GAFE Summit 2015 - Rich Media Production in the Cloud

In Wednesday's blog Publishing Student Work with Google Slides, I pinky promised that I would write more about Chris Betcher's California GAFE Summit Weekend 1 session "Rich Media Production in the Cloud."

Oh, yes, my pinky promised . . .

I almost missed this presentation because I got caught up in a conversation with another English teacher. Then I realized that I was in the wrong room. Yes, I would have loved to learn from Jennie Magiera, but I knew that my journalism students craved graphic design and video development in the cloud. I apologized as I stepped on toes in the theater row and escaped to Chris's session.

I must say that stepping on everyone's toes was the best decision I made because this session answered all of my questions about advanced graphic design and video editing in the cloud, inspired a redesign of the school newsletter and yearbook, and introduced me to online collaborative music creation.

Last year my students discovered and used Google Drawing and PicMonkey for photo editing. Both apps were easy to use but had few advanced features. Chris introduced us to Pixlr Editor, which is like Adobe Photoshop in that it includes cropping tools, pencil, paint, text, layers, etc for a more sophisticated graphic design experience. Does this mean that Adobe Photoshop has been replaced with a free product? No. Adobe Photoshop is entering a partnership with Google called Project Photoshop Streaming, which runs a remote session from a server and enables users to access the program on Chromebooks while saving the files to Google Drive.

Last year I had big dreams. Not only would my students write and do graphic design, they would also create videos. And, they did. Two videos. Two videos using Camtasia. I like Camtasia and used it just last week to create video tutorials for Beginning Tech Teachers. I recorded the video using the free Snagit Chrome Extension and used my desktop software of Camtasia to edit for time and add soothing music; however, the limitation of the desktop software is that I must have a desktop computer and only one student can work on the video at a time. 

Chris Betcher gave us a cloud solution that worked on our student Chromebooks - WeVideo is available in both free and paid versions. A colleague who also attended GAFE Summit had used the free version of WeVideo with her class last year. Her students easily figured out how to edit videos, add special effects, and music - without her help. The 5 minute per month publish-time per student for the free version did not limit her students. She is content with the free version.

What made me think lean towards the $249 annual paid version was that students can use the green screen option, students can share media and collaborate on projects, and teachers have full visibility of the project throughout the process. WeVideo will allow the journalism class and our CTVLive News Cast to work together from different classrooms at different times of the day.  Furthermore, we will have more music options and can combine video with pictures for our Video Yearbook. I'm sold.

Last Wednesday's blog post Publishing Student Work with Google Slides explains how I was at first infatuated with LucidPress. I had every intent to purchase the educational version; however, I found it difficult to use, and I am good with technology. My infatuation with  LucidPress would later move to Google Slides, which still allows my students to add pictures and videos to their writing with a sophisticated look.

Lastly, Chris introduced us to Soundtrap, an online community that allows musicians to collaborate with other musicians from around the world. Don't have a band? Not a problem. Add your soundtrack and send out a request. Chris and Michelle demonstrated the process at the Demo Slam later that day.

This was not the last time Chris Betcher was my instructor that weekend. I followed him to "Tightening the Feedback Cycle", he covered a Google Classroom session, and he was the Sunday morning Keynote speaker where he argued "The World of Possibilities" requires us to adapt to new behaviors and let go of old behaviors. You can read more about his argument in his blog post When the Wings Fall Off. (WATCH the video!!)

"Rich Media Production in the Cloud" was one of the best sessions I attended that weekend. Prior to the session, I thought my journalism class required at least five desktop computers to run expensive video editing software such as Camtasia and advanced graphic design software such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, which did not allow for student collaboration. Now, I know better. Rich media production is available in the cloud.

Now, if only Mindcraft Edu ran on Chromebooks . .  Can anyone pinky promise me that it will happen?


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