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Tag Archives: Teacher

Augmented Reality Monitor: Make your monitor truly transparent

Do you ever wish you could see through your monitor?  I know at work, as a teacher, I do.  My monitor sits between me and my students, causing me to look over my monitor when I am at my computer (this is a not a big portion of time but is necessary when doing things like taking role).  Wouldn’t it be great to be able to see through your monitor.  Again, Lifehacker.com has inspired me to take one of their ideas to the next level.

Transparent Monitors: A Space Enhancing Solution via Lifehacker.com

Image from Lifehacker.com - Transparent Monitors: A Space Enhancing Solution

In the post, “Tranparent Monitors: A Space Enhancing Solution” Jason Fitzpatrick talks about how a reader has set up his monitors’ desktops or wallpaper with a picture of what is behind them.

I thought about what I could do to use this in my position.  Recalling an ealier post from Lifehacker, “Set a Video as your wallpaper with VLC” I knew I had my solution. I would use software to make my desktop/wallpaper the video feed from a webcam.

Here is the set up:

PC users need a web camera and VLC (a full featured multimedia player).

Mac users need a web camera (the built in iSight camera will face the wrong direction) and Quicktime

PC users:

First, download and install VLC and set up your webcam.

Next open VLC and go to “Tools” and click on “Preferences…” select the Video and change Output to “DirectX video output” and click “Save.”

Then, in VLC go to “Media” and click on “Open Capture Device…” select your web cam for the Video Device and for the Audio Device select “None” and click “Play.”

Last, in the VLC window go to “Video” and select “DirectX Wallpaper.”

The view from your webcam will now be on your monitor’s desktop / wallpaper.  You will see a VLC window open; just minimize that window.  To change back to your existing display just close the VLC window that you minimized.

UPDATE: In the newest version of VLC you might not be able to minimize the window and keep the video as the desktop.  Just shrink the window size down and move it mostly off the screen in one of the corners.

Mac users:

First, download and install “Secrets Preferences Panel”. In Secrets (it will be in your System Preferences), click on “All Secrets” and search for “Fullscreen” and deselect the option to Exit fullscreen when switching apps for Quicktime.

Next set up your webcam.

Then, open Quicktime and click on “File” and select “New Movie Recording.”

Last, in the Quicktime window, you should see the image from your built-in iSight Camera, click on the down arrow to select the webcam, and click on the fullscreen button (arrows pointing in opposite direction).

Note about the Mac version: This is not actually setting your video as your desktop / wallpaper.  You will essentially be running Quicktime in a fullscreen window behind your other running programs. To see your Dock just move your mouse to the bottom of the screen and select the programs you would like to see.  If you click on the video all windows will move to the background.  Use the Dock to bring your apps back to the front.

If I could fix one thing about either of these solutions it would be the ability to run a webcam on each monitor of a dual screen display set-up.

Now get out there and make your monitor transparent.

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Posted by on February 11, 2011 in How To, Teaching, Tech Tid Bit

 

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Easily share bookmarks to your class or lab with Google Chrome

I recently read an article on Lifehacker.com (one of my favorite websites) about how to use Chrome and Chromium Side by Side.  Doing this will allow you to have multiple users or multiple accounts with the two almost identical allowing you to sync information from one computer to another.

Chrome Sync

Now this is very cool, but it got my brain thinking about another way to use the ability to sync Chrome browsers.  How could I use this ability to sync in a school computer lab setting as a tool for education?  Here is the idea:

Google ChromeFirst, set up a generic class Google account.  This could be a regular Gmail account or a Google Apps account, it really doesn’t matter.  You just need an  account to set up the sync.

Second, set up Google Chrome on your classroom computer and set up the sync with this new account. You do this by clicking on the picture of the wrench, then “Preferences”, and then click on the “Personal Stuff” tab.  (If you would still like to sync to your account and have the class account also, check out the link from Lifehacker in the first paragraph.)

Last, set up your classroom or lab computers with Google Chrome and start the sync with the class account on all of the Computers.  (This may sound like a long process, but I think you will enjoy the benefits.)

Now comes the fun part.  When you present your lesson to your students and need to share a link, you could give them a shortened URL or have the log in to a social bookmarking site like Diigo, but instead all you will have to do is create a bookmark on your browser.  The bookmark will sync with all of the other computers in the lab tied to that class account. You could even do this on the fly in the middle of class (the students might need to hide and then show the bookmarks bar to refresh it). Even better, you could have one student share a link quickly with the rest of the class.  If you wanted to take it to the next level, set up bookmark folders for different units/subjects, classes, or even students.  This is social bookmarking without the extra log in for our students.

Some final clarification: You are only using the generic class account to set up the sync in the Chrome Browser settings.  You and your students are not using this to log in on a Google Apps account.  That is part of the beauty of this setup.  You get to sync all the cool stuff with Chrome but you and your students will still be able to get to your individual accounts with your own mail, docs, calendar, etc.

Who said Google Bookmarks was dead? Now get out there and sync some bookmarks.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2011 in How To, Teaching, Tech Tid Bit

 

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Camtasia, Jing & Snagit – Great tools for educators from TechSmith

In my last post “How to become a Google Apps EDU Certified Trainer” I mentioned using Camtasia, a TechSmith product. It made me reflect on their outstanding products and how I use them in my different roles in Education.

As an Educator, I find myself consistently using software from TechSmith. I have used Camtasia for the last two years at school and Jing for at least that long. In my experience, their software is simple to use with outstanding results.

As a teacher and Technology Coordinator for the Le Grand High School District, I use Jing to quickly take screen-shots and screen-captures to help my students and staff. If I need to easily show someone where the submit button is on the screen or how to reserve a room using Google Calendar, Jing is the software I open. With a few clicks I can quickly take a screen-shot or a screen-capture, save and upload it, and have a URL to email or post for students or teachers to view. I find myself also using Jing more and more for twitter to help answer questions or to ask my own questions.

As a Google Certified Teacher and a Google Certified Trainer I have had the opportunity to be a Lead Learner (presenter) for professional development sessions for educators from around the world.  I have found Snagit to have that professional polish for taking screen-shots to add to my presentations. Snagit is as simple to use as Jing but with some great added features, like drop shadows and transparency to name a couple.

As a blogger and an online teacher, I find Camtasia Studio to be a wonderful tool. Camtasia allows me to make great how-to videos and simply save them locally or send them to Youtube to be published to the world or my class. For on-line courses it’s a must have. I can show and explain the process the students need to perform simply, with no confusion. As a blogger some of my most viewed posts are ones with screen-captures demonstrating cool applications or software. Again, TechSmith makes things easy in Camtasia just like in Jing and Snagit, but still gives you the added features to take your screen-capture productions to the next level.

TechSmith has an Education Community and an Education Blog for more information on using their products in Education.  I would love to hear how others are using these products or similar ones in their classrooms.  Please use the comments below and be sure to leave a link to your How-to’s.

(Full discloser, I have been using Jing and Camtasia for two plus years and was recently given a copy of Jing Pro, Snagit, and Camtasia Studio for free from TechSmith through the Google Certified Teachers group.)

Update: Here are some tweets with links to great examples of TechSmith Products in Education;

DeputyMitchell David Mitchell – @iteachag I don’t have ‘How to’ but my 10 year olds do!http://bit.ly/cUfm4z and this is Thomas: A must watch http://bit.ly/fkoe1O

ianaddison Ian Addison  – @iteachag http://www.stjohnthebaptistprimary.co.uk under staff. @baggiepr‘s are on www.ictvideohelp.co.uk

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2010 in Teaching, Tech Tid Bit

 

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Do you coach to teach or just to win?

Morning line up of judging teams at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

Another year of CDE’s or career development events are finished. This past Saturday (May 2) was the California State FFA Finals held at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.   I have talked about CDE’s before in my posts (http://tinyurl.com/d7k8og) and I feel they are very important to our FFA programs across the state and nation. The question I have to ask is: Do you coach to teach or just to win? Don’t get me wrong; I have a strong competitive nature and I really like to win, but is that the only purpose to these contests?

I teach at a small high school of about 500 students. Of that, around 350 of the students are members of the FFA.  Not all are active members.  In a good year we have up to 100 actives. We are in a rural community, but most of our students live in town and we do not have a school farm.  That being said, there is only a small population of students that are able to have substantial SAE’s (Supervised Agricultural Experiences or, simply, put an Ag project or job).  The rest of the students that want to be active in the program are able to be involved in leadership events and/or CDE’s (or more fondly called judging teams).  If I had to guess I would think that it this way for quite a few FFA Chapters and Agriculture Departments throughout the state.

CDE’s are great activities for students to be involved in and are part of the three circles of agricultural education: Classroom, FFA, and SAE’s.  These contest are directly related to the FFA but we need to remember that these contest are tied to the agricultural classroom and possibly a student’s SAE.  The numerous contests that our students are involved in are designed to teach them a useful skill that could possibly lead them to a career in the area they are participating.  I push my students to do the best job they can at the contests; we all like to win of course.  We are in the business of teaching and more importantly teaching by using Agriculture as our medium.  The thing I always try to remember is that this is a learning experience for my students.  If my students can do better at each contest or learn from each contest I think the students have grown.   Students can have an off day, sure we are probably not happy, but think about the teachable moment that can make.   Why do we coach these CDE teams?  Is it to become State and possibly National Champions or is it to give our students the best learning opportunities possible.  If my team is the next State Champion or if they are 25th in the State, if they have learned and grown throughout the process, I think I have succeeded in my job.  And hey, there is always next year.  So I ask you again: Do you coach to teach or just to win?

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2009 in Teaching

 

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Welcome to the I Teach Ag Blog

I am a Google Certified Teacher, Google Apps Certified Trainer, an administrator and teacher in a small rural school in the Central Valley of California, Le Grand High School. I teach students in the subjects of Introduction to Agriculture Science and Agricultural Communications. I am the local FFA Advisor, Agriculture Department Head, & Technology Coordinator for the district. Currently I am also the Central Region California Agricultural Teachers’ Association Vice President. Co-creator of Small School Big Tech Podcasts.  I think of myself as a life-long learner and have a passion for my family, technology & gadgets, and teaching others.  I hope you enjoy my posts and please feel free to leave a comment.Silva

Links to Me:
http://iteachag.com
http://www.iteachag.net
http://twitter.com/iteachag
http://www.diigo.com/user/iteachag
http://www.smallschoolbigtech.com

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2009 in About Me

 

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