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March 5, 2012 Four Tools for Creating the Digital Substitute By Jeremy Rinkel
Grades 6–8, 9–12

    Teachers are always looking for quick and effective ways to prepare lesson plans for substitute teachers. The digital substitute makes sure you don't lose precious instruction time when you can't physically be in class. In two previous posts, "Creating the Digital Substitute, Part 1" and Part 2, I describe the benefits of a digital substitute and suggest approaches to designing content for it. Continue reading for four great tools to use in creating the digital substitute. 




    Flip Video Camera and Laptop

    Of the four tools I'll discuss today, the Flip video camera offers the most options. For instance, the camera allows you to record clips and then tie the video together with a presentation you have created. Most Flip cameras also come with editing software, but I have used a variety of applications, like Pinnacle and Windows Movie Maker

    This process of creating content does take a little longer and requires a laptop. After producing the video, it has to be saved into a video format or copied onto a DVD.  I’m not against this method, as I have recorded several digital substitute sessions this way, but I have found the following tools to be much easier to use. 








    iPod Touch or the iPad 2


    The apps available to create videos on the iPod Touch and iPad 2 are very similar, but the iPad 2 is a little larger and easier to work with. Both devices have photo and video capability.  These two user-friendly Apple products make it simple to put your video in the correct format for viewing.  After recording a video, users have the options of sending it directly to YouTube, saving the video on the device, or emailing it to someone. This is much easier than going through an editing process.  Sending a video is hassle free with the use of these cordless devices. 

    Teacher Advice: Be sure that you have QuickTime downloaded on your PC or you will not be able to view videos created with the iPod and iPad. These devices save their movie files with the extension ".mov." Once you have QuickTime installed, however, the iPod and iPad 2 are great tools for creating the digital substitute. 



    Digital Camera

    Most digital cameras have the ability to record video in addition to taking still pictures. The key to recording with a digital camera is keeping the camera steady. One drawback to using the digital camera is that the camera must have a cord or the computer an SD card slot to upload the video. Nonetheless, a digital camera is a great tool to use in creating the digital substitute.


    Cell Phones

    If the above tools are not available, most new cell phones have video capability.  Sending a video by phone is a little more difficult, but it can be accomplished.  The video functionality varies slightly from phone to phone. Non-smartphones usually limit the length of video you can record, and smartphones offer various apps that allow you to record longer clips. The method of transferring the video will also differ depending on the type of phone used. 


    For more on preparing for absences, see Brent Vasicek's "Emergency Sub Plans." And please share your own experiences below: What tools have you used in your classroom to create digital videos?



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