Crazytalk Standard

June 4, 2010

Crazytalk logo

Reallusion’s Craztalk is an incredible package.  It can take any still image and animate that image based on your voice.   You record your script, either in the software, or something like Audacity

Animation has never been so easy!  It’s an excellent way of introducing tasks, presenting new information or turning it over to your students to allow them to produce presentations.

Crazytalk's interface

Ignoring this slightly strange looking gentleman, Crazytalk comes with a number of characters already for you to use, but I find the best way is to use it with images of famous people.  Your students will recognise them and immediately understand the context.

Here’s an example of what I mean:
Winston Churchill reading out one of his famous speeches for an English lesson 
(MediaFire download)

Crazytalk Standard costs $49.95.  If you’re buying it yourself.   You can apply for an educational discount, but personally, save yourself some $100 money and don’t buy Crazytalk Pro.  The features are fancier, but I’ve never used them.


Audacity

May 26, 2010

A great free audio recording tool.   I find it amazing how many people still don’t know about Audacity.  It’s perfect for podcasting as all you do is record your voice via a microphone, then you can trim the start and end, add music and simply export as mp3.

A screen grab of Audacity in action.  Free from http://audacity.sourceforge.net

Audacity's interface


iSpring Free!

May 23, 2010

iSpring is a great piece of software, it allows you to easily embed flash files into MS PowerPoint.   Now before anyone starts commenting that you can do this for yourself using the toolkit options of PowerPoint – it isn’t easy and it’s not always activated.   

iSpring Free's toolbar in PowerPoint

iSpring Free's toolbar

iSpring Free takes care of the hard work for you and comes with a bonus feature (and it’s main purpose) of allowing you to convert your PowerPoint files directly to flash webpages.   iSpring Free will even maintain links when it does so.

Why do you need to convert PowerPoint? 

  • Not everyone uses Microsoft Office so they need to be able to view your presentation in something more accesibly.   Adobe Flash is on something like 99.95% of the world’s computers (but not the iPhone – c’mon Mr Jobs, give up your anti-Flash campaign).
  • When sending your presentation to people via email or posting it somewhere online, PowerPoints can very quickly get very big.  If you incldue photos in your powerpoint, don’t be surprised when they top 50 Mb.   No one is going to thank you for trying to download that.   iSpring converts and reduces (I sound like an advert don’t I!? – I’m not being paid for this)

Ultimately, if you use PowerPoints (whether you’re in education or not) and you need to link to them via an intranet or VLE, give iSpring a try.   It’s free, easy to use, free and produces a good quality resource.   And did I mention it’s free?

Oh, and allows you to link directly to youtube videos inside your presentation, no internet windows that open behind your slides.


20 tips in 20 posts!

May 23, 2010

Back in March, I spoke at Alite‘s annual L2 Users Conference.  In the past I’ve ran workshops on the use of ICT in learning to learn classes and how simple technologies can enhance a lesson.

This year, Alistair Smith asked me to do a rapid fire presentation entitled “20 things in 30 minutes”.   The idea was to info dump as many different tips, tricks, software and hardware as I could fit into 30 minutes.   

Preparing the presentation I was quite worried that the audience of experienced teachers would have seen it all before.  That most, if not all, would be bored with the ideas on screen.   That didn’t happen (not wanting to brag, and after all I can’t as it wasn’t my idea 🙂 ) the room was full of teachers frankly trying to write down everything I was saying.  I kept promising to ensure the presentation would appear on Alite’s website, just to save everyone from the mad scribbling.    In the end, I ran over.   This was a realy shame as I had to skip about 5 great websites.

The concept of getting all these simple tips “out there” baked in my head for a while until it suddenly occured to me – a blog – this blog in fact.   I’m going to start by posting (with brief explanation) each of those 20 tips, tricks, software and hardware and we’ll see where we get to from there.

Graham