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Hi, and welcome to our blog. This space is designed to share ideas and methodologies that we use to teach Turkish teenagers. In particular, there is a strong focus on ICT-ELT, which means if you like visual and technological support for your style of teaching, this blog is for you. My colleague, Brentson Ramsey, has been working alongside me for three years. He is also a big proponent of the ICT-ELT Paradigm, which means he will also be posting from his own teaching perspective on the blog.

2010 was the beginning of this new journey, and although there is no definitive ICT-ELT road map available for everyone to follow, it is exciting to explore the technological means to make teaching more fun and affective for students. Our main message is for teachers to ADOPT & ADAPT the paradigm shift for their own needs, and remember that

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Touchcast is now even cooler with video backgrounds!

Fellow ESL and other teaching colleagues around the world... if you have an IPAD, and are looking to integrate more technology into your lessons, or adding 'flipped classroom' videos for your students to follow after school, there is a free app that you simply have try out.  It's called Touchcast

Nowadays, there are tons of apps out there that enable you to make short videos from your IPAD, but I have yet to see one as cool and quirky as Touchcast.  This app allows the user to make up to five-minute videos with the effects that make it look and feel like a real news cast.  You can add a title frame, which has a running news banner across the bottom, not to mention you can import pictures and websites onto your video in real time.  These, of course, are just the tip of the iceberg.  There are so many more features in the app, one of which is the focus of this blog post.  However, before we get to that, if you aren't too familiar with the app, I strongly suggest that you take a couple of minutes to watch the following introductory video of Touchcast by its founder...


My colleague and I have been so impressed by the app that this is, in fact, my second blog post on it. In my previous post (which you can reach by clicking here) I wrote about a project that we began in semester one, called a Peek at the Week, where we had a different student from the class make a Touchcast video about the upcoming assignments and projects for that particular week.  To give you an idea of the project, here is an example from last semester...

For us, the Peek at the Week project was a huge success.  The students had never seen a video like it before, and all of the feedback from other teachers and parents was all extremely positive.  The problem, however, is that we teach 14 and 15 year-old students who seem to get bored of just about everything.  Just the other day, for example, a student wanted to play a song that he really liked on his phone for me.  After about 20 seconds of listening to it, and again this is a song that he really liked, he changed to the next song.  When I inquired as to why he had changed it, he said that it was because it was the best part, and he usually only listens to songs for his favorite parts.  

Anyway, the point being is that after a six-week period of making these weekly videos, most of the class became bored of them. It was only interesting to them if their close friend had featured in the video.  Therefore, we decided to take a short break from the project, and return to it in the second semester.  Luckily for us, three amazing things happened during this off period... 

To begin with, and the whole purpose of this post, is Touchcast introduced some magnificent new features to the app, the coolest being video backgrounds.  Now, just like a news program, you have the ability to put any video, either your own, or any video from the web, into the background of your Touchcast.  Just watch how easy it is to do, again from the Touchcast founder, by clicking on the image below.


As soon as my colleague and I watched the tutorial, we jumped at the chance to make a new video.  However, in the process of trying it out, we quickly realized that we needed two essential items for making a Touchcast with a video background.  First, you need to have at least an IPAD 4 or above, and second, you need to have a proper green screen in order to make your video come out looking professionally.  At the time, we had neither.

Then, just by chance, we ended up getting both of these things last month.  My colleague, David, needed to upgrade his IPAD2 anyway, and did so during the semester holiday.  Furthermore, unbeknownst to us, our computer science department had ordered a green screen for anyone in the school to use, and it arrived just a few weeks ago.  Now, we were in business!   

We decided to go back to our Peek at the Week project, but instead, this time getting another student in the high school to be the news anchor.  In addition to providing a nice change, it would also give our preparatory students someone to look up to, as the student we chose, Deniz G., is a very successful 11th grader with fantastic English skills.  So, without further ado, here is our first attempt at adding a video background to a Touchcast video...

We had so much fun putting it together, and we have gone on to make several more.  In fact, we are even adding a Touchcast video to our next exam for listening comprehension.  If you are lucky enough to have a new IPAD and access to a green screen, give it a try.  It is worth it.

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