and give them credit for trying. Even if it comes to nothing, it was an important experience and helped me learn considerably.

More later....

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