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31st Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning

 31st Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning

I am at the 31st Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning in Madison this week. To my mind, this is the best conference that focusses on online learning (full disclosure: I am on the conference planning committee). On Thursday, I will be making an Information Session presentation (Building The MiniStudio: Efficient & Effective Online Video). A video presentation, materials, and hyperlinks can be found here.


New Pen Tool - Ideal for effectively communicating key concepts

FITS has recently purchased a Wacom Cintiq tablet. The Wacom is essentially a high resolution monitor with pen input. The model that FITS has purchased is connected to an Apple Mac running Screenflow (with professional microphones, webcam, and second monitor). We use it to create lecture videos for online and hybrid classes.

The setup allows us to create exemplary screencasts, in which faculty can annotate and draw on top of anything displayed on the computer screen. Possible examples would be:

  • Showing how an equation could be solved / Time Value of money / T-accounts, etc.
  • Annotating an Excel spreadsheet
  • Annotating a PowerPoint presentation
  • Drawing lines of connection on top of a website, video, architectural plan, etc.
  • Sketching the construction of a graph
  • Annotating economic forecasts
  • Constructing a project plan

I talk more about the table here.

Josh Lund (of DePaul FITS) and I have been experimenting with the Wacom Cintiq tablet. Three programs were used to present and annotate the material (PowerPoint, Open-Sankoré, and OmniDazzle. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages. ScreenFlow was used to record each of the videos.

PowerPoint is a familiar tool to most faculty. The annotation option within Powerpoint is fairly basic (red felt tip pen or ballpoint pen) but it works. PowerPoint allows for dynamic transitions and animations. The annotation option needs to be activated on a slide-by-slide basis, but this can be activated by one of the buttons on the tablet.

Open-Sankoré is a free tool. It is not quite as stable as PowerPoint (it crashes occasionally), but has a richer set of annotation tools. The animations and transition that might be used in PowerPoint presentation are lost, and individual slides are imported as a folder of images. However, Open-Sankoré has a rich set of annotation tools (pen, highlighter, line, zoom, etc.) with the option to change pen color and nib thickness. In most cases this would be the best tool for faculty to use. The ScreenFlow recording can be cropped to remove the tool interface from the exported recording.

OmniDazzle is another free tool that can be utilized in annotated videos. The Scribble mode allows faculty to draw on top of any element displayed on the computer screen.

ScreenFlow Keystone Example

I have been an evangelist for the rather excellent ScreenFlow at DePaul for a while. The video below describes how to add a basic keystone effect to a ScreenFlow recording.


New Screencasting Tool - Screeny2


Attention Mac Users - Screeny 2 is a cheap screencasting tool. Not as powerful as ScreenFlow or Camtasia, but cheaper. You can read more here.


Screenflow and BT-1

Upgrading to Snow Leopard (last year) caused my BT-1 camera to stop working with ScreenFlow. Looks like the problem is now fixed. This week, there were minor updates released for both the BT-1 and ScreenFlow - the happy result is that I can wireless stream video to ScreenFlow recordings again. I will see how this works for recording a 3-hour class on Monday.
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