We recently used our iPod lab in a Social Studies class for seniors : National and Political Systems. The students were studying political parties and were working on a project where they would create a political candidate. After writing a candidate biography and platform, the students would be required to create a 30 second political ad for their candidate. They would also be creating an ad attacking another candidate. In the past, we would use Flip cameras, digital cameras, and laptops for the students to create their ads using Windows MovieMaker. This method in the past had several drawbacks:
- We only had 4 Flip cameras available for students to use.
- We only had 2 digital cameras for students to use.
- Laptops were getting older, batteries wouldn’t stay charged
- MovieMaker would crash more and more (XP version)
- Flip videos had to be converted to wmv format before using in Windows XP MovieMaker
The Social Studies teacher, Mr. Baker, was interested in trying new tools to complete his project with. I had suggested we use the iPod touch lab for the project ( set of 30 iPod Touches, 4th Generation). Using the iPods gave us the following advantages:
- Students could record video and still images with the iPod
- iPods remained charged for the entire day
- Students could create their ads using the video editing app Splice – no laptop needed
- Students could record narration using the iPod’s built in microphone.
Apps Used for the Project
All of the apps used for this project are free.
Each student was assigned an iPod number and would use that iPod in class. We informed the students that the iPod would be used in another class period as well, and that they should not delete anything that is not theirs. The students were given an overview of the basic operation of the iPod and a tip sheet for how to perform various tasks such as saving images, adding text to images, and editing their video with Splice.
1.Collecting the completed videos
To facilitate this process, each of the iPods had the app DropBox installed on it. All of the iPods were then logged into the same DropBox account. When students were finished with a video, they would upload it to DropBox. The teacher could then log into the DropBox account on their computer to project the ads to the class and to view the ads for grading.
2. Placing a video onto the Camera Roll
The app Splice takes images or videos from the camera roll. If a student wanted to share a video clip with another student, we had to email the video to the iPod. From the email message, the video clip could then be saved to the camera roll.
3. Placing text on images
In previous classes, students would normally have several images with text on it referring to a political issue or their candidate’s name. Windows MovieMaker has a lot of features for making the text appear on an image, Splice does not. You can make title slides with text in Splice, but the background is blank. We had to use another app with Splice to create our political ads – Phonto. Phonto allows you to place text onto an image. Students would have to place the text on the image using Phonto before importing the image into their Splice project. This process would sometimes seem to take students out of the flow of their project, having to exit out of their video timeline in Splice so that they could add text to an image from their camera roll.
The student projects went very well. One of the most common problems we had was when students would forget to export their video from the Splice App. The export process sends the video to the camera roll, which is where they can then upload the finished video to DropBox. Despite having a guide sheet that displayed this step ( with pictures ), several students forgot to complete this part before trying to upload to DropBox. This was easy to fix as students only had to go back into Splice and complete the export process.
Creating the videos with the iPods went very smoothly. Students were able to take pictures, record video, and record narration easily. Most of the students found the Splice app to be simple to use. We encountered no problems with rendering the videos and all of the videos were able to be uploaded to DropBox. By utilizing the iPods for the project, we did not have to fuss with circulating Flip cameras, digital cameras, and headset microphones around to the students. If a student needed to record video they could do it. They did not have to wait until a camera became available – they each had one ! It also seemed like because students did not have to wait for certain peripherals, they were more likely to include video and voice over narration. You can see an example of one of the finished student projects here:
One of the other interesting results we had was that several students wanted to use their own devices to create their political ads. We had about 6 students in each class create their ads on their own iPhone or iPod touch. They downloaded the Splice and Phonto apps onto their device so that they could complete the project. These students were very excited to use their own device for an assignment, and were interested in learning how to create and edit a video using these apps. When they were done with their videos, we connected their iPhone/iPod via USB cable to copy and paste the files to the teacher computer.