Video editing and (Windows) app smashing

I feel quite retro posting this: Windows (desktop) apps can be smashed too!

I’m putting the finishing touches to my third in a series of video editing lessons for my S2 classes. We started with video jigsaws on the topic of Internet Safety. The students had to watch the videos to work out the correct sequence of the 4,5 or 9 clips and then use a video editing package (we use Corel VideoStudio Pro) to put them together. This introduced the idea of sequencing (programming concept!) at the same time as letting students get comfortable with a small section of the video editing package without having to really get into the nitty gritty of actually editing video. The different “sized” jigsaws also allowed an element of choice and differentiation in the class. I was surprised at how well it worked (we’ve even used it with our S4 ICT classes this week to introduce the same topic.

Week two I revisited PowerPoint skills with the class but showed them how to export their presentations as videos. We then looked at the video editing package again and I showed the class how to split clips and add musical backing tracks. Again we used the Internet Safety theme to focus the presentations. The differentiation this time was around the video sequence each student constructed: from simple import of PowerPoint video through to more advanced remixing of existing video clips.

Tomorrow my lesson is going to start with the video they created in week two and use Adobe Photoshop to turn it into an animated GIF. This is (again) new territory for me and the students, but hopefully is a simple enough process for them to follow:

1. Open the video file (I’ve tested MP4 and AVI) in Adobe Photoshop

2. View the Animation timeline (Window menu -> Animation)

3. Click on the icon circled in red

4. Set the “start of work area” and “end of work area” (this translates as start and end of the animation sequence).

5. Save as an animated GIF (File menu -> Save for web & devices option)

Note the image size (a) and the looping options (b). I am going to ask the students to adjust these as appropriate before clicking on save (c) to create an image which can be uploaded to their Edmodo account or shared with me via email.

App smashing is the process of using an application to create new content which can be augmented or extended within another application (and then possibly another and another!). Creating video in PowerPoint, editing in Corel Video Studio and converting into an animated GIF in Adobe Photoshop shows that this process isn’t confined to the tablets and, I think, reflects a more realistic use of computer applications by students outside of the classroom.

Fingers crossed I will have some examples to share in a future blog post.

Word Processing to eBook Publishing

Reading (process) by beggs (CC-BY-2.0)

Tomorrow morning my S1 students are going to build their eBook files for publishing. I’ve spent a bit of time today giving them feedback using Microsoft Word comments and will share the files with them tomorrow. Once they have made their changes they will save their stories as “Web Page, Filtered” HTM files which – according to Guido Henkel – are the best way to prepare documents for conversion to EPUB.

I had planned to use Adobe InDesign, but encountered formatting issues galore. Plus it would mean introducing a new package to my classes just so they could save as an ePub. I wasn’t keen.

The solution suggested by Guido (and others, sorry you aren’t name-checked here) is to utilise Calibre to turn each HTM file into an EPUB. The only problem is we don’t have Calibre installed on the school network so I may utilise the offline PC at the front of my class (the trusty Infernal Machine, circa 2004) which has long been the best option for adhoc solutions in my classroom. I’ve downloaded the portable version (needs XP SP3 at least) and will hopefully get a production line running tomorrow.

I also want my students to be able to access their finished eBooks online. I found a great resource called which allows you to upload EPUB files to an account associated with an email address (no other details required – perfect for my class!). It also allows users to view their eBooks from within an internet browser.

In the long term, being able to have students use more social sites like Smashwords would be fantastic but I am aware of the need to prepare students for the range of suitable and unsuitable content that these sites contain. Perhaps if any readers know of school-friendly alternatives they could share in the comments below?