Marianna & John discussing the use of online generators. Easy to use software.
Welcome to our first show of 2018. We were a little out of practice but the technology was kind and a favourite topic helped ease us into loose learning again. We are here on EduTalk the first Wednesday of each month at 8.00pm UK time. We return March 7th.
If you use digital tools in your teaching, you may have come across ‘online generators’. In this episode we have good old fashioned geeky fun by taking a look at online generators and their suitability for teaching and learning. We compare these generators with tools that require we create output from scratch. For example, we use the Surrealist Compliment Generator to create the words for a billboard poster generated by Big Huge Labs the whole process takes less than 5 minutes and produces a finished poster.
We spent more time than we should during the show giggling about the surrealist compliments we generated. We have not yet been able to find an educational use for this, but perhaps good icebreakers if students need an energy boost in class?
We mentioned a generator that creates videos from a URL, Mariana could not remember what it was called. It is Lumen 5 and we made a little video of this very post so you can see what it produces. It took about 20 minutes to make on the free version of the tool. Rendering took 10 minutes, but they send you an email telling you it’s ready:
We also explored the more serious issues about using generators for learning:
- Do these make us or our students lazy? (I could do this from scratch but I can’t be bothered)
- Do we end up with generator-envy? ( I will never be able to produce something as good as it does)
- Do they offer a way into digital literacy that might encourage novices to learn more sophisticated tool?
- Should we be using generators in class, if they have the potential to discourage learning?
- Is some friction in tool use better for learning than ease?
As usual, we offer definitive answers to all the above: Yes and no.
We conclude that intentionality in choosing tools for use in education can help us select appropriately, that there are always trade-offs (ease of use means less depth of learning, starting from scratch is harder/takes longer but may give students greater sense of achievement, the quality of output may not be as ‘professional’ but difficulty in tool use may support collaboration between students) and educators need to be aware of options and consequences. Sometimes, it makes sense to use pen and paper and sometimes it makes sense to use a digital tool – choose wisely depending on your learning outcomes.
We suggest some strategies for finding generators online. There are spaces that curate tools like Symabaloo and many educators write posts about different generators and how the work for them, like this one listing several digital sign generators. And a meta strategy: If you want to get anything done quickly, assume there is a generator for it and search for it. There really is always an app for that!
We hope you enjoy exploring the resources here and that you enjoy the episode. Do tell us about topics you may want us to explore in future episodes. Meantime we leave you with our March poster. Made in Big Huge Labs with image generated by deepart.io an example of and app that: “uses an algorithm inspired by the human brain and uses the stylistic elements of one image to draw the content of another. Get your own artwork in just three steps”. We have also added a sprinkling of Pommy Ipsicum from Funny Lorem Ipsicum generators and could not resist a final go at the Surrealist Compliment Generator to thank ‘our million listeners’ for their support.