I’ve been out most of this week with what I’ve learned today to be a sinus infection. Yes, I know, I’m a whimp, but when I interact with over 800 students each week, I don’t like to take risks spreading illness around the school. Regardless, I was frustrated that I couldn’t be in the classroom, as the fifth graders have been working hard on the Kidpedia project. I’ve also been missing out on getting my fourth graders started on recording their podcasts, but thankfully I’ve found a way to put myself (or rather, my online video self) into the classroom so that I can still offer my students some direction while I’m home with the chills and a fever. Below is the awesomely easy web video I created using Ustream.tv.
Yes, I know, it was awful of me to pick up my camera like that and hold it in front of my blurry monitor and expect the kids to appreciate it. And I know I stumbled a bit in my delivery (I’m much better “live”, or so I’ve been told), but in the space of 10 minutes I was able to plug in my digital video camera, record my short “intro” for the day, and then have it automatically saved as a flash movie and embedded on the website I use to teach with. Talk about incredible!
I had originally heard about uStream back in October from Jim Wenzloff, but forgot about it, until John Nugent mentioned it on MACUL Space last week. It was quite the fortuitous occurrence, as I’ve been able to quickly, and easily, record different videos every morning for each day I’ve been out this week. The amount of technical “know-how” was minimal, as the site lead me through the entire process. It was so easy (and I’m going to sound like a cheesy infommercial here) that I literally signed up for an account, recorded a video, and had it posted in less than 20 minutes. And that was with no previous experience. A nice little broadcast window popped up after I had signed in and clicked on a “Broadcast” button. It then allowed me to connect to my digital video camera via a USB cable, and saved my video as a flash movie AS I was recording, which means once I hit stop, I could embed the video right away. That’s a HUGE difference from YouTube, TeacherTube, and other video sites that have to compress and convert your uploaded videos.
Oh, did I mention that it’s FREE? I know there are lots of other applications for this service; student broadcasts each morning, video journaling, performing arts, etc. But for now, I’m content knowing that if I’m not going to be in school on a particular day, I can quickly sit down at my computer, and record a message that will help give the substitute teacher a helping hand in setting up the lesson and explaining some more of the technical aspects of what I teach. That, or give the students a serious complex about being “watched” while I’m at home sick. Either way, it’s a win for me 🙂