Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sports Broadcasting 101

I have been working very hard the past couple of months with a number of different schools both in and out of my district to help guide and build their School News broadcasts. Now I get to delve into another medium that is just a little aside from where I have been going along for a while now.  It is time to get into Sports Broadcasting.   This is something that really has my interest peaked, and I am ready for a new challenge.

I never really thought about separating the sports news from the regular school newscast, I had always just thought it would be a part of the norm.  But a couple of weeks ago I was approached by a colleague regarding the ability within our system to deliver live broadcasts of sporting events including student commentary.  That got me thinking, some of the people I work directly with would say its dangerous, about all of the schools that are already recording their sporting events and the ones that have school newscasts.  This would provide some versatility to the students at the school to be able to go to certain sporting events and record their thoughts on the games as well get some live footage. 

In some of the middle and high schools that I have worked with the hook for some students to get involved was to make sure that there was a sports report as part of the broadcast.  With this possibly becoming an independent broadcast the amount of interest, I think, will grow to the point that it may become a part of the curriculum.

Stay tuned for more information and how the journey begins.

photo credit: modenadude via photopin cc

Monday, January 6, 2014

First Look: Lumens DC-125 Document Camera

Let's take a look at the new DC-125 Document Camera from Lumens.  I recently got the opportunity to take a look at this little wonder.  Yes this device is smaller than its other family members from Lumens, close to one half the size of the others in the line.

Now just like the rest of the model lines from Lumens over the years the DC-125 also has a flexible armature, commonly known as a "Flex Arm" design, that allows for ease of movement so that you can really get up close and personal with the objects that you viewing.

When I unpacked the DC-125 the first thing I noticed is that there was no Infra-Red eye on the front of the base.  So no remote control is needed in order to run this model.  That's great, one less thing for me and probably some other to lose.  I know in talking with some educators they are always concerned about keeping up with remote controls.  Also the base is simplified with only four buttons.  You will see Lamp, Freeze, Capture and Auto Tune buttons but one button that you may be familiar with.  Figured it out yet... yep no power button.  That's because you do not need to have one to use this model document camera.  One other main factor that you will notice on the base is only one connection point.  A simple USB connector to the computer.  This model does not even have a power cord with it, everything is run through the USB cable.  All power, video and sound, yes I said sound.  This model has a built in microphone and an audio driver that allows the computer to utilize the document camera as an external microphone.  I will talk more about that later.

The lens is another change from the norm, you will notice that there are no moving mechanical parts.  This model only has a digital zoom lens on it which makes for easier focusing of the lens on the objects which are being looked at.  You will also notice that there is a simple LED light with no additional light arm as seen in other models from Lumens.  On the back, or top, of the lens is where you will find the built in microphone.  You will also noticed that there are a couple of notches next to the lens that will allow you to place an connector on the lens so you can use the device with a microscope.

So the Good on this little gem is that what you see is what you get.  Even though there does not seem to be a lot to the DC-125 it packs a punch.  You still have all of the features that its larger family members have with less you have to deal with.  In this case simpler is better, even using the Ladibug 2.0 software is easier and more straight forward to use.  It all seems to be put together with the teacher in mind, just plug in the USB cable and turn on the software that's it nothing else.

Another positive for the DC-125 is its ease of integration with other computer software.  I was able to successfully use the device with different whiteboard software loaded on my computer.  I quickly was able to use the device with web-based sites that both allows for audio and video integration.  Even with Skype, which has been an issue since Skype upgraded beyond version 4.2.  With the DC-125 I plugged it in turned on Skype and not only did I get the video but also the audio.

One Bad thing I noticed on the DC-125 is that the built in microphone is located on the top of the head unit. The placement may not be the best if you are going to use the camera recording feature because the microphone will be pointing away from the person talking if you have the lens turned upward.  A small design change would put the mic in the base for easier accessibility.  All in all the DC-125 is a well rounded document camera that is very easy to use with not a lot that can go wrong.