Category Archives: SH804

Tools for multimedia online introductions – #etmooc video

This week we were asked to introduce ourselves online to the co-participants in #etmooc. The format was left up to us – from a simple text on the blog to a multimedia ‘presentation’.

I decided to go for a multimedia offering. I thought that:

  • images and brief text fragments will convey the message most efficiently and expressively
  • it will be fun (and useful) to try out new tools to create such presentations
  • digital storytelling is trending – important to get some skills in there!
  • with many digital storytelling tools out there which require very low tech skills, and allow for easy sharing of the product, such multimedia presentations are an excellent choice for the orientation/ice-breaking activities online (and offline) courses!
  • I believe in enabling learners’/teachers’ online DIY by using low-threshold technology – this was a chance to test some out!

In prep for the post I have combed through a number of other etmooc introductions (hello everybody!) – and picked up a great list of tools which can be used for introductory activities – I compiled a public list on Diigo with some very brief annotations. Thanks everybody for sharing (special thanks to Erin Luong, Lyn Hilt, Joanna Sanders, Monika, Glenn Hervieux, Shira Leibowitz whose posts directly contributed to my list). I am sure there is much more out there and the list will grow in the future.

It was hard to pick but I went with Animoto because:

  • I have never used it before
  • It is an online tool so I did not need to download and install anything and worry about PC/Mac compatibility
  • I liked that it looked ‘professional’ and polished, yet fun whether used by complete beginners or more experienced users
  • It allowed for combination of video, text, audio and images + had some quite decent musical tracks to choose from (you can upload your own if you wish – NB copyright!)
  • The free version allows only for 30 sec videos and v. limited text – this forces a wonderful brevity and distillation of message so important in the online world, suffering from a chronic attention deficit (I tend to ramble so a fantastic way to improve my own skills here;)
  • It allowed publication to YouTube – important for me as a Word Press user as WP does not allow embedding of Animoto videos but works for YouTube (for security reasons).

How I did it.

I decided to include video I took with my phone alongside some CC licensed images from Flickr. This turned out to be quite a distraction (mainly due to the fact that Animoto video editing itself is very limited and only allows for clipping the ends and muting of soundtrack)  – but a productive one!

As using Animoto itself is very intuitive and including images very simple, I will talk about the editing of video itself, before I included it in my production.

I needed to clip, flip and crop my .3gb video.

My computer is running Windows XP which unfortunately does not have an inbuilt video editor. I did not want to download and install anything on it – it’s been running slowly so I want to avoid cluttering it up any further. And certainly did not want to pay for anything or such a small project. I also wanted to avoid using YouTube’s own editing suite (I do not like putting all my eggs in one basket).

I looked for a simple free online video editing tool and found this very useful compilation of some recent offerings from makeuseof blogs. I was most impressed with the ones which allow for collaborative editing and creation of social networks – definitely something to keep in mind for later use (assuming they survive – the turnaround is very rapid in these start ups) !

Unfortunately, I did not manage to find anything which would do all three things for me.

First, I used Pixorial to rotate and cut the video to size I wanted (the tool has some other ). Then, I took the output (Pixorial converts your video to .mp4 so if you do not want to lose quality it may not be an optimal option) and used Video Tool Box to crop it to focus on the part of the video I wanted (Video Tool Box preserves the video format – and gives you an option of converting it if you wish).

Both of the tools have size limits on the files you can upload in their free versions (Pixorial is more generous), and require a decent speed internet connection for download/upload so not really suitable for larger video processing but ideal for these snippets from your phone’s camera.

Overall, I think I will go back to both Animoto as well as Pixorial and Video Tool Box. I would also like to try my hand at WeVideo and FileLab Video Editor and try out their more complex editing options and effects. They are both much more sophisticated than YouTube editing options!


Introducing ETMOOC trust exercises – falling in the right direction?

As in any ‘class’ ETMOOC has asked us to introduce ourselves to our peers in the orientation week.

In his welcome chat, our ‘chief conspirator’, Alec Couros, has emphasized that connected/networked learning, typical of cMOOCs such as these, simply does not work without TRUST. We need to trust each other for the peeragogy to work its magic! And the best way to start building the TRUST is to REVEAL something of yourself to others.

The difference is – when we do so in this, open, online classroom, we also introduce ourselves to the whole online world!

This is a BIG step. Some might even say a leap;) Alec Couros encourages us all to overcome our fear of putting ourselves out there (or here;) – and promises an exhilaration and a sense of achievement – using the analogy of this girl taking her first ski-jump.

I am inspired by this imagery, and do recognize in it my own “yipeee! moment” when I got a first like and a comment on my own blog a month or so ago. This online audience attention does wonders to motivate me to continue to ‘reflect’ in more depth and more publicly than I would normally do!


I have also seen the video doing the rounds on twitter about how trust exercises can go wrong – you would have seen it at the start of this post.

So you will understand if I tell you that this enthusiastic call to simply jump and see what happens also feels a little bit like being cheered on to streak down a busy the street with a megaphone! (to clarify – *the video does NOT contain nudity* – it’s just my head’s nightmare scenarios;).

This in turn makes me feel that the calls to try on the radical openness at the start of both cMOOC I have experienced so far (Hybrid Pedagogy’s MOOC MOOC in early January and now the etmooc) appear fairly uncritical. Perhaps not enough caution about the consequences of the radical cMOOC openness during the ‘orientation’? Perhaps not enough pointers to strategies for preserving at least some aspects of privacy? Even though we are all professionals used to presenting a ‘face’ to a lecture theater or our future employers/colleagues – online seems an entirely different setting with its multitude of audiences, permanence and permeability between private and professional.

So far in etmooc’s week 0 there was a passing mention of anonymity as a shady practice in relation to digital citizenship by the participants in Alec’s introductory session. Does it mean that if I don’t reveal it all I am a bad citizen?! Do I mind being a bad citizen and whose definition of a good citizen is it anyway? I was more reassured when in a blogging intro session somebody described how she keeps several separate blog identities for different audiences to ensure some privacy and separation of personal from professional. There was also a very commonsense warning from the session leader – edublogger‘s own Sue Waters (@suewaters): do not say anything online which you would not say to an f2f audience of a 1000 people.

No doubt, these issues will surface in more depth as we go over the etmooc topics and I am looking forward to examining them in more detail (especially Openness movement and Digital Citizenship in March). But as they are at the forefront of my mind right now (and no doubt of many other beginners), I would have probably wanted to be making a more informed and strategic decision before putting my dignity at risk with that blog megaphone;) So before I get too far out the door – any quick tips?

Still, I am here. And I would very much like you to know and trust me – at least a little bit. Would also like to keep experimenting with this trusting the world thing;) So here is my introduction for the fellow-etmoocers (and the world) – with some privacy reserved;)

I also putting together a more technical post on how I put the video together and some thoughts on the tool (Disclaimer: more of a aide-mémoire to myself than an expert’s opinion).

P.S. For those who read my first #etmooc post and are wondering how my OU’s course is going – I have met some very nice people via the course social forum and it feels more like a home now. And as far as the prerequisite ‘literacies’ go – I will simply address them as we go along…

Connectedness calling

Connectedness calling

Today the course website for my Open University course in Science Communication in Information Age became available. I was excited – I would find out how to connect with everybody else on the course and beyond! But the excitement was short-lived – it felt like I have walked into an empty building. Not even a hashtag in sight – not to mention a public blog! And 40-odd pages of introductory materials to go through before I am deemed ‘literate’ enough to join the course proper. And to think that this is the way I used to set up my own postgraduate offerings…Oh how the #moocmooc has changed me!

That’s it – I am joining #etmooc to detoxify!

(Image Source: Thomas Hawk on Flickr)