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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.



Create Animated Videos & More With Animatron

Animatron is a nice tool for creating animated videos and images. I learned about it from Larry Ferlazzo a couple of weeks ago and I finally got some time to try it this morning.

The concept behind Animatron is similar to that of Wideo and Powtoon. You drag and drop characters on a background scene and then choose how long each character will be displayed on the screen. You can also set the length of time for each character in a scene to be in motion. By using Animatron's timeline editor I was able to make objects appear and disappear from a scene. The best feature of Animatron is that I can record audio directly over the animation. The built-in recording tools lets you see the scene while you're recording so that you can precisely synchronize each scene with its audio track. Larry reported that the audio wasn't great, but I found it to be fine when I recorded with my Blue Snowball microphone.

Scenes created in Animatron can be downloaded as videos and or as GIFs. Animatron's free plan limits you to ten seconds of download time. The free plan will let you embed and or share longer scenes via social media. The other limitation of the free plan is that you can only create five projects before you'll have to delete one.

Applications for Education
Animatron could be a good tool for students to use to bring written stories to life in animated videos. The user interface on Animatron takes a while to understand and it could frustrate students younger than age 13.

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Glossary of Blogging Terminology

The start of the new school year isn't far for many teachers now. It is at this time of year that I find myself helping teachers get classroom blogs started. Once you've chosen the best blogging tool for you and your students, sometimes the next challenge of running a blog is just knowing the terminology that is used when we talk about blogging. That's why I put together the following list of common blogging terms and their definitions. 

Post: “Post” can refer to an entry on your blog as in “a blog post.” “Post” can also be used as a verb as in “I am going to post a new entry on my blog.”

Page: A page on a blog is different than a post because a page is designed for static content. Pages are good for posting information that you want visitors to your blog to be able to quickly access. For example, my classroom blog had pages for curriculum outlines and review guides.

Theme: WordPress (Wordpress is open-source software that powers many blogging tools) and many other blogging platforms use “themes” to describe the look of a blog. The theme can include the color scheme and the placement of elements like calendars and margins on a blog. Changing the theme does not change the content of your blog posts.

Template: Blogger and some other blogging platforms use the term “template” to describe the look of a blog. The template can include the color scheme and the layout of elements on the blog. Changing your template does not change the content of your blog posts.

Tag: Tags are applied to WordPress (Kidblog, Edublogs) blog posts to identify the key ideas or purpose of a post. Tags make it easier for people to search and find older posts on your blog. For example, if you write a post about your Revolutionary War lesson, tag it with “revolution” or “revolutionary war” so that at the end of the school year when you have 150 posts on your blog your students can quickly click on the “revolution” tag and jump to the post that have that label. It’s a lot easier to locate older posts by tag than it is to click through archives by date.

Label: Labels are applied to Blogger blog posts to identify the key ideas or purpose of a post. For example, if you write a blog post about your Revolutionary War lesson plan, label it with “revolution” or “revolutionary war” so that at the end of the school year when you have 150 posts on your blog your students can quickly click on the “revolution” label and jump to the posts that have that label. It’s a lot easier to locate older posts by label than it is to click through archives by date.

Tag Cloud and Label Cloud: Tag and Label clouds can be added to your blog’s homepage to make it easy for visitors to see the tags or labels that you use, click on one of them, and jump to a list of all of the posts that have that particular label.

Categories: In WordPress-powered blogs you can use categories for broad descriptions of posts in addition to using tags. For example, on iPadApps4School.com I use the categories “pre-K,” “elementary school,” “middle school,” and “high school.” I assign each post to a category and use tags for describing the academic topic of the post. This way if someone visits my blog looking for math apps appropriate for elementary school he or she can click on the “math” tag then click on the “elementary school” category to find all of my posts meeting that search criteria.

Embed: To display a video, slideshow, audio recording, Google Calendar, Google Map, game, and many other multimedia elements in a blog post you will use an embed code provided by service hosting that media. Embedding media into a blog post does not make you the owner of it and as long as you follow the guidelines set forth by the hosting service you are not violating copyright by embedding something you didn’t create. For example, when you find a video on YouTube that you want your students to watch you can embed it into a blog post and ask students to comment on the blog post. If the owner of that video decides to take it offline the video will no longer play through your blog post.

Embed Codes: An embed code is a piece of code, often HTML, that media hosting services like YouTube provide so that you can easily display the media that they host in your own blog posts. On some services like SlideShare.net an embed code will be clearly labeled as such next to the media you’re viewing. On other services the embed code will be one of the options that appears when you click on the “share” option. YouTube, for example, currently requires you to open the “share” menu before you see the embed code option.

Widget: A widget is a small application that you can include in the posts and or pages of your blog. A widget could be a game, a display of Tweets, a display of RSS feeds, a tag cloud, a calendar, or any other application that offers an embed code.

Gadget: Gadget is the term that Blogger uses for a widget. A gadget and a widget do the same things. 

Plug-in: A plug-in (sometimes plugin) is a small application that you can add to the software that powers your blog. Unlike widgets and gadgets plug-ins operate in the background and visitors to your blog will not see them working. A plug-in can add functions to your blog such as suggesting related posts to your visitors or detecting the type of device a visitor is using to view your blog then automatically displaying the mobile or desktop version of your blog’s layout.

Permalink: Each blog post is assigned its own separate URL this is known as a permalink (permanent link). This URL is the one that you would share if you wanted someone to directly access a post rather than going to your blog’s homepage then searching for the post.

For a comparison of blogging tools, take a look at this chart

A Crowd-sourced List of Google Cardboard Apps & Videos

During the ISTE conference this year I met Jack Bosley who is an educational technology teacher in Kentucky. He introduced himself after the panel discussion, hosted by Samsung, about virtual reality in education. Jack shared with me a Google Form that he created to crowd-source a list of apps and videos to use in Google Cardboard viewers in classrooms. So far the form has gathered thirty entries. And you can contribute to the list here. If you make a submission through the form, you will have access to the list.

Jack has also put together a great introductory presentation about Google Cardboard. That presentation can be seen here.

People looking to learn more about virtual reality in education may be interested in the studies that I highlighted in this post that I published at the end of June.