Summer Camp Experiences Recorded with Weebly, Animoto, and Educreations

Five iPads. Thirteen laptops. Five college staff.  200 high school students at summer camp.  Four days per session with students rotating between laptops and iPads in groups at 25 minutes intervals for two hours. What a way to spend a summer month!  

I held my breath in anticipation as this project unfolded before my eyes.  Weebly was the chosen website platform, and Educreations and Animoto were the primary apps.   PBWorks Wiki was integrated as a storage space to make easy access and viewing of the iPad creations in one place. Dropbox was used to manage pictures. I had used all of these before, but never on this scale or in such a tight time frame, so it was exciting to see this come together.

Purpose and background
The Oregon Migrant Leadership Institute brings high school students (9th-12th) for a week camp where they learn leadership skills.  Read about it and view the site they pulled together here.  The writing and technology component served the purpose of allowing participants to document their experiences, practice writing skills, and get some exposure to emerging technologies and resources.

What worked
Staff pulled together:  Plain and simple I had an amazing staff of college students!  Within a few hours of training (the first hour with them looking at me with uncertainty and their eyes glazed over), they arose to the occasion in a huge way.  The photographer set forth to figure out syncing pictures on the laptops in Dropbox and on the iPads.  The iPad experts who had never held iPads before became experts, creating examples and planning lessons.  After the first day, it became apparent we needed more help, so two Weebly/Wiki experts jumped in coordinating the uploading of the iPad creations to a wiki the participants could access and in helping students with writing and design.  Here’s a link to the staff page.

Technologies:  I was pleased with the resulting integration of Weebly, Educreations, Animoto, and PB Works Wiki.  They met the needs of our purpose.  They each have free accounts for educators.  I upgraded to the paid version of the Weebly account, but everything else used was free.  (Animoto is worth applying for the educators’ account.  It only took a few minutes to get it.  There are a lot of added benefits, including longer videos.)  I also love the idea that students can continue to use these tools on their own.  It was exciting to see how these technologies supported our intended purpose and learning.  Weebly has an easy drag and drop website design interface, but it allows for more.  We limited our use of it due to time.  Educreations is a great way to use voice over, practice speaking skills, etc.  Animoto is a quick way to make videos with text, pictures, and videos.  View all of the technologies and resources introduced to the participants here.

Focused participants:  I’ve done this for three years before using blogs and was pleased with the past experiences.  However, integrating all of these technologies stepped it up a notch.  The students had less time (25 minutes compared to 50 in previous years).  Despite having a shorter time, they wrote as much or more!  They used their time wisely when they were on the laptops and seemed excited to create on the iPads. View the Shout Outs here and all of the participant pages here.

Tweeking here and there
Ongoing changes occurred, particularly after week one.  During week one, I realized that Weebly was capable of supporting more students than I had initially expected on one student site.  This led to simplifying and changes in the other sessions.  After day one and repeating the directions four times every 20 minutes, I found myself near exhaustion.  Screencasting with Snagit saved my voice.  I recorded the directions, played them, and stopped and discussed as needed.  It felt a bit odd, but did the trick.  It also freed me up to walk around the room responding to technical questions as the videos were playing.

The staff also brainstormed other ideas with the use of the Voicethread app, but we were limited in time and decided it was best to stick to two main apps.  Voicethread seems to have a lot of potential in having students think more critically though.

Working with high school students in a summer camp experience is rewarding.  It also really, really, really makes me appreciate the work high school and middle school teachers do!  Wow, those kids have energy!

No comments:

Post a Comment