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Supertanker on auto-pilot July 24, 2009

Posted by davidit in e-learning.
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dakinane.com/blog

Yesterday I had to tell the crew of the supertanker that their pilot was swapping ships.  I have been offered an e-learning factilitators role at Team Solutions here in Auckland and have accepted it.  I am very excited and nervous in equal measure about this move, who knows what the future will bring?  What I do know is that there are many more supertankers out there that need turning and this move gives me the opportunity to pilot many more.  In the first instance the work with Team Solutions is only until the end of the year and what lies beyond that is a mystery, but it is time to take a leap of faith!  Anyone who feels that their particular supertanker is drifting in the wrong direction and needs some additional help, you know where I am!

Having said that, I have created my own new blog at the following address and I guess that for the time being I will be running two blogs, but as I leave the supertanker then this particular blog and my loyal readers will need to migrate to the new blog.  You can check it out at the following address:  http://www.dakinane.com/blog those of you who are observant will note that address made it onto my blog roll a few months ago….

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Pencil-animation software July 22, 2009

Posted by davidit in Uncategorized.
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I was asked this week to locate some software for students to use that would enable them to create animations easily.  I have been playing with Synfig for the last couple of weeks and it is more like an open source variant of Flash in its interface rather than the kind of animation tool I was really looking for.  I have been playing with it because a client has asked me to work out how to use it so that I can introduce it to their staff.  This tool, however is not appropriate for students to use, well not year 6 students anyway.

After a lengthy consultation with a teacher from the Supertanker, who had outlined what she hoped to produce with her students,  I went off to the Internet in search of something altogether more pure in an animation sense and easy to use for students.  What I have found is a cracker of an open source program called Pencil.  The beauty of this program is that it has tried very hard to be a traditional animators desk, very few tools, a colour palette and a layers area are the only distractions or complications from the main drawing area.

It took me about 5 minutes to master the basic controls of this program, something that I like in a program.  With this kind of program  it will be the users creativity that determines the success or otherwise of the outcome and not the overly complex requirements of a program that masks quality output.

What is more, this program comes into its own if you have a tablet, drawing freehand with a mouse is always tricky.  The students in question do not have access to tablets, but every class does have a Smart Board in it, enabling the students to draw very accurately with their fingers, thus producing some excellent results very quickly.  A great tool and one that I would urge you to investigate.  There are a couple of tutorials on You Tube,  I will create some too and post them, however the program is so easy to use, a tutorial is almost superfluous to requirements.

I have demonstrated this program to several teachers since and I can see that this program will quickly go viral,  so remember where you heard about it first!