Wednesday, May 13, 2009

CAT student blossoms with Speech to Text Software

A student at CAT was having trouble writing. She'd get blocked and was unable to get her thoughts down on the computer. However her verbal skills were very good. The LC team at CAT got a great idea. They got MacSpeech Dictate, with the world-renowned speech recognition engine, Dragon NaturallySpeaking. The teachers say it has changed her life.

I came and observed her using it. She was writing a complex paper on drug approvals and cranked out a couple of paragraphs. She controls the included headset with a remote and can even say "scratch that" for the software to delete the last spoken phrase or "scratch word" to remove the last word.

She said she was easily able to train the software to recognize her voice inflections. She is looking forward to continue using it to get her thoughts on paper.

We are getting the software for the Learning Centers at each school and hope to see the same results.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

CAT Teachers Using iMovie to the Max

Amy Wong's and Stanley Richards' Lower Division Science classes are using iMovie to make public service announcements (30 to 60 second movies) as part of a big project that will culminate as part of an exhibition at CAT on March 20th. Along with the movies the student groups are writing up answers to in-depth questions about the environment and writing letters to government officials.

The quality of the movies really excites me - and they aren't using only high-end computers, they're using older iBooks and making the best of them. The movies include motion clips and stills put together to send a strong message about the environment.

Several groups are pushing the movie-making further. They are creating their movies using a green screen. Then they're importing their iMovie into the latest version, iMovie09, to create a custom background. This should help make the movie quite compelling.

I'm looking forward to seeing the final products that will be displayed at CAT's Exhibition titled "Green Architecture: Why does it Pay to be Green" on March 20 at 6:30.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Impact Academy Launches Claymation Project

Matt Reichling, Tech Coordinator, and Daisy Cook. Spanish Teacher, are teaming up to enable Daisy's students to create claymation projects that will be ready for their next exhibition. They will be using the iStopMotion software running on several Mac G5 towers that will be set up in Daisy's room.

Daisy and Matt kicked off the project by going on a field trip to the Zeum in San Francisco. Class Groups each made a claymation video to learn the process. For the exhibition, the students will be creating claymation videos of stories they've written in Spanish class. I can't wait to see these.

This is a great example of using technology in a regular classroom. Way to go, Daisy and Matt!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Metro starts Digital Music Club

Brian Tester, the Tech Coordinator at Metro, has started a Digital Music Club. He has transformed the once hodge-podge tech room into a studio able to handle about five club members at a time.

As part of this new initiative Brian is teaming up with the multi-talented Kokou Katamani and has built out a high-end multi-media station running Final Cut Studio (professional level video and music software).

Brian literally wrote the book on Ableton Live as he was a technical writer for them before he came to Envision. Ableton Live is like GarageBand on steroids: it enables students to record audio, sequence MIDI tracks, and make high-end original music. Brian is taking students to the new level of professional music recording. I'm looking forward to hearing some of the final products.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Using Google SketchUp to create model "Green" dwellings

Paul Ferraris, lower house Digital Media Teacher at CAT, is doing a cool project using Google SketchUp. As part of a larger project on "Going Green" Paul is having students design green homes using SketchUp. As you can see from the picture of Paul's demonstration design, this program can do a lot. I'm looking forward to what they come up with.

As part of the kick-off of this project Paul made a video with Matt Christenson showing off Paul's green house. If you haven't seen it check it out on Paul's Website.