Author Archives: Quickclass Team

In : FilmMaking Comments : 0 Author : Quickclass Team Date : 24 Aug 2017

Need some inspiration for your latest shoot? Or just looking for some reading material? Aren’t we all. One of the best ways of finding that inspiration is in the stories or expertise of others, but the problem is, that everyone and their mum has a blog these days. So how do you find the best of the bunch?

Look no further! Feel free to check out our list of twenty top filmmaking blogs, for hints and tips on cameras and camera angles, and to help kick start your career

1. Stephenfollows.com

stephenfollows
Stephen Follows’ personal blog is one of the best websites for filmmakers looking for insight into the movie industry. We liked his recent post on 49 interesting facts about filmmaking in the UK. Apparently, the BFI awarded more than £1million to short films in 2012- where can we get some of that?!

 

2. Chrisjonesblog.com


Chris-Jones-Portrait-WIDE
Chris Jones’ blog, at the aptly named chrisjonesblog.com, is a great resource: he features articles on making a ‘killer’ pitch, as well as how to make low budget horror movies. And if you’re in the mood to kill some time, he regularly posts blogs on top film quotes and filmmaking tips. He puts out loads of general tips that are great for anyone looking for top filmmaking blogs.

 

3. Nofilmschool.com

nofilmschools-Ryan
Nofilmschool.com isn’t a personal blog- it’s much more than just a blog! They have forums on any number of filmmaking topics too. But their blog is a great way of keeping up to date with all the latest releases and latest conferences, as well as finding out facts about things from filming on a smartphone to the movie industry at large.

 

4. Indiewire.com

IndieWire
We love Indiewire- it’s one of the best websites for filmmakers. They’re constantly being updated with posts on both TV and film. We really liked their post not too long ago, which put together 30 (thirty!) moviemaking tips from ‘the best directors working today’. Richard Linklater thinks that the key to good filmmaking lies in storytelling. Who knew?

 

5. Filmmakermagazine.com

FilmmakerMagazine
Filmmaker Magazine’s online blog can keep you up to date with all the latest news and releases. Their piece on George Romero’s death not long ago, not wanting to miss a trick, talked about what’s next for zombie movies in the Age of Trump. You just can’t get away from politics these days! But seriously, check them out, they’re one of the best filmmaking blogs on our list.

 

6. Premiumbeat.com

PremiumBeat
PREMIUMBEAT’s blog- known simply as The Beat- is great for checking out the latest tech. One of their latest posts takes a look at RED Cameras and HYDROGEN. Another post of theirs we really liked is on how to stop expensive gear from overheating- they really do cover every conceivable topic, eh?

 

7. Cinema5d.com

Cinema5dCinema 5D are another site that specifically covers the latest advancements in filmmaking tech: cameras, DSLRs and the like. But aside from that, they are host to a range of guest bloggers on topics like cinematic filmmaking tutorials. They also put out really in-depth reviews of the latest filmmaking equipment, too. Worth checking out if you’re a tech head.

 

8. Philipbloom.net

philipbloom
Philip Bloom’s personal blog is another cracker. Bloom is a world renowned filmmaker, having been a part of the industry for almost thirty years. He really loves Canon DSLRs, so expect to see some love for Canon in his blog! Aside from that, he posts about all sorts. It’s great to get some insight from an older head in the industry.

 

9. Moviemaker.com

MovieMaker
Moviemaker’s blog, like many others here, is the host of a dozen or more guest bloggers who each contribute on various topics. If you didn’t know, Moviemaker Magazine is a leading movie making magazine (yes, really) over in the U.S. You might not see it on every shelf over here, but you can still subscribe- although if you don’t want to fork out £6 a month for the privilege, check out their insightful blog instead.

 

10. Filmmakeriq.com

Film-IQFilmmakerIQ is one of the most interesting sites on this list. Every single one of their posts has a cutesy header image, made especially, featuring two little cartoon puppets… It’s difficult to describe but still do their site justice! Anyway, check out their blog, because they cover all sorts- why filmmaking is becoming more important in schools and ‘the treachery of expectations’.

 

11. Filmmakingstuff.com

Filmmaking-stuff
Filmmaking Stuff is a great site for anyone interested in resourceful filmmaking and self publishing. You can use their blog to find hints on how to set and meet your own filmmaking targets, using your smartphone to film, and whether you’re likely to be replaced by a robot any time soon. The blogs are normally courtesy of Jason Brubaker.

 

12. Noamkroll.com

NoamNoam Kroll’s top filmmaking blogs are for anyone wanting to improve their shooting skills. Noam is a filmmaker out in L.A., and his blog is for all his thoughts on the industry and shooting on a micro-budget. We just wish he’d update more often, because his tips make his blog one of the best filmmaking blogs we found.

 

13. Learningvideo.com

Dave
Dave

Learningvideo.com is Dave Dugdale’s site all about turning from an amateur filmmaker to a pro. Dave actually calls himself an advanced amateur, which is probably not quite fair to him! He’s great at what he does, and you can see how he tries to recreate professional shots with his own equipment.

14. Newsshooter.com

NewsShooter
Newsshooter.com is a website mainly geared towards film journalists, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth checking out no matter your background. They regularly feature new hardware and software that you might find useful, too. They recently reviewed their experience at Cine Gear Expo, and are one of the best filmmaking blogs for filmmaking tech.

 

15. Vashivisuals.com

VashiVisualsVashi Visuals is a website dedicated to low budget filmmaking, and we mean dedicated! It’s the personal website of Vashi Nedomansky- a defector from Cold War Czechoslovakia, turned ice hockey pro, turned video editor of fifteen years. Quite the life story, huh? It’s worth checking out just to learn about Vashi!

16. Filmmakersprocess.com

filmmakersprocess
The Filmmaker’s Process is a really useful resource for the filmmaking amateur. Robert Hardy writes on a range of topics, from guides on how to make a profit from freelance filmmaking to advice on how to conquer the fear that goes along with it. He also writes in depth about his own personal filmmaking journey, which is quite compelling.

 

17. Indietips.com

IndieTipsIndie Tips has it all! It’s a blog which covers everything you would want from websites for filmmakers, including cinematography, writing, editing, video and directing – practically anything you could think of! You can find tutorials for the latest filmmaking software, film reviews, tips on creating good characters and much, much more.

 

18. Agnesfilms.com

agnesfilms
Agnes Films is a site dedicated to supporting women and feminist filmmakers. The website is named after Agnès Varda, a French filmmaker. As pointed out on the website, filmmaking has historically been a male-dominated profession – this blog aims to change that! Amongst other things, they post interviews with female writers and directors, reviews of films directed or written by women, and general filmmaking advice.

 

19. Mentorless.com

mentorlessNathalie Sejean of Mentorless has a unique perspective – she believes that we can learn about filmmaking and storytelling from everyone and everything in the world. As long as you have a curious mind and a “DIY spirit”, you can become a filmmaker. Nathalie publishes one of the best filmmaking blogs out there, featuring interviews, anecdotes, guides and tips on the filmmaking process.

20. Jonreiss.com

jonreiss-bioJon Reiss is an award winning filmmaker who has directed and produced a number of feature films, short films and music videos for well-known artists. It’s a privilege to be able to get a glimpse into his mind via his personal blog. As well as stories of his own life and personal experiences, he posts film reviews and advice on making an impact in the world of filmmaking.

 

So what can we take from this list of the mighty?

There really is a blog out there for everyone, isn’t there? We’re blessed with our internet access- no generation before us has had as much insight at their fingertips! If you can’t find some technical tips and career-boosting ideas in these twenty blogs, then perhaps there are other subjects which you’d prefer out there?

In : News Comments : 0 Author : Quickclass Team Date : 11 Aug 2017

Cinema has countless scenes which have inspired future generations of filmmakers – ie your students.  This compilation will distract us all from North Korea for long enough to remember what a rich and amazing archive of filmmaking is out there to continue that inspiration!

In : Film and Media Comments : 0 Author : Quickclass Team Date : 11 Aug 2017

Panic, dread, fear and anguish. 4 emotions that cinema chain owners, studios and everyone along the distribution process in Hollywood are all currently feeling.

Remember last year, when an idea was running around of a home movie service that would allow people to watch new cinema releases from the comfort of their coach? Screening Room it was called – as if Netflix hadn’t done enough damage already.

In March of this year, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings even made headlines for making the claim that the movie chains hadn’t innovated in 30 years, stating the only advantage of them is “well, the popcorn tastes better, but that’s about it.”

While most people think Netflix is some huge company disrupting the whole distribution industry – this is only half-true. If we take a step back then we see it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Netflix seems to have merely affected the way that films and, more generally, content, reaches its audience audiences.

That is fantastic for big TV and film producers, but doesn’t mean much for independent filmmakers, yet. In fact, most indie films sold to these new digital distribution channels went to Amazon rather than Netflix; for example, Kenneth Lonergan’s harrowing Manchester by the Sea and Best Picture Oscar winner Moonlight. You can really see the touch of veteran indie film producer, Ted Hope, who is now helming Amazon Studios.

If we consider this within a different context, music for example, most of us now take for granted that we’re going to listen to music on Spotify or Apple Music. If we really want to buy music, we’ll go on iTunes and buy digital files as opposed to physical CDs or vinyl. This is a drastic shift, and one which has caused a surge in independent music. A small band that you love can now record its music in their garage and upload it for the world to listen, all done from their laptop. It’s easy to forget how radical that notion was even 20 years ago: really revolutionising an entire established industry and opening it up to smaller players.

The film industry is also going through profound changes, and cinemas will have to adapt to survive. Netflix is just a traditional company, nothing incredible, but they sure know how to make the most of the new wave of digital technologies. It’s just like the 2008 financial crisis: you can look at it as a phenomenon in and of itself, or you can look at it as a ripple in a bigger, wider undercurrent. But how will this wave affect us, the independent filmmakers? Will we eventually have the same channels indie music has, and just upload our movies (and actually make money from them)?

Netflix and Amazon haven’t figured this out yet. They haven’t worked out how to make production as simple as it could be, or as DIY as independent filmmakers are used to. But it’s not all doom-and-gloom, because that’s actually where the power of independent filmmakers lie: you can shoot how you like, improve your work, put it out on social media and, if you have enough following, you can reach enough people to get noticed – the only missing piece is making it a real business model.

Hollywood, digital distribution channels, and independent filmmakers: how these 3 puzzle pieces will eventually fit together is yet to be seen. However we predict that Hollywood will adapt to appease the likes of Netflix and Amazon, whilst indie filmmakers will (hopefully) hop on great new channels to distribute themselves.

Source: Baptiste Charles, Raindance Filmschool 

In : FilmMaking Comments : 0 Author : Quickclass Team Date : 11 Aug 2017

There weren’t relatively nearly as many documentaries before 1980, but over the last 4 decades the “genre” has rapidly risen to become one of the most popular forms of filmmaking. The criteria for a good documentary film is subject, just as it is for any other art form, however that doesn’t mean you should just charge head-first into it, following these key documentary filmmaking techniques will greatly benefit your film and yourself – regardless of your unique vision for the film.

6 universal tips for great documentary filmmaking:

  1. Choose an interesting subject:

This should be the first and most important thing you do, as you don’t want a 2 month filming process to conclude with the realisation that the finished documentary will be boring (even to you!). This is difficult; as of course everyone will find different things interesting. So the best way of approaching will be to strip all façade from the subject matter and consider whether there is a genuine and compelling human story to be told. If so then regardless of the eventual subject matter your documentary will most crucially tell a compelling story.

  1. Get the right crew:

Documentary filming schedules can be unstructured, so get a crew that is flexible, open to work in a moments notice, and passionate – you don’t want someone complaining and asking when lunch will be.

  1. Go to documentary film festivals!

This can be before filming, during, or in post-production. You can meet some of the best, most well respected documentary filmmakers currently working. In doing so, you can learn about their filmmaking process and get first-hand tips from them. Admission is normally fairly affordable (students can usually get discounts), and it is certainly worthwhile to be inspired if you’re interested in documentary filmmaking.

  1. Get the right support around you and have patience:

Documentary is a long-form process; meaning you will end up reels and reels (or hard drives and hard drives) of footage, which you will need to whittle down in the editing stage. This can be very hard at points, ending a day and realising none of the footage from that day is useful – you need perseverance and the right support around you to keep filming usually on a hectic, ever-changing schedule.

  1. Consider your equipment:

Not everyone will have access to huge, professional cameras that probably cost more than most people’s car, but that doesn’t matter, if your subject matter requires a fast moving crew and lots of travel, you don’t want to be carrying round heavy equipment with you, in fact that’ll make your footage worse as you can’t capture quick authentic moments. You can even shoot on a smart-phone now, most have a great camera set up and with the right app you tailor it to you (companies like Olloclip and iOgrapher even produce equipment just for this). If something between the two extremes sounds better, then a quality DSLR, a few lenses, a tripod and an audio set up will also need to be very adaptable to the variety of footage you’ll end up shooting.

  1. Watch the right kinds of documentaries:

Depending on the style of documentary you want to emulate, you will want to educate and inspire yourself with those films; whether that be crime re-enactment documentaries like The Thin Blue Line, long-form character pieces like Hoop Dreams, or more grounded investigative pieces like many of Louis Theroux’s documentaries. Watch the best films there are to watch, get ideas from them, and hope some of the greatness rubs off on you!

Documentary filmmaking is a tough passion to pursue; however it is also very rewarding. We hope these tips for documentary filmmaking help minimise the toughness and maximise the rewards – now get out there and shoot!

In : Gamified Learning Comments : 0 Author : Quickclass Team Date : 11 Aug 2017

Gamification in learning is yet another educational movement based on what students respond to best. The benefits of gamification in learning are that it motivates children to engage on a different level with the topic they’re studying, and increases their retention after study too. But crucially, there’s a big difference between gamification done right and gamification done wrong.

So, let’s take a look at examples of good and bad gamification, and learn some pointers to best employ it with your students!

Duolingo- gamified language learning

Duolingo, if you’ve never heard of it, provides free online courses for anybody wanting to learn a language. They have the most obvious and well known languages- English, Spanish, French- as well as more obscure options like Game of Thrones’ High Valyrian language, Hungarian and Vietnamese. There’s something for everybody to learn. So where does the gamification come in?

Well, Duolingo is a great example of gamification in learning, in action. Every aspect of the learning process is gamified: the user is constantly rewarded with trophies and achievements, and even gain in-game currency (called lingots) for things like levelling up and being challenged to use the app daily for a week. The currency can be used to customise your profile, and subtly indicating your language prowess at the same time!

Duolingo has enjoyed great success in recent years, as user numbers have grown. Its success is also mirrored in the fact that it’s widely used in public schools in developing countries like Costa Rica and Guatemala to help students learn English. In fact, Durolingo released a VLE-of-sorts for teachers, which allows them to track their students’ progress with the site.

Google News- gamification, but for what purpose?

Never one to be caught behind the curve, Google has tried to catch onto the gamification trend too. But we felt that their attempt was more for its own sake than for any real purpose. And in fact, it seemed to do the opposite of what it actually set out to do!

Google News is like a great big RSS feed complied by Google, from reliable sources worldwide. But not enough people (according to Google, at least) knew about the service, and fewer stayed around to use it repeatedly. So Google decided to gamify the experience, and began to offer badges as a reward for the number of articles, and the kind of articles, you read.

The hope was that this could give you bragging rights over your friends on Google Plus, because you can display the badges on your profile. But it didn’t catch on, and here’s the reason why: they didn’t represent any kind of achievement. Reading a news article is more of a way of passing the time and, obviously, keeping up with the news than a hobby or a challenge.

Duolingo’s example of gamification worked because learning a language is a genuine challenge. Increasing your vocabulary, learning the grammatical rules of a new language, and being able to pronounce sounds unused in your own language is difficult, where reading a news article just isn’t. Gamification in education has to be the same, or it falls at the first hurdle.

In : Mobile Learning Comments : 0 Author : Quickclass Team Date : 11 Aug 2017

It’s ironic. For the last fifteen years or so, teachers have had to fight against a rising tide of mobile phone use in the classroom. And now, we have to undo those last fifteen years of demanding and pleading for students not to use their phones, to now telling them that phones are actually key to their educational development!

So what’s behind this change?

Mobile technology can boost achievement generally- if used correctly

Mobile learning in education is becoming more and more popular. And study after study is indicating that mobile apps built for education can boost attainment at school. How? By making learning fun. We never said that m-learning was inspired by a revolutionary idea!

For example, a study by the U.S. Department of Education found that children who used a PBS Kids vocabulary app improved their vocabulary by up to 31%. That was on the basis of the children wanting to use the app every day for two weeks, which isn’t an outlandish amount of screen time for modern kids!

So the parent buys a phone for their child. They also download some educational apps. Then they let the kids run free. Where do teachers fit in?

Unguided learning isn’t learning at all

It isn’t easy to separate the younger generation from their smartphone technology. Carvalho and Ferreira’s study, Mobile devices in school, in teaching / the learning process- the roadmap points out how mobile technology is so firmly embedded in the lives of young people today, that they practically expect it to be a part of their education, too. Hence why m-learning in education is turning into the next big thing.

Students looking up and referencing facts on their own is one of the many benefits that mobile technology has given to pedagogy. But how does the student know what to search for? And how does the student know what’s sound information, and what are sound analyses, and what aren’t? The importance of mobile learning only stretches as far as there are teachers to guide students. And that’s because unguided learning is simply wasted time.

Teachers inspire learning, technology teaches facts

Quick reference to factual information is one of the central benefits of mobile devices in education. Mobile learning in education is defined by what can easily be broken down into factual information- hence why technology is best used in subjects like maths, and not English literature. But m-learning isn’t confined to what computers can understand, but how we get technology to work for us.

Carvalho and Ferreira’s study accurately describes the many benefits of m-learning in education: mobile devices are easily usable, portable, versatile, adaptable and customizable. But most of all, they help students, teachers and parents to overcome the physical boundaries of the classroom and to learn anywhere, at any time.

You might then ask what teachers actually bring to the table. It’s all about motivation. Like we’ve already claimed, unguided learning is often wasted time- and what teachers do best is to inspire a positive attitude towards learning. Without that, students don’t want to learn. With that, and with m-learning, students want to learn, and can learn wherever they are.

In : Film and Media Comments : 0 Author : Quickclass Team Date : 31 Jul 2017

The cinema industry has changed drastically in the last 10 years, as it has struggled with decreasing ticket sales. Like all entertainment formats, it will need to continue to adapt as it enters an uncertain future. However cinemas around the world are finding new ways to attract customers off their sofas, with Netflix and online pirating, and into their cinemas. Here are a few of the innovative ways they’re doing it:

  1. Virtual Reality

With Oculus Rift and other hyper-realistic virtual reality headsets now developed, cinemas are making use of the new technology to attract audiences. With promises of total immersion and a viewing experience unlike any other, it is easy to understand the attraction.
There is still a long way to go for virtual reality to become mainstream, with headsets costing hundreds of pounds and a severe lack of especially designed content.  However, new ground is being made on both these fronts, for example Oscar-winning director of Birdman and The Revenant, Alejandro G. Iñárritu recently produced a VR project called “Carne y Arena” and exhibited it at the Cannes Film Festival.

  1. Dolby Cinema

There are now 72 advanced Dolby Cinema theaters in the United States, complete with laser projection and an advanced 360-degree ring of speakers wrapped around the audience. This offers audiences a viewing (and hearing!) experience beyond what is possible at home, hence attracting paying customers. The technology first attracted attention with the film Gravity. Imagine seeing that film on a huge 3D screen, within an immerse soundscape created by 30+ individually programmed speakers – it’s simply something unrivalled by home audio-visual set-ups.

  1. Food and Booze

As mentioned before, movie theatres are searching to create new and exciting experiences, more than just films, which will draw audiences from far and wide to their box office. Many cinemas now offer a perfect date night package, a film, food and wine!

“We’re competing with your home,” says Hamid Hashemi, CEO of Florida-based iPic Entertainment, and many more cinemas are following suit, offering food and boozy nights to seemlessly blend with the onscreen main attraction.

  1. Video Game Tournaments

Some theatres are even using their screens to host video game tournaments. “That’s the dream of every theater,” MediaMation CEO Daniel Jamele said. “It gives them an alternate source of income, which is what they need.”

That is just the kind of thought that will save many movie theatres from going into bankruptcy, by increasing their box office sales by finding multiple uses for theatres with giant screens

  1. “4D”

Of course anyone who has studied general relativity would know that the 4th dimension is actually time. Although by that definition all films are 4D, as they travel and change over time. But cinemas could never sell that, so 4D to them means moving seats and other senses.

Although it is still mostly reserved to theme parks, more and more 4D cinema experiences are popping up around the world.  For example, South Korean company CJ 4Dplex Co has created 4DX, designed to make people feel as if they’re part of the action. Whilst a Torrance-based company called MediaMation makes its own competing version of 4DX, the motion-seat technology, called MX4D.

In : FilmMaking Comments : 0 Author : Quickclass Team Date : 31 Jul 2017

Technology is ever changing, at what feels like an accelerating rate. Film-making has always been closely tied to this, you only need to look at history: the invention of film at the close of the 19th century, the transition from silent films to “talkies” in the 1920s, CGI becoming more prominent in the 80s and 90s, and most recently digital colour grading and 3D technology.

With improving technology, new styles and emerging trends arise; here is a list of 5 new cinematic techniques defining this decade of filmmaking, along with some filmmaking tips to get the best results from them:

  1. Impossible camera angles:

A seemingly crazy camera pan or track is a fantastic way a director can show off visual flair – if done correctly. We can all remember sweeping through Hogwarts, in through a tiny window and into the Great Hall; of course this wasn’t actually filmed, but was made possible through greater computational power allowing film-makers to more seamlessly merge real footage with CGI.

A particular favourite of mine is from Contact, a 1997 Robert Zemeckis film, and pioneer of the subtle merging of CGI and real life, as exemplified by the clip below. We see young Eleanor Arroway rushing upstairs, along the corridor, and then open the mirrored bathroom cabinet, where the perspective flips and it is revealed that all before was through the mirror, as if in the mirror world – which of course would be impossible.

2. ‘Diegetic’ Footage

INTERSTELLAR, from Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers Entertainment.
INTERSTELLAR, from Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers Entertainment.-

This is simply a shot from within the film, from a camera in the film world – from CCTV, security footage, webcams, and handheld, and often includes the recording info around.  This likely became more prominent simply as cameras became more common in our lives, with the advent of digital and smart phones.

As a helpful filmmaking tip and technique, ‘diegetic’ footage is useful for creating immersion and a sense of the characters place within their world. However, if over-used or used incorrectly then it can make your work seem amateurish.

3. (Very) Long Takes

Extended takes have always existed, from the birth of cinema, and have always been a way for a director to show off visual finesse – if done correctly. For example, it can be used to create tension, as in the 1958 Orson Welles film Touch of Evil, which starts with a winding 3-minute long take, ending in a bomb detonating.

However now with better technology, filmmakers are able to film incredibly long takes. For example Birdman, which looks like one continuous take when it is actually many digitally merged together.  Or Irreversible, which is 13 long takes, in backwards chronological order.

What is even more impressive is a real-time long take; at is, a long take done with no digital special effects or digital trickery.  2 films exist as such; Russian Ark, a singular 99 minute long take; and Victoria, an uninterrupted 138 minute take.

4. Camera Interaction

This is when the camera may get rain, or dirty or blood even on the lens – it is interacting with the scene. This is distinct from ‘diegetic’ footage in that the camera is not part of the film, Steven Spielberg doesn’t want the audience to think the camera is real in Saving Private Ryan just because it gets blood splatter on it. Instead it is a way of breaking the 4th wall, and either creating or breaking immersion, which is something filmmakers are increasingly wanting to do. Camera interaction is a very modern filmmaking technique, you wouldn’t have really seen it before the 1980s.

A common, often unnoticed, camera interaction is when the camera itself shakes during an intense scene. This happens all the time, particularly in action films, for example in most Paul Greengrass films, from Captain Phillips to the Bourne Trilogy.

5. Text On Screen

Words on screen are nothing new, silent films had interstitials. But with the invention of mobile and smartphones, and with how prevelant they’ve become in modern life, filmmakers must face the challenge of presenting them on screen. Would you rather show the phone, close-up, to show the text, or just put the text on screen? Directors are increasingly choosing the latter, as there is no need to disrupt the shot by cutting to a close-up, and you can capture the actor’s reaction as in real time.

This technique is also being increasingly used in television, for example in House of Cards and Sherlock.

All 5 of these cinematic techniques are not new to our era, however they will be what defines this decade of filmmaking, what cinephiles will look back on and call “Modern Filmmaking Techniques of the 20-teens”.

In : Virtual Learning Environment Comments : 0 Author : Quickclass Team Date : 31 Jul 2017

Googlification

If you weren’t aware, Google have created their own virtual learning environment called Google Classroom. It’s a decent VLE, with a number of useful features. So far, so good!

But are we not as aware of the Google Classroom disadvantages as we should be? The New York Times recently published an article on precisely this topic, titled How Google took over the Classroom. It all sounds very dystopian, although to a teacher, it might sound like a lifesaver.

As per the reporter, a social science class in Chicago starts out with each student grabbing a Google-powered laptop, and opening Google Classroom; then they write their essays in Google Docs. [1] And that one school isn’t alone, because more than half of America’s primary and secondary school students use either Gmail or Google Docs. That’s an incredible thirty million children.

The benefit for students is ease of use; the benefit for teachers is to have everything under one umbrella, information shareable between devices. But what else do we get?

What do we get?

There’s no doubting that Google Classroom is a well put-together online learning platform. As a virtual learning environment goes, it has a number of excellent features. It’s accessible from any number of devices and is easy to use, has a nice clean interface, and speeds up marking and review, just like other VLEs.
Google Classroom’s virtual classroom software is also another of its advantages. If you’ve never encountered anything like that before virtual classroom software is a synchronous learning solution, or in English, a VLE that operates in real time. So, they commonly feature live chat that can be used by students and teachers, for instance. It’s designed to simulate the classroom environment, but entirely online.

Google Classroom reviews paint a mixed picture, as reviewers understand the excellent symmetry and ease of use of everything that Google offer, but others are worried about just how ubiquitous Google are becoming in class. But Google Classroom reviews shouldn’t be the only thing we judge their software on.

What’s really in it for Google?

One of the key Google Classroom disadvantages is… As an online learning platform, Google Classroom stands alone as the one with outstanding privacy concerns. Indeed, a number of Google Classroom reviews point out these privacy concerns; as do hard hitting articles on NPR [2] and Recode. [3] The Electronic Frontier Foundation lodged a complaint not too long ago with the US Federal Trade Commission, accusing Google of collecting personal data on students. [3] The accusation is that when students log in to Gmail with their account, they log into their YouTube and Blogger accounts at the same time. The EFF say that Google then gather that data and use it for advertisement purposes. [3]

The benefits are great, but the Google Classroom disadvantages are simply too serious for many schools and parents. Schools shouldn’t be a testing ground for future customers, or a place for gathering data on potential consumers. That’s why we recommend considering alternative education platforms before you go all out with Google.

Sources:

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/13/technology/google-education-chromebooks-schools.html
[2] http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/12/08/458460509/google-hit-with-a-student-privacy-complaint
[3] https://www.recode.net/2015/12/9/11621282/when-personalized-learning-gets-too-personal-google-complaint-exposes

In : Digital Skills Comments : 0 Author : Quickclass Team Date : 31 Jul 2017

First things first, you might be shaking your head at the phrase ‘digital skills revolution’. But we’re talking about an actual thing, not just buzzwords! Digital skills are core competencies in the use of computers, digital teaching aids and VLEs. What we want is to bring about a revolution in how these skills are learned and put to use in classrooms. Read on and you’ll see what we mean.

What are the problems we’re facing?

We won’t go in depth on all the issues facing the education sector right now, not in these few hundred words! There are clearly though a number of problems- although we would like to call them opportunities- that specifically relate to digital skills and classroom management that we think are more important than most teachers realise.

First, we’re facing a dire lack of digital skills for teachers. Present company is, of course, excepted; but in the sector more widely there are far too many teachers who struggle with projectors, let alone white boards, tablets and laptops.

At the same time, a virtual learning environment for schools has been put in place, but not understood by management, teachers or students. Rather, software for online teaching isn’t engaging students. In fact, software for online teaching is being used for little more than posting summaries of previous lessons, and that has to change.

What can we do to change?

The first thing we have to do is to grow our own skill sets. We have to become better acquainted with our VLEs and the physical tech we use every day. Improving digital skills for teachers through training can be as simple as reading the manual, spending some time practicing, or even receiving training, which these days can include the plethora of uploaded YouTube how-to films on just about any skill imaginable.

What next? We have to dramatically improve how digital skills for teachers are then implemented in the classroom. This takes a bit of creativity. Teachmag has some great ideas on classroom management that you can find here [http://www.teachmag.com/archives/3574], which cover things as basic as classroom organisation.

We also have to reach out to the students themselves, and let them know that VLEs are not an optional extra, but an essential tool in their learning. Software for online teaching is, let’s face it, not as entertaining as YouTube; but accessing it and using it should be as serious a task as physically going to class. The end goal should always be a virtual learning environment for schools that reaches out to students and improves their time in school.

What’s our end goal?

It’s our firm belief that online teaching platforms that aren’t used effectively; online teaching platforms that aren’t taken seriously by either students or teachers are more detriment than learning aid. But their benefits are so obvious [http://www.quickclass.net/virtual-learning-environment-for-teachers/]!

The time that educational software saves for teachers, and the improved results that it can help students achieve, aren’t just our end goal: they should be the end goal of every teacher.