Pretty much all of my groups needed the first half of yesterday to finish up their picture taking list. As people trailed back into the classroom because they had finished up taking pictures, I put them to work typing up the written freewrites they had done earlier so that the text was in electronic form. As they came in, I used my universal media card reader to copy their pictures off of their cameras onto my computer so I had a copy of everything. The goal by the end of yesterday was to have all the text and pictures finished so that we could then start assembling them over the course of the next couple of days. It didn’t work out that way for everybody (some people used cell phones and forgot the cable; one student who had the camera for the group was missing) but we did good enough.
Last evening and through today, then, was the first time that I went ahead and did any dedicated work towards this project. I mean, yes, it is work organizing and guiding the process, but I’ve just been kicking back letting them sweat it out. As we transition to the assembling of text and photos, though, I’m stepping up on the behind-the-scenes technical support. One of the problems with todays cameras are that they are very good–each picture taken is on average 2 MB in size–and all those megabytes add up over the course of a document. What I did when I went home was to use Irfanview–a free photo editor that is very powerful–to reduce the size of each photo. The default number of pixels across for each picture was something like 3,200 pixels; I reduced each photo to 640 pixels across. There is also an aspect of digital photography called DPI (dots per inch). For photo-quality shots you want that number high, like in the 300s, but for display on a computer screen the maximum value necessary is 72 dpi; anything else is just extra space.
Here are before and after shots of the resize screen. To the left, the width is highlighted and the DPI is at the bottom of the screen on the left side. Note that for the resize, all I had to do was press a button on the right hand side of the screen.
And looking below, you will see what it looked like when done; making the changes takes about 5 seconds per screen.
Doing this for probably 75 pictures did take a bit of time, but I got into a keystroke groove and after awhile it just sailed by.
Yes, this stage is a little technical, but I personally think it was worth the time investment to make everything else flow well. I was handed a bunch of photos that were 242 MB in size and by the time I was done, everything had boiled down to just 8 MB. That reduced size makes file sharing and authoring much smoother, not to mention it makes my finished project much more manageable.
Today I needed to give my German III/IV class their vocab test because next week is the last week I have with them and nobody wanted that hanging over our heads then. Next week is for reading our stories, sharing memories and eating Spaghettieis (don’t worry; I’ll post pictures). This week we got the technical stuff out of the way and then are getting back to what we really want to do.
Tomorrow: putting everything together