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Thursday, July 28, 2016

My SimpleShow Offers a Good Way to Create Explanatory Videos

My Simpleshow is a free tool for creating Common Craft style explanatory videos. The best aspect of My Simpleshow is the emphasis that the developers have placed on storyline planing and development.

My Simpleshow requires you to write a script for your video before you can start adding illustrations and sounds to it. In My Simpleshow you will find a wide variety of script templates that will help you plan your video. The script is written in chapters that become the outline for your video. After you have written your script My Simpleshow will take your chapters and give you suggested images and animations to use. The suggestions are based on the keywords in your script. You also have the option to upload your own visuals to use in your video.

Adding narration to your video is the last step in the My Simpleshow editor. There is an automated text-to-speech narration that you can use or you can record yourself reading your script. If you choose the automated text-to-speech narration there are two voice options that you can use. Completed videos can be downloaded and or directly uploaded to YouTube from My Simpleshow.

Applications for Education
There is not a shortage of online tools and mobile apps for creating explanatory videos. My Simpleshow stands out from the crowd because of the emphasis that is placed on storyline development. Making students write a script before they begin video production allows them and you to make sure that they have articulated their points well before they get caught up in trying to make the video look good.

Running Reality - Mapping the Rise and Fall of Nations

Running Reality is an ambitious project that is attempting to build an interactive map and timeline of the rise and fall of nations throughout history. Currently, you can visit Running Reality and choose a date or range of dates on the timeline to see a map of nations around the world at that time. Alternatively, you can click on the map and see a timeline of events contributing to the rise and fall of a nation. The details on each event are scarce at this point, but it is an open project so you can register and add details to events in Running Reality.

Applications for Education
Running Reality has a page for class project contributions. Instead of just being passive consumers of information from Running Reality, students can contribute to the growth of the project to help future students visiting the site.

H/T to Maps Mania

5 Tips for New Chromebook Users

The new school year isn't too far away now. For some teachers that could mean it's time to start getting accustomed to using a Chromebook for the first time. If your school has decided to start using Chromebooks and you're using one for the first time, check out my video embedded below to learn the answers to five questions that first-time Chromebook users frequently ask. Those questions are:

1. How do I change the background picture on my Chromebook?
2. Where do files go when I save them on my Chromebook?
3. How do I access files without an internet connection?
4. Where do I find the app for X on my Chromebook?
5. How do I add new apps to my Chromebook?


On a related note, I recorded this video on my Chromebook by using the CaptureCast Chrome extension.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Vizia - Create Interactive Video Quizzes

Vizia is a free tool for creating video-based quizzes. On Vizia you an import a video from YouTube or from Wistia and then add questions along the timeline of the video. You can ask multiple choice questions as well as short answer/ open-response questions. Adding a poll question into the video is also a possibility in Vizia. All of the responses to your questions are collected in a spreadsheet that you can download and or open in Google Sheets.

When you create a Vizia video quiz you have the option to require that viewers enter their names and email addresses before they begin. Alternatively, you could make the first question in the video a prompt to enter a name.


Applications for Education
Vizia could be a good tool to use to create short flipped video lessons in which you ask questions to check for understanding. One way that I might use it is to put a campaign commercial into the Vizia editor then create questions that ask students to identify the persuasion techniques that are used in the commercial.

Try my Vizia video quiz as embedded below to see how it works.

How Much Does It Cost to Run for President?

Now that the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign is in full swing it's a good time to take a look at how much it costs to run for President. In the video below the folks at Brain Stuff have done a nice job of explaining the cost of running a campaign.


More resources for teaching and learning about the 2016 U.S. Presidential election:

A large portion of the money that candidates raise will be spent on television advertising. The Living Room Candidate offers a history of campaign commercials dating back to the 1950's. Students can watch old commercials and read the transcripts of those commercials.

PBS Election Central is a collection of educational resources related to the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. The collection includes interactive maps, virtual field trips, and videos. Within the PBS Election Central collection there are resources appropriate for elementary school, middle school, and high students.

C-SPAN's 2016 Electoral College Map shows the number of Electoral votes each state has in 2016. The poster also includes the Electoral vote and popular vote tallies of the every election dating back to 1900. You can get a copy of the poster here. The poster on its own is nice, but students will need some guidance in understanding what all of the information really means. To that end C-SPAN Classroom offers a set of guiding questions to use with your students in conjunction with the 2016 Electoral College Map.

This TED-Ed lesson offers a short explanation of the Electoral College by answering the question, "does your vote count?" The video for the lesson is embedded below.


Common Craft offers The Electoral College in Plain English.