Animated drawing of a video thumbnail of a woman

A Vision? Or Students Today?

The title of this blog is a play on the name very well-known video called A Vision Of Students Today.  It was produced by Professor Michael Wesch and 200 of his students at Kansas State University in 2007, and incredibly for the time, it garnered over a million views in its first month.  Professor Wesch let his students pick the subject for the video, and write the scripts and the storyboards, as well as doing all the shooting and editing.  He wanted the students to tell the world what they thought about their education. And they did!

Professor Wesch is an associate professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University.  His work is focused on media ecology and the emerging new field of digital ethnography which looks at the effect of new media on human interaction. He had noticed many changes and a ‘disconnect’ beginning to occur between his very own students and the way in which they were being taught and the learning materials with which they interacted.  Technological advancement was in full throttle with smartphones and laptops at saturation levels in terms of market penetration in the USA.  Students were suddenly able to extend choice in the way that they studied, the time at which they studied, and the type of content they engaged with most efficiently on a “need-to-know” basis, with educational attainment very much goal-driven.  

But the education system, the educators who taught, and many of the materials used to teach, remained the same.  

Professor Wesch’s theories, start with an over-arching principle that human relationships are mediated by communication.  In the same way that the printing press transformed the way we consumed information and literature 500 years ago, the networked economy has changed forever the relationship that we now have with it.

I’ve written before about the VARK Modalities, (Visual, Aural, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic sensory modalities that are used for learning information.) Fleming and Mills (1992) suggested that there were four learning modalities and that teachers by appealing to particular learning modalities with certain students, improved overall learning attainment.  And the students in Professor Michael Wesch’s video which was made way back in 2007 (making many of them now 30-something), pays homage to the natural selection that occurs when a bunch of human beings are left to study and communicate with multiple media channels at their disposal.

Fast-forwarding 13 years to 2020, without a doubt things have improved and excitingly, a student of anything at any age or level has more choice in terms of choosing study media which best suits their learning modality.  

The enabler in terms of moving pupils and students towards a richer multimedia learning experience are the broadband/4G/5G internet connections that most schools and universities globally now have.  Even in rural parts of developing countries, laptops, tablets and smartphones are available and elsewhere they are in abundance.  The massive growth of social networking sites, Tiktok, Facebook and others, has led to a surge in the amount of video content to which the world now has access.

I was going to try not to use the c-word as we are all fed up with it, but, the Covid-19 crisis has in all respects led to an increased need for digital content. As a father of young children, I know full well that all learning materials must now be delivered in an engaging way online.  Before our current situation, all the trend data was already pointing to a huge increase in digital content, with video content at the top of that list.  Cisco, based on current growth trends have predicted that by 2022, online video will make up 82% of all consumer traffic, whilst by 2020 they say that 1 million minutes of video content will be crossing the internet every second.  In general video usage across the globe is very very high and it’s one of the most popular informational resources.

We are seeing a surge in need for video content at Makematic.  It is having an increasing influence on content mix within educational publishing as well as more widely across the professional and academic sectors too. Academic publishing giant Wiley have reported the astounding figures of 447% higher Altmetric scores and 111% higher full text views for those articles with video abstracts.   

No one can have missed the video phenomena in recent years in the children’s sector of the brands Peppa Pig and Blippi, the latter, launching full fling on Youtube with a strategy which no doubt will penetrate the educational content sector very soon. Publishing giant Pearson, as long ago as 2006, witnessed the meteoric rise of Diary of a Wimpy Kid which started as a digital only story on what was then their Family Education Network, the print rights were sold off and the movies were made.

More widely tech giants, global brands and international non-profits alike have all seen the opportunity to engage learners with high production value, skilfully crafted and pedagogically sound video content.  Many of our customers which include Adobe, Crayola, Microsoft, Scholastic, Unity Technologies and The Woodrow Wilson Foundation bear witness to this.

Professor Michael Wesch and his students were living in a changing world where the internet, was fast-becoming the primary channel for everything.  The vision in the video they produced has become a Youtube classic in education circles, yet the change has been slow with only recent events enforcing our move to full online independence and it is now here to stay.  Learners are able to choose their study mode at a time they want to study and the chosen medium of video which so clearly defined the vision and spread the students’ message on Youtube in 2007, surrounds and permeates everything that we do.  

Video content itself has fast replaced the vision.  What vision will your video content realise for you?

Image of Gianna and Ryan talking

Let’s Talk Lighting: Makematic Behind-The-Scenes Episode 4

Thank goodness for Zoom. This vlog is not sponsored by Zoom.

In this new normal that everyone around the world is experiencing, making a vlog about the company, live-action shoots, events and office things is quite hard to do when you’re stuck inside and have been for the past two months. 

So we find new ways. 

Luckily, technology has evolved and has helped the entire company operate without being in the office. In particular, Zoom has been the MVP for Makematic even before the pandemic happened. We’re very familiar with the “Hello, can you hear me’s?” and “Sorry my wi-fi connection’s a bit dodgy” scenarios. 

Zoom in Action

This vlog – at home edition – is dedicated to lighting. I don’t have any professional equipment at home, all I’ve got are several windows at my leisure. Since I’m still filming on my smartphone with no lighting equipment, I have to make do with what I have.

I set-up a Zoom call with our Assistant Producer, Ryan Lee, who kindly spoke to me about his tips on how to get the best lighting for video calls and self-recordings because given these times of endless online calls, meetings and presentations, lighting is key. 

His best tip is to face a North or West facing window to get an even, natural and consistent light throughout your recording. 

I didn’t know which type of window I had prior to this Zoom call. So I went on my compass app on my phone and found out that I’ve got a SouthEast facing window. If you have the same type of window, watch the fourth vlog to find out how you can adjust your light 

During this new normal, I’ve found that collaboration has been key to making everything work. I’d like to thank Ryan Lee, Brian Shaw and Kevin Gillen for helping me create this vlog! 

Also, we’re hosting The Good News Broadcast competition in collaboration with SchoolRubric and Clickview (shameless plug). It’s open to students aged 11-14 and all they have to do is share their good news stories in a video that’s under 60 seconds long! So pass on the message to any siblings, nephews, nieces, cousins that you’ve got!

Stay safe and we’re going to get through this!

Watch the fourth episode of the vlog now!

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EdTech News – May

This is already my third blog on EdTech News in times of Covid-19 and it certainly won’t be the last. We’re all trying to adapt to this new way of learning at home, in socially distanced classrooms, online using apps and video conferencing tools or perhaps it’s a blend of different options. It’s definitely a learning curve for all of us. 

This first EdTech News article says that now is the time to gather crucial information and data so that we can really test whether this giant EdTech experiment works and uncover what is needed for the future.

It’s not the only article I found this month that refers to this period as an experiment. In this article, you can read which edtech apps have been downloaded the most and how this could change education forever. 

One of the main concerns for children especially is Social Emotional Learning is how do we ensure that no one feels left out and alone. 

And also, how as a teacher you can engage students through online learning. A Finnish education expert shares some useful tips.

The lockdown is slowly starting to ease in some countries and schools are starting to re-open for primary school students at least. It will be interesting to read what the experts have to say on this next phase. 

Stay safe and healthy.

EdTech News – April

Last month the main subject of my blog was the impact of the Coronavirus on education, children, parents, educators and EdTech and this month it would have to be the same. Here in the UK, schools, colleges, universities and other institutions have been closed for two weeks now. Everyone is trying to adjust to their new normal. 

Some interesting early articles have come out about the impact of the virus on the EdTech sector, especially now that demand is so high and a lot of providers are offering up some or all of their resources for free. The good news is that investments in EdTech start-ups aren’t predicted to slow down, but it looks like there will be more competition for the same pot of capital. 

These articles speak of the rise of the EdTech Industry and EdTech companies being all the rage because of the Corona crisis. The other side of the ‘free’ coin is described here.

And finally, a lot of the more developed online educational tools use or claim to use AI. Is this just a marketing term or does it really help us learn at our own pace? 

Hopefully, in a few months’ time, I can update you on some of the longer-term educational strategy changes that have been made due to this pandemic.

Who Is Your Favourite Sesame Street Character?

I’ve written previously about how Sesame Street transformed my learning experience as a pre-school child growing up in Zambia. At the time, programming in what was rural Zambia was very limited and children’s particularly so.

ZNBC, the state broadcaster had the foresight to see that Sesame Street, a 189 Grammy and 11 Emmy award-winning show was absolute genius.  Over fifty years ago, the team behind the show realised that the average child had a short-attention-span, and if the proper curriculum and educational goals were packaged up in short live-action, animated and sketch sequences, roughly the length of a commercial, then the show would be an engaging, fresh and new learning channel for millions of children around the world.

For me, it was exactly this. Before I had started any form of formalised schooling, I could count to a hundred and I could also recognise the letters of the alphabet and read many short words.  This had just happened through a process of sitting in front of the tv and watching, listening and learning. I clearly remember feeling excited each day as the time for the show drew nearer and the familiar sound of the theme tune would throw me into an immersive world of education tailored exactly for me.

Sesame Street, gave me a head start in life through the introduction at a young age of carefully designed children’s programming in a form that I could digest, and which held my attention.  With fond memories, I’ve tried several occasions through a boxset of DVDs and YouTube to get my two and five-year-old son’s interested. But in this world of HD quality stream-on-demand, it seems to have passed them by.

Whilst we’re all dealing with the effects of the current global pandemic, online educational learning resources for children have suddenly become the thing.  There are many which are particularly good, not least our own free VOD service designed for 21st-century global citizens.  My colleague Tara has also compiled a fantastic list of great online educational resources.

In our household, Youtube is becoming king.  My 5-year-old boy is fascinated by the weird and the wonderful. On top of the fantastic learning packs and links to online resources that we’ve been pointed towards by his school since their closure this week, we’ve decided to let him learn about things that he is interested in.  

He is going through a period of “rare” at the moment. Rare is king in our house rare snakes, rare animals, rare cars, rare buildings, and all of it can be found in short, informational clips on Youtube.  

We’re using the opportunity to inject some fun into his curriculum learning, coupled with a big injection of general knowledge around the things that he is interested in.  

I suggest you do it too.

14 Awesome Free Online Educational Resources For Teachers And Parents

With all that is going on at the moment, it’s easy for schools and parents to be overwhelmed with the whole idea of online classes. 

To make the task of finding quality content easier, Makematic has curated what we consider to be the most useful places for you to go to help you; either take your classes online or for schools already there, to further enhance what they’re doing.

We’ve started by sharing what our partners at Participate, Adobe, Vidcode, Scholastic and Unity are doing, and followed it up with other sites we think are worthy of your time.

Participate – Survive Leaning At Home With Kids

The folks at Participate have created a free Learning at Home resource for both teachers and parents. In addition to the resources that are on the site, there is a thriving educator community which you’ll be able to join. 

Adobe – Distance Learning Resources

Whether your school routinely supports distance learning or is facing unexpected closures, Adobe has assembled resources and learning opportunities to help educators engage remote students through online learning. This resource offers so very much from courses, lesson ideas, article, blogs, webinars, events, professional learning courses and like Participate a thriving online educator community.

Vidcode

Vidcode is a creative coding platform for teens. The website has courses that teach computer science, object-orientated programming, web programming, design and JavaScript, most of which need very little parental support. To support schools through COVID-19 Vidcode are allowing schools to sign up and access the Vidcode full curriculum until May 2020 or until schools reopen. We created a series of curriculum-linked videos. You can check them out here.

Scholastic

Scholastic has created a website with resources to keep kids reading, thinking and growing whilst they are at home. There projects from pre-K to secondary that are built around either stories or videos. Young people will be able to do these projects on their own, with their families or with teachers.

Unity Teach and Student

Unity Teach

Tonnes of resources for educators to show you how to use Unity to create interactive products and experiences in 2D, 3D, AR and VR.

Unity Student

Free to 13 + in the United States and 16+ in the UK and the  European Union, can access the real-time 3D development platform and workflows used to create immersive experiences across industries. Young people will be able to independently build the skills they’ll need for a career in AR/VR, games and more.

Learning Keeps Going and Home Learning UK

Learning Keeps Going has been created to help keep the education community going. They are a coalition of education organisations who have curated strategies, tips and best practices for teaching online. The organisations include: EdSurgeConsortium for School Networking (CoSN)Education WeekDigital PromiseState Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA)Council of Chief State School Officers and ISTE.

Home Learning UK is being led by educators who have come together to offer time and expertise to support colleagues, parents and students in the UK and beyond.

Zoom

One of the leading web conferencing tools. Students and teachers can fill in an online form using their school email addresses and are then verified by Zoom will have any accounts associated with that school’s domain also gain unlimited temporary meeting minutes, according to a site set up for the process overnight. The free Basic accounts are also available by request in Austria, Denmark, France, Ireland, Poland, Romania and South Korea.

Innovate My School

To support schools that are closed, Innovate My School curated a list of all “home / remote learning” tools and promotions on the EdTech Impact platform. This is being updated regularly so it’s a good one to keep going back to.

UNESCO Distance Learning Solutions 

UNESCO has put together a list of educational applications and platforms to help parents, teachers, schools and school systems facilitate student learning and provide social caring and interaction during periods of school closure. While these solutions do not carry UNESCO’s explicit endorsement, they tend to have a wide reach, a strong user-base and evidence of impact. Most of the solutions are free and with several support for multiple languages.

Pearson

For a small handful of schools that have already been affected and have concerns around supporting teaching and learning at this time, Pearson are offering free support on primary, secondary and revision resources and have created hints and tips for online delivery.

Flipgrid

Flipgrid’s aim is simple. To engage and empower every voice in every classroom or community by recording and sharing short, awesome videos. Here are two really useful blogs for parents and teachers around Family Learning with Flipgrid and Remote Learning with Flipgrid.

Chartered College of Teaching

If you visit the site, you’ll find four Future Learn courses to help educators use technology in the classroom.

Share My Lesson

A cornucopia of resources ranging from preschool to high school on all curriculum areas. The resources range from videos to lesson plans to activities. They also have a community that you can join to expand your professional learning network or to get some help. Other content providers are doing similar things, so it’s probably a good idea to check out your favourite ones.

Makematic

Last but certainly not least, we have lots of free videos and animations. A mixture of teacher CPD, classroom resource and family projects, these resources can be accessed here.


EdTech News – March

The Coronavirus has been the main focus in the news these past few weeks and school closures are becoming a reality. Modern technology will mean that some pupils will be able to continue their classes online, but others will be stuck at home playing endless board/ computer games or watching television. Research in gamification in the world of education is ongoing, but when the right balance is struck between entertainment and education, it can be a very useful supportive learning tool.

If you’re worried about the impact of all this ‘screen time’ on your kids, read this article, which refers back to a 1966 report on the impact of television on kids’ lives. Some things in childhood never change, regardless of how kids consume media. Most statements in this report could have been made about today’s kids watching YouTube and other content online!

And finally, because in March there’s also an extra focus on women, another reminder on what needs to happen to achieve gender parity in the tech industry. The education sector, but also parents need to understand the career opportunities for women in technology and encourage learning digital skills from a young age. 

Three Big Takeaways From BETT 2020

BETT is the first of the big education tradeshows of the year. It’s a mammoth event, where the Ed-tech community congregates to share what is new in the industry.

Here are my three takeaways from BETT this year.Read More

4 Things You Need To Know About Post Millennials And Their Relationship With Technology

This is our first in a series of blogs about post-millennials, their relationship with technology their main attributes, likes and aspirations.Read More

2020 Predictions For The Education Sector

At the end of last year, my final blog focused on a round-up of some statistics which highlighted the growth of short-form video in 2019 – some of those figures were astounding.  

Without sounding too cliched, what better way to start 2020 than taking a look at what 2020 holds for the education and publishing sectors as well as how video will continue to play a centrally important role and will continue to grow in terms of volume and overall content consumer interaction.Read More

Video Content in 2019

For my final blog this year, I thought I would look at some of the astounding statistics surrounding video content for 2019.  I’ve taken the information from a variety of different sources. So here goes….

Video Trends

  1. 81% of businesses now use video to get their message across. HubSpot
  2. 78% of people watch online video content each week and 55% view online videos every day. HubSpo
  3. 6 out of 10 Americans would rather watch online video content than television. Google
  4. Video consumption is rising at a global average rate of 100% each year. Insivia
  5. People retain 95% of a video message rather than only 10% when reading it as text.  Insivia

Video Predictions

  1. By 2022, online video will make up 82% of all consumer traffic. Cisco
  2. By 2020 1 million minutes of video content will be crossing the internet every second. Cisco
  3. Facebook executives believe that their platform will entirely consist of video content by 2021. Facebook

The Rise And Rise Of You Tube

YouTube is king with only Google beating it in terms of popularity and use with a billion hours of video watched by its users every day.  I’ve put my had into the air in the past about my regular interaction with YouTube with my 5-year-old son as an educational space. Only this weekend, YouTube again came to my aid.  This time my car wing mirror had been bashed and a quick search found me a user-generated video, created by a mechanic, who step-by-step went through the process of changing a wired in wing mirror.

The amount of video content, particularly in short-form, that we have access today day in and out is exploding.  This is having an effect in the way that content consumers learn and then retain information. It’s safe to say that for the average under-25-year-old, short-form video is a preferred format of media consumption, as well as a key ally in the learning and retention of huge amounts of information.

Bite-sized Video Is Here To Stay

The downside to the explosion in consumer-generated video content, or video content created cheaply using downloadable animation tools and standard presentation packages, is that quality is lacking.  Just as in other open content areas, there is a huge amount of noise in the video space right now. Vast amounts of video content are being created on a daily basis. And that, in turn, creates a huge amount of ‘noise’.  The issue becomes – how to stand out from the crowd?

We’ve seen many businesses and organisations begin to capitalise on the opportunity that short-form video brings, creating immersive, high quality, informational and pedagogically sound shorts that are engaging and informative.  When these are produced to broadcast standards the issue of ‘noise’ disappears.

In amongst all the astounding stats on how video content is changing and shaping the way we interact with media and with each other, we’re seeing how high production value, broadcast-quality, short-form video content is beginning to lead the way.  Without a doubt, this is ramping up rapidly as video becomes the primary method for media output.

Brands, publishers, organisations and others are focusing on how to cut through all the noise by investing in film that engages, educates and enthralls.  It’s fast becoming the preferred format for the consumption of just about any sort of content and if 2019 is anything to go by, this will only increase next year.

Makematic Does Unity Hour Of Code

We are delighted to have had the chance to work with Unity Technologies on their first Hour of Code project Creator Kit: Beginner Code

Makematic were commissioned to create 6 awesome animations to accompany their beginner project which explores the basics of C# code for Unity in the context of an action RPG. The videos explain in layman’s terms basic coding concepts like variables, functions, classes, and keywords, as well as a step by step guide to help teachers understand the project requirements.

This is the first year that Unity has partnered with Code.org. Melissa Oldrin, who leads the education programs at Unity Technology said,

It was great to work with the Makematic team on Unity Education’s first official Hour of Code project. Makematic has experience developing Hour of Code projects from work with previous clients, which was incredibly helpful for us as newcomers to the initiative. They guided us through the process to ensure we met requirements and included all of the essential elements.

Makematic helped us bring our learning tutorials to life through custom art and video animations, high quality edits, amazing sound, and fun voice over scripts. The animations really help the main concepts shine through and create a dynamic learning experience.

With this great project to share with the world, we are very excited to participate as activity providers in this year’s global Hour of Code. 

We Love Unity

It was fun recreating the characters in a different style and I also learned some code myself whilst creating the videos.” 

Claire Bethell, Motion Graphics Artist, Makematic

This is the third series Senior Producer, Brian Shaw has produced for Unity Technologies.

“Working with Unity on their first Hour of Code project was such a great experience.  As a Producer, I really enjoyed the challenge of translating the foundations of coding into visuals that were not only fun but also understandable and educational.”  

Brian was supported by Motion Graphics Artists, Claire Bethall and Caoimhe Sweeney, Sound Designer Kevin Gillen, Script Editor Lee Henry, and Education Evangelist, Tara Walsh to create the videos and lesson plans.

Join The Movement

Hour of Code is a movement to teach people the basics of coding, to demystify computer science and make the subject more accessible with one-hour coding tutorials and events.

To ensure that the videos, tutorials, and lesson plans are user-friendly and relevant to the users, we conducted one to one interviews with computer science teachers and heads of department in England, Northern Ireland the United States and Peru. Here are some of the things they said :

The information (lesson plan, tutorials and videos) is clear and abundant.

The videos are clear, concise and dynamic.

I think the lesson plans, tutorials and videos are great.

Get Started Here

Okay, now it’s over to you.

Click here to access the project, videos, and lesson plans so you too can get involved in Hour of Code 2019.

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