The call rang out in late August.
My school, the International School of Phnom Penh, had volunteered to host this year’s “Tekhin” Educational Technology conference and presenters were needed. Not considering myself a giant of tech innovation by any stretch of the imagination, I cautiously approached our IT director and our Ed Tech Coach with a few ideas for presentations I might be able to give. “Do it!” was their response to all of them.
Ok. I could see they were desperate.
I went home and started to scribble out notes. I initially thought I might give a presentation on how to use the Voicethread app to introduce younger students to online communities or to combine community resources in order to gauge the understanding of beginning English Language Learners. I even went as far as to send out my workshop description and create and share an online registration form with some pre workshop materials.
But then…I don’t know what happened. The introduction to online communities discussion started to feel so…so…so May 2016 while the mother tongue connection with Voicethread was so…so…so SPELTAC-y.
The main themes in Banules-Land this “Fall” have been visual and graphic design centered. At the time of my pre Tekhin brainstorming, I had begun to really dive into the making of very amateur, but fun-to-make educational videos with Quicktime and iMovie.
Slowly, the wheels began to turn.
Why not give a presentation, based on principles of “Presentation Zen”, for beginners on how to use iMovie and Quicktime for the purpose of digital storytelling? And why not start it with a digital story of my own – in the form of a movie?
Creating Digital Documentaries Using iMovie – The Movie (and Presentation)!
I knew that I had to concentrate on the following criteria, gleaned from “From design to meaning: a whole new way of presenting?” ,while creating my movie:
- design – as suggested by Reynolds, I would spend time designing this movie and presentation, preferably on paper. This design would extend to the oral narrative and the conception of visual components of the movie. I would think about my objectives, to teach beginners how to both conceive digital stories and use available apps to visualise these stories. I would think about my messages: “You too can do this!” “Use, reuse, attribute, and share!” “Create your own curriculum materials!”. I would consider my audience and how I could possibly affect them and get them fired up for this workshop. I then wanted to plan a brief outline of story steps, followed by writing a draft of a script to be read as a voiceover. I would then, using an approach favoured by Reynolds, draft scenes of images I wanted to create or use on sticky notes. I would then place these sticky notes at appropriate places in my script. For the presentation, I wanted to see how much I could create slides that followed design principles of colour, font usage, image, and the rule of thirds.
- story – My movie was going to tell the story of how I came to embrace movie making as a teacher. As such, I was going to plan this story using many of the ideas from Jason Ohler. Mainly, I wanted to start by developing a story core consisting of a problem, transformation, and solution. I knew what my problem would be, how to teach English language learners deep concepts. I knew my transformation in my movie would be a creative one, moving from a more traditional way of teaching based around preexisting teaching materials, to one in which I used my own educational materials that I would design specifically for my students. I wanted the movie to touch upon aspects of my overall presentation and workshop, to serve as a sort of primer. I wanted the movie to model principles of digital storytelling. Most of all, I wanted this beginning to give workshop participants a thirst for creating their own (better) movies in the workshop that would follow.
- symphony – I wanted this film to be a synthesis of all the steps of movie making and a treatise on why making movies could be important for teachers rather than a simple analysis and expose of how to use iMovie. As such, I also wanted workshop participants to experience iMovie in the context of creating a real piece of digital storytelling. Too often, we divorce learning of an application with real world uses.
- empathy – I hoped the movie and presentations would demonstrate this criteria in its relevance for teachers. I would also try to keep the movie under six minutes. In addition, I would try to balance my presentation, making sure to demonstrate concepts related to story planning, movie editing, and screen casting for brief amounts of time before actually having participants practice. I would also make very useful presentation notes that participants could access later when trying to make their own movies. I knew I had to be very empathetic with my audience as we would all be teachers giving up our Saturdays for this training.
- play – I took this very, er, seriously and wanted to try to introduce humour into my film and presentation with word plays, anecdotes, and music that would convey a light hearted sense of exploration. I also wanted to encourage participants to be critical of my movie, but with an open minded approach in order to present the idea that we are all learners here.
With these criteria very much on my mind, I set out to plan my movie that would serve as my story.
After loading these clips into iMovie, I recorded my first voiceovers. Later, I took notes on sections where the images did not match with the script. I then sped those clips up. or trimmed them, or slowed the clips down. In certain places I rerecorded my voiceovers after modifying the script. I filmed extra footage and added it. I then added titles before recording a music track in Garageband with my keyboard while watching the video clips. The resulting movie can be seen below.
My introductory story done, I refocused on the presentation that I would use to present the iMovie workshop. I created some slides and looked at them in Photoshop with a grid overlaid to make sure I was adhering for the most part to the rule of thirds. I kept to the rule of thirds mainly in my placement of text, as I gathered my images preformed from free to reuse searches of Unsplash or Creative Commons Flickr Search.
I also tried to make sure for instance that whenever I used serif fonts and wanted a second font on the slide, that I used a sans font from the same family. In most cases this turned out to be a combination of Droid Serif and Droid Sans. I also played with the Word Art function in Google slides, using fonts and colours that matched with the colour scheme of my images or provided a message in terms of colour. Most of the time, the best choices for my font colours were yellow or white in order to to be easily read. Usually, to increase the readability, however, I would also outline the word art in a contrasting colour, especially if the image background was light coloured.
The final presentation is below.
I also provided workshop participants with an invitation to join a document I had put together with many notes related to the presentation. I plan to offer this training again for teachers in my school, so it will be handy to have all of these resources already made.