Tag Archives: sketch

Frustrations with Flip Books

To close out the first week of my digital storytelling explorations for #etmooc, I decided to try two new tools. I’ll talk about one in this post and the second in another post because (while writing) I realized each one requires a fairly detailed explanation. The first is FlipToon, which is an iPhone app that allows you to create flip books. I downloaded it as a free app a few days ago (it’s now 99 cents) and when I started thinking of ways to create and share digital stories, I realized it could be a fun medium to try.

To begin, I looked over the basic how-to screen before starting in on a test story. It took me a little while to figure out how I could manipulate images within one page with the copy/crop feature and how I could start with the same image on the next page with the “previous page copy” button. Having all of these options always on the screen means that the icons are quite small and the workspace is also pretty tight. I struggled to get my drawings to look how I wanted and thought more about how valuable a stylus might be for this type of activity. Have other people found them to be helpful for writing or art projects?

fliptoon howto

After I finally felt comfortable with all of the tools and capabilities of the app, I thought about what I wanted to animate. I tried a few different sketches in color and black and white and finally settled on the idea of drawing a dancing ballerina. I realized that with my limited drawing skills, it would take far too long for me to add color to every page if I wanted to use different images so I stuck to black and white and began sketching.

After a few pages, I decided to make my closing image have a touch of color and I used the pink pencil to add some color to the ballerina’s tutu. Then I put on a cover page and added a title: A Ballare (which means to dance in Italian). The idea I had in my head of the dancer gracefully flowing and twirling reminded me of the flow and cadence of Italian, which I love.

Unfortunately, once my story was finished, I started running into problems. First, when I went to create a movie of my book, I realized that I had added an extra page at the end of the book. I went back to edit but couldn’t find a way to remove it. I worked for a while, adding one final, “final” page so the story wouldn’t end with a blank page and then returned to try to make my movie. Next, I tried to add some music for my ballerina to dance to but the player kept freezing and a few times after selecting a song, it was silent when I played my movie. Luckily, along the way, I saved one copy of my story to my photo album because then the most frustrating development occurred … the app froze to the point that I had to shut it down and close it and when I re-started it … my story was gone!

There’s no ability to save your story within the app as you’re working on it (aside from leaving it open in the app … assuming it doesn’t freeze). This means that you can’t return to edit a story you were working on earlier or re-open an earlier story and add more to it or re-import your story if the app freezes and you lose your work! After all of the time I spent working on my drawings, I couldn’t bring myself to start again so instead, I took the earlier copy I had saved to my photo album and sent it to my computer. Then I put it into iMovie and added my music there, with a little title slide and uploaded it to Vimeo so I could share it with all of you.

A Ballare from Maggie Powers on Vimeo.

While I love the idea of making flip books on mobile devices and being able to share stories this way, I’ve deleted FlipToon from my library for now. I’m guessing and hoping there are other apps out there with similar capabilities but I don’t want to run the chance of my own (or my students’) work being lost because of the app limitations.

How to Draw a PLN – An Exercise in Reflection

After the #etmooc Blackboard Collaborate session Tuesday night with Alec Couros on Connected Learning, I started to think more about my PLN and the prompts that were suggested. How would I define my PLN – in words, in imagery? Being a visual person, I wanted to represent it with a graphic, so I started to think about the best way(s) to do that.

At first, I thought a general mind map might be a good choice. I mentally jotted down “PLN” as the central bubble, expanding outward to three core bubbles of “early childhood education,” “educational technology,” and “global education.” I began to reflect on who and what else belonged in my image but struggled to come up with an accurate depiction. I realized I was struggling with competing wants – trying to arrange my PLN around topics (e.g., ed tech) versus around three W’s: who (e.g., colleagues), what (e.g., Twitter), and where (e.g., at school).

mindmeister PLN

I took a break from trying to name and categorize to search for the best tool to create my visualization. I debated Google Drawings, Mindmeister (which I’ve used successfully before to collaboratively map PLNs among participants in a course I taught – see the image above), and finally settled on trying a new tool, Idea Sketch. I chose this app because I was interested in working by touch (I thought) so I wanted something available on my iPad, I wanted to be able to start with a text list since I had already written out some of my map, and I wanted the ability to color-code.

pln_idea

After exploring Idea Sketch for a little bit, I realized it was still going to be a lot more time consuming to create my map there than on paper. A perfect example of when technology can become more of a hinderance to efficiency than a tool  supporting progress. So, I went “back to the drawing board” both literally and figuratively. I started fresh with a piece of paper and decided to re-think the idea of a central “PLN” bubble.

What was really at the center my PLN? I realized that at its core, it was connected learning, teaching, and sharing – with people. I reflected how, at times, I am also at the center of my PLN, drawing connections between three fields that I am passionate about and rarely see intertwined (early ed + ed tech + global ed) but many other times, I’m simply another node, as Joichi Ito suggests, floating in and out of other nodes and networks in my PLN.  I’m not just making connections, I’m looking for them, I’m learning from them and others and at times I can become backgrounded in my own PLN, there as an observer, to “lurk” or shadow conversations that allow me to break down the already thin walls of my PLN and see through into other people’s networks. Sometimes I have the privilege of helping to create ties between someone else’s network and my own, which is always exciting and inspiring, and sometimes I simply have a chance to be a participant in another person’s network and try to support that person as much as I can.

With that in mind, my image of my PLN took on a new form. I knew I couldn’t fit every person and community in my image but I wanted to have enough examples to give a general representation. I created one large circle to define “My PLN,” one with a fuzzy outline because it’s pretty nebulous, at times even transparent or non-existent, as I connect and intersect with others. Then I added three interconnected circles inside, one for each topic that I’m passionate about, allowing for overlaps because many of the W’s I’m engaged with are related to more than one topic. For example, my job as a Lower School Tech Coordinator, allows me to work with students and teachers in early childhood education while focusing on educational technology and using it for global collaboration projects. From there, I began filling in each bubble with organizations, chats, and other types of networks that represent people and communities (e.g., #Kinderchat, SIGELT, Global Classroom Project, and the Tech Team at my school). Outside of these three bubbles, I placed more of the generic “where” and “what” labels that are the environment and home for my PLN, such as “Twitter,” “conferences,” and “Skype.”

I’m confident that this depiction is a) a work-in-progress and b) still not a perfect representation of how I’d like to display my PLN, but it comes pretty close. I also appreciated how much reflection I was able to engage in simply by trying to create this drawing of my PLN. I thought much more about the difference between communities and networks of people and the layers they add compared to the tools and environments that help me to connect. I examined the boundaries and my own place within my PLN more closely and took time to step back and consider where various pieces live within my PLN map.

My_PLN_circles_final

I (re)discovered that there are many more intersections between global education and educational technology than early childhood and global education, due I believe, to the necessity of technology to connect people across time zones, languages, and countries. I hope that with this awareness in mind, I can re-focus my own energies on seeking out more networks and communities who are integrating ed tech and global ed into early childhood education to add to my PLN.

Ultimately, now that I have my PLN sketch, I want to think more about how it looks and how I see connected learning, teaching, and sharing as the center. Those are the ideals I have built my PLN around and I want to keep them in mind as I consider the idea that there is “strength in weak ties” and in new perspectives. People who are not immersed in my PLN (weaker ties) and who have different passions, can add so much to my own learning and I want to think more about how I can make sure to value that and make my network permeable enough to see, hear, and share their views too.