Multimedia Science SALE – December 2016 – 50% Off

End of the year sale on all chemistry, physics, and teacher tools software and materials on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Posted in Chemistry, Computer Games, Effective Teaching, Future of Learning, Physics, Science, Software, Teacher Tools | Leave a comment

Multimedia Science Materials On Teachers Pay Teachers Site

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Multimedia Science creates teaching software and materials in the areas of Teacher Tools, Physics, and Chemistry.

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These materials can be found on the Teachers Pay Teachers site.

 

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Multimedia Science Teacher Tools Pinterest Pins

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Visit Multimedia Science’s Pinterest site for pins of available physics, chemistry, and teacher tools software and materials.  Includes general items of interest about teaching.

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Multimedia Science Teacher Tools Pinterest Site

Posted in Art of Technology, Chemistry, Computer Games, Effective Teaching, Future of Learning, Life Of A Teacher, Online Learning, Physics, Science, Software, Teacher Tools | Leave a comment

Free Screen Capture Software

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Sign up on the right to get your copy of Multimedia Science’s Screen Capture software.

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The Screen Capture software allows you to capture graphics from portions of your screen up to 800 x 600 pixels in size. When you click start, a window appears that you can drag anywhere on your screen. When you have the object or area of the screen that you want to capture, you select it by dragging and holding your left mouse button around that area. That portion of the screen can then be saved to a bmp graphics file.

Product Type: Software – Teacher Tool
Curriculum: Any
Level: Grades K-12 & College
Requirements: PC computer, Windows XP or newer

The software is downloaded as a zipped file, InstallScreenCapture.zip. Upzip and run the InstallScreenCapture.exe file and follow the directions to install the software on your computer.

Please e-mail mmscience@multimediascience.com if you have any questions.

Posted in Effective Teaching, Software, Teacher Tools | 2 Comments

FaceRig Software – 3D Avatars – Useful Teaching Tools?

 Overview

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“FaceRig is a program that aims to enable anyone with a webcam to digitally embody awesome characters.  The output can be recorded as a movie or streamed to Skype, twitch, Hangouts, or any service that traditionally uses a webcam in real time”.
~ FaceRig Steam Service Ad

I recently ran into the FaceRig software available from an online gaming service called Humble Bundle for the grand sum of $5.40.  See the following URL:

https://www.humblebundle.com/streaming-software-bundle

The software is also available from the FaceRig website for around $20.

https://facerig.com/

The software is quite sophisticated and a harbinger of technology to come.  First you choose a 3D avatar and background.  Then, by using your webcam, the program maps dots onto your facial features.  Then when you talk or move your head, those lip, face, and head motions are mimicked by your avatar.  The results can be recorded and are extremely realistic even without tweaking the extensive optional control panels.

Example Movie

As a teacher, the first idea that came to me was to create a recorded avatar that could be used by a substitute to introduce and explain a planned lesson to my classes.  You can view this short and incomplete video at:

http://www.darngoodsolutions.com/free/trump2.mp4

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I’m sure that with a little experimentation, teachers could come up with multiple creative uses for these avatars.

Pros

  • Once set up, the software is very easy to use
  • There are a good number of provided avatars with several more that can be downloaded for free
  • Facial movements are mimicked quite well by the software – this includes eyes, eyebrows, mouth, and lips
  • It is easy to produce the final video with excellent results
  • Sound special effects can be added – great to mask the identity of your voice

Cons (see the suggestions below)

  • The software takes a bit of time to set up properly
  • The interface is confusing in some places
  • Laughing and other uttered noises other than speaking do not look realistic
  • The video is saved in the .webm format which is not uniformly supported
  • The software has trouble mapping your face if you are wearing glasses
  • So far I have been unable to figure out how to import new backgrounds into the software
  • There seems to be a few bugs that can be worked around

Suggestions

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  • When setting up the connection from FaceRig to your web cam, note that this control is NOT in the opening screen Options but located in a set of controls on the right (green) after you Launch and click on the UI+ button in the controls at the top(dark blue) of the screen
  • In order to get your face to show up in the small viewing box and your videos to come out right, you may need to experiment with the image sizes that are available
  • You can convert the .webm videos produced by the software into other formats (.avi, .mp4, etc.) by using the free Zamzar online tool:
    http://www.zamzar.com/convert/webm-to-mp4/
  • I found that setting the sound options on the opening screen and choosing my webcam as the audio source did not work. What did work was not seeing this option at all.

Conclusion

This software would seem to be on the cusp of the 3D and 3D avatar “revolution,” bringing this technology to the “masses.”  The quality of the end product and the final ease of use far outweighs a few bugs and some time to get the software set up properly.  Teachers should find a multitude of uses for their created 3D avatar movies in their classes, online, and in communications with students.  I would give the software a 4 out of 5 star rating and when the bugs are removed a strong 5 out of 5 star rating.

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Brought to you by Multimedia Science

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Multimedia-Science

Blogs: http://darngoodsolutions.com/blogB/post/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/hughes6497/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mmscience/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/drnebula9090

Posted in 3D, Art of Technology, Computer Games, Effective Teaching, Future of Learning, Online Learning, Software, Teacher Tools | Leave a comment

Evolution of Education and Authoring Software

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In The Beginning

First there was machine language and the nerds saw that it was good.  Then came programming languages from Fortran to Basic to Java to C++ and the average teacher saw that it was still way too complicated and the learning curve prohibitively high.

Meanwhile teachers found solace in being able to use their chalkboards and overheads which turned into Smartboards and PowerPoint presentations.  In many ways PowerPoint was the first of many examples of authoring software designed to create programs without programming.

But programs like PowerPoint, while relatively easy to use, did not have the power to create interactive or game like presentations or software.  This led to the era of “death by PowerPoint” in many classrooms.  PowerPoint is a great tool but came to be used too often.

The Internet

Somewhere during all of this the Internet began. Teachers saw great potential for the Internet to create content to reach students and allow students to do their own research online and to communicate with the teacher and each other.  Again teachers were put off by the complexity and difficulty of creating their own web sites.  So, another type of authoring software emerged, only online.  Web services like Moodle and Blackboard allowed teachers to create more sophisticated online content than they could create using PowerPoint.  And this content was online.  Of course, if your school didn’t have access to a server to run Moodle, or the money to buy a subscription to Blackboard, or high speed Internet service, or access to computers, you were out of luck.

The Trade Offs 

It seemed that as each new way of accessing and creating content evolved, the problems for teachers remained the same.  Were they able to create content without a large learning curve.  Was the content more powerful and interactive than PowerPoint.  Could the teacher and their students get to the content easily?

For many teachers, it was a lot easier to search and use the free materials available on the web, than learn and take the time to create their own.  But, then teachers had to design their teaching around those materials whether that worked with their own ideas and curriculum or not.

Game Makers & Coding

Another set of authoring tools also became available, game makers.  Two of the most popular are Scratch and Gamemaker, both of which have free versions.  Teachers could use these programs to help teach their students basic programing and coding or use them to create their own teaching games.  While the learning curve is fairly easy, it takes time to create good games.

Here is an article about my experiences running a high school game creation club.

This is where I started to create my own classroom games, demonstrations, simulations, and tutorials, using an authoring program called Clickteam Fusion.  Clickteam Fusion, which also has a free version, is a more powerful version of game maker authoring software.  It is very affordable and has a learning curve similar to the other low end game making software.  This is the program I would recommend for teachers wanting to create their own software for classroom use.

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One of the important things to consider, is which platform you want to have your software run on: PC, MAC, Android, or iOS, or web based.  Most authoring programs favor one or another of these platforms, and most do not support all of them.  Clickteam Fusion, for example, is made mainly for the PC but has exporters for Android, iOS, and HTML5. But the exporting takes another level of effort and expertise.

Here is an article about my experiences using Clickteam Fusion entitled How Multimedia Science Began – The Molecule Doesn’t  Stop Here

From there, one can move on to more complicated and 3D programs like Unity which are both much more complex, require the use of a programming language, but vastly more powerful.

Next Generation of Web Based Authoring

As the Internet became more popular, the number of and power of Internet based authoring took off.  We have already mentioned Moodle and Blackboard that incorporate content creation with student date collection.

One of the newer content creation Internet programs I ran into was called Versal.  A summary a review of Versal follows:

Versal is a set of Internet based tools that allow teachers (or others) to create Internet courses.  There are core tools (like text), viewers (like Prezi), and labs (like Typing test), many of which are both useful and creative.  A course could be created with text, graphic, and video content; utilizing a number of types of assessment tools; including mathematical simulations, world maps, and other special content.  While not complete by any means, Versal is a tremendous start on a course creation tool of the future.  There are a few bugs in implementation and there is a definite but easy learning curve.  The included tool tips and video tutorials help immensely in making the learning process easy.

Versal has a lot of content creation power along with ease of use.  Unfortunately the price is not cheap and must be paid on a monthly or yearly basis.

Here is the full Versal review.

mAuthor

Recently, I had a chance to check out one of the newer Internet based authoring programs, called mAuthor.  While the program has a number of similarities to Versal, it seemed much more powerful.

mathor

Some of the highlights of mAuthor are:

  • Can be used by non-technical personnel
  • Output is in HTML5 format which is accessible from any device, operating system, or browser
  • The editing mode is (WYSIWUG): What you see is what you get.
  • There are 120 ready-made activity types & modules tailored for K12 educational products

After signing up for a 30 day free trial, I was able to easily use the modules to create pages mixing text, graphics, videos, online content, and quizzes.  And there were over 80 plus modules left that I did not have time to preview.

As an example of what is possible with mAuthor I previewed a project created with it, called High School physics.

physics

Again, the downside for teachers, is the prohibitive cost of mAuthor.  The program is designed for text book publishers or large organizations.  This is a shame, because mAuthor could be very useful to educators with a bit of technical background and creativity.

Here are several video tutorials that illustrate how to use mAuthor.

The Future of Authoring Software

I’ve just touched on a few of the bewildering choices of presentation, game, and content authoring software that is available and will become available in the near future.

There is little doubt that authoring software will continue to evolve.  The platforms and operating systems will also evolve and / or change.  But, the power and sophistication will increase, while the learning curve will decrease.   Most likely and hopefully, the prices will go down as well.

Just imagine what our national cadre of teachers could do if they were given the time and tools to create and share their own curricular materials using a cheap and powerful authoring software.

Maybe mAuthor will create an mAuthor light that has less bells and whistles and is affordable for the average teacher.  Hope springs eternal.

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Computer Game Creation Club – Part 1: Choosing the Authoring Software

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Overview

I started a club for students to create computer games at the high school where I taught.   The school had a computer lab with 20 PC computers which we used after school once a week.  It became popular with students who lobbied for the club to meet more than once a week.  This is the first in a series discussing topics that other teachers might find useful in starting a club of their own.

While I have an engineering background and some basic programming knowledge, I decided it would be better to have several pieces of authoring software available.  This software is designed to build game applications with little or no programming required.

Authoring Software

There is quite a selection of free software which can be used to make games.  Here are a few:

Clickteam Fusion (free demo)

Free Demo

Clickteam Fusion provides you with everything you need to start creating software of your own imagination and design.  From multimedia applications and presentations, to exciting games and stunning screensavers, you can be creating, sharing, and even publishing your work in no time.

Fusion is made to run on Windows but there are modules for porting your applications to Flash, iOS, Android, and HTML5.

Users can add their own extensions if they can code in C++.

There is an online support community that creates user extensions, sample application files, and will answer questions.

Scratch (free)

Scratch makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, games, animations, music and art – and share your creations online.  You can create everything from single frames to navigable worlds.

Scratch can be run from a Windows, MAC, or Linux computer with a version of the Adobe Flash Player.

Projects are uploaded and can be shared on the the Scratch website

There is also a Scratch discussion forum like the one for Fusion.

Gamemaker (free lite version)

Design your very own games using easy-to-learn drag-and-drop actions – you can create professional-quality games within very little time.  You can make games with backgrounds, animated graphics, music and sound effects.  And when you’ve become more experienced there is an easy built-in programming GameMaker Language (GML) which gives you the full flexibility of creating games with GameMaker.

GameMaker has a Studio Free version that is Windows only and two paid versions of the software that have additional functionality.

GameMaker also has an Internet forum for users to find additional information and ask questions.

Final Comments

There are other authoring software programs, like the 3D game creator Unity, that you can find by searching the Internet.

Our school decided to buy an educational site license of Multimedia Fusion, since the cost was reasonable and that was the program that I had the most experience with.

Students ended up using a combination of all three of the above programs along with programming languages like Java.  Some students spent a lot of time making graphics in other programs like Photoshop.

From my experience, Scratch is the easiest to learn, while Clickteam Fusion and GameMaker are more difficult.   Along with the increased difficulty comes more power and the ability to do more things.

My favorite was Clickteam Fusion since I had been using it for a while.  The extensions from other users allowed me to draw lines between moving points and create drawing tools inside of my applications.

 

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The Categories Game Maker – Make Games for Any Grade or Curriculum

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The Categories Game Maker software allows teachers to create fun and exciting Jeopardy like review or assessment games for any curriculum that can be played with classes using a computer and projector system.

A created Categories game consists of up to 70 questions in up to 7 different categories. Each category consists of 10 questions, worth from 10 to 100 points. These questions can be created using text, graphics, movies, animations, and sound.

Try out a sample of a Categories game.

Get a copy of the Categories game maker. On sale at 20% off.

Sample question screen.

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Some of the features of Categories are:

  • the ability to create, revise, save, and load games
  • create questions by typing in text or adding graphics, movies, animations, or sound files
  • a timer that allows each team a set amount of time to answer questions
  • create answer keys that can be saved, loaded, revised, and printed
  • before playing the game, create up to ten team names
  • the game keeps track of which questions have been asked and team scores
  • ability to save team names, questions asked, and scores in the middle of a game
  • final scoring screen which allows scoring adjustments and printing of the final results
  • a game schematic with help for every screen and a set of video tutorials available online

A set of tools to help create your questions:

  • Screen capture – copy portions of the screen and add the graphics to your questions
  • File Finder – find and copy graphics and sound files
  • Multiple Choice Question Maker – make multiple choice questions with graphics and text
  • Free Form Question Maker – make questions with graphics, text, and a set of drawing tools

Example made by the Multiple Choice Question Maker

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Life Of A Teacher – Part 2

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As a follow up to the graphic organizer of a teacher’s life below, here is a more detailed analysis. It compares the common perceptions against the reality. There is a reason for teacher burnout and that is the heavy workload where much of the work lies beneath the surface and is not seen by students, parents, and the public. And sometimes even by administrators.

Check out the article here.
http://darngoodsolutions.com/blogB/life-of-a-teacher-part-2/

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Is Podcasting In Your Future?

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In simple terms, a podcast is an audio recording that in available for listeners on the Internet.  Podcasting came from Portable On Demand Broadcasting.  It’s pretty easy to create a podcast by using a computer, microphone, free software, and a web site to post our podcast.

A podcast can then be listened to on any computer connected to the Internet that can play MP3 files and once a podcast has been downloaded, you can listen to it at any time in the future.

Podcasts would seem to have a lot of potential educational uses.  For example, they could be used in the classroom, used for student review,  and help auditory learners.  Students could develop skills by making their own podcasts using them for research projects and class presentations.

Creating a podcast is usually broken down into a series of steps such as preproduction, recording, postproduction, and publishing.  It is important to do a good job during preproduction to avoid lost time and effort later.  This means tackling the subject matter, the nature of your audience, who will do the hosting, how long the podcast will be, and what tools will be used to do the recording, postproduction, and publishing.

I’ve collected a few links that add more details on the uses for and creation of podcasts below.  The YouTube video illustrates how to create the audio for you podcast, using Audacity, a free audio editing tool.

Teacher’s Guide on the Use of Podcasting in Education

Podcast for Free in the Classroom

Educational Podcasting

Creating Podcasts with Your Students

Multimedia Science Sound Effects Software

The Sound Effects software allows you to create, save, and load sound files that include five sounds that can be played by clicking on colored buttons from the Play Sounds screen.

Sound Effects Software Link

Use the sounds to get your students’ attention, indicate whether question answers are correct or incorrect, remind test takers to move on to a new section, play recorded directions, or help make your point.  By using a small sound clip of background music and the loop sound option, you can create an audio environment for students to work in.

Sound Effects includes several screens that make it easy to create sets of sounds that can be saved for later use.  The software comes with several sample sound sets.

playsounds
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Versal Internet Course Creation

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Versal is a set of Internet based tools that allow teachers to create Internet courses.  There are core tools, viewers, and labs, many of which are both useful and creative.  A course could be created with text, graphic, and video content; utilizing a number of types of assessment tools; including mathematical simulations, world maps, and other special content.  While not complete by any means, Versal is a tremendous start on a course creation tool of the future.

Here is a more detailed review.

Posted in Art of Technology, Effective Teaching, Future of Learning, Online Learning | 2 Comments

Primary Sources: America’s Largest Teacher Survey

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What do 20,000 public school teachers have to say about teaching, evaluation, standards, and collaboration.

You can see the survey results and download full reports and infographics form the completed study on the Primary Sources website.

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Teaching Channel’s Theory of Professional Learning

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Teaching Channel’s mission is to help educators learn from each other.

Teaching Channels

Teaching Channel Videos

The authors of this site believe that videos are one of the prime materials to be used in education and have compiled an extensive collection of them for your use.  My view is that the best teaching occurs when ALL available materials are utilized depending on the material, student and teacher strengths, and the context of the learning environment.  But great videos are a nice resource to have.

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