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Friday, July 21, 2017

Five Ways to Create Screencast Videos on Chromebooks

Creating a screencast video is a good way to show your students or colleagues how to use a new web tool. When Chromebooks first hit the market, the options for creating screencast videos were few and were tricky to use. Over time better options emerged. The following five tools are all easy to use to create screencast videos on a Chromebook.

Soapbox is a free tool from Wistia that makes it easy to create great screencast videos on a Chromebook or any computer that is using the Chrome web browser. With Soapbox installed in the Chrome web browser you can quickly record your screen and your webcam at the same time. The most distinguishing feature of Soapbox is that you can have your video transition from your screen to your webcam to a combination of the two. Soapbox includes some simple editing tools for zooming in on an area of your screen and calling attention to specific parts of your screen.

ViewedIt is a free Chrome extension that makes it quick and easy to create and share screencast videos. With the extension installed you can record your entire screen or just one window tab. ViewedIt will let you record yourself with your webcam too. The best part of ViewedIt is that you can track who watches your video. To record on ViewedIt you simply have to click the extension icon then choose what you want to record. When you're done recording your video is automatically stored on ViewedIt. From ViewedIt you can share your video via email and social media. If you choose to share via email, you will be able to track who watched your video.

Nimbus Screenshot is my favorite tool on this list because of its ease of installation and it is the only tool on this list that provided a customizable countdown timer. I like the countdown timer because it gives me a few seconds to prepare to start talking over my screencast. The other tools just started recording the second that I hit the record button. Nimbus Screenshot was also the easiest to install and configure on my Chromebook. Screencasts recorded with Nimbus Screenshot can be saved to your local drive or to an online Nimbus account. I usually choose to save to my local drive then upload to my YouTube channel. You can also save to your local drive then send it to Google Drive or another online storage service.

CaptureCast lets you record your webcam while recording your screen which you cannot do with the Nimbus tool. You can choose to record your screen, your screen and your webcam, or just your screen or just your webcam. CaptureCast gives you three options for recording definition. So if you're on a slower network you can choose a lower resolution recording to save processing time. CaptureCast lets you save a recording locally or send it to YouTube or to Vimeo.

Screencastify might have the most name recognition in this list, but I don't like it as much as some other tech bloggers like it. In fact, it's usually the last one that I'd recommend to new Chromebook users. The set-up process asks a lot questions that could confuse new users. The free version limits recordings to ten minutes and puts a watermark on the recording.

Explore Street View Imagery With Your Voice

This afternoon at the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp we spent some time exploring and talking about ways that Google Maps, Street View, Google Earth, and virtual reality can be used in classrooms. One of the things that seemed to engage everyone was Speak To Go With Google. Speak to Go is a Google WebVR experiment. Speak into Speak to Go and you'll be shown Street View imagery of that place. You can use Speak to Go in a VR viewer or you can use it in the Chrome browser on your Chromebook, MacBook, or Windows laptop. Learn more in my video embedded below.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Try iMendi for Quick Language Review Activities

iMendi is a handy website for reviewing key vocabulary words and phrases in eight languages. iMendi is available in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, and Czech. If you want to focus on a specific set of vocabulary words, you can pick a specific lesson or word list from iMendi's menus that appear above every flashcard. Learn more by watching my video embedded below.

DIY VR Viewer

The post immediately preceding this one featured the new "solo" mode for Google Expeditions. Expeditions is the mobile app that allows users to experience virtual reality tours when they place their phones into virtual reality viewers like the Google Cardboard viewers. If you can't buy VR viewers for your classroom or you just like DIY projects, it is possible to make your own VR viewer with just a few common materials. YouTube "celebrity" Roman UrsuHack offers the following video that provides an overview of making your own VR viewer.


The template that Roman UrsuHack follows in the video can be found here (link opens a PDF).

By the way, folks coming to the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp next week will get a chance to create their own VR viewers. There is still time to register to join us

Students Can Now Guide Themselves In Google Expeditions

On Wednesday Google released an update to Google Expeditions that allows students and others to guide themselves on Google Expeditions. Expeditions are Google's Virtual Reality experiences that can be viewed through the Expeditions app on phones placed in Google Cardboard Viewers. The new "solo" mode in Expeditions (currently only for Android) lets students view Google's virtual reality Expeditions without guidance from a teacher. In the "solo" Expeditions students can choose "Explorer" mode and they will see highlighted information included about the places they're viewing in virtual reality.


Applications for Education
The critic in me wonders why it took so long for "solo" mode to be added to Google Expeditions. It will be great to let students choose what they see and experience in a virtual reality expedition rather than being guided along by someone else. That said, I still view virtual reality is a supplement to other instructional resources. Just dropping students into a virtual reality experience without having them first understand the context of the experience is a mistake.