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Sunday, May 26, 2013

u03a2 My Reviews of WeVideo, Screencast-0-matic and Creaza

This week I chose to view Kathy Schrock’s Web Tools page because I just took her course and I know that she has some great resources.  http://www.schrockguide.net/online-tools.html

This was a chance to dig deeper into her recommendations.  So I started by watching her video that she made of her presentation of Web Tools.  It was great and I immediately shared it with others.  This is worth saving to go to again when you need a tool but are not sure which one to choose.  

The first tool I chose to explore was WeVideo.  I had once signed up for this tool on the recommendation of our tech teacher, but never had a chance to use it.  I also explored the information on flipping the classroom because I like the idea of first creating tutorial lessons for students to view independently, then having them practice the content in class with their teacher.  So I was wondering if WeVideo would be a good tool to use to make a tutorial video.  I reviewed clips showing how to create videos and realized that to make the tutorial I would need to have a supply of images to match the content that I wanted to teach.  I thought that I could use our document camera at school to take pictures of content to display or make screen shots.   Was this the best tool to make good tutorials? I wasn’t quite sure, so I continued to play with it by using pictures I had stored on my phone, just to get a feel for the process of making a video with this tool.  

I played with WeVideo for a long time, maybe two hours and I was not very happy with my experience with it.  Although it was easy to upload and drag pictures and video in (although the uploading was very slow), my video project kept stopping in the middle of previewing and building it.  The frames kept freezing in place making no forward movement.  Once the images had ended, but the music would not turn off.  I was also not sure how the images that I had uploaded were getting dropped from the uploading page to the storyboard page either.  It seemed very random as to when they would appear as if there was an unpredictable lag between the time they finished uploading and when they appeared on the page.  I  reloaded the page many times, and that may have been helping, but I am not certain if that was doing it or not.  There was an option to record my voice over onto a frame, so I could see the potential was there to create a tutorial lesson.  Eventually I created a finished product that I was happy enough with as a practice piece.  The quality of the pictures I had was not great so the final product wasn’t the best, but it gave me a chance to experience how to use this tool.  I managed to record my voice over some of the frames too and published my project. To my dismay, the video would not display.  The audio played against a black  background.  Next I downloaded it and tried to play it that way.  No go again.  Then I checked the player and made sure I had the latest Flash player, and again no success.  Yikes...this was really not good.

I  sent a message to the help board and  searched through their FAQ to try to solve this problem.  At least four hours was spent on this by this time.  Then suddenly I received an email stating I had successfully exported the video to Google Drive.  I tried again and finally it played properly.  Success at last!   After this, my first reaction is that it is not set up for my second graders to use.  It was not user friendly, and it took too much time and patience.  Perhaps I was missing something that would make it easier.  Until I find those magic steps, I would not choose to use this in class.  It has potential for me to use to create things for my class but not as a tool for my students to use.  This is what I finally created:  


The next tool that I explored was Screencast-o-matic.  I think this was exactly what I was looking for to create demonstration videos.  This week in school, the teachers are giving presentations to upcoming parents of students coming to our grade.  I would like to make a screencast of some of the teaching techniques and second grade experiences their students will have with me next year.  I would like to make a screencast of how I use the Smart Board to teach phonics, spelling, language and math skills.  

First, I registered to start an account.  Then I watched the demonstration video.  The process looked pretty easy.  I hoped it was less complex than the WeVideo was for me.  I looked at the three examples they gave of teachers, students and a tech person’s screencasts.  I discovered that Screencast-o-matic could do exactly what I wanted it to do to make my tutorials and demonstrations for students and parents.  I was  very excited!

It was such an easy site to use that I would recommend it for student and teacher use..  I was able to create two screencasts where I was demonstrating my daily schedule and Smartboard use and also how we use the interactive digital issue of Scholastic News . The basic, free format was fine, but I would like to upgrade so I can edit my screencasts.  There are editing tools that will trim the images and sound and will add features to your screencast.  I watched the tutorial for using the editorial tools but wasn’t able to edit with the free version.  There is a fee of fifteen dollars per year for professional hosting, where you have more saving power and can store in HD.  There is a ten dollar monthly fee for premium hosting options which eliminates ads, gives you a logo and up to 2 hours per recording.  You have 15 minutes per recording with the other options.  Here is on of my screencasts:  http://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cIhOVZVUhX

The final tool I explored was Creaza.  I  opened up it for the first time and registered for a free trial.  Immediately I was given this URL:   creazaeducation.com/members/asullivan . Next, I looked at the first newsletter page and a YouTube video made with Creaza to get an understanding of what this tool could do.  I  saw that it made videos, but I need more information so I searched for a tutorial to learn how to use it.  I found tutorials under the Help tab.  I learned that it has various options.  The tutorial videos showed how to make mind maps with Mindomo, make cartoons, with Cartoonist, make movies with MovieEditor, and to create audio tracks with AudioEditor.  These are all part of the Creaza web tool.  

As I  watched these tutorials all I could think of was how much my second graders would love using this site.  By watching the tutorials, they would be able to jump right in and start creating.  I could see them retelling stories to show their comprehension of text they have read or of historical events they are learning about.  They could also illustrate science procedures, experiments and results.  It would be a good way to create a public service announcement to show their learning to culminate a unit.  Another obvious use would be to depict stories or reports that they have written.  

I was ready to create something myself to see how friendly it really was.  The tutorials made it look easy, so I was confident and hopeful with this one.  I chose to make a cartoon using “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” theme that was offered.  It was easy to drag the background, characters and props into the page.  I quickly figured out how to add thought-clouds and text boxes and how to edit the text color, size and font.  It also had the feature to add any sound clips you have on file.   When I had one page done I saved it.  Saving took quite awhile.  Well it was taking took a very long time, so when I ran out of patience I refreshed my page.  In doing so, I lost it and it did not save.  So I started over again and made another cartoon.  I waited it out this time until I was given this address for the project:


The only drawback to the Creaza site was the time it took to save.  A suggestion I would have for them to make it more useful for students would be to have some audio files on the page they could click on and choose.  Other than that, I think it is very user friendly and would be a great tool for students and teachers to use.

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