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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

on August 2, 2011
I am a homeschool mom to three little girls and I recently began searching for ways to use technology in our classroom. I'm not talking about internet searches for curriculum reviews or "educational" games to occupy the kids while I get a grasp on my sanity; I'm talking about learning to create digital "artifacts" and portfolios and learning to connect with other educators beyond my current homeschool forum. I'm NOT tech savvy and I was struggling to find someone to explain the wild, wooly world of creating blogs, wikis, audio and video stories, etc.

I was following Mr. Fryer on Twitter when I heard about his book. I downloaded the sample and was hooked after reading just the table of contents (which is linked). This was exactly what I needed. I went on to read the acknowledgements and was introduced to several fascinating people via Twitter. I downloaded the entire book and stayed up till 3 am reading. Mr. Fryer uses many, many links on nearly every page. He links to definitions to explain new terminology to newbies, like me. He links to examples of programs, movies, apps, and more. Everything was very well explained.

If you don't own a Kindle, don't despair! I read through it the first time on my Kindle then the next day I downloaded the Kindle app to my computer. I've been re-reading the book on my laptop in order to access the audio and video links as well as the websites.

I have definitely had fun "Playing With Media" since I started reading this book only a couple nights ago.
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on August 7, 2011
Wes Fryer, author, Playing with Media - a fabulous read,listen and view!

Like many of you I saw the Tweet where Wes mentioned that his ebook was ready. It was late and I was all ready to turn in for the night, but I wanted to get this ebook right away, so I clicked to Amazon, downloaded and began reading. I am so glad I started reading this right away, as I am getting ready for back to school, and I do my best planning and thinking at night.

With the cover image, by his youngest child Rachel, I was hooked or you could say engaged! Then the purpose "to inspire and empower", had me taking notes and planning where in my classroom I would introduce some of the digital storytelling tools for my students to add to their digital toolkits.

To begin with Wes has a chapter dedicated to Tips for Reading and a glossary that my 82 year old mother could understand. Although this could be mundane, ever the storyteller, Wes, gets the information across in an entertaining way.

I like how Wes has examples to illustrate his ideas, which leads the reader, inter-actor, teammate, actor, playmate, viewer, listener, and creator to engage with this ebook. Wes gives all of us permission to play in the sandbox. He gives us strategies to try as we move along in the book. He gives us enough history so we are grounded and understand that " we learn deeper when we actively DO rather than passively watch" , ( Wes Fryer, Playing with Media).

His comments about testing, Common Standards, NETS, and 21st Century Skills are woven into the storytelling journey with compelling statements about how we need to incorporate digital media in Transformational ways. Once you begin reading or listening or interacting with this book and begin creating, you will be transformational and part of this story!

Wes thanks for this wonderful inspirational ebook, I will begin by creating the Flickr group 180schooldays , a public book where you and your classrooms can begin the year long journey of a photo or image a day. Join the Flickr group 180schooldays and tag your images with #180schooldays. The power of the crowd going deep into new and transformational interactive learning.
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on June 2, 2013
I love the information in this book. I want to involve my students more in creating with media, but I don't have time to stumble my way through apps or services to determine which ones are the best for what I want. This book recommends great apps, great services, and great activities to help a busy teacher move forward. Great resource.
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on August 4, 2011
I'm reading "Playing with Media: simple ideas for powerful sharing" by Wesley Fryer on my Kindle. This book, in my opinion, should be required reading for principals, academic coordinators and most teachers across the United States who continue to struggle with or just flat out ignore 21st century learning tools and strategies. Fryer's rich infusion of graphics, links, video and creativeness makes this book an inspiring and powerful experience for the reader/listener/viewer. It's virtually everything you'd expect from a "new" book. "Playing With Media..." virtually lifts the bookshelf! Thanks Wesley.
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on August 20, 2012
This book is FULL of practical ideas for incorporating web resources into your classroom. A MUST read for teachers wanting to build technology into their lessons.
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on November 22, 2012
Wesley Fryer is simply amazing. This book is checked full of ideas and resources with enough explanation to implement immediately and know why. Every teacher wanting to integrate technology into their curriculum, and do that with purpose needs this book. Check out Wesley's, blog, Moving at the Speed of Creativity too. [...]
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on January 16, 2014
This book is inspiring on many levels, especially because it is educationally influenced.

Glad I bought this book as a resource.
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on August 2, 2011
There are plenty of people writing about interesting projects that connect technology with learning but one of the small few whom I have consistently looked to for guidance and inspiration over the years has been Wesley Fryer and the posts he shares at his blog, Moving at the Speed of Creativity. His work around digital storytelling (see the Storychasers project) and use of audio podcasting for learning, in particular, have opened up a lot of possibilities over the years. For the past few months, I have been watching from afar as Fryer has been putting together an ebook about using media for learning (see his blog post about his experiences of publishing an ebook). Now the ebook is out, and I have to say, Fryer does an outstanding job of balancing practical knowledge of various elements of technology with the deeper understanding of the rationale behind bringing such tools into the classroom.

The ebook -- Playing with Media: Simple Ideas for Powerful Sharing -- is, as the genre suggests, only in digital format, and as usual, Fryer takes full advantage of the possibilities, embedding video tutorials, audio files, and hyperlinks galore that will have you moving in and out of this resource with ease and interest. Using his own young family as the source for many of the projects here, Fryer's use of digital stories and other media projects showcase how voice and creativity and technology can come together in powerful ways. The result is a rich learning experience that should open new doors for exciting work in the classroom, particularly for those educators who are still struggling with getting that first step moving forward. Fryer is a patient, wise guide.

One of the themes of Playing with Media is that technology and media tools can tap into students as creative composers. Fryer notes that he purposely chose the word "playing" for the title of this book because he wants teachers to understand that exploration and creativity are crucial to the path of learning. I couldn't agree more, and I think if educators can see the world of emerging tools through that lens, they may be more likely to "play" themselves and allow students time and space to do the same. The aspect of "play" allows for the possibility for small failures and unexpected pathways. That's OK. That's part of the experience.

Another theme that comes up a number of times here is the "Ethics of Minimal Clicks," which Fryer articulates throughout various chapters. It seems obvious to me now in hindsight, but for new users of technology, the fewer the number of clicks, or steps, that one has to do to set up and use a blog, or a wiki, or a podcast, or work on a video, the more likely that activity will make its way into the classroom. I applaud Fryer for laying out such a simple, yet powerful, idea in such clear terms. A witty phrase helps, too. Using this "Ethics of Minimal Clicks" as a sort of structural underpinning of much of the content, the book examines such sites as Posterous for blogging, Wikispaces for wikis, and Cinch for podcasting. The ease of use should make it rather effortless for teachers to bring students into the world with technology.

Two other topics stuck out with me, too: audio and video.

Fryer focuses in on the power of audio, and podcasting, and how the use of student voice for a variety of projects can transform not only writing but also publishing. As Fryer notes, audio can be done rather cheaply (using Audacity for recording and Audioboo for hosting, for example), yet giving voice to student stories and opinions and publishing those thoughts to the world is transformative for many classrooms. When it comes to video, Fryer advocates the consideration of "no edit" video production. Instead of getting bogged down in using MovieMaker or iMovie for editing, students can create videos quickly in a "no edit" mode that basically comes down to "what you shoot is what you get" and then you move on. I like that idea because it makes a video project a little easier to manage. And it paves the way for the possibility of a larger, more careful video project, too. Getting your feet wet is sometimes half the battle -- for teachers as well as for students.

There are plenty of books out there that are tapping into the tools of the 21st Century, and Fryer's ebook should join the mix of some of the more useful and interesting out there right now. His engaging writing style, inclusion of very useful resources and tutorials, sharing of authentic examples and explanations of the pedagogy behind the technology make for an enjoyable and productive read. I highly recommend Playing with Media: Simple Tools for Powerful Sharing for any Kindle, Nook, iPad or whatever your device might be.
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on August 8, 2011
I work with teachers who use technology to support their classroom instruction. Wes Fryer's new e-book, Playing with Media, has arrived just in time for school to start. Remember "make and take" workshops? This is it for the digital classroom. It is exactly the kind of book that should accompany any teacher workshop or training because it supports great teaching. It will be an invaluable resource all year long. It is relevant to any classroom in both pedagogy and instruction. The book is presented in a succinct, understandable manner. There are tools, explained with clear directions and graphics; big ideas, and follow up reading. Taken together, these will have a profound impact on any classroom. Everything is clickable. And the fact that's it's an ebook means that Wes will keep it up to date.

The more I read through and listened, the more excited I got. Not only did I learn many little tips and tricks, the reminder that we must keep creativity in our curriculum is ever present. I also enjoyed how Wes used his own children as models to showcase student work. He is passionate about sharing and celebrating what students can do on the web. In each category multiple tools are shown, modeling creation choice for student projects.

I chose to download and read the versions on my iPad and Kindle. The Kindle experience was less hands on but still easy to read. There is a companion website to go with the book. There is so much in this book that I will be using the resources time and time again. I really appreciated how this book is organized and would highly recommend it. I would love to see other classroom books modeled on this kind of ebook. I am going to think about it as a text book for a professional development course that I teach to education graduate students. #playingwithmedia
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on January 16, 2012
Wes Fryer is pretty much the go-to guy when it comes to digital storytelling and how to use it in educational settings. From his very famous blog "Moving at the Speed of Creativity" to his numerous appearances across the country at various conferences and workshops, as well as the monster online presence he maintains, it all add up to making him almost the de facto digital storytelling guy in the US. He has been doing digital media for so long, that he probably does video editing in his sleep. This incredible knowledge base works for him but also against him in "Playing with Digital Media: Simple Ideas for Powerful Sharing," his primer on digital media he recently self-published on his Speed of Learning LLC publishing house.

Fryer pretty much presents the reader with an electronic cornucopia of all things that have to do with digital media in this book, starting off with the first chapter telling the readers WHY they need to start using (or of using expanding the use of) digital media in the classroom. He makes a convincing argument that we need to change our ways and move into the digital future with our students, not tomorrow, but today.

The reasons that Fryer uses for using digital media are not new news to anyone that has been paying attention to 21st Century learning (electronic portfolios that can follow a kid from place to place and time to time, the ubiquitous nature of electronics in our students lives, that digital media probably fosters creativity in many students and that the current academic standards are missing), so the first chapter is a throw away for anyone that is already in the know. However, if you need arguments for a reluctant administrator, then this chapter provided you loads of ammo to take to any meeting when discussing how and why curriculum should be written.

Each chapter is chock full of examples with tons of links to them. (Really, this book should not even be released as a paper edition, it should only be in ebook form simply because of the sheer number of hyperlinked texts that are in it.)
After Fryer presents the WHYs of digital media for classroom use, he then explores, chapter by chapter for the reader the WHATS of digital media: Text, Audio, Copyright, Images, Video and then ends up with some suggested uses in Show and Tell. The final third of the book is taken up by appendices.

After explaining the WHY of Digital media, Fryer jumps into Digital Text. Blogs and Wikis, and the differences between them are laid out with multiple examples. (Thankfully, throughout the book, Fryer shows a variety of grade levels and subject areas. There is nothing more irritating for a high school teacher than to see tons of elementary school examples, and then be asked to "follow their example.") He does a nice job explaining how each is different and how it can be used in different situations, although I thought he gave blogs as tools beyond the classroom use (e.g. as a professional development tool) kind of a short shrift even thought that is where he makes his bread and butter. It is apparent that Fryer, at least when he wrote this book, is totally smitten with Posterous as a blogging/wiki tool. He spends quite a bit of time explaining Posterous. (Too much in my opinion, because these tools change like the weather in West Texas), so something that is "hot" today may not even be on the Web 2.0 map tomorrow.)

Audio is the next target, and, as expected, he has lots of classroom examples of using audio only. He also explains why an audio-only situation might be preferable to a video or text only situation (easier than video in general). Audio is a natural jumping into space whenever one thinks of using multimedia in the classroom, and I thought he could have spent a little more time playing in this sandbox, especially knowing his expertise with podcasting. I liked the discussion of the use of electronic portfolios in this chapter, something that could have been touched on in each section.

Copyright issues are discussed in chapter 4, and Fryer goes where most librarians fail to tread: use of public domain, "homegrown," creative commons, and fair use. It still amazes me that so few librarians or others that are supposed to know about copyright laws in schools have little or no knowledge of creative commons and how to attribute using web resources. He uses Chapter Four's discussion on copyright to lead into Chapter Five's talk on images.

Chapter five has plenty of information on how to incorporate images into class activities. Fryer has a nice editorial comment built into the chapter about how the use of images is not simply putting pictures into a Powerpoint. Fryer shows his strength in this chapter by leading the reader to various uses of images, shows where to get them, and even talks a little about using an iPhone to take pictures, something most students probably do not have access to. Again, Fryer steps onto the Posterous bandwagon, showing a major preference for that currently useful site. The chapter is a bit bipolar in that he ends it by discussion mind mapping software, which is tangentially related to the topic (mind maps can become images yes..)

The next chapter, and one I think is the strongest in the book, deals with using video, and Fryer again shows his deep knowledge of the topic with some pretty advanced discussion of how to properly use video. No edit video, edit video, screencasting, and then Fryer's expertise: Digital Storytelling. Fryer is one of the architects of digital storytelling for K12 schools around the US, and with his Oklahoma Voices projects expanding to other states, he knows what he is talking about when it comes to incorporating video in the classroom.
The last chapter talks about ways to exhibit all that digital media that you or your students have created. The idea of student digital portfolios is not new, but Fryer does give a reasons to actually create one in the pages of the book. He steps into areas that most teachers fear to tread here, discussion how Facebook can be used, but other than that the chapter makes sense for anyone that has created content and needs to put it online.

The last third of the book is taken up by six appendices. The sheer volume and page space of these makes me wonder of one or two could not have been made into chapters,especially the final appendix "Thoughts on the Attention Economy," which feels like a blog entry or entries reworked into a section for the book.

There is a curse that Fryer has on the topic of this book that is found in many works by people that are experts in a particular field: He knows pretty much everything about the topic and he wants to share everything he knows. While admirable in theory, it poses a logistical problem, because there simply is too much information for the casual reader or the neophyte to absorb. Each chapter could easily be a book unto itself the way Fryer presents the information, because what he wants to do here is share not only the book's information, but also all the writing from his popular (for a reason) blog, as well as all of the links in the book, videos on Youtube, Posterous sites, examples from around the world, etc. What happens here is that the novice is quickly overwhelmed. (Again, I do not see how a paper text version of this book could even begin to explore the depths of hyperlinks that Fryer presents here. If one is not reading the ebook version, then the reader is getting less than 50% of the experience.)

I have written before about the paralysis of choice. That feeling of being so overwhelmed by information or choices that the new user cannot find a starting point. I feel that this is the case with this book. I am going to assume that the audience that Fryer is addressing are those educators that are NOT using digital media in their classrooms or their professional development. By presenting so much information, Fryer may be doing the exact opposite of what he is trying to accomplish: He may be scaring people away. I tried to read this book like someone coming in with little or no knowledge base of digital media. I quickly became overwhelmed.

If I would have been writing this (and I know that I didn't so I really can't say anything) I would have taken some topic, or assignment, or professional development, and then built the exact same lesson around the various methods he presented in his book. I would have presented it as a blog, a wiki, an audio recording, a video. That way, the reader would have had a touchstone to follow throughout the book He could have shown the strengths and weaknesses of each methodology and the reader would have been able to stay grounded with a common theme through out the book. As it is the only real common themes he keeps coming back to is that there is a law of diminishing returns based on the number of clicks and the idea that kids are natural creative composers. Nothing ground shaking here.
Would I recommend the book? Yes. But it is a qualified yes: First of all, forget the paper version of the book.

The only version that should be used is the ebook version. It should be used as a basis for a professional development where there is a facilitated group of educators that are willing to try what is in the book, led by someone that knows many of these techniques. This should be used as a professional development tool, or better yet, an outline for an in-depth exploration of the topic.
Fryer gives us the roadmap. The entire roadmap. The reader is left with the decision on what roads to drive on.
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