3 Top Tips for Green Screen Classrooms

green screen tips

Are you part of the green screen revolution that is sweeping schools? iPad apps like Green Screen by DoInk make it easier than ever to take advantage of the magic of green screen from the comfort of your own classroom. So, here are three top tips on how to make your filming experience a little easier for both students and teachers!

1. Use Mirroring Software

Green screen is an abstract thing for your actors because they can’t see where they are. Do they need to move left a bit? If so, by how much? Wouldn’t it just be easier if they could see for themselves without moving away from the green screen? Well, they can if you put your video feed on a projector, TV or large screen monitor. iPad users can do this with mirroring software like Airserver. The difference is like night and day, and your actors invariably look more confident in front of the camera because they can see where they are in the scene.

AirServer image

2. Use a Teleprompter App

Nobody likes memorizing lines, but you don’t need to if you have an extra iPad handy. Why? There are a number of handy teleprompter apps that you can use to make forgotten lines a thing of the past. There are several free ones like Teleprompter Lite or Best Prompter Pro, but if you have the money to spare, take a look at PromptSmart Pro – a voice activated teleprompter that listens to your voice and automatically matches the movement of the script to the pace of your voice! For best results, hold the teleprompter as close to the camera as you can so that it looks like the actors are talking to the camera.

ipad teleprompter

3. Use External Microphones

A study showed that people are more likely to watch a bad video with good audio quality as opposed to a great looking video that has really poor audio. With an iPad, you might think it would be hard to add an external microphone to improve your audio quality, but it is actually easier (and cheaper) than you might think. I like several of the iRig mobile products but there are definitely a number of options available to you if you are looking for better audio quality. The iRig Mic plugs directly into a mobile device, while the iRig Pre will let you add directional shotgun mics or standard XLR mics that you may already have at school.

microphone

Bonus Tip!

Traditionally, a green screen is set against a wall in some kind of vertical arrangement, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In the video below, I laid the green screen flat on the ground and chose an image with some deep perspective to simulate a walk that not many people would want to take! ūüôā

Are you a green screen veteran? If so, what are your favorite tips for recording a great green screen movie in the classroom? Leave a comment below.

iPads vs. Macs & PCs in Education: Pros & Cons

It’s a¬†question¬†you will often hear debated when schools look to buy new devices. iPads? Macs? PCs? Chromebooks? Which is best? The short answer is, it depends. None of them are bad devices, at least not any more, so it usually comes down to what is the best fit for students, teachers, and the ways that a¬†school is looking to advance teaching and learning with technology.

For this post, I joined forces with Stephen Lai, from teachingwithipad.org. Together we compiled some of the more popular advantages and disadvantages associated with using an iPad when compared to a Mac or Windows laptop.

Why iPads?

1. Speed – We have all become accustomed to how fast our iOS devices wake from sleep. They rarely need powered off and the instant on gratification you get is hard to beat. In fact, if your laptop doesn’t have an SSD drive, the iPad will beat it every single time whether it is opening an app, waking from sleep, or performing some basic tasks.

2. Apps – Cut price iOS apps are getting better all the time and they are looking to rival expensive desktop software. Finding quality educational apps that will consistently enhance teaching and learning is the tricky part, especially when there are so many apps available, but it doesn’t take long to find the best ones. So, spend time researching and talking to colleagues about which apps are worth the money, and which of the free ones are really free!

3. Camera – According to Chase Jarvis, the best camera is the one you have with you. The iPad camera will never rival that of a dedicated DSLR, but it sure beats the webcams on a Mac or a PC! It’s a one-stop solution that lets you shoot, edit and share photos and videos captured on your iPad. It is also capable of producing special effects like stop motion movies or even green screen captures. This kind of creativity makes it perfect for a modern multimedia classroom.

iPad Air Homescreen Continue reading “iPads vs. Macs & PCs in Education: Pros & Cons”

Revisiting the One iPad Classroom: Resources

There has been a few things going around Twitter recently about the 1 iPad classroom, and for me it has been good timing. I will be visiting a school on Friday who asked me to give some tips and ideas about how to use only a handful of iPads in the classroom. Some have one, some have two or three, but none have any more than that. So, I thought that this would be a great time to revisit the 1 iPad classroom to discover the latest ideas and influences.

Too often, it is easy to get caught up in all the talk about 1:1 initiatives, or multiple iPad carts, when the reality for a lot of schools is quite the opposite. I myself ran a 4 iPod Touch classroom for a couple of years, so I remember the challenges of managing this, making sure all students have equal access to the technology, and trying to find ways to involve as many of the students as possible in meaningful learning activities. It’s not easy, but it can be done, and there are a lot of great ideas out there from those that do it on a daily basis.

So, in the interests of sharing, here are a number of useful blogs and websites that I came across while researching some ideas for the school I am visiting this week. Some you may have seen before, while some may be new, but all are great resources for educators in a 1 iPad classroom. What was interesting to me though, was that almost all of these resources are from elementary teachers. You don’t hear much about the 1 iPad Middle School classroom or the 1 iPad High School classroom. What does that say about the state of mobile technology in our schools today?

Regardless, I want to take the time to say thanks to all who took the time to create these resources for the benefit of others. Feel free to add any of your own favorites to the comments below.

Tips for the One iPad Classroom and a Free iPad Rules Download
One iPad in the Classroom? 10 Apps
The 1 iPad Classroom by Lisa Johnson and Yolanda Barker
The One iPad Classroom: Musings from EdTech Diva
Only 1 iPad in the Classroom? from the Literacy Journal blog
One iPad in the Classroom – Mark Anderson’s blog
One iPad in the Classroom – What Can you Do?
Less than a Class Set – Learning and Leading with Technology
The One iPad Classroom – Ideas from a second grade classroom
Ideas for the 1 iPad Art Room
The Single iPad Classroom – Elementary EdTech
One Music Class, One iPad, Now What?

iPads and Visually Impaired Students

ipads and visually impaired studentsThe iPad has a host of great accessibility features that are built-in to help make the device more accessible for disadvantaged learners. However, today I was asked to think a little bit outside the box. I had a request from one of our consultants that was working with a teacher who wanted to link their iPad with a student’s iPad in real time.

The teacher wanted to annotate documents on her iPad and project them to the class so that they could see them on a larger screen. The trouble was that this still wasn’t large enough for her visually impaired student. So, what she really wanted, was a way to project her iPad to two places at the same time. The first was the wall for the whole class to see, the second was the iPad of the student with the visual impairment. That way, the student could get a close up view of what the teacher was doing in real time, and/or use pinch to zoom to get a better view of what the rest of the class was seeing. Easy right? ūüôā

So, three of us sat down and put our heads together to try and figure this out. It didn’t sound easy, but surely, there must be some way of doing this. There was. Here’s how it works. The teacher links her computer with the student’s iPad via the free join.me service. This allows the student to view everything on the teacher’s computer, but not interact with it. We’ve done this in the past, and it works great with the join.me iPad app. However, this alone did not fix out problem. This does not get the image of the teacher’s iPad to the student’s iPad. To do that, we will use Reflection, or AirServer.¬†[Kudos to my superstar supervisor, Stacy Behmer (@sbehmer), for suggesting the AirPlay link].

So, the teacher’s computer is linked to the student’s iPad with join.me. The teacher then projects her iPad to her computer with Reflection or AirServer. Because the image of the teacher’s iPad is now on her computer, the visually impaired student also has the image of the teacher’s iPad! Then all that is left is for the teacher to plug their projector into their computer, and voila!

So, there you go. It is possible to link two iPads together for a real time mirrored image. There is not really any chance for direct collaboration, but for this purpose, it was ideal, and it is yet another example of how the iPad is helping to break down barriers and increase accessibility for students in the classroom.

iPad SpEd Apps for Reading and Writing

Yesterday, I co-presented a workshop with a well respected colleague of mine on special education iPad apps that can be used for reading and writing. It was a one-day workshop that was well attended by local educators who were looking to further integrate the iPad into special education classrooms to help further Language Arts goals for their students.

Special Education iPad Apps for Reading and Writing

We looked at text to speech apps, digital audio book apps, storytelling apps, test taking apps, note taking apps, handwriting apps, and more. There is a huge number of reading and writing apps for the iPad out there, so narrowing it down to a manageable number was quite the task! However, in my experience, being spoilt for choice is never a bad thing when it comes to good educational iPad apps. You can see the final list if you visit our workshop site.

I learned a lot from my research for this session, but if there was one thing I discovered a shortage of apps for, it was for apps that accurately and efficiently turn printed text into natural, spoken words. Students with reading difficulties need a reliable solution for this. VoiceOver and Speak Selection are great features in many circumstances, but they don’t work very well, if at all, with things like PDFs. (VoiceOver works but there is no way to pause or stop it once it starts, and it changes the touch interface controls on the device). Then there are the students who only have a printed textbook or novel. How can we make that text more accessible for those students with special needs?

There are apps we tried that claim to work in situations like this, but they only did so with mixed success. OCR apps are useful, but again not always as accurate as you might want, and they often involve extra steps or apps to complete the reading process. So, if there are any developers out there looking for a gap in the market, this might just be it. Educational publishers can help out too. What about HTML5¬†versions¬†of online textbooks with built-in audio voiceovers? Shouldn’t these be available for free with every printed textbook a school buys? Yes please!

Do you have favorite reading or writing apps for special education students in a K-12 learning environment? Which ones do you like best and why?