Monday, May 02, 2005

Whirlwind Workshops

On Friday and Sunday, I conducted a couple of hands-on workshops which were very interesting. On Friday, I led two half-day (2.5 hours) workshops at Kean University in New Jersey on the Tools for Digital Storytelling: Windows in the morning, Macintosh in the afternoon. I based the workshops on my webpage with a "Getting Started Tour of the Tools."
Digital Storytelling Tools for Windows XP
In this hands-on session, learn about Windows software used for digital storytelling. We will create a short digital story using a photo editor to manage images and two different programs to edit video. All software used will be available for free download from the WWW.
Digital Storytelling Tools for Macintosh OS X
In this hands-on session, learn about using the Macintosh iLife tools for digital storytelling. We will create a short digital story using iPhoto to edit images, and iMovie to edit video.
I was really pleased with the Windows workshop. The software was loaded on the laptops, but not on the presentation machine, so I quickly installed the software before I ran it, to show how easily it could be up and running. We walked through a sampler of Audio Editors and Image Editors, but focused most of our time on MovieMaker2, PhotoStory and Photo to Movie. We used my "Short Movie" exercise (7 images of D.C. and a 23 second recording of President Reagan). A few of the participants hung around almost an extra hour! My impression was that I was really learning along with the participants, not too far ahead of them with these tools, so we had a lot of fun. The afternoon workshop was the first I have conducted using the newest version of iLife (iPhoto5 and iMovieHD). Apple moved some of the commands between versions 4 and 5! I fumbled a little, but we got through all of the programs, including creating movies with those same 7 images using iPhoto, iMovie and Photo to Movie.

On Sunday, I did another hands-on workshop at the International Reading Association Technology Institute in San Antonio, immediately after my after-lunch keynote address. The lab at the San Antonio Convention Center had about 30 Windows computers and 30 Macs. I looked at the computers when I arrived in the morning and couldn't find MovieMaker on the Windows computers. So I loaded the sample files on the Mac desktops. However, one of the more tech-savvy participants found it, so she quickly helped those sitting at the Windows computers to launch the software and also, thanks to two flash drives, load the files. The podium had presentation stations for both platforms connected to a switch box, so I could do a short demo on iMovie for the Mac users, then switch over to MovieMaker2 for the Windows users. We were able to construct a rough edit (add the sound track and place the 7 images on the timeline) on both platforms at the same time, all in 40 minutes!

That is the shortest hands-on workshop I have ever conducted! But people left having some idea about how digital stories are built, using one of these tools. I also realized how similar and different the tools are. MovieMaker2 has the capabilities of iMovie five years ago, but the three step approach seems to scaffold the approach a little more (1. Capture Video, 2. Edit Movie, 3. Finish Movie). With iMovie, there are more options and capabilities (especially the still motion "Ken Burns" effect), but the initial experience for novices can be a little more confusing (how to get started? which tab to click?). To say the least, I was exhausted at the end of that short time, but felt good about what we were able to do, with thanks to Diane Tracey (who asked me to do the workshop and helped the Mac users) and that other techie, whoever she was, who helped with Windows. My public thanks!

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