Tag Archives: screenr

Mashups in Minutes

fish heads

“Ever notice how the Fishheads song sounds kind of like Phantom of the Opera?”  Um, no, I hadn’t, but when Greg, whose desk is not far from mine asked me this question, I became curious.  I hummed each tune and I had to admit there were some similarities.

I opened a YouTube clip of each song (Fishheads and Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera) and after a quick listen, I also thought there were some parallels that warranted further investigation.  I also found that I could play the Fishheads song, then switch over to another tab in my browser and watch the Phantom clip on mute, thus integrating the audio from one with the video from another.  Interesting.  And, when the Phantom’s mouth movements happened to sync to the Fishheads lyrics, pretty funny.  But, could I capture this hilarity for others to enjoy?  Enter Screenr.

Screenr is an online screen capture service that I’d seen but never used before.  Turns out it couldn’t be easier.  Go to Screenr.com, click on the “Launch Screen Recorder Now!” button, and drag the red rectangle over the part of your screen that you want to record.  From there, just click record for up to 5 minutes of free video.  It was a bit tricky for me to sync the start of the video and audio to the start of the recording, and I had to adjust the volume level so that the recording was not too loud, but after a couple of tries I managed to work it out pretty well.  See for yourself.

Unfortunately, WordPress, which this blog is built in, does not currently provide a way to embed Screenr content.  I should also be able to upload the video to YouTube from Screenr, but that feature isn’t working for me.  So, instead of embedding the video in my blog, you’ll just have to follow the link.

So, that’s how I turned an office distraction (no offense, Greg!) into an opportunity to try out a technology I’ve been meaning to check out.  And, I’m pleased to report, Screenr was extremely easy to use on the fly without practice or instructions.

Can this become a project for your classroom?  Perhaps.  It might be very interesting to ask students to create a Screenr video that combines the audio from one video and the video from another.  Because Screenr is web / browser based, there are very few editing options other than “record” and “stop,” but this simplicity can really flatten out the learning curve.  It would be interesting to have students present and discuss their mashups.  But, please, no Wizard of Oz vs. Pink Floyd.

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Top 5 Technologies I Should Be Using

2 kids wearing 3D glasses.

Last week, I listed the top 5 technologies that you should be using if you are an ESL teacher in 2010.  Today, I present the list of the next 5 technologies I need to explore and possibly add to my bag of tricks.  If you have experience with them, leave your opinions, suggestions, and tips in the comments.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the (near) future:

1. Google Wave – Occasionally billed as the Future Of Email, Wave combines email, IM, and the collaborative parts of Google Docs.  Watch the full Google demo video or the lower resolution abridged version to get the idea.  This is one of those really cool technologies that leaves you asking, “So what do I do with it?”  I hope to have answers to that question soon.

2. Zorap – Like Wave, Zorap combines several disparate elements into one collaborative space.  From what I’ve seen, a space can be set up for many users quickly and easily.  That space can then be used for audio, video, and text conversations and files and documents can be shared to the group.  See the demo for more.  For a free application, it integrates a surprising number of interesting options for remote learning.

3. Ning – A social network akin to Facebook, but it’s not Facebook.  There are many existing nings for topic areas such as The English Companion Ning (“Where English teachers go to help each other”) and Classroom 2.0 (“the social network for those interested in Web 2.0 and Social Media in education”).  Plus, you can create a Ning for a topic that you like or a specific group of people, like the students in your class.  Because it’s a closed system, Ning may be more useful to anyone who can’t (or doesn’t want to) use Facebook or other social networks with their students.

4. Screenr – A free, web-based screen recorder.  Just drag a frame over the part of your screen you want to capture and Screenr will record a video of what happens inside that frame until you tell it to stop.  Great for creating demonstration videos or capturing a presentation.

5. Prezi – When I first saw Prezi, I thought it was just another slide sharing application.  Since then, I’ve seen some slick, remotely controlled presentations that use Prezi to great effect.  One of the best features is the ability to smoothly zoom in and out on portions of the presentation.  One large document can contain everything from headings to footnotes with each part zooming and snapping into place on the screen as it is selected.  This works equally well if the presenter is guiding the presentation or if an individual wants to explore it on his own.  For example, take a look at this Grammar Review Prezi.  You can use the arrows to go forward and back within the presentation, but you can also take control by zooming in and out, dragging the page around, and clicking on the text to zoom to a specific point.  Once you get used to this style of navigation (or, rather, every style of navigation simultaneously) many interesting ways to structure and organize information become possible.

Bonus: Sikuli – I’ve used applications with macros before, but Sikuli’s approach is unique because it can create a macro for any application using your computers GUI.  Think that sounds geeky?  Then the demonstration video might also be a little intimidating.  The gist of it is, you can automate almost any multi-step task on your computer, just by writing a simple script for Sikuli to follow.  While I can’t think of any tasks that are repetitive enough that I’d actually save time by learning how to use Sikuli (and, frankly, I’d rather play Bejeweled myself, thank you very much), the potential of this application is intriguing.

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