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Final Thoughts

This is my first IT course towards my minor in Instructional Technology.  As I entered the class on the first night, I was apprehensive and concerned about whether I knew enough about technology to be successful in this program.  Although I work in higher education, I am not an instructor and have not been exposed to many of the applications covered in this course.   However, a wise friend, co-worker and fellow doctoral student in the Higher Education Administration program, Jonathan Woodward encouraged me to pursue an Instructional Technology minor.   I am so pleased that I took his advice as this course has been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding courses that I have taken in many years.

I greatly appreciated the course format.  Since I am a full time working mom and wife coupled with the fact that I live nearly two hours from Hattiesburg, the hybrid format offered the needed flexibility for me. Further, Dr. Yuen provided excellent on-line materials to navigate through all of the assignments along with a class social network which allowed for regular communication among the classmates and Dr. Yuen.  The course was built so well that it could have been completed as an on-line course.  However, I enjoyed the opportunity to interact with Dr. Yuen and my fellow classmates during our face-to-face meetings.

For the most part, I enjoyed most of the assignments. Actually, I am glad I was exposed to all the applications introduced in the assignments because even the ones that were a source of frustration taught me the concepts of the application which was the purpose of the assignment.  My favorite assignments were Photo Story 3 and Show Beyond simply because it gave me an opportunity to create projects that documented memories with my family. Since returning to college, I have not taken the time to organize photos or reflect on any special occasions with my family; therefore, these projects gave me a good excuse to do so.  Lastly, the projects that I favored which would be most applicable to my professional life were Prezi and Jing. I am also thankful that I learned about Dropbox as it has saved me on more than one occasion in the last few months.

I hope you enjoy looking through my blogfolio and reading my candid reviews of each assignment.  Please feel free to make comments or suggestions about any of the posts.  Thanks to Dr. Yuen for making our IT 644 course an enjoyable experience.

Fuzzwich

Fuzzwich was launched in August 2007 and is a free online application offering a library of music, images and animations in which to choose when creating an animation. Users have a small window of time to create an animation, as the limit for the clips are quite short, usually no more than 20 seconds. Anyone can sign up and use Fuzzwich from any web browser and can share their animated stories via Fuzzwich’s easy to use sharing options.
All of my previous projects in this course have allowed me to pull ideas from my personal or professional life; however, creating an animation proved to be more challenging as I have very few creative skills. I finally decided to focus on what has consumed the majority of my family’s time during the last few months: football and studying (football relating to my husband and studying relating to me).
In my animation, I featured my husband and sister rallying for their favorite teams and arguing about who is the best team when I finally yell to turn down the TV because I am studying. I couldn’t find a pre-selected character that described me so I decided on the angel character (with an added face of anger) just for the fun of it. Fuzzwich makes choosing the characters, music and backgrounds easy. However, it took me a little time to get the sequence of my characters and their actions in proper order. Once I had all three characters facing in the right direction for each text bubble and induced action, I saved the project as finished and embedded it to the IT 644 Social Network.
This project provided humor and allowed me a comedic outlet to express my “study stress.” Nevertheless, at this point I cannot think of any area of my profession that I would use animation. On the other hand, my child is a 5th grader, and he may be interested in Fuzzwich. Additionally, he may be able to find an application for it in some of his school projects.some of my projects along with the ability to verbally narrate the slides.

View my Fuzzwich:

Florida Gators vs. LSU

Show Beyond

Assignment seven focuses on creating a slidecast using Showbeyond, a multimedia slidecast creator with an online publishing platform. The project requirements include a title page, a minimum of twelve images, audio or music and a short statement on each slide to tell the story of the slide. The final project is uploaded to the IT 644 Social Network.

Showbeyond allows users to upload images from a hard drive or from on-line sites such as Picasa. Once the images are uploaded, they can be re-arranged accordingly to create a storyline. In addition to photos, the Showbeyond system offers the ability to create two sound tracks; one track for narrating each slide while the second track provides background music. Each photo slide allows for text narration and if additional space is needed, text slides can be added. The most talked about feature of Showbeyond is the ability to podcast in real time.

For my showbeyond project, I chose to use a personal topic to build a story. In 2007, my best friend and I decided to take our boys on a Disney Vacation. We had a great time and took lots of pictures, but I wanted to use this opportunity to bring our trip “alive.” First, I went through all the photos to find several for each day of the trip. After uploading the photos (which was very easy,) I arranged them in sequential order. Showbeyond only has a handful of backgrounds to choose from, so I picked one and started the process of writing my narration for each photo. Once I completed the written narration, I uploaded the background music. Because it was a song that we deemed our “trip song,” I wanted to ensure the slidecast would last through the song’s entirety. Thus, I manipulated the duration of each slide transition in order to spread the slidecast over the entire song. Once I tweaked the durations, the slidecast was complete and I copied and embedded the final product into the IT 644 Social Network. In addition, Showbeyond has a share option so I was able to email it to others.

I enjoyed completing this project as Showbeyond is an easy site to navigate. It does not provide as many editing tools as available in Photostory 3; however, the simplicity of the site makes it worth using again. In my profession, I am required to document certain projects with photos and text. I envision utilizing Showbeyond for some of my projects along with the ability to verbally narrate the slides.
View my Showbeyond:

Prezi

Assignment Six involved creating an online presentation using Prezi, a web based application that is free to students and professors. Our project requirements included developing a minimum of twelve slides with images and a YouTube video. Once completed, it could be embedded into our IT 644 social network forum.

Like Powerpoint, Prezi is used as a visual for presentations. However, Prezi is much more dynamic than Powerpoint and is actually fun to create. Prezi is a fairly new on-line application that was started in 2007 by Adam Somlai-Fischer and Peter Halacsy. By 2009, the site was officially launched from Budapest in the co-founders hometown of Prezi, hence the name. In November 2009, the San Francisco office of Prezi was opened.

The concept of Prezi reminds me of putting together a puzzle. Puzzle pieces are poured out of a box and onto a table. The pieces are sorted and systematically fitted and re-fitted until all pieces are correctly placed to form a finished project. Prezi provides a blank canvas in which to pour out my ideas about my project as if they were the pieces of my Prezi puzzle. As I organized the direction of my presentation, I linked these pieces together through the use of arrows and arrow buttons on my Prezi canvas. When a piece didn’t seem to “fit,” I would move it around the path until I found the most appropriate place within the path.

While contemplating where to start, I looked at my blank canvas and mulled over ideas that relate to my profession. Since we are all recruiters at MGCCC, I decided to develop a marketing style presentation that could be used when recruiting. I began my project by asking, “Thinking about going to college?” After the initial question, I addressed why students should choose MGCCC, incorporating our latest commercial from YouTube and previewing MGCCC’s core values and mission statement. Lastly, I used images of our college catalog and logo and suggested that potential students should register soon.

The Prezi website provides simple to understand tutorials for designing Prezi presentations. After watching several tutorials, I felt confident in applying the techniques. The features are very user friendly and allow for a wide range of individuality and creativity. Another added value is the ability to create the presentations online while having the versatility to download the final product for use without the need for an Internet connection.

Prezi is a wonderful alternative to Powerpoint. It’s ease of use coupled with being a free web based application lends itself to becoming a frequently used tool for both my professional and school presentations.

View my Prezi below:

MGCCC Prezi

Video Toolbox

Assignment five involved creating a video using Video Toolbox, a free on-line editing application.  The requirements of the assignment include recording at least one video clip with my video camera, merging a minimum of two video clips together and adding a watermark.  Additional editing such as cropping, cutting or adding an audio stream is optional but the video must be between two and five minutes in length.  Once complete, the video should be uploaded to YouTube and embedded in the IT 644 Social Network forum.

For this project, I chose to feature the MGCCC Alumni golf tournament held at Shell Landing in Gautier, MS.   During the tournament, I captured multiple clips on a Sony camcorder.   I had never used this particular camcorder but I didn’t think it would create any problems.  Little did I know, until I tried uploading the videos to my Mac, that the Sony handycam software is not compatible with Macintosh!  To complicate the matter, I inadvertently saved the video to the internal hard drive rather than the removable video card so I had to use the software to upload the videos.  After loading the software on a PC, I uploaded the videos, saved to my dropbox account and then opened the videos via dropbox on my Mac.

After this glitch, I assumed using the Video Toolbox would be a breeze. However, this was not to be.  To edit using Video Toolbox, files need to be uploaded into file manager.  The first clip I uploaded worked seamlessly; however, when I tried to upload any video clip longer than 20-25 seconds, I would get a timed out message (thirty plus minutes later) informing me that the video was not uploaded.    Finally, I stopped trying to force Video Toolbox to work with my longer clips and edited them in iMovie.  Once I completed the project and merged all the editing between iMovie and Video Toolbox, I uploaded my final project to YouTube and posted to our class site.

Working with Video Toolbox was not as user friendly as I had hoped it would be. Nevertheless, I had already created a level of frustration for myself with the Sony handycam before encountering the problem with uploading with Video Toolbox, so my patience was worn thin by the time I hit this snag.   Overall, I enjoyed learning how to edit videos and incorporate text and audio along with inserting transitions.  Although I do not envision using Video Toolbox or iMovie to a great extent in my profession, I definitely plan to utilize the skills I learned from this project in my personal life.

To view my YouTube video for this project, see below:

Jing

Our forth assignment involved documenting a computing task through screen capture. The chosen on-line products for the project were Jing and Screencast.com. Jing is a free application offered by TechSmith products that allows users to take screenshots and then use on-line tools such as text, arrows and text boxes to fully describe the screenshots. Once the screenshots are complete, they can be saved and uploaded to screencast.com to share with others. The second part of the project, required us to use the video capturing option with voice narration in Jing to capture a tutorial of the same computing task we documented though screen shots.

For this project, I created a series of screenshots of the MGCCC-JC maintenance work order system, myschoolbuilding.com to walk an end user through the steps of creating an on-line work order. I used the textboxes and arrows to explain what information is needed in each step to complete a work order. Next, I used Jing to create a video with narration of how to input a maintenance work order. The voice narration allowed me to not only walk the end user through the process of entering the work order, but also provided the opportunity to explain why certain information is needed. Once both projects were complete, I uploaded to screencast.com and posted the links to the IT 644 Social Network.

While developing the screenshots, I was careful to keep the information short and to the point. Had I provided as much information on the screenshots as I did with the video capture, the screenshots would have become too cumbersome and would not have been as inviting for the end user. Both the screenshot and the video with narration component of JING were extremely user friendly. Techsmith offers a video tutorial on the Jing homepage that provides step-by-step instructions for using Jing. After watching the video, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I was able to complete this project.

Of all the projects I have completed thus far, Jing is the most useful product I envision myself using on a regular basis in my profession. Since being introduced to Jing, I have already taken multiple screenshots and used the tools to explain the shots prior to forwarding to co-workers. Although I have not used the video capture yet, I expect that I will utilize it when dealing with more complex issues that cannot be simply explained in a textbox but require a verbal explanation.

To view my Jing projects, please click on the links below:

Jing Screenshots

Jing Video screen capture

Audacity

Project three, audio recording and editing with Audacity required that I chose a topic that would be useful in my line of work.  Since I helped develop the emergency procedures plan on the JC campus, I decided to record an audio that briefly describes the types of emergencies that may occur on campus and how one should respond to each.  My goal in the narration was that it could possibly be used as a brief summary or refresher of our written emergency plans.

Audacity is a free, open source, audio editor and recorder.  It was fairly easy to use for recording. However, once I tried mixing the tracks to include background music, it became a little more complex.  After completing the Audacity tutorial (which I should have done before starting the project,) I was able to seamlessly complete the mixing.

The background music selection proved to be somewhat challenging.  What music is appropriate for emergency procedures such as fires, school shooters, etc.? Well, I quickly realized that my first choice, the theme song from Saving Private Ryan was definitely not appropriate when I heard the sounds of gunfire in the background! After finding an instrumental that would not elicit an emotional response, I used the fade in and fade out function in Audacity to smoothly transition the music in the narration.

I was very impressed with the editing feature that allowed me to cut out sections of the recording.   Not only was my first recording longer than the length allowed for the assignment (five minutes) but I realized as I listened to myself that I have a tendency to include unusually long pauses between some compound words.   Audacity allowed me to cut the pauses out of my recording and edit out minor sections in order to stay within the allotted length of the assignment without compromising the flow of the narration.

Audacity is a user-friendly tool and I believe I will utilize the software for future projects in my profession.   Just like the emergency procedures, I may use Audacity to record other work related procedures or summarize manuals that are monotonous to read.  Providing the highlights of mundane yet important manuals in less than five minutes would be more enticing to employees rather than requiring everyone to read through the documentation.

To listen to my overview of the campus emergency procedures, please click the following link: Emergency Procedures