Introducing Software Skills
When introducing new software, the most important thing to remember is that current software has its own syntax and that most skills are transferable from one software to the next. Its kind of like driving a car. Once you know how, it doesn't really matter which make or model you drive, as long as you take a little bit of time to familiarize yourself with a particular model's idiosyncracies. When introducing animation software to your students for the first time, consider:
- Showing 2-3 students in a small group first, and then having them be the coaches in the class. This avoids you becoming the bottleneck.
- Using an overhead projector and having students follow along as you go through some of the main things they have to do
- Giving students a series of concrete and simple tasks to execute, ex.: Open a new file, name it and save it to your folder. Draw a picture using the pen tool.
- Introducing new skills only as they become necessary
Being Organized at the Computer
Before going anywhere near computer, students must have completed their treatment, storyboard and script. Having a well-thought out idea is crucial to a successful media project. It means that students can focus on crafting a media message using the codes and conventions of media language rather than getting bogged down in the story or what they want to communicate. Here are some ideas for keeping students focused at the computer:
- Having completed all their planning documents
- Selecting different people for different roles at the computer, or being in charge of different parts of the production. For instance, a student can be in charge of characters, another in charge of settings and another in charge of music and transitions.
- Having a set time for a student to be in charge of the mouse - set a timer that rings every 15 minutes and say "Switch!".
Timeline and Milestones
Media production can quickly become a time monster, with a project going way over schedule because nobody is finished. Having a clear and manageable timeline is key.
- The teacher should present the timeline and identify specific milestones.
- The timeline should be visible to students - on the board, on a long sheet of paper (from a roll of paper).
- Milestones should be clearly identified so that students know where they should be at specific times in the process. Points or informal competition can be used as an incentive.
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