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Interactive Videos

mocap character

When I hear the phrase interactive videos, I think of people covered in florescent mocap pingpong balls or choppy, Choose Your Own Adventure-style stories like Dragon’s Lair.  And there are those.  But, it seems that some creative tinkerers have pushed the envelope with some of YouTube’s interactive features and come up with some interesting results.

How can they be used with ESL and EFL students?  Well, in addition to viewing and interacting with the videos and then discussing or reporting on the experience, students could be challenged to determine how the videos were made.  For the more ambitious, students could make their own videos using the same techniques.  Some of them, like the Oscars find the difference photo challenge would be relatively easy to remake.

For more interactive videos that will get your students talking, watch 15 Awesome YouTube Tricks.

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Click Don’t Scan

camera with large flash bulb

Have you ever taken a picture of the board at the front of your ESL classroom?  It’s actually a pretty good way to capture lots of notes in a hurry, but you won’t be able to edit those notes once the picture is snapped.

Some document scanners have built in text recognition, but it can take a while for the scanner bar to drag across the document.  Sure, it’s only a matter of seconds, but if you have a big stack of documents to put through the scanner one page at a time, it can be a real inconvenience.  In fact, this scanner bar technology (a one-dimensional sensor being dragged across a two-dimensional surface) seems just a bit out of date, doesn’t it?

Enter a new line of scanners described in Popular Science that incorporate digital camera sensors to capture an entire document at one time — no more waiting for the sensor to drag.

But wouldn’t it be nice to snap a picture instead of scanning a document?  Well, it turns out there is an app for that.  Scanner Pro (reviewed by cnet) turns your iPhone into a .pdf-producing document scanner.  Forget trying to find a fax machine when you need to sign a document and send it to someone.  Sign a document, then scan it and email it, all from your phone.  There are other apps available for iPhones and iPods beginning at $0.99 and likely similar options for other flavors of smartphone as well.  The future is here today!

Thanks to the OSU Yammer community for ideas and links used in this post.

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Edupunk: Lego Printer

It’s a bit random, but this YouTube video of a DIY Lego printer was recommended to me by a friend.  (Thanks, Lorrie!)  It’s not directly related to ESL, but it would probably give your students something to talk about.  I’ve always enjoyed seeing projects like this ever since building a $50 Interactive Whiteboard.  With the rise of Instructables.com and other open source and DIY sites, it’s amazing what people are able to build for themselves.  Having a team of Lego people “controlling” the printer is a really nice touch.

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Locative Media And Other Mashups

These are the slides from a presentation I made this morning at the Digital Media in a Social World Conference.  More examples, including some that were generated during the presentation, can be found in the links I tagged using Diigo and Delicious.

I’ve tried to gather as many examples of digital mashups (see Wikipedia definition #2) that, in many cases, use maps or other visual means to represent different sets of data.  Do you have a favorite example that I didn’t include?  Leave it in a comment.  I’d love to see more!

To learn more about the conference, check out the #DMSW hashtag on Twitter.

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Coming Soon

Watch for news and links to projects I’m working on and other interesting technology. In the works: Second Life for ESL, my $50 Smartboard, and my Google Maps / You Tube Mashup. Thanks for reading.

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