Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Aperture 3 - and Holt County, Nebraska

Apple Computers just released a new software product - Aperture 3 - a professional photography application- and they used images from Holt County to promote its new features. Last year Apple commissioned Sports Illustrated photographer Bill Frakes to create a video testimonial about the slideshow creation features in the Aperture software. He could go anywhere in the world to do the photo shoot to gather the images to tell his story, and being a native Nebraskan he knew he wanted to do it somewhere in our state. Although Bill currently lives in Florida, he has previously produced numerous multimedia stories for Sports Illustrated including the Nebraska State Wrestling Tournament and a feature on Arnold, Nebraska’s 6-man football team. (See http://www.strawhatvisuals.com/multimedia.html) Frakes was a featured instructor at the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute held in July 2009 at Full Sail University in Florida. It was there that he crossed paths with Katie Morrow, technology integration specialist at O’Neill Public Schools. He inquired about events near O’Neill occurring in early August that would be suitable for photography/video documentary purposes and agreed to come out to O’Neill during the weekend of the Holt County Fair. Along with Bill Frakes and his assistant Laura Heald, came a 4 person production team from Apple Computers. Due to the secrecy of the software development by Apple, little could be said about the true purpose of the photo shoot. Katie, along with huge help from her husband Kevin Morrow, arranged for local ranchers to film a sunrise scene on horseback at the Carson ranch, cleared for photographer’s access to the Holt County Fair and Rodeo, and obtained releases from all individuals photographed for possible inclusion in the piece. “Everyone was so agreeable and willing to help out- from the Holt County Fair Board to the Carson family to Elsie Eiler, owner of the Monowi tavern,” said Katie Morrow. “This was even more amazing since we weren’t even really being told what all the photos and interviews were for! The people of Holt County are a very generous people and Bill wanted to feature that in his story.” The piece was originally expected to be published before the new year, but delays in the software release date held it back. Currently the finished product is featured prominently on Apple’s website at http://www.apple.com/aperture/action/frakes/ and more Holt County images can be viewed in the movie clips http://www.apple.com/aperture/whats-new.html#slideshow. Numerous Holt County residents who provided portrait releases should soon be receiving prints by this famous photographer in exchange for their help with the project.

UPDATE: Bill and Laura's Holt County piece published on their own blog: "Strawhat Visuals" http://strawhatvisuals.blogspot.com/2010/02/holt-county.html

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My response to what makes a 1:1 initiative successful-- request from eSchool News

In my opinion, a successful 1:1 initiative is evident in the byproducts- the student successes, the faculty stability, the community pride and interaction with its school. Perhaps a backwards way of thinking by some accounts, we believe a "bottom-up" approach is better than a "top-down." Put the technology in kids' hands as early as possible and let them drive the initiative forward. Students should be involved on planning committees, tech support teams, and any visioning or research teams. Publish student projects early on, bring in visitors to see the possibilities in action (rather than just talk about them), use students to share at community meetings, board meetings, in any way possible. Students will push and promote the laptop's application in their various courses much more effectively than an administrator forcing it upon an unwilling teacher. Very few teachers are not in it 'for the kids.' Keeping communication and community connections open is crucial. When the benefits beyond the school building are apparent, patrons realize they can support education and students realize it's not just about the grade at the end of the unit. Collecting data is important, but more important is collecting stories. Compile anecdotal evidence. Interview students. Publish projects that evolve out of the students' opportunity to have 21st century access 24/7... as opposed to purely test scores and teacher-driven assignments. This culture can cultivate in an initiative where the learning is the focus, rather than the instruction.

Katie Morrow
Technology Integration Specialist
O'Neill Public Schools
O'Neill, Nebraska