What is one thing that gamers never stop complaining about? Graphics! What is one thing that audiophiles love? amazing audio! What is one thing that librarians and DOS* fanatics love? Text! What do some teachers put on when it is raining at lunch time? Video! And finally, what do kids love about Dora the Explorer? Interactivity of course (although, she doesn’t actually listen kids). Graphics, audio, text, video, and interactivity are the five elements of digital resources which should be taken into account when creating them. In this blog post, I will touch on each of the elements with some methods of their creation.
When it comes to using aesthetically pleasing images in your resources, the best bet is to create your own. You could use a camera to capture images, or use your artistic skills to whip up a masterpiece. If you are like me, your best artwork was in year 8 art class and was the result of tracing, so, you may like to use images from the internet. The issue of copyright and intellectual property comes into play, as many images on the internet are not allowed to be used for commercial purposes. This can be a problem if you wish to monetise your resources, so it is good to know what you can and can’t do. You can use images from the public domain as the next option, however, they may not be as great as you would like. Luckily, some great people share their images and allow people to use them with just a simple attribution. Sometimes, people give away their images completely free and let people do whatever they want with it. A great website for this is Pixabay as all images and video are licensed under Creative Commons CC0. Check out this great image I found on there!
Audio resources/assets are also incredibly easy to make, especially with most DAWs. In a previous post, I addressed how a teacher could use GarageBand to create their own loop resources for their students. Because I like my technological jargon and didn’t say how to access the user loops, I will take the opportunity to do so now (only works on Mac). In Finder, move the cursor up the top to the status bar and click “Go”. You can either click on “Go to folder” or hold option before clicking “Go” to see the library folder (to manually navigate the file system). If you wish to use the fast method, enter “~/Library/Audio/Apple Loops/User Loops” or you can manually go to the directory.
Just like graphics, copyright laws exist for audio so don’t be ignorant. There are many websites were people share audio recordings and samples that can be used. Websites I use from time to time are free sound and SoundBible, although, I notice many have an Attribution 3.o license (this means you need to attribute what you make to the sound file creator).
Royalty Free Sounds are sounds that are free from royalties. They can be used commercially in things like movies, games, and anything else you might need a cool sound for. You may not however redistribute them for a profit. While sending one to a friend is ok, selling one to a customer is not.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 is one of many CC Audio types. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 put simply means you can use this audio but you must attribute your work to this person. If the audio is from Mike Koenig then you need to give him credit somewhere. That somewhere could be in the credits, the cd cover, or a link to the sounds page from your site.
Public Domain Sounds are sounds that have been added to the public domain. They are owned by the public, and are 100% free. Items get added to the PD in a variety of different ways. 1.) Items older than the public domain age setting are automatically added. 2.)Thoughtful members of the audio community donate their own works for the good of others. 3.) Speeches by presidents and other political audio is usually considered public domain works.
I made a small collection of beat loops for people to use and I donate them for anyone to use for free. You can download them here.
Text resources are the easiest to make so this section will be tiny. It is wise to take advantage of the digital medium and make use of the other elements as text resources can just as easily be published on paper without digital prowess of the other elements.
Video resources are great because they often combine the world of audio and visual together. In the previous post, I touched on how to produce good quality video recordings with good sound. To augment what I said in it, I will take the time now to talk about video tutorials. There are a number of ways to record the computer screen, however, please do not hold a camera to the screen! Software such as Camtasia and ScreenFlow can record the screen, computer audio, and even webcam audio. On a Mac, QuickTime can also be used, however, it lacks the great editing features that ScreenFlow offers. Another great thing about ScreenFlow (QuickTime can also do it) is that it can record the screen of an iOS device (Lightning connector generation devices). Here is a little screen recording I made in less than 10 minutes in my lecture today where I recorded my iPhone’s screen.
Judging by the larger heading and underline, you may think it was all building to this (it was). Interactive resources are magnificent resources to create and use. Apple iBooks are brilliant in that they can combine all the elements of a digital resource together, and even have the possibility to embed user-made HTML5 widgets. You don’t have to create your own widgets, as there is a website that offers some for free (given you sign up for a free account). Bookry has an array of widgets and one worth noting is the Notepad widget which can allow users to take notes through an iBook, making it a sensational tool for educational use.
A nifty widget to use that is built-in to iBooks author is the review widget. It can be used to create interactive multiple choice questions, even ones with pictures. It also has two additional features called “Drag Label to Target” and “Drag Thumbnail to Target”. They are quite impressive and can be used in a handful of activities, such as labelling a score (see GIF below).
Here is a quick iBook I started drafting in class that makes use of some widgets and even my own draft widget I made in Hype. Due to the limitations of WordPress, you can download it from my ownCloud link.
However, the problem is that iBooks are only for Apple devices. There are some alternatives, however, currently they come up short in comparison. As an alternative, an ePub can be used and easily made to work on other devices. One disadvantage though, is that embedded resources can be incompatible with some devices, and it is difficult to create one that works on all devices. One tedious way around it is to create device specific versions of the resources, much like software developers do when they release software for Mac and Windows.
*DOS stands for Disk Operating System and came before computers that had a GUI (Graphical User Interface). They look like this and lack the alluring aesthetics of modern computers: