Look good on a webcam

Why wouldn’t I listen to Matthew Rolston? For a start he is very comfortable and quietly confident on camera and for seconds he is a famous, successful photographer and director who knows how to make people look good on camera. His suggestions are easy, practical and no nonsense. Everyone can do what he suggests and so the chances of improving your webcam image are guaranteed success. Why would you bother? Why would you not just go on camera and rattle off your instruction or content? Some might be able to this easily because they are totally comfortable on camera. The rest of us need to approach it more thoughtfully and find ways and means of feeling that we are taking the time to be considered in our approach. Teachers like to be thoughtful and they like to know they are doing it properly. It’s about role modelling and self belief. You cannot teach well if you feel you are not right, if you feel insecure or if you feel you are not presenting a rock solid image. Matthew Rolston’s sensible tips make you feel instantly better and so your on camera performance will be better. His understated presentation style inspires confidence.

Look comfortable on camera

Kevin Clay makes a lot of sense and comes up with some good rationale for just getting in there and dealing with the fact you don’t feel comfortable on camera and you can’t seem to project who you think you are. It’s practice! Stating the obvious but we don’t think about it in that way and get a surprise when we don’t look and sound the same on camera as we think we do in real life. I can go in front of any class and be a strong, powerful, engaging personality. On camera I am way too quiet. I’m dealing with my not liking my voice on camera , and Kevin Clay makes some good points about that, and now I want to work on that comfort level in front of a camera. With regard to creating videos for a flipped classroom then Kevin Clay’s final point is very pertinent and will nail it for any teacher : Have something relevant to say and be helpful. That’s the whole point, isn’t it? You want to be on video to help other people so forget everything else and focus on how you are going to get that message across just like you would in class or at a conference. Now for all the practice!

Which app for voice recording?

bossjockAll I wanted to do was practise recording my voice so I could get over the sound of it. It’s a recommendation which is working well. I have had some good feedback from listening to my recordings and I have had a chance to normalise recording myself. I worked in a language laboratory for 10 years and ought to feel comfortable with voice recordings. I’m not. I need faces to talk to. I don’t like talking to the air or a camera lens. I was looking on my iPad for what I could use. I found Beats!HD which doesn’t appear to be available in the app store anymore. Then there was Boss jock studio which is a paid app I got as a birthday present and which I reviewed here.It is very good and makes very clear recordings. Wavepad was there because it is on all my devices. It’s a really good, straight forward free recording app which you can buy content for but it works extremely well as the free app. I also found Garage Band which came free with my iPad Air. Beats!HD doesn’t have a timer but it records easily and has the carts where you can store your recordings. Bossjock has the carts too (the little squares in the image.) That is such a good idea for a classroom and I wish all recording apps would store their files like this instead of in lists which you tap on. It means current content is there before your very eyes and easily labelled and accessible. You don’t want to be fumbling with lists with 30 students waiting for you to get going. Wave Pad gives you the chance to easily clean up and enhance your recordings with simple , easy to follow buttons. GarageBand is also easy to use once you work out how to extend the recording time. There are other apps and there may be apps you find easier to use. Sometimes it comes down to how you operate on your device. All of them made clear recordings and that is what you want: a clear, strong recording of your voice. I hope developers would consider the use of carts in the apps suitable for education, at least as a view option for teachers and students. It really is more classroom friendly.

Get over the sound of your voice

When we are asking teachers to make videos for a flipped classroom we are asking them to confront something which is common – the dislike of the sound of their own voice. This is sufficient to create a major block in producing these videos competently or even comfortably. Cyberspace’s answer to that is – Get over it! That simple. Just do it and get over it. You need tips and tricks, though. When you confront a roadblock to learning and productivity you need the stepping stones to get you onto solid ground. Shannon Hernandez (@ShanJHernandez) was an English teacher. He knows what it’s like in a classroom. He knows that vocal confidence is something you can work on  which is invaluable and, as an ex-teacher, he knows how to get you to move forward. His site Shannon J. Hernandez gives ideas and support for podcasts ,recordings and other things digital. He works in radio and he has worked on his voice so that it now is something which allows him to go online and help others. As I said previously, one of my aims this year is to create much better videos. That doesn’t just happen. I have to work on the things which will get me there. One of those things is my voice. I do hate the sound of my voice on video. So Shannon suggests recording yourself into your phone regularly. He suggests listening back. You create a learning feedback loop for yourself which allows you to do something practical but then notice. I should have thought of that myself. I’m a French teacher. Languages classes are always getting students to record and playback their voices. We are always working on articulation, facial expressions, voice exercises. It took Shannon to make me notice and realise I can apply that to myself. I have watched my students become confident and capable language users because we record and play back. It will apply to me, too. My firsts steps then will be:

1. Record myself on a regular basis
2. Play back and notice what I can improve
3. Speak clearly
4. Focus on the message
5. Use headphones

I can do that!

Augmented reality in class

augmented reality  board gameOr classy augmented reality. The reality is a teacher conceived and created this augmented reality board game because he saw an image on the internet. We are connected. Our ideas are brewing over cyberspace. As teachers we benefit from being connected. This is the best outcome. A teacher has seen something and transformed that into an augmented reality game to be used in Phys Ed classes. Teachers need to be in control of technology in their classroom and they need to be developing digital materials which suit their needs, the needs of their students at the time and then do exactly what collinbrooksie has done – share their ideas. The PHYSEDogogy site is a good place to know if you have an interest in delivering Phys Ed curricula. There needs to be a way now of encouraging those teachers who have or could have the sorts of skills to develop workable materials for class to have time to share and develop their ideas. Mostly it is done out of class , in isolation with the encouragement of an online PLN. Maybe that’s the way it should be done so there is global input ,collaboration and broad peer review. Maybe , also , it needs to be recognized in real time and space.

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