Friday, May 22, 2009

A Most Excellent Product Endorsement--The Flip Video Camcorder

Here is a product the your will literally "flip" over. It is the Flip Video Camcorder. The cameras come in several versions and price ranges. A trip to their Web site is recommended. There is the more expensive Mino with all the bells and whistles or the less expensive and more basic Ultra model to choose from. There also are upgrades for such things as HD quality and more memory. I was lucky enough to be awarded a grant and purchased seven of these cameras for my classroom. It was a $500 grant and I chose to buy seven Ultra cameras with 30 minutes of memory on each. (This model was not show on their Web site, but I found them on Amazon. Bonus!) For my Freshman Computer classes, this was a perfect choice. We normally shoot short videos and then the students transfer the video right to their computers. They are easy to use, durable, and the students love to use them.

This is where the beauty of the Flip Video Camcorder really jumps out. With the flip of a switch, there is a Built-in flip-out USB arm to transfer the video. That is right, no fire wire and no fire wire card. Here is a quick video of some nice lady putting the Flip to work.

I have found only two small problems with this camera. It runs on AA batteries. If you have rechargeable batteries (which I do), no problem. The second problem was the software that came with the camera. Probably great for home use, but not so much in a school setting. The camera wanted to install it's own software on each computer it was plugged into. No way. I like to hook up the camera, and quickly get my videos off it.After a little searching, I quickly found out this was a common complaint and found a link to the MPEG 4 encoder needed to do this. You can find it here. Once this is installed, it treats the Flip like a USB memory stick. Plug it in and cut or copy your video to your desktop.

My students and I have really enjoyed capturing ourselves on video this semester and using it in various projects. Try one out yourself!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wiki, wiki, wiki--Part 3

A quick shout out to Ms. Joslyn Hemingway at Kent City Middle School. She is using a wiki with her Science classes to explore endangered species. (She used Wikispaces by the way.) Students in different hour classes are grouped together and have to gather data on a specific endangered species. Students use the wiki space to collaborate with each other and post information for the project. I happened to find out about it because my daughter is in Ms. Hemingway's class. Check it out here. Nicely done!

Now that you know what a wiki is, how a wiki works, and how a wiki can be used in class, it is time to experiment a little. Go ahead and try setting up your own wiki. Come on, you know you want to. You will be the envy of all the other teachers, right? There are a lot of wiki sites out there such as PBwiki (now PBworks) , Wikispaces (designed for educators), Wet Paint, and others.

Below is a movie on how Wetpaint Wikis work.

Pretty good, huh? Free too! Give it a try. Good luck!