Ode to Web 2.0 (Web2.0 Shanghai Blues)

Web two point oh is a magical show, makes techno geeks simply glow

Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube glitter in the hallowed halls of Miller’s best bitter

But no way past the China Wall, cos it’s really got us by the balls, oh yea


Now Glogster, Mind Map and Animoto drive us crazy like  Quasimodo,

We walk the line between heart attack and screamin’ nuts, this surely sucks

But no way past the China Wall, it’s grippin’ us all by the balls, oh yea


We watch the wheel spinnin’ on the screen, it takes forever it’s a mean machine

Error notes and server faults keep us a’hangin’ about, head  bangin’ jolts

But don’t you know, the net’s so slow and China Wall’s still got our balls


The discussion flows from hip to hop, boxes checked but nothing stops

We’re glued to computer screens, minutes to hours and no joke, locked in ivory towers

The heart beat pounds, blood pressure rises, China Wall’s still squeezin’ my balls


Now down the road, and the world’s really flat, Apps and gizmos fill the shack

From me to you and back again, collaboration’s no celebration

The Red dragon bites with firry tongue and the Great Wall’s clingin’ to my balls


And the Great Wall’s clingin’ to my balls…

Prezi, a review as sourced by Gordon Christie-Maples

Eric A Tremblay, better known as Eric Rambling to his 75000 responders, highlighted an award winning Prezi by Amy Burvall and Herb  Mahelona, two gurus of the online presentation tool. The presentation  Technotroubadours and Teacherpreneurs was given at  Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE) E-Learn 2011 World Conference in Hawaii in 2011. According to  Dr. Jean-Marie Muhirwa who had attended the particular presentation at the conference, the Prezi addressed  ‘some of the most fundamental and complex issues related to online learning, creativity, copy rights, social justice, etc…’ but in a visual and auditory way that was obviously riveting to its large audience. Having viewed the presentation myself, I have to admit that it is pretty damned stunning and makes me think that perhaps I will try to build one for the farewell ‘speech’ this week. Of course, I cannot see it being anywhere near the standard of Amy’s and Herb’s, but at least I will get my toes wet as I take first tentative steps. The interesting characteristic for me in the use of this tool, is the seamless way it can lead you through a fascinating maze of graphics, video and auditory media, allowing you to pause here and there, click on a link, or video, zoom in through another array of visual tunnels and side-passages, and eventually come out the other side, a little glazed around the eyeballs perhaps, but definitely aware that you have participated in a real and engaging experience. I can see that I could use this tool to bring a whole new dimension to the presentation of Art history and its practical application as a model for teaching technical skills in a way that allows student access on their laptops and a pacing that is suited to the individual learner. If there is one Web 2.0 tool I have found during this unit, and that I can say is made for me and my teaching style, I think this could be the one.

But, as Dr. Jean-Marie Muhirwa asks at the close of his review, ‘ Assuming the technical skills and the subject matter expertise are warranted as it was the case in the Burvall-Mahelona partnership, where do you find time and pedagogical skills to design a prezi that is worthwhile to your students?Where indeed? But I will certainly try!

Application of VuVox or Animoto in my Art Class

How would I use these in class?

I think that I would only use VuVox in class because it has some excellent graphics tools that include some opacity and transparency manipulation, and simple layering. This at once makes the program actually more creativity enabling and powerful for the student, than Animoto. My objectives for students would be to have them create an art work more in keeping with contemporary multimedia Art-works. In the case of my Concrete River presentation, my theme was Urbanization and the Influence of Manmade Structures on the Environment. I didn’t want to simply create a Power Point type slide show documenting the construction, but rather, I wanted to create a mood or emotion percolating in relation to the amazing transformations taking place, and also involving the people inhabiting and working there, who happened to get almost accidentally caught up in the capturing of the scenes. Of course, adding the appropriate music enhances the visuals in quite an amazing way I feel.

Glogster update? Not…

Well not yet. At the moment the Glogster page hosting the Space Junk poster is spinning its wheels endlessly trying to load it for editing. I completed a little 14 second animated video that I was hoping to attach somehow to the poster to make it more interactive, but that is on hold until I can get back to the only place where an internet connection seems to be able to work for many of the websites I like to access and use. That is, Shanghai American School. I completed the video on Photoshop CS4 Extended, not on any Cloud-Based App unfortunately, as the ones I looked at were simply, ‘Use the characters, the scenery and the storyboard that I and my fellow website owners created for you, and move them around a little and add some speech balloons..’. Anyway, if you want to see the video such as it is follow this link to my model student blog.

VuVox V Animoto

Well, I have, thanks to Steve Isaacs, been able to join the Education side of Animoto and have been able to complete a short video (just about twice as long as my first ‘free’ version at 1min 08) Concrete River Animoto. And there’s the rub; in VuVox, the full segment (2.15mins) was able to be fully utilized by the VuVox production engine and gave a nice completion to the video.. However, no matter what I tried to do in changing the music/image rate in the Animoto Audio track ‘editor’, I could only get either 30secs or 1.08mins. This is a huge limitation and quite disappointed me in fact. As far as the slide show is concerned, Animoto’s treatment of image transition was I felt, very choppy and, well, slide-showish. It did however, have a simple method of creating text and credits, that unfortunately, VuVox hasn’t got at the moment (or I couldn’t find). Another couple of things that may also count a little against Vuvox is the inability to download the finished video, or go back in and reedit it. However,  to me the way VuVox utilizes transparency, varying opacity and more of a melding of image one into the next, to my aesthetic taste anyway, is much superior. I make no bones of the fact that I like Art, and in my opinion the VuVox treatment is much more artistic and interesting, compared to Animoto’s. The fact too, that VuVox has some quite sophisticated and powerful editing tools, also lifts it into a higher category of usability, aesthetic interest and power. Overall, I believe VuVox is the better of the two Cloud Apps and has potential to go even higher in the realm of Web 2.0 tools for creative multimedia.

VuVox Multimedia (instead of Animoto)?

I have spent one of the most frustrating days since starting this Web 2.0 unit of study (and I really apologize to all those people who have actually read anything I have posted, as I seem to be Mr Doom himself personified, in my rantings about Web2.0, but in defense, my feeling is that Web2.0 Apps are generally a little over-rated in their function, and perhaps that is because we are still infants in its development, be as it may be, l’infant terrible!). Anyway, I very much wanted to create a music-video type prez on Animoto but discovered first thing when I went there to do it, that the link to the Education version no longer existed and one had to pay money to subscribe to get more than 30secs of presentation. I then decided that I would try VuVox as highlighted on our VHS Web 2.0 home page. At first glance it seemed similar to Animoto, but I discovered that in their Create a Collage section there are a couple of fabulous tools available to creators, and they are: the ability to make selected parts of an image transparent, and other images are able to be layered behind so that a ‘window’ is created through the first image. I love this idea as transparency and varied opacity is a corner-stone of my teaching Photoshop skills, and it is great to see a Cloud based App having that ability, and free too! I uploaded my first batch of images (32) then previewed the Collage. I didn’t like it, as it simply scrolled a slow panoramic trail of images across the screen like trucks on a railway line passing by a car stopped at the crossing. I decide to then use the Studio (pro) slideshow app, but all the images I had uploaded weren’t stored on the website but had disappeared with the collage, as had the MP3, (which is, by the way, a segment of David Byrne’s magical Glass and Concrete and Stone, to acknowledge his contribution). Two frustrating hours later (connection problems) I finally had the 32 images back up there and dropped into the creation window, along with the MP3. I had chosen a template style and left it to do its work. I have to say, and I am rather surprised to do so, that I am really rapt in the finished product (means I love it!) which is here, if you would like to check it out (it is best viewed full screen): Concrete River

Unfortunately VuVox hasn’t yet got Text ability up and running (or I couldn’t find that particular tool), so I couldn’t put in Titles, credits, etc.




Create Interactive Posters Using 21st Century Skills http

(The above article was posted and reviewed by Christie Gloss)

The concept of an interactive poster is really quite exciting. Moving the idea of a poster from print media to digital media is certainly adding another dimension to advertising and the publicity industry generally. Already we are seeing gigantic digital billboards being raised in many of the great (and not so great) cities of the world. And these are becoming interactive, albeit in a fairly unsophisticated way. During a visit to Times Square in New York last summer I was intrigued (and I have to admit captivated even) by a huge digital screen that displayed the mass of people in the street below who were milling about looking up at it. A gorgeous looking model (female) would suddenly appear, super life-size  on the screen, and look down at the crowd. She would point to them, then draw a marquee around a section of the crowd and home in on it. Suddenly people were able to see themselves being picked out of the crowd in real time and zoomed up in size, and of course the reaction was similar to that of the camera at a popular sporting event picking out a group in the crowd and throwing their image up on the big screen; immediately they would become incredibly animated and hungry to make the most of their 15 seconds of fame!

The Glogster creators bring the concept of interactivity into their App for creating posters. They state that ‘Creating these online posters can definitely spark students’ creativity while turning potentially dull assignments into individually creative and highly visually-stimulating ones… (and)… ‘This Web 2.0 tool’s visual, audio, and textual elements help to develop the visual literacy skills needed by 21st century learners (that is): the ability to understand and produce visual messages.’

The ability to be able to utilize ‘visual, audio and textual elements’ in the one poster, expands the dimensionality of the process and hopefully the end product will then be attractive and inspiring, thus helping facilitate greater engagement and full immersion in the processes of effective and literate communication.

Space Junk: A Glogster Trial!

Further to my ranting (as Steve Isaac calls them, but Ihope affectionately) in my previous post, I revisited Blah Blah and incorporated it into a new Glogster effort called ‘Space Junk‘. Hopefully I will add audio and perhaps a little animated video as well when I can manage the time. It is a work in progress. I think of all that hard technology up there rotating and revolving around our lovely little green-blue planet in the midst of a puny little solar system in an even punier constellation called Sagitarius, or is it Centaurus, or Cassiopiea (this is one I haven’t even heard of before), but according to Yahoo Answers (and 48% of the popular Yahoo Answers vote), Sciencenut is undoubtedly the current expert on such matters; and according to his well articulated argument, we are indeed part of the Constellation Sagitarius. But like everything in life, it all depends on our point of view or frame of reference! I love Sciencnut’s sanguine but salient question, ‘where are you now? What direction are you?’ Point taken and ingested.




Five Tools for Global Educators (Steve Wheeler)

'Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah...Blah'

Steve Wheeler’s article, Five Tools for Global Educators, as reviewed by Christie Gloss, advocates five tools he thinks essential for the ‘new breed of teacher who do not necessarily accept that the classroom is contained within four walls’ (), These five tools are: Webinars, Blogs, Video, Twitter and Slideshare. I love the concept of a classroom not being a room in a building ‘somewhere’, but rather a room with no walls, no containment, a presence ‘everywhere’; definitely the mystical and esoteric land of Erehwyreve! I haven’t participated in a webinar yet, (unless a video conference can be included in that category), but I can see that with technology as simple and basic as Skype (as alluded to by Steve), it would certainly be possible to have a person of interest in another more distant  part of the world, or even beyond our world, out in space even, address the students in a class of mine here in Shanghai. Through more sophisticated technology the quality could be brilliant, as could the interaction. And I think this is key actually. It is not just the point of having someone amazing and totally ‘out there’ address or lecture students through the medium of cameras, microphones and the Internet, but it is the possibility of virtually instantaneous communication that is so powerful. One way traffic, guru-to-disciples-at-his-feet (please excuse the apparent sexism) only, is not communication, or dialog, it is simply one lecturing many. It is interaction that can stimulate the questions and the answers and the thinking, that  bears the fruit of authentic, and intellectually and spiritually enriching communication. We are ‘connected educators, linked in to a number of powerful global communities of practice, and we have access to resources, dialogue and audiences we would not enjoy in a traditional learning and teaching role’ .

His comments about the efficaciousness of Twitter as a means of useful communication, is interesting. My understanding of its uses was that it is simply a trite bleat to the airways, a soundbite or vizbite, as befitting the short attention span of us modern restlessly moving mass of social organism. We need always to have a presence, even though it be only a few-word statement, minimally structured and smithed; brevity with punch seems to be the hook. However, Steve does make one or two additional points in this regard. He says (of Twitter):  ‘This social networking tool is deceptively simple, but deeply sophisticated and versatile due to its inherent filtering facilities. It is also an excellent connecting tool.’  .  He goes on to point out that as an adjunct to the other tools mentioned at the beginning of this entry, Twitter can be ‘a powerful tool for the educator’. I like his elucidation of the way URL shorteners can be used to create space for annotations, and how hyperlinks, etc can be added to share knowledge, albeit as briefly or as voluminously as we choose.


Mind Map 42: Is Web 2.0 only hype?

The Web-based app Mind Map 42 has got to be one of the most frustrating and weak tools I have encountered on the ‘Wonderful Web 2.0’. I spent 2 hours last night just trying to get it to work and function how I would like it to. Unfortunately, it never did, and even after another 45 minutes this morning at 6am, the result is far from satisfactory, interesting or useful from my point of view. The inability (that I could find) to format text within the node in terms of resizing node boxes other than one straight line of text 2 miles long if that is required, or not being able to physically move a node to where you might want it, or, make connecting lines and arrows from one node to another, totally looped me out. I wanted to put my fist through the screen. Also the inability to create a separate ‘master’ node on the same page is also a great weakness. I realize that mind-maps are all about short, prithy statements linked together, but if I wanted to incorporate an Art Standard as a node, there is a necessity for having more than just one word (and I did discover the linked text-editor thing on the right hand side of the screen that links text to a node on screen, in the program, but I don’t think that is going to work in a published PDF or certainly not in a jpg). I would never use this web-based program with my students, I wouldn’t use it myself. The link to my map, such that it is is below. The idea was to show the relationship to particular Art standards used in our curriculum and the tools that might be particularly appropriate for helping achieve them. By the way, as an after-note, I don’t really see the point of having to ‘explain’ a mind map in a paragraph. That would seem to defeat the purpose I would have thought? But in the case of MindMap42’s shortcomings, I guess it is appropriate.


As far as the question, ‘is Web 2.0 only hype?’ My thoughts on the matter are: yes it is. Until ‘Cloud-based applications’, communications and interactions are truly integrated, work perfectly every time and are truly powerful, we are deluding ourselves when we claim that the web is now truly 2nd generational.