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04 May 2012

Describing our community, trial and error

In their last unit of inquiry, the Middle Primary class at ISOCS investigated the services provided by their community, the Gemeinde (Town) of Cham.  You can follow the process of the unit on their blog. As part of their unit, each student took photos of important places providing service to the community, wrote a brief text, and made an audio recording of themselves reading their text.

We had thought we would make a Google Map marking the places, with photo and text.  

I had also seen an interesting site, Movable Feast, which looked like just what we were interested in. The site is still in Beta - I applied for and received an account.  I assembled all the files, and started to work over the spring holiday.

First hurdle, was converting all the .wma audio files into something I could open in Garage Band, to edit them. After some trial and error with QuickTime Pro and Flip for Mac,  I used Zamzar, a tried and true file converter site.  I edited all the audio files, and shared them to iTunes.

Zamzar screen shot
click on the image to open full size

Next, I need a map I could use: I choose OpenStreetMap, where the maps are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 license.

Screen shot of OpenStreetMap
I planned to work on the two projects side by side, since the same files were being used in both places.

First I worked on the Google Map - I put pins in all the places, added the photo, pasted in the student text.  Google Maps makes a very share-able map, but it doesn't seem to keep the photos, and, of course, does not accept audio files.

Next, I started to work on the MoveableFeast project.  It's an easy site to use, but the text does not seem to accept diacritical marks, which is absolutely essential for our Swiss-German place names.  You can see in this screen shot that "Rhöhrliburg" doesn't look quite right, although that's what I wrote in the .txt file I uploaded.  I'm waiting for their Support to get back to me about how to solve this problem.  Much as I would love to have created a free iPhone app from the student's tour of Cham, it won't work if the place names aren't right.
Screenshot of Moveablewebtool.com
click on the image to open full size 

Screenshot of Moveablewebtool.com
click on the image to open full size 
I returned to my old friend VoiceThread.
"A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways - using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam)"
I created new "identities" for each of our students, and in very little time had added their photos and audio recordings. I've embedded the product so far, below, so that you can see how it's developing.  We're not finished yet!