Friday, October 21, 2005

Camtasia adventure

My fortune cookie today was uncanny, “Old associates lead to new adventures.” It was discarded after a lunch celebrating a terrific collaborative effort between myself, Eric Feinblatt and Beth Harris. We met together just an hour or so prior to our scheduled presentation in FIT’s CET (Center for Excellence in Teaching—our technology lab for faculty development). We were scheduled to discuss uses of multimedia in teaching and we were prepared to discuss exploratory work we had done using a variety of tools in the context of our own courses. These tools include Flickr, podcasting (using Audacity), and some preliminary work done with Camtasia. But Beth, in a flash of brilliance, suggested that we combine Camtasia with ARTstor’s OIV (offline image viewer) to move beyond the podcasts we’d already created at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for our online courses. We quickly settled on Picasso’s Still Life with Chair Caning as our initial victim. This, because I will soon be covering it in my online course, and I have found this collage especially difficult to adequately convey to my students. In our podcasts, Beth and I had stood before a painting in the museum, IPod with mic attachment in hand, and offered our students a spontaneous conversation about the work of art. What resulted was an unscripted discussion with a wonderful sense of discovery as each of us prompted the other to look anew. So the three of us sat down and we were now able to go significantly further than we’d been able to in the museum. Thanks to the OIV, some forethought, and Google, we were able to significantly reinforce our discussion with collateral images. Further we were able to zoom in and record our mouse movements--used largely as a pointer. This is an important advantage over simply placing descriptive text near the image and hoping the student can connect the two. The result, like with the podcasts, was an easy give and take that was meant to model for our students, the ways they might begin to freely explore works of art. As the three of us went to lunch after the presentation, we mused that if we created a Camtasia file with subsidiary documentary material, our students or anyone with a video IPod could stand in front of a painting in a museum and not only hear our analysis but also see sketches, variations and other supporting materials, truly creating a classroom without walls. Click here for the Camtasia video

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