MLTI iLife Training Reflection – February 2011

Yesterday I attended the MLTI workshop on Apple’s iLife ’09 Software (iPhoto, Garage Band and iMovie) at the Apple Training Center in New Gloucester, Maine. Tim and Ann Marie again did a great job of presenting a great deal of information in only 6 hours. This training was a basic and very quick overview of each one of these tools ability to help in the classroom.

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We started off with iPhoto and while I have used this tool quite a bit since I moved to the Mac last year, it just never felt intuitive to me. We went through the basics of how to import photos, do some minor editing (removing blemishes, redeye, cropping, etc.), what are events, albums, how to find the photo information, where to add comments and how to change photo dates (single and bulk). I didn’t realize before this week how much software packages (Apple’s & other vendors) rely upon iPhoto as the basis for easily adding images to their product.
One thing that we learned about was the book creation tool and Tim showed us books that he had made using iPhoto. This ability intrigued me and might be something that I put together for our anniversary in April.
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Garage Band
This is one of those products that I have never used or had any real inclination to use before yesterday. I am not very musically inclined (other than listening to it) and this program didn’t appear to be something that I needed to really learn. I used my MacBook Pro instead of the issued MLTI MacBook, so I had to wait to load the different loops which allowed me to watch how the instructors and other participants were constructing their music. When I finally was able to create my own music.
It was easy to do and I can see why a lot of people would use Garage Band to create their own music for use with their work, instead of worrying about copyrighted music and the hassles that go along with that ball of wax. We also created a basic podcast, which I think will be more useful to me in my classrooms than the creation of music. I found it very easy to do and can see me attempting a podcast for my students.
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This is the tool that I was most interested in learning more about. I have done introductory iMovie training at other professional development on Digital Storytelling, so I understood some of the basics of this tool. We each created a book trailer iMovie, starting with a quick script writing session, recording us reading our script, adding images, titles and then different sharing/exporting options. Using iMovie is easy to use initially, but you can make your video as simple or as complex as you have time to do.
The iLife ’09 software that we reviewed yesterday was useful to me in that I learned several tips and tricks that I probably wouldn’t have found by myself or realized that I needed. That I had the time to use Garage Band was a good thing and found that it was easier than I thought it would be. However, in reality though Garage Band is not a tool that I will use all that much, but at least I can now say that I have tried it. iMovie is something that I will use if I can ever get my digital storytelling unit off the ground and into the curriculum.
I thought enough of what I learned during this professional development to go out and buy iPhoto ’11 and have access to some of the improvements that were talked about during the training, even though the focus of the training used ’09 version of iLife and I plan to write a post reviewing iPhoto ’11 after I have used it for a while.

The training itself was outstanding everyone that was there from MLTI or Apple was extremely knowledgeable and helpful to the participants. The only complaint I had was it was too much like a “blivet” 10 pounds of stuff, crammed into a 5 pound bag, by the end of the day my head was spinning and I needed some time to absorb the new things that I had learned. That is why I needed to wait a day to do this post.

Each one of these tools could be a full day training all by itself. I would love to see the MLTI project team look at offering single day trainings on individual tools that are part of the MLTI image. This would allow more in depth opportunities for participants to learn beyond the basic features of those tools, which is needed for most teachers to have confidence enough in their abilities to use them in their classroom and not go home at the end of the day with their head spinning and trying to figure out which tool does what and which command to use to do it.
I have a feeling that much of this kind of training would need to occur during school breaks, on weekends or during the summer, because the money for substitute teachers for us to attend professional development during school time will not be there in the future. I know that I would attend these sessions when school isn’t in session, because I really enjoy learning more about my Mac and finding out new things to help my students learn in my classroom. It would mean a change for the trainers to be available beyond the 8-4, M-F workweek.

The other recommendation is that the MLTI project could design the trainings so that it would assist teachers who wanted to take the certification exams in iWork, iLife or other products that offer certification and are associated with the MLTI project. I believe that this would increase the level of interest and participation for some teachers, if the professional development could prepare them for something tangible beyond a few contact hours. These certifications I believe would document the level of professional competence that teachers actually have in using these products, that is not there today.

Overall, I believe that taking two days out of my school break one for iLife and one for iWork (my personal time, because I am not paid for the days we are on break), was well worth it. I learned a great deal, I got to met other educators who want to increase their knowledge of how to use the MLTI laptops and MLTI/Apple employees who are dedicated to seeing us being able to use the MLTI tools more effectively.

Overall, if I had it to do over again, I would, which is how I judge whether a training is any good or not,