Cisco’s recent announcement discontinuing the popular Flip camera caught everyone, especially the education community, by surprise. I have always enjoyed walking into a school to do a “Makin’ Movies” workshop and finding a number of those handy little cameras ready for participants. I personally have always favored and recommended Kodak’s Zi line, especially for Mac users since they use a better quality QuickTime codec and the Zi8 has a jack for an external microphone. But wait! Cisco quietly went to that codec too, a model or two ago. I know because I admonished one of my grad students repeatedly because she could not get her clips into Movie Maker without converting them first. When I finally realized her dilemma, we were half way through the class. But wait again! Kodak has discontinued the Zi line. I have seen Zi8’s on sale for as low as $69 in office supply stores – that’s about $100 off the original MSRP! Run, don’t walk to pick up one or a few of these for your school.
I suppose we should have seen it coming. There are a number of less expensive, USB type, pocket camcorders. And though not all schools have embraced mobile learning devices (especially ones with cameras!), they are everywhere. Cisco, apparently, has seen the handwriting (projected) on the wall. Even venerable soap operas are not immune to business decisions to end their popular runs. Don’t despair, there are still choices and the Flip’s demise may help move your school one step closer to tapping into students’ MLD‘s for class work if it hasn’t already.
Give serious thought to snapping up the remaining Kodak Zi8’s with external mic jack. Movie Maker users, you will need something like Format Factory (formatoz.com) to make the clips palatable. Windows Live Movie Maker users, shouldn’t have a problem (except for the limited editing options in that program) importing the files. Of course, this might also be a good time for you PC movie makers to look into JayCut.com for a free, online, feature rich editing program. Mac users, you also might find it a viable option for letting your students edit in school and at home.