More ILC Reflections

Now that I am home from the Innovative Learning Conference 2008 and have had some time to process all that happened, I can truly say that overall it was good experience for me.

On Wednesday morning I attended a session by Josh Burker (fellow Pepperdine Cadre member) who shared Scratch – the kids programming language from MIT.  The program comes with different “projects” organized by category:

  • Animations
  • Games
  • Greetings
  • Interactive art
  • Lists
  • Music and dance
  • Names
  • Simulations
  • Speak up
  • Stories

Younger students can just play with games on the galleries – they don’t need to understand how the games are made – but older elementary kids will want to design their own.  This program is a great way to introduce logical thinking and cause/effect.  Projects can then be save to the Scratch galleries or embedded in a website or blog.  You can also purchase a Picoboard to connect to your computer and then your programs can interact with real objects.

The next session was by Steven McGriff, a professor at San Jose State University titled:  Anyone Can Be Visually Literate:  Graphic Design Tips for Educators. He shared with us how 3 design principals form a framework for working with graphic design:
1.   Perceptions (figure/ground, hierarchy (organizing) , Gestalt- the whole is greater than the sum of its parts)
2.   Tools (type, shape, color, depth, space)
3.   Actions (proximity, alignment, repetition, contrast)

The best advice he gave was “know your audience and design your presentation to match the audience”.

I gave my VoiceThread presentation at 1pm.  Handouts are located at and the samples are at  During the presentation, Brian VanDyke moderated the chat at the online PowerPoint at Overall the presentation went well even though I couldn’t get some of the VoiceThreads to load (grrr – no dedicated Internet line for presenters!!!) and folks asked good questions.  Thanks all for coming!!!

Another excellent session I attended was on Google Earth by Joe Wood.  I’ve used Google Maps extensively but I learned some new tips from Joe that I hadn’t ever done before – like changing the view of how you “fly” into a location in Google Earth, using historical maps, overlays for earthquake and new stories, and more.  Check out his excellent wiki for all kinds of ideas.  Thanks Joe!

Favorite t-shirt of the day from Diane Main:

On Friday I went to a great session from Leslie Fisher on Taking Digital Pictures Effectively.  Leslie’s sessions are always packed with great advice – even though I got schooled for having a Dell in a sea of Macs.

Common mistakes and advice for taking better pictures
  • not close enough –> “move in, take it again”
  • look around the edges to see if you want the things that are around
  • not focused –> use green boxes (when you press shutter halfway) Every camera has focus point
  • camera shake (nothing in focus) –> “lighting is too low in the photo so the camera needs expose the picture longer to take the image”; the shaking of your hand results in a blurry picture –> Fix: use a tripod and set the timer, use artificial lighting or change camera setting
  • composition –> wander around to try to figure out what is the best angle, composition, shoot high and shoot low. What do you want your picture to show? to say? – use law of thirds (get the focus in one of the central intersections- use cropping (but be careful that you not lose resolution) look for lines, spaces makes you think, shoot high/shoot low
  • lighting and speed are equal out of the box –>use action mode for action shot to make speed faster than lighting
  • too much flash –> use natural light in the photo
  • too little flash –> camera shake so stabilize the camera or introduce light
  • digital zoom –> turn it off (it zooms up on the pic and crops it)
  • Photoshop Resolution:  72 for web or PPT and at least 180 for print – uncheck resample image
Another great session on Friday was Screencasting by Ray Barbur.  He uses screencasts in his Chemistry classes for a variety of reasons:
  • To show rather than to explain (training, setting up email, attendance reports)
  • Addresses different learning styles
  • Can review material
  • When you’re out of the classroom
  • Students who miss class
  • Student’s who don’t get it
  • Aid in completing homework assignments
  • Distribution options – check out flash drives, burn to DVD
Some screencasting software he recommends:
1.  SnapzPro – mac only – original industry-standard
2.  Camtasia Studio – windows $179 academic – simultaneous video camera capture
3.  iShow U – mac – presets – video rendered immediately
4.  ProfCast – mac  drag and drop PPT
5.  Jing – both mac/pc -video saved as Flash only, limited to 5 minutes, uploads to, Jing ad, 2G space
6.  ScreenFlow
7.  Snapkast
ILC 2008 was a great conference.  I met a lot of virtual friends and was inspired to try some new things in my classroom to better meet the learning needs of my students.  Check out the ILC Flickr photo group at:

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