Technology lessons, guides, rubrics and DVD yearbook how-to’s for grades K-8 by David Hall
Browser Based Mixed Media DVD Yearbook - Guide for Administrators
The Browser Based Mixed Media DVD Yearbook is essentially a website that has been burned to a DVD. It can be viewed directly from the DVD drive or the contents may be copied to a hard drive for faster access. That’s it! The technical requirements and conventions of building a DVD website are much simpler and forgiving than those of an Internet website.
Distribution of Content and Ownership
For the sake of privacy and safety, a DVD yearbook should be viewed by school families on their home computers. No content should be distributed over the Internet. Purchasing a DVD yearbook entitles a family to copy the DVD contents to their family’s household PCs and laptops. All family members and future descendants are entitled to own copies. Families are encouraged to make back-ups on any medium they may prefer. How awesome is that!
A Browser Based Mixed Media DVD Yearbook is not as compatible as a book. To view the DVD yearbook users must have a computer, laptop or Mac with a working DVD drive and an up to date browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome or Safari, etc) and a an up to date media player (Windows Media Player, VLC Media Player, QuickTime, Media Player Classic. Etc). When opened the yearbook webpages will play in the default browser. Movies and .wmv slideshows will play in the default browser. PowerPoint or Flash files may also be included and will obviously need these programs.
Any computer with a DVD drive that is capable of surfing the Internet and viewing most media should have no trouble playing Browser Based Mixed Media DVD Yearbook. I tested our 07-08 yearbook on several computers with a variety of browsers and had virtually no problems. The one exception was my current, best home PC which would not play movies from Internet Explorer. I gave up on Internet Explorer soon after I built the PC, however, because it just will not work properly on this one machine. The other four browsers play the yearbook without issues.
I did have some families report that they could not get the yearbook to run. In virtually every case their PCs were very old and/or had not been updated in years. The good news is that new computers, operating systems and software generally gets better and faster and are have less compatibility problems that could prevent playing such files. I seriously doubt that a new computer would have trouble playing a Browser Based Mixed Media DVD Yearbook. These families will eventually get new computers.
Anyone can Contribute
Students, parents and teachers can make pages, movies or slideshows about any school related topic. Topics may include: school performances, clubs, events, graduations, sports, scouts, examples of exceptional student work, etc. Each student in has their own webpage. The first example of a browser-based DVD yearbook included over 500 pages and nine hours of video and slideshows.
Student Made Personal Pages
I have my students in grades two through eight make their own webpage (during computer class) that includes their photo and interesting information about themselves. Other files such as mp3 recordings, outstanding work or movie clips may be included as well. Kindergarten and first grade students have pages made for them by their “Big Buddy” upperclassmen in grades five and six. I guide my second and third graders through the process, step by step. The older students use my webpage guides and I offer assistance as needed. I view these pages as the single most important feature in the yearbook.
My school has a general school policy of not exposing information and images of our students on the Internet. I don’t mind showing my daughters’ pages from 2007-2008 however:
Svea was in the second grade last year and made this page.
Brigitta was in kindergarten last year. I initially made a page about her to use as an example for my classes; I wanted to show how photos from home could be included. Her sixth grade big buddy interviewed her and wrote her bio.
Both pages are typical of their grade level. Most students did not include pictures or movie clips from home, however.
Whoever assembles the final product will need to have a firm grasp on file management basics. HTML/webpage experience is a plus, but certainly can be learned as they go. The most difficult aspect is the quantity of work; technically it is all very simple, however.
* The jobs of the yearbook administrator may be divided among several people. One person may handle sales, receipts and DVD distribution. Another person may volunteer to burn, label and case the DVDs. This year I have recruited one very capable eighth grade student to co-administrate sports. There are many sports teams at each grade level; last year I did a poor job of recruiting media on our sports teams and they were woefully under-represented. I was too overloaded with everything else to track down people to submit sports photos and create media. Boy and Girl Scouts could also use a co-administrator.
Plan the DVD yearbook. Create a list of essential and optional topics to be covered as well as a set of deadlines.
Allocate disk space per topic to fit within a 4.7 GB total. (Or possibly 8.5 GB for double layer DVDs; I’m not sure how compatible these are, however.)
Create and make available topic sign-up lists. I have ours taped to a wall in our computer lab. Here is an example to use as a starting point: topics_sign_up.doc (Word 97-2003 Document)
Recruit and organize students, school staff, coaches and parents to become yearbook staff members/contributors.
Plan a distribution date, allow enough time to compile, complete and burn the final product. Our paper bound yearbook deadline is in the beginning of March and the book is distributed weeks before the end of the school year. We wanted our DVD yearbook to cover the important end of the year events as well so our distribution date is in the summer.
Provide a method or server folder where pictures and video clips can be shared and accessed by yearbook staff members.
Collect and organize digital copies of professional school portraits. Make duplicates of medium and small sizes. Our professional school photographer has willingly shared digital copies for this project.
Teach students, staff and parents how to make simple web pages, movies and slideshows. Host meetings and teaching sessions as needed.
Guide all students through making their own personal pages (during computer class). Have upperclassmen make pages for kindergarten and first grade students. Here are sample interview questions: k1_interview_questions.doc (Word 97-2003 Document) Here are webpage guides for students.
Advertise and sell copies of the yearbook on a pre-order basis, collect and record all fees.
Gather completed files. Keep back-up originals of all files.
Compress files. Rename compressed files to fit a filename convention (I keep filenames brief and use lower case letters, numbers and underscore only).
Organize files within topic subfolders.
Create a main index page with hyperlinks to all topic files. Here is an example to use as a starting point: index.doc (Word 97-2003 Document)
Create a picture-name class grid template page. Here is an example to use as a starting point: kb.doc (Word 97-2003 Document)
From the template, create a picture-name class grid page for each class, insert small portraits and type students’ names. Hyperlink students’ names and/or pictures’ on each class grid page to each students’ personal web page.
Create a Read-Me file. Include both a printed copy with the DVD and an electronic file within the DVD. Here is an example to use as a starting point: read_me.doc (Word 97-2003 Document)
Create an installation file. It is surprising how many people cannot copy a folder from a DVD and paste it onto their computer; even with written instructions included on the Read-Me file. I’ve looked into creating an auto-install file, but after one search I didn’t find a free, easy to use program that would do what I want. Ideally I would like a file that would check the PC’s hard drive to ensure that there is plenty of room, then copy the DVD contents to the C:\Program Files folder and finally send a shortcut to the desktop. It should also offer to “Open folder to view files” and “Play now” which would open the yearbook index in the default browser. Until then, here is a “How-to copy and paste the DVD Yearbook” video guide.
Proofread. One word, yet the most time consuming process of all. Last year my wife spent dozens of hours proofreading the student’s personal pages for content, grammar and spelling. This was a massive chore. This year I plan on printing the student pages in class and sending them home to be proofread by their parents. The students will then make corrections based on the notes from their parents. The pages will still have to be proofread, but it should be much easier.
Test all hyperlinks. A close second as far as time consumption goes. This year I plan on checking student’s hyperlinks in class. All students have at least one link, from their 240 x 300 portrait on their page to their 600 x 750 Jpeg within their folder.
Burn a master copy of the DVD yearbook.
Burn or hire out the duplication of the DVDs.
Required & Recommended Software:
Microsoft Word (any version) as an HTML editor. Any HTML editor may be used or a staff may use a mixture of editors. I recommend Word because it is readily available, people are familiar with it and it is an easy to learn What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get program (for the most part). Although I use FrontPage for my other sites, I used Word on this page and all other pages on this site. I find it so easy to use.
Windows Movie Maker (any version). Any movie editing program that can produce Windows Media Audio/Video files may be used or a staff may use a mixture of programs. Windows Movie Maker is a standard Windows program, is easy to use and does an excellent job.
Microsoft Photo Story 3 for WMV slideshows. This program does not come with Windows, but is a free download for any Windows PC. Windows Movie Maker also can make WMV slideshows, but Photo Story 3 does a much better job and has significantly smaller file sizes and sharper images.
FastStone Photo Resizer - I’m sure there are other programs that can batch-resize images, but FastStone works very well and is free! Our professional portraits were given to us in 600 x 750 pixels. I used Fastone Photo Resizer to make duplicates at 240 x 300 and 80 x 100. Each batch of nearly 500 images only took a few minutes.
authorGEN/authorPOINT Lite - Free! Converts PowerPoint presentations to flash with amazing compression.
Other than burning the DVDs, all labor involved should be voluntary/free.
The first year that we produced a DVD yearbook we charged $5 per DVD and used almost all of the money to hire out the burning. We also gave free copies of the yearbook to our faculty and staff; the cost of these DVDs was covered by the DVDs that we sold. I think we had 200 copies burned for about $500; we supplied the cases. While shopping around I found that professional duplicating companies had no idea what I was talking about when I described what I wanted duplicated; this is a brand new concept after all. They tend to set their fees based on video length since that’s about 99% of what they duplicate. Refer to your job as 4.7 GB of “data” when inquiring about fees.
At the low end, the minimum cost to produce browser based DVD yearbooks would be the cost of blank DVDs, jewel cases (or sleeves) and possibly labels. Regular computers with DVD burners may do the job; our school’s DVD burners are very finicky and unreliable. We have contemplated purchasing a DVD duplicator. My research shows that a $300 duplicator can burn two copies of a DVD in seven minutes.
Labels are another issue. Professionals have labeling machines that print directly on the top of the disk; these machines are more expensive than the duplicators, however. They also may require special disks with a white top surface. Based on my experience, paper printed labels are a risky endeavor; if off center the slightest degree they may not work. LightScribe disks are a possibility but the LightScribe process can also be time consuming and blank LightScribe disks are very expensive. Custom stamps are reasonably priced and may be the most practical option. I just re-wetted a 10 year old ink pad with water and stamped a T-Rex onto a DVD top surface. It worked quite well and was resistant to smearing after it had thoroughly dried.
Compressing files is absolutely essential to make hundreds of pages, thousands of pictures and hours of movies fit onto a DVD. Note that a DVD will only hold about 45 minutes of raw 640 X 480 .avi video footage.
Collect webpages, movies and slideshows in high quality/large file size. Encourage staff to use Microsoft’s free Photo Story 3 program for making slideshows. Movies should be received at 640x480 resolutions, preferably in the 1.5 to 3 Mbps bandwidth range. Once you have collected all (or nearly all) files, reevaluate and divide the allocated space among your movies and slideshows. Compress files based on quality, importance, entertainment value and length. Resave under your file naming convention. Always save the originals in case something goes wrong!
Windows Movie Maker comes with nearly all versions of Windows and does an excellent job of compressing movies. Under “Publish to > This Computer” select “Compress to:” and select a desired resolution and bit rate. Short movies may deserve to retain 640x480 resolution at 1 to 1.5 Mbps. Long or low quality/poorly lit movies may be compressed to 320x240 ~500 Kbps resolution. Some files may have dull video with good audio and may be compressed even further. Note that YouTube’s standard quality is only 320x240 res at 330 Kbps. At this resolution and bit rate over 30 hours of movie footage would fit onto a DVD!
Mbps Vs MBps: When considering data rates, I’ve made the mistake of not noticing that the b in Mbps is not a capital B. This means that the standard format for referring to video data rates is in Megabits per second or Kilobits per second. Eight bits per byte means that an eight second video recorded at 1.0 Mbps will be approximately one Megabyte.
If yearbook staff submit slideshows that were created with Photo Story 3, I strongly recommend having them submit the Photo Story 3 Project File (wp3) files and not the Windows Media Video (.wmv) files. The reason behind this is that Photo Story 3 does a fantastic job of compressing slideshows to .wmv files. Windows Movie Maker does a god job compressing videos, but all of the high quality VS. small file size will be lost when a published Photo Story 3 file is imported into Windows Movie Maker for further compression. Look at the three screenshots from Windows Media Player below. On the left is a Photo Story 3 file that has been compressed to half its file sized with Windows Movie Maker; note the image quality is terrible. In the middle is a is a Photo Story 3 file that has been “compressed” to roughly the same file sized with Windows Movie Maker; note the image quality has been reduced noticeably. On the right is the original Photo Story 3 file (640 x 480 res. At 30 fps and 438 kbps). By collecting the Photo Story 3 Project File you will be able to publish the file at the desired rate/size.
I recommend using Microsoft Word as an HTML editor for two simple reasons: people probably already have Word installed on their computers and they probably are already familiar with Word. MS Word is considered to be a terrible HTML editor because its code is extremely bloated (it is VERY bloated). Word webpages work surprisingly well in all major up-to-date browsers, however. Considering that even young children can easily make web pages in Word, I think it is a great choice as a introductory HTML editor. (See: How-To Create Webpages with MS Word)
Word 2007 has a fantastic “Compress Pictures” tool. Double click on any picture to bring up the Format ribbon; “Compress Pictures” is in the upper left corner. Under Options you will see three choices: 220 ppi, 150 ppi and 96 ppi. Although 96 ppi should be the ideal image resolution, 150 ppi produces slightly sharper images. 96 ppi compression will usually greatly reduce the size of the page. In this case from roughly 10.3 MB to 374 KB (add the HTML Document and the associated _files folder). That’s about 1/27th the original size! Compressing to 150 ppi reduces the total file+folder size to about 1/12.
Only bother reading the following if you are interested in understanding what is going on with Word webpages: _files Folders Made by Word and ppi issues
When you make a webpage with MS Word it creates a folder with the same name plus: _files. This folder is where it stores the pictures, backgrounds, WordArt and other webpage elements. Word names these files and creates links to the parts in the _files folder. When you copy a Word webpage, Windows automatically copies the _files folder (Never rename or delete this folder!).
Word is primarily designed for creating printed documents. Because of this, the default size of an image pasted into Word will be the ppi (pixels per inch) assigned to the photo. Photos are assigned a variety of ppis depending on the camera, scanner or software that created or manipulated the image. Images also are usually resized or cropped by the within Word by grabbing a corner and dragging toward the center. It is quite possible to have a picture in a Word document or Word webpage that is over 3,000 pixels wide, but displaying on the page at only an inch or two. Monitors display at 96 ppi, however; Word makes a second copy of the image at 96 ppi. For a reason that is beyond me, the larger image is sent to the browser which must then resize it. (At least this is what my experiments and tests have shown.) This creates an inefficiency problem for webpages made with Word because it retains the original image as well as the resized image. This makes the webpage file + image folder combination unnecessarily large, or even huge. Compressing to 220 ppi and 150 ppi deletes the original image after it has been resized to the desired resolution. Compressing to 96 ppi deletes all but the 96 ppi image.
PowerPoint files can be compressed just like Word webpages with the “Compress Pictures” feature. Another good option is authorGEN/authorPOINT Lite - It’s free and converts PowerPoint presentations to flash with amazing compression. I’ve seen it compress 200 MB files to under 10 MB!
2008-09 IHM Browser Based Mixed Media DVD Yearbook Targeted File Space:
* I expect some categories to come up short and some may be overloaded and plan on shifting things accordingly.
“Class Candids” - 500 MB
These are pages or slideshows for each class or grade level. The lower grades tended to create a file for each class and the upper grades tended to create a file for each grade level (since they switch and mix classes more often). 50 MB per grade level K-7 = 400 MB. Eighth grade gets 100 MB of space. IHM has a tradition of including a student made “8th Grade PowerPoint Slideshow” in our end of the year pep rally. This file usually runs around 100 MB compressed.
“Classes” - 900 MB
These are the students’ personal pages; approximately two MB average per student. In the 07-08 IHM Yearbook, complete class folders ranged from 12 to 33 MB. We have 18 homerooms and 440 students. Combined, these pages required only 400 MB of space. I am hoping that more of my students will include photos from home on their pages as well as other media files.
"Clubs" - 200 MB
Jr. Legion of Mary
5th Grade Flag
"Events" - 900 MB
Costa Rica Exchange
Catholic Schools Week
100th Day of School
"Music & Shows" - 500 MB
While music is not necessarily the most important subject, it clearly stands out for entertainment value.
Music Class - Our music teacher filmed each class singing during class. I compressed these files quite a bit because they are relatively long, but they are a nice addition.
Shows and Plays - We have two school concerts as well as a variety show and a school play.
"Other" - 100 MB
“Portraits” - 100 MB
This is a folder of the original school portraits. It makes a nice screen saver. Last year I had my sixth graders open each file and copy and paste each person’s name in white text at the top of their portrait. This also makes a great screen saver and is a big help for learning names. The unaltered images for this year total 60 MB.
"Scouts" - 150 MB
"Sports" - 750 MB
CYO Sports - all types and grades/boys and girls
"Technology" - 600 MB
This is my space to include cool technology projects.
“Hello” or “I Love…” videos - Last year I filmed every student in the school saying “Hello” in a different fashion or language. I strung the clips from each class together with a half second fade between. The resulting video for each class was less than a minute long. This year I’ve filmed every student in the school saying, “I like”, “I love” or something similar followed by their choice of one or two things.
Music Videos - Our seventh grade students created music videos about an element on the periodic table. This was a project that integrated music, science and technology classes.
Desktop Backgrounds - A collage of all staff and students on one image.
Animations - My fourth graders’ animation projects. They sing a little ditty and animate a food item.
Class projects - My eighth graders produced “Civil War News Reports” last year. They chose a major event from the Civil War and covered it as a TV news reporter would have had TV been available in the 1860’s.