Tuesday, June 25, 2013

ETAD 879 Assignment 2 - Shot Selection

Here is my shot selection assignment. The types of shots are listed in the video description on Youtube as well as below the video. Many of the shot types are used multiple times.

Shot List

1. pan - still subject -- 3:32        
2. pan - moving subject  - 1:53
3. pan - swish pan  - 0:31
4. long shot -- 0:10  
5. medium shot -- 0:13
6. close-up - 0:15
7. extreme close-up -- 1:02
8. cut-in -- 0:32  
9. cut-away  - 0:31
10. head-on -- 2:32  
11. tail-away - 3:25
12. tilt  - 3:39  
13. high angle -- 0:10  
14. flat angle  - 0:41
15. low angle  - 0:54
16. zoom in -- 3:03  
17. zoom-out  - 3:02
18. balance -- 1:30
19. rule of thirds -- 0:03
20. dolly -- 2:50
21. truck -- 2:44
22. reportorial -- 0:03
23. objective perspective -- the entire video (we view the action as a third party) except for the brief subjective clip
24. subjective perspective -- 1:19
25. selective focus -- 0:20
26. title -- 0:00
27. matte or effects -- 1:19 (fog)
28. wipe shot -- 1:36
29. follow focus -- 3:00
30. one light -- 0:11 (key light is in front to the left of frame)
31. two light -- 0:37 (key light front left of frame, fill light front right)
32. three light -- 0:41
33. sequence of establishing shot, medium shot, close-up, and re-establishing shot -- 0:10

Monday, June 24, 2013

ETAD 879 Scripts: Three Act Elementary Math

In the end, Jenn and I went forward with creating four videos. The four scripts can be found at the following links:

Stay tuned for the videos and accompanying resources!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

ETAD 879 Video Critique

Proper Running Technique via Vo2maxProductions 


The description provided for this video on YouTube is, “Tips to keep for a more efficient running stride to improve speed, endurance and resistance to injury. You'll see correct, proper running form along with some drills that you can use to improve your technique.

From this description we can see that the goals and objectives of the video are to teach efficient running stride in order to improve speed, endurance and resistance to injury.

Production Techniques
Macro Level
The video attempts to reach its goals through the use of lecture style instruction and visual demonstrations. Examining this at a macro-level, the video does a good job of combining these two methods. It appropriately sets the stage through the use of a stationary “host” explaining the purposes of the video. It then transitions into visual demonstrations before returning to the “host” at the end of the video.

Micro Level
I will now dig deeper into the video. I will try to explore all of the different features of the video without going too deep.
  • The video begins with heavy music to engage the viewer. You can’t tell at this point, but it is too loud compared to the speaking that begins soon after.
  • The beginning of the video also shows a runner using proper form to set the stage for the content of the video. The camera tilts down to her shoes to show a focus on the foot strike. While this is happening the video also switches to an increased contrast or colour saturation – this is being used to get the viewer’s attention. In my opinion, it is a bit overdone as the colour becomes too saturated.
  • Throughout this opening sequence, the director also employed slow motion and switched back and forth between the normal colour and the saturated colour. There is also alternating shots between the runner coming towards the viewer and running away from the viewer. These all serve to capture the viewer’s attention, but to me, it seems a bit over the top and disorienting.
  • The intro section ends with a still shot of the runner along with the music fading out. I think this is an effective transition between the very high-energy intro and the host.
  • The next segment has the host introduce himself and introduce the structure and content of the video. This segment is not visually appealing as the shot is a bit too far away to be engaged by the speaker and he is wearing white against a white background. A positive of this setup is that they are employing the rule of thirds by placing the speaker’s head near an intersection of the gridlines.
  • Throughout this segment, there are a number of jump cuts that seem to be very abrupt. I would suggest using a more gradual cross-dissolve effect between the clips to make the cuts less noticeable.
  • There is also on screen text around the 45-second mark. It is large and very readable, but seems a bit cheesy. I am not sure why it is in brackets. This text is intended to improve the host’s credibility, but I would suggest that it makes the video look less professional.
  • The next segment of the video is shot outdoors near Boulder, Colorado. The setting is very nice with grass and mountains serving as the backdrop. Again the rule of thirds is used effectively.
  • The subsequent segment of the video has the host’s voice overtop of video of Allie (the runner) running. One interesting thing to notice is that the director still left in the soundtrack of her running underneath the narration – this is important because running coaches often talk about listening to your foot strike when working on your form.
  • Throughout this segment the video plays forward and backwards as well as in normal speed and slow motion. This helps to show what is being described.
  • The camera angle is effective at showing the lower half of her body, which is where we should be focusing our attention. I think it could be a bit tighter on the feet to make a clearer visual of what is being described.
  • The video once again employs on screen text. The text is in a different typeface than earlier – I would suggest maintaining consistency. This time there are no brackets, but there is overuse of ellipses (…).
  • The video continues to employ a variety of angles and has Allie running in from the left and also from the right. It would be better to stick with one direction to make it easier to follow and focus on the running form.
  • At 3:46 the video turns to another still-shot and then zooms in to focus on the shin position. A horizontal line graphic was added to help explain the shin position. I think this was effective.
  • The video then returns to the shot of the host against the white background. This composition has the same issues as at the beginning of the video. Bringing the viewer back to this location as a closing summary is effective.
  • At 5:00 the video returns back to the outdoor setting to close the video. This portion of the video is extraneous and could have been cut.
  • The video closes with the same music that it opened with along with more active clips of Allie running. 
  • The last second definitely looks like an accident and it should have been cut because it occurs after the music has ended.
Is this Video Effective?
I think the video medium is effective for achieving the goals and objectives of this video. The video medium is employed here to be able to show visuals and explain running form at the same time. It is also helpful for the visuals to be able to be static (still frames) at certain moments and also dynamic for most of the explanation. The video medium also allows for slow motion, which is crucial in showing something that happens quickly, such as running form. 

This video does a lot of things well, but also has room for improvement. Changes I would make would be to:
  • Use less of the colour saturation and shots of Allie running different directions.
  • Shoot the host segments tighter to his face and have him wear a different colour.
  • Use a consistent typeface and writing style for the on-screen text. I would also pare down much of the text.
  • Use more still frames of running form.
  • Bring the video to a quicker close.
Overall, I feel that the video doesn't completely reach its goals, as I do not feel like I am prepared to run with this efficient running stride, but it does serve as a starting point in learning this method. After viewing this video, I would want to view similar videos from others in order to gain a better understanding.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

iPads in Education: How and why? Or why not?

Since the iPad was introduced in 2010, it - along with other tablets - has been increasing in popularity both inside and outside of classrooms. To many it is seen as a very exciting educational tool that opens the classroom to a whole new set of opportunities.

I myself have owned an Android tablet and recently switched to an iPad 2. The major impetus to my switch was because of the popularity of the iPad in education. I wanted to be familiar with the device that is changing the landscape in many schools.

I know that schools and school divisions are buying iPads, and I want to know:
  • what is the goal behind buying iPads for classroom use?
  • how are iPads being used in classrooms?
  • is there any data to support their use?
  • are they being used in higher education settings?
To explore these questions, I found a report put together by Alberta Education. It can be accessed here: http://education.alberta.ca/media/6684652/ipad%20report%20-%20final%20version%202012-03-20.pdf

What is the goal behind buying iPads for classroom use?
  • to provide all students with the opportunity to succeed - helps to differentiate
  • to increase student engagement
  • to meet every students' needs every day

How are iPads being used in classrooms?
  • beneficial for dyslexic students because font size can be increased
  • writing through story apps rather than just pencil and paper writing to engage more students in the process
  • used as an assistive technology - positive because it is the same technology used by the other students
  • promote self-efficacy through customization features
  • promote risk-taking - eg. students who often are reserved all willing to share their creations on the iPad
  • bridging the literacy gap - "disabilities disappear" with the iPad in the students' hands because it offers a variety of media rather than just written
  • Sign 4 Me app to facilitate communication between a deaf student and his classmates
  • translate work into other representations
  • language acquisition
  • assessment with a faster feedback loop and more differentiation - as and for learning

Is there any data to support their use?
NOTE: The Alberta report recognized that they have no actual quantitative data showing that iPads increase students outcomes or scores
  • this article http://stateimpact.npr.org/indiana/2012/02/24/do-ipads-really-boost-test-scores/ cites two studies on iPad use in classrooms
    • kindergarten students in Auburn, Maine who used iPads scored better on every literacy test
    • 78% of students who used the HMH algebra app scored proficient or advanced compared to 59% who used the textbook version
  • the article above questions whether or not it is really the iPad making the difference, or if it is rather the teacher who is more engaged by being a part of the study, and therefore, has improved their teaching

Are they being used in higher education settings?
NOTE: The Alberta report only discussed K-12 schools.
  • I found a few articles discussing iPad use in higher education. Here is an example: http://www.onlinecollege.org/2011/11/18/evaluating-the-ipad-in-higher-education/
    • used in a variety of ways including:
      • providing iPads pre-loaded with class texts and required applications
      • to improve engagement and to allow faculty to explore new teaching methods
      • to integrate specific apps, such as Wolfram Alpha

Overall, I am a little bit disappointed with what I have found. The Alberta report was a very good read, but provided very little in terms of actual strategies or data to support their use. I was happy to hear about all of the ways the iPad can support students with disabilities, but I was hoping to read more about how it is being used by the "average" student. The information I found is all very positive on the use of iPads, but at this point in time I don't think I am convinced enough to say to a school or division that they should invest thousands of dollars to implement a 1-to-1 system. I would definitely recommend it as a support tool, but not a tool to put in the hands of every student based on the high cost.

I would need to do further exploration to see if any schools have tried implementing cheaper tablets, such as the Kindle Fire, and whether or not similar results were found. The report was very adamant that the touchscreen was a huge reason why the iPad is such an engaging tool, so based on that I would assume that other tablets would be just as engaging. The app library is much different, though, and many are perhaps less user-friendly for children. These tablets also lack the allure of the iPad, which may be a contributor to the increased engagement. Food for thought, anyways.

Math Education and Technology: Interview with Nathan Banting

There are two math teachers in Saskatoon that I have had the opportunity to get to know and that I really admire, and to be honest, a huge part of why I admire them is because of their involvement in the #mathchat Virtual Learning Community (VLC). I have never been in either of their classrooms, but from their work I have seen online, I have an appreciation of their teaching and dedication to their craft.

The first of which is Michelle Naidu, who I previously interviewed in my post Flipped Pessimism: What the opponents are saying and the second is Nathan Banting (http://musingmathematically.blogspot.ca/). Every time I have met Nathan, I have been blown away by his thoughtfulness, his love of math and his love of engaging learners! I tried to set up a video interview with Nathan, but that didn't work out. Fortunately, I was still about to get his thoughts regarding flipped teaching, his teaching strategies, his thoughts on technology in math education and his experience with VLCs.

Ryan: I know Flipped Teaching is something you haven't really explored. From what you have heard, what do you think of the concept?

Nathan: Flipped teaching still worries me. I think mathematics education should focus on the broad themes that make it accessible and practical. I am worried that teachers will abuse the videos and then use their class time as a glorified study hall. It is very possible to flip your room, and make no fundamental shift in your teaching. On the other hand, building the atomic skills with good videos would benefit a teacher trying to use class time to work on deeper problems. If we can harness the foundational skills for homework, we can then begin to apply them in meaningful ways with our contact hours. Too often, online videos are used as digital lectures; the Khan academy presents a flagship in this regard. If we can use digital media as a starting point rather than the end-goal, I think assigning a flipped homework package could prove beneficial. There are also the issues of accessibility and student effort. They really have no bearing on the pedagogical issue at the root of the question.

Ryan: You have been doing great work using "Problem-Based Learning" in your secondary math courses. Can you provide a brief summary of how you are employing this method?

Nathan: Problem Based learning (PrBL) is a system where topics are examined within the midst of a larger issue. It can be a situational problem that provides context, or a fabricated one that relies on a base of mathematical skills. In essence, the task is given and curricular math is its underpinning. Good problems force students to make mathematical decisions. They then must understand the consequences of those decisions. Problems range in complexity; a problem may take 30 minutes or 2 classes. Some introduce topics, some cement the learning. Often, they are solved in “think-tanks” of students working to arrive at a solution. PrBL is designed to allow students to chew on a topic without rushing through a pre-set algorithm to arrive at an answer neatly printed in the answer key.

Ryan: Are there certain topics where you have been unable to employ this method? If so, how did you approach those topics?

Nathan: I have developed the entire Workplace [and Apprenticeship] courses (10 & 20) around problems and projects. The practical topics allow for me to choose relevant situations and tasks for the students. I find it tough to implement large scale projects into an abstract course. In my experience, students are intimidated by its unfamiliarity. PrBL does fit nicely into all streams. Presenting a thought provoking entry event can begin to build understanding across the board. Whether it is getting students using graphing software to graph their first quadratic with a TOV [table of values] or asking them to design a data set with given central tendencies, providing an open environment for them to make connections is key. In the higher levels, more direct instruction is given, but anchor problems are a great reference for teacher and students.

Ryan: In your mind, what is the role of homework in a secondary math classroom?

Nathan: I think homework needs to be done to build a toolbox. Every student mathematician needs an angle to approach challenges. Those angles always necessitate a mathematical arsenal. Simple operations may help them pick fair teams where more complicated means (factoring, trigonometry, etc) may open doors to more novel and elegant solutions. Homework exists to practice pieces; the sad part is that most students never get the opportunity to use those pieces in a larger scope.

Ryan: In what ways are you currently using technology in your teaching?

Nathan: In my Workplace PBL classes, students have full access to the internet and all the software it provides. I use it to create individualism and autonomy. It switches the focus of the math class. Students are now expected to create a pathway to a solution; they need to show me that path. The formula and algorithm are not really the focus anymore, because they are all readily available. In other courses, graphing software is used a visualization tools and online centres are set up for group collaboration. Some of the best lessons use simple technologies. A set of dice, a cylindrical can and a utility knife, a magic 8-ball, coloured envelopes, protractors, etc. I think teachers have lost sight of the usefulness of this technology. I have an IWB [interactive white board], but the moving of a metre stick often shows the breadth of angles more efficiently.

Ryan: If you had an unlimited teaching budget, how would you use technology in your teaching?

Nathan: Unlimited budget is a dangerous thing. I think I would have two answers for 2 separate classes. W&A) I would ask for a laptop computer for every student. Accompanied with this would be full licences to Microsoft suite as well as zero administrator passcodes. I want students to be able to search out appropriate software to solve their problem. Mice need to replace trackpads, and even a touch pad where students can write in their thoughts to create a digital portfolio. Technology needs to encourage students to document their process; I find word documents don’t accomplish this feat.
For the other strands, I would ask for a set of tablets. I think the portability of the machines make them attractive. Students could have a variety of apps at their fingertips. Unit converters, calculators, graphers, simulators for dice and other probability games. Conjunction with geogebra would provide a very tangible look to functions. Graphing and posting with ease. I would eliminate graph paper altogether. Students could have an all-in-one collaboration station, but they also work great in isolation. There would have to be one for each student; they log in, use it for the class, and dock it for the night.

Ryan: You are a part of a Virtual Learning Community on Twitter and also as a blogger that discusses math education. How has being a part of that community improved your teaching?

Nathan: Edublogging began as a personal documentation system, and has become so much more. It provides an authentic audience that our students so desperately need. Twitter is the single best decision of my teaching career. It allows me to see what other distinguished educators are doing quickly and effortlessly. It starts the wheels turning, and provides a support system throughout the process of implementation. I cannot stress enough the importance for teachers to be digital citizens. Unless we become one, we will never understand our students as digital agents.

As you can see, Nathan is doing exceptional work and is a leader in Problem Based Learning in our province. I hope you have enjoyed reading his responses and are left feeling inspired that this individual is teaching our youth! He has left me with a few things to chew on and consider as I move forward as an educator and a designer.

Follow Nathan on Twitter @NatBanting to get updates and links to his work.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My new E-Word: Trying to make sense of it

I recently learned about a word that I never really considered before. I had heard it in passing, but never took the time to explore it. It's very long and funny sounding, so I just glossed over it. The word is Epistemology. What is it? What does it mean? Why should I care? And how does it affect my practice?

Please, note that this is new to me and I may be way off base with some of this. Please, discuss any errors in the comments below - of course, I could only be wrong if knowledge is external to the learner!

What is it?
To me, epistemology is basically a worldview. Maybe more specific than a worldview. It is basically how one views the construction of knowledge in the world. 

What does it mean?
There are three main epistemologies: they are objectivism, pragmatism and idealism. Again these are all words that I knew, but never really took the time to explore, especially pragmatic and idealist. 

Essentially an person with an objectivist espistemology believes that knowledge is real and exists in reality. As a learner we learn by experiencing and understanding the content that is out there. I compare this to objective questions on an exam; there is a correct answer out there that can be achieved.

I will jump to the other end of the spectrum to idealists. Idealism could also be called subjectivism. The idea behind idealism is that the learner constructs knowledge. The way I picture this is that there is "stuff" in the universe and an idealist would say that each person interprets and makes sense of this stuff differently. I relate this to scientific models; for example, in science we make theories to try to explain things that we can't see or experience. An idealist would say that every person does this with everything they experience; the learner has an experience and makes their own meaning or model to understand it, but the crazy part is that there isn't a correct model - everyone's model is their own reality. 

Pragmatism falls in the middle of idealism and objectivism. Pragmatism states that there is an external reality out there, but we can't experience it directly. We still interpret things in order to make meaning, but there is meaning out there and it is subject to change.

Why should I care?
Good question! As an educator, it is important to care about this because it really shapes our teaching. If we are hardcore objectivists, then that will show in our teaching. I think the roots of instructional theories were all based on an objectivist epistemology. Eg. "There is knowledge that we as teachers know and we need to fill your heads with it." If, on the other hand, the teacher is an idealist, then that would have major implications on the instruction and evaluation. How do you evaluate if you believe that all knowledge is created and relative to the learner? These have huge implications to our practice!

How does it affect my practice?
Those of you who have been reading this blog, know that I have been focusing on blended learning and more specifically flipped teaching. Where does flipped teaching fit into an epistemology? I would have to say that at its very nature, flipped teaching comes from an objectivist epistemology. If I don't believe that there is specific knowledge out there that I can transmit, then I am wasting my time making a video. 

That notion makes me uncomfortable because I don't like the implications connected to being  totally objective. Can flipped teaching be used in another way? I tend to feel that no, it can't. Flipped teaching is objectivist, BUT - I am so glad there's a but - flipped teaching can help open the doors to deeper learning as explored in my post Flip This! The big picture. It is when the students have time to explore big problems and issues that they will be able to "interpret" the external reality and move more towards pragmatism. 

Here's a big question that I will leave with you: 
How do our students' personal epistemologies affect teaching and learning in our classrooms?