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Math teachers learning about multimedia

During the Digital Learning conference this year, I ran a workshop on "Multimedia in the Mathematics Classroom" (warning large file) which was a huge hit. I started by giving a presenting giving answers to why one would want to use multimedia in math, what does it look like, and what tools I use to actually construct the multimedia with students.

I started the second part of the workshop and gave the participants a chance to escape if they did not feel like participating. I handed out Flip cameras, and gave the very lose instructions, "Create a math video word problem." Some people left the session right away, but about 20 people stayed and worked on videos, while I circulated around the room and helped trouble-shoot.

Here are three of the videos created by the participants in about 40 minutes. A fourth video was created by another group but due to technical issues, we just shared it during the session.

(Note: If you are in one of these videos, and uncomfortable being shared online, let me know via the contact form, and I’ll take down the video.)

 

Free Multimedia Resources

I’ve created a list of free multimedia resources for teachers. Some quick research has shown me that there are already some excellent lists of resources out there, but for a variety of topics. This list is intended to compile those lists into one location.

General multimedia:

http://thecleversheep.blogspot.com/2009/02/creative-commons-chaos.html

http://www.archive.org/

http://search.creativecommons.org/

Here’s a list of open source software some of which is useful for multimedia

 

Audio:

Some great examples of free audio to be used within student projects: 

http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2010/08/7-sources-of-free-sounds-for-multimedia.html

http://www.freesound.org

 

Free audio mixers/editors:

http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2009/09/myna-free-online-audio-mixer.html

http://www.getpaint.net/ 

 

Images:

Free image editors:

http://www.aviary.com/online/image-editor?lang=en

http://www.gimp.org/

http://www.getpaint.net/

http://docs.google.com (create a new document => drawing)

 

Creative commons & free pictures:

http://www.flickr.com/

http://www.google.ca/imghp?hl=en&tab=wi (advanced settings then "filter by license", change to labelled for reuse)

 

Video

Online editors:

http://www.pixorial.com/

http://jaycut.com/

http://www.moviemasher.com/

http://www.cellsea.com/media/vindex.htm

http://www.videotoolbox.com/

 

Video converters:

http://avanti.arrozcru.com/

http://www.youtube.com

http://handbrake.fr/

http://jeffthomastech.com/blog/?p=7195

http://www.any-video-converter.com/products/for_video_free/

http://format-factory.en.softonic.com/

http://www.mirovideoconverter.com/

http://videoconverter.hamstersoft.com/us/

http://www.freemake.com/

 

Video editors:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_video_editing_software (not all of these are free, but many are)

How has multimedia enhanced my learning?

The best example of multimedia I watched recently from which I really learned a lot was a movie I watched about a relatively new farming practice called "Biodynamic farming".

The video was relatively simple, done documentary style, but without seeing the actual practices they were discussing first hand through the video, I would not have understood what biodynamic farming was. This practice takes place largely in rural India, a place I am not likely to visit soon given it’s vast distance from me, so the video really brought me closer to the action.

What I learned about biodynamic farming is that it is a mix of typical organic farming with a sense of mysticism. Basically you have to prepare this special mixture of manure for composting, and the whole procedure is done in a very stylistic way. The purpose of this addition of religion to farming is actually make the practice, which is quite different from what Indian farmers have been doing under the so-called "Green revolution" more palatable for them. Superstition and religion are much more the part of the daily lives of the rural Indian people than they are for us, and combining some of their superstition with the farming practices has really turned them onto this way of farming, not to mention the results it produces.

Much of rural Indian farming has been destroyed by the Green revolution for many reasons, as I discovered from the video. First, the bacteria in the soil begin to die over the years as the chemicals used for fertilizing the plants become toxic to them. The soil begins to become more easily eroded, and uses much more water for irrigation. After 30 or 40 years, much of the farmable soil in India has been nearly destroyed. Biodynamic farming basically forces the farmers to spend much more attention on ensuring that the soil quality is high using more natural means. Within a couple of years, the soil can be restored, and food production goes way up.

I really like watching documentaries like this. They bring me to all corners of the world, in much the same way as books do (with one’s imagination). The visuals of the real world farming in this video were mixed with some charts describing the changes that were occurring, and the mix of the two types of media helped solidify my understanding of the situation. In fact my wife and I are planning on using some of the principles (minus the mysticism) in our own garden, once we have one.