Playing With iSpring Free

I am looking forward to a bit of time over the next couple of weeks to kick back, unwind, play, write and share some of the things I have been up to recently. I have decided to begin by exploring a tool I was introduced to and shared before Christmas but that in the midst of our move to new premises I have not had time to play with.

The tool is iSpring Free, a downloadable plugin for PowerPoint, that enables the slideshows we create to be exported, shared and displayed as flash video files. I originally came across the tool as a recommended "gadget" by a pilot partner from Netmedia, as a way for colleagues to use an environment they are familiar with to develop multimedia content for the VLE.

With iSpring we initially identified how colleagues could use the tool very simply alongside PowerPoint to create
  • photo albums
  • simple illustrated texts
  • Visual writing prompts and models etc
to support online projects.

The tool could also be used in a similar vain with students to allow multimodal texts they created in Powerpoint, to be published directly to webspaces without their reader needing to download a viewer, or as we have often done in the past, publishing their show as a web page for upload and sharing.

I have used online host spaces to publish and share simple linear shows such as learning stories and those I want to use with colleagues away from site, and either embedding these to my blog or logging on in situ to access them full screen. The functionality of PowerPoint however allows so much more than this in terms of developing content. The inclusion of hyperlinks for example allows navigation to be included, and a multidimensional or layered effect to be added to the shows we produce, allowing us and our readers to explore and move around a show in our own way by travelling directly from one slide in the show to another and back again. This feature is generally lost when we upload files to sites such as these.

iSpring while creating its flash file, maintains the hyperlinks enabling the slideshows to behave as they would in slideshow view in PowerPoint. The slideshows remain navigable. Here are a few examples that I converted today to show what I mean.

This Linear show is a learning story/Documentary developed with students as an integral part of a Creative Partnerships Animation Project a number of years ago. Clicking on each slide or using the control bar allows the reader to move from one slide to another in sequence. The show is rather long, but was presented to the students as behind the scenes look at the project and contextualised as DVD behind the scenes look at the film making process. It was later used as a kiosk show in school and at a a local conference on loop to share the process behind the project developed with students. It may be of interest in its entirity as a learning story in this context as well as a demo of this particular piece of software.

This textured or layered show includes hyperlinks. As you navigate watch out for arrow images embedded on some of the slides. These invite you as a reader to engage and interact with the content, to move to other slides that present development ideas and thinking points based in the page you have just visited and also direct you back to this with another hyperlink. The slides can either be navigated in a linear fashion by clicking the slide, or by clicking hyperlinks the reader can move between slides directly. This show created a number of years ago in PowerPoint was an early attempt on my part to create a layered text, with and for students. This has also been published previously on this blog as a swf file generated using 2create.

This file also a linear presentations, contains three poems developed by groups of students using images from the web to think about similes and set to auto run.

These files developed by students, both use hyperlinks in Powerpoint to navigate the show in different ways. The first was created as an esafety unit outcome with Y6 students scaffolded by by this great online resource from teaching ideas. The second example was created by pairs of Y 5 students as part of a challenge to create a CD ROM style book for younger students based on the Non Dialogue based Narrative Bert.

It has been great this morning while looking for files to play with to revisit earlier works, and through experimenting with iSpring to give a new lease of life to some of them, and to display them as I would have originally liked to share them. It has also been useful to begin extending thoughts about how tools such as this can open new paths for old tools, thoughts and ideas.

UK based colleague at porchester has been using iSpring as a tool to help his students publish developed content to their school's blog based web site, and says

Particular favourites of mine from the work presented here are poems such as this based around snowfalling. The power of this for me lies in the multimodal nature of the presentation. Moving beyond text and images, the animation effects applied to the text, with the addition of sound add much to the overall atmosphere and depth of the piece. Very cool.

This is a tool I think I will have to come back to some more this week.

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