Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Be Funky- Create Comic Strips From Photographs

Be Funky is a simple tool for turning digital photographs into digital comics. The image you see to the left is a cartoonized image of me based on a photograph I took with my webcam. Be Funky can be used for simple one frame images or be used to create an entire strip of cartoonized images with inserted text. Be Funky calls their comic strip program the Sunday Funnies. Embedded below is a short video demonstrating the Sunday Funnies program.

Sunday Funnies by BeFunky Cartoonizer from BeFunky on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
Be Funky is a simple and fun way to create comic strips to tell a story. Political satire and political comics are a part of almost every current events curriculum. With Be Funky students could use real images to create their own political cartoons. Be Funky is also advertising a service, to be available this summer, that will allow users to convert videos into cartoon videos.

Video Discussion via Youtube

If you're fortunate enough to work in a school that doesn't block Youtube, Youtube has a new feature that could be useful. Youtube, like Viddler, now allows users to add comments within a video. Youtube refers to the comments as annotations because users can insert additional information about their videos.

Applications for Education
Youtube's and Viddler's comment system is a nice platform for sparking or holding a discussion about a video. If you find yourself using video in your courses the commenting systems are useful for you. Rather than stopping the video to insert your commentary or to emphasize a point to your students you can insert comments to highlight something for your students.

Here is a sample of Youtube's new commenting system in action.

Dinosaur Trivia Game

Montana's tourism board has a great website for kids called Montanakids. On Montanakids users will find information about Montana and attractions in Montana. Most of the information is specific to Montana, but some of the games and information applies to the larger world. One of the sections useful for students and teachers is Dino Trivia. Dino Trivia is a fun interactive game for elementary students. Students are provided some brief information about dinosaurs before they play the game.

Applications for Education
The Dino Trivia Game on Montanakids provides some brief information about dinosaurs and dinosaur fossils found in Montana. After reviewing the information students play the interactive game.
An extension activity based on Dino Trivia would be to have students research and map the locations of dinosaur fossil discoveries across the country or the world. Students could use Google Maps or a traditional paper and pencil map to complete the activity.

Digital Learning Center

Digital cameras are replacing film cameras making photography a less expensive art form and hobby which in turn leads to more students experimenting with photography. Nikon, one of the most popular names in optics and cameras, has created the Nikon Digital Learning Center to help students develop their digital photography skills. The Digital Learning Center features how-to articles from professional photographers, a glossary of terms, and how-to tips and articles specific various photography genres.

Applications for Education
The Nikon Digital Learning Center is a nice new resource to compliment an art course. As photography and film become a more common element in presentations and assessments improving those images will become more important to some students and teachers. The Digital Learning Center is a place where non-art teachers can find some quick tips to help their students improve the visual elements of a presentation.

Lessons from A River Runs Through It

This morning Seth Godin wrote a blog entry about advertising and writing that reminded me of a line from A River Runs Through It. In A River Runs Through It Norman Maclean is taught by his father that "the art of writing lies in thrift." In his blog entry Mr. Godin tells readers (his target audience is advertising agents/ executives) to start by writing a simple classified ad. Start with the bare essentials, what are you offering and how can consumers get it. The same lesson applies to teaching informative writing skills to students.