Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Teaching Creative Media - a reflection after the first year

I have been privileged to have had the opportunity to teach Creative iMedia this  year for the first time.  This post describes some of the software applications and hardware that we have used in meeting the requirements of the three units taught this year.  For more details of the course, including all of the units, visit the OCR website: http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/vocational-qualifications-qcf-creative-imedia-level-1-certificate-04305/

Unit 115 - Design and test computer games

With seventeen level 1 units to choose from, the first unit we worked through was Unit 115 - Design and test computer games. The pattern I have used for each of the units so far has been to create an online PowerPoint presentation (please don't groan) using Office 365.  The presentation includes the specification and requirements, completed with examples of how the requirements can be met, mostly composed when working with the class via teacher modelling.  The online presentation is shared with students, allowing access from home or school to the latest version; any changes or additions made are reflected in the version that students view online, contrasting with using a traditional PowerPoint that is comparatively static, requiring any updates to be viewed via, for example, emailing the latest version. Link to the PowerPoint used for 115 - Design and test computer games

Students then created their own online PowerPoint presentations to document work.  All students 'shared' their PowerPoints with myself, allowing me to give feed directly into 'live' PowerPoint presentations, or to update my spreadsheet tracking which skills each student has completed.

Each of the units completed follow a similar pattern of exploration of similar products, sharing a brief with students, creating the product to meet the clients' requirements and, finally, evaluating the completed project.  In the case of game design, I contacted OCR to find out which applications could be used to create the game; I was told that there is no stipulation for which platform, so we explored a number of options, including Scratch, the popular introductory programming language, and 2DIY, a 2D game creation tool created by Purple Mash.  Most of our students opted for Scratch. Link to Scratch Link to Purple Mash 2DIY By the end of the Autumn term, after 2 and 1/2 hours of lesson per week, all students had completed the tasks from the unit, using desktop PCs mostly.

Unit 103 - Special video effects

We followed a similar approach with this unit as with the first.  However, the hardware and software used differed greatly.  With a dedicated green screen room, portable green screen and iPads available, we developed student skills in combining special effects with real life footage.   We have the quite incredible Green Screen app by Doink.  I cannot recommend this highly enough. Link to Doink [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"]Image from Doink site

Unit 105 - Sound effects

The third unit we have worked on has been making sound effects.  We have the equipment for a school radio station, including a mixing deck, DJ and guest microphones and laptop linked to the kit with Audacity software, freely available sound editing software. Link to Audacity We have given our students the brief of creating an advertisement for our school radio show.  Whilst Audacity and the equipment we have is amazing for recording and editing sound, we don't have a lot of access to copyright free material to add background music.  Enter the amazing Garage Band app on the iPad and Garage Band on the Mac (we have a small number of MacBooks available).  This has allowed students to add sound loops, in edition to editing sound directly on the iPad.  Whilst I've 'played' with Garage Band in the past, I had no idea it had such a wide library of looping music, making it the ideal tool for this particular unit. Link to Garage Band app

Assessing/Submitting work

We are using the Three Maps system to assess and submit work: https://three.maps-ict.com.  To be blunt, we are only just getting to grips with the system, finding the navigation confusing.  In the spring term, we explored setting up student logins to keep a blog of work; however, our students found it a little tricky.   Over the course of the year, I have been using Office365 and Excel online to track skills and share with students, finding this easier than Three Maps (sorry, any Three Maps authors who by some long shot may be reading this post!)      


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