Life, Photography, Technology

Canon of Nature and Me

2020 Photography goal complete!

In an effort to keep busy, continue learning, and challenge myself I decided to dedicate several months to learning my camera. I signed up for a Coursera specialization and worked to learn various aspects of photography and manual mode. By the end, I was confident shooting in manual, although not always successful.  It was worth the time and effort to improve the shots I take and develop a fun, although expensive, hobby. (Donations for new lenses will always be graciously accepted!) Nature is my preferred subject. I was also able to practice with our kids, as well as their friends. Completing this specialization and receiving constructive feedback and encouragement from my peers is both validating and extremely satisfying. There were elements that challenged me tremendously. (I’ll be honest, it’s mostly the math of it.  Math makes me want to cry.) Other elements will help me in my instructional design and development. More importantly, I accomplished something I set out to do and developed a new hobby.  Below is my Capstone Statement for Canon of Nature and Me and the images I submitted. A canon is a statement, collection, or criterion of related works. It is also my brand of camera, so a little play on words.

It would be easy to shrink within and give in to the frustration of 2020. Nature has been my inspiration to stay positive and stay healthy. It has been my retreat. My photography inspires me to explore new areas, as well as explore the same areas through a different lens…sometimes literally. Colors change throughout the year. Light reflects differently each day, and at different times of the day. The view changes and the camera keeps me from taking it for granted. In this series, I am exploring the world around me. What is growing in my own backyard, my neighborhood, my favorite parks, and nature preserves? Getting outdoors keeps me motivated and I seek to capture that motivation with my lens and share it with you the viewer.

I started taking pictures regularly a few years ago. My philosophy was point, shoot, and hope for the best. My strategy was volume. Thousands of pictures for a small number of useable images. This learning series and Capstone Project has encouraged me to adjust settings, eventually shoot in mostly manual, and delve into editing RAW images. I have successfully become intentional about framing, exposure, and seeking to capture inspired moments instead of seeing something cool and hoping for the best as I take shot after shot.

As cities grow our neighborhoods expand. New building projects are implemented for houses, apartments, storage facilities, another gas station or car wash on the corner. Finding a relaxing natural space can be difficult in larger cities. Greenways offer an escape to nature. Nature preserves offer some protection to nature and the environment. As with our changing cityscapes, natural landscapes change as well. I seek to document the natural places I enjoy, frame the landscape, and capture the inspiring moments for both historical documentation and change over time.

 

Education, Learning and Development, Technology

Teacher Tools

Happy Quarantine!

 

While I am targeting this post to the many teachers who are figuring out how to reach their students through virtual classes, it is good information for anyone working virtually with others. There are a number of free applications and programs. There are even more subscription services.  For today, here is a list of things to check out.  This list was provided to me by a program coordinator at UNCC (The University of North Carolina at Charlotte). My favorites are in color.

 

PowerPoint:  Yes, I know. We have all experienced torture by PowerPoint.  Do not underestimate the power of PowerPoint!  It is a VERY simple tool to do so many things. You can create presentations of course, simple and fast infographics, and other things you may not have tried.  Sometimes I need an infographic to be animated in my video. Rather than build it in my video program, I create the graphic in PPT, add some animation, then save as an MP4!  It cuts the time in half.  

ScreenCast-o-Matic: Present your instruction and add yourself in the picture so students feel a little more connected.  

Animoto: Turns your photos and video clips into professional video slideshows in minutes.  (Animoto.com)

Flipgrid: Students record short videos and can reply to each other’s videos. Educators are 100% in control with video moderation and access controls. (Flipgrid.com)

HP Reveal (Used to be Aurasma):  Video; take document and record a video- record a video over text. (Hpreveal.com)

Infogram: Helps with creating infographics (Infogram.com)

Kahoot:  Kahoot! A free game-based learning platform that makes it fun to learn – any subject, in any language, on any device, for all ages! (Kahoot.com)

Lucid Chart App that is available in a browser; great for charts to put in presentations or share. Sometimes you just need a good chart. (Lucidchart.com)

Lumen PDF: Allows you to work with PDF documents, sign and edit. 

Pixton: Create comics and storyboards (Pixton.com)

Pixtochart: Creating infographics

Post it Plus: Capture Post-It notes on a wall or flipchart with your smartphone, then edit and reorganize your notes in the app.

Takes the momentum from your collaboration sessions and keeps it rolling. Simply capture your notes, organize and then share with everyone. It’s that easy. When you’re finished with an arrangement, you tap to either share the board via text, email, social media or other apps you use like Dropbox or Evernote, or you can export the board to PDF, PowerPoint, Excel, .zip, or the Post-It Plus app’s own file type.

Powtoons: I love this one!  Use their free account – takes 5 minutes, can’t change characters, but very user friendly; create animated videos; combine characters, music, graphics; they will do voice-overs.

Sway: Microsoft and it’s free. A simple web-page style. Great to create and share interactive reports, presentations, stories.  Excellent for building an assignment and including all resources in one place. While I do not like the limited customization, I found it excellent to use for research type assignments. I used Sway to outline instructions, requirements, share related content and videos, and add questions on the research material- all on the same project page.  If you have used Discovery Education’s assignment builder it is similar in look and feel.  

Google Classroom and Google’s suite of products. It is much more user friendly than Microsoft and allows you to interact with those collaborating in a document or presentation.

 

Good luck teachers. I know it is difficult. I know you are being asked to do more with less. What else is new? Just remember a few things:  You can do it!  You are not going to break it. If it fails, you tried and that is a great lesson to teach too!  Hang in there. Stay healthy. Wash your hands.

 

Live life. Give joy. Be at peace…while social distancing.

 

Instructional Design, Learning and Development, Technology

ADDIE Infographic

Brief ADDIE infographic video, experimenting with assets and design elements of Doodly and Filmora.

Instructional Design, Learning and Development, Reviews, Technology

Doodly do or Doodly don’t?

Doodly software is an easy to use tool for whiteboard animation creation. I created the above in a matter of minutes- start to finish, render, and upload to YouTube. Simple.

What I like:
– Software, no extra hardware needed. No pen. No big clunky board. No projector.
– SIMPLE to use with drag and drop functionality.
– Easy interface for basic entry/exit customization.
– A number of useable assets for just about any project.
– You can add your own images if you want something more.
– Great royalty-free audio tracks.

What I don’t:
– Limited options for entry and exit.
– Limited ability to manipulate the timeline.

Doodly is a great tool for basic whiteboard animations. The biggest plus is its simplicity and no need for extra hardware. If you can use PowerPoint, this is even easier. Anyone who knows the basics of using a computer and Office software can learn Doodly in minutes. The lack of advanced functionality is limiting if you want to take your creative view to the next level. If you really want something more powerful and technical, Adobe has great tools to challenge you. If you want to create a quick whiteboard animation, Doodly works.