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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Add an Infographic Design Tool to Your Website With the Canva Button

Canva is a service that makes it easy to create beautiful slides, flyers, posters, infographics, and photo collages. The latest development from Canva is the introduction of Canva Button.

Canva Button will allow owners of websites to add a design tool to their websites. To implement the Canva Button you will have to add some lines of code to your website. In order to do that you will have to be using a self-hosted website or blog.


Applications for Education
Schools or teachers that are self-hosting their websites should be able to add Canva Buttons to their sites in the near future (Canva is slowly rolling out the tool). By adding the Canva Button to your website you will be able to give students access to Canva's great design tools without having to leave your site. Click here for a crowd-sourced list of ideas for using Canva in the classroom.

If adding the Canva Button to your website is not an option, you should still take a look at the Canva design tools.  Creating graphics on Canva is a drag-and-drop process. Start by selecting a template then dragging and dropping into place background designs, pictures, clip art, and text boxes. Canva offers a huge library of clip art and photographs to use in your designs. You can also upload your own images to use in your graphics. Your completed Canva projects can be downloaded as PDF and PNG files. You can also simply link to your online graphic.

Using Google+ Hangouts? You No Longer Need the Plugin In Chrome

Google+ Hangouts can provide teachers and students with some great ways to connect. Teachers can use G+ Hangouts to take students on virtual field trips, to connect with expert speakers, or to connect with other classrooms in a digital penpal environment. Students can use it to connect with each other to host online peer tutoring sessions.

Recently, Google removed the need for the Hangouts plugin in the Chrome web browser. This isn't a major update to Hangouts, but it is a helpful update. As long as you're using the latest version of the Chrome web browser you won't need to install anything to host or participate in a Google+ Hangout.


Watch2Gether Adds Support for Comment Moderation and Additional Video Sources

Watch2Gether is a neat site through which you can watch YouTube videos and host text chats about them at the same time. I've written about the service in the past. Some new features have recently been added that are worth noting.

The first update of note is that you can now use more than just YouTube videos in Watch2Gether. You can now use videos from Vimeo and Dailymotion. If audio is all that you are concerned about sharing, you will be happy to know that Watch2Gether now supports using media from Soundcloud.

The second update, probably the most significant update for teachers, is the option to moderate discussions and ban participants who are not participating appropriately.

It is to start using Watch2gether. To get started enter a nickname for yourself (it could be your real first name) then search for a video or enter the URL of a video that you have previously bookmarked. When you have found the video you want a chat column will be present on the right side of your browser. You can invite others to chat with you by sending them theURL assigned to your chatroom.

Applications for Education
Watch2gether is a nice tool to use to have students share observations, ask questions, and answer questions while watching video clips in your classroom or as part of a flipped lesson they're completing at home.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wikia Maps - Create Online Maps on Almost Any Image

Wikia Maps is a new map creation tool from Wikia. Wikia Maps has two map creation options. You can use Wikia Maps to create maps in a manner similar to those that you may have previously created in Google Maps. Wikia calls those maps "real maps." The truly cool feature of Wikia Maps is the option to create maps on pictures that you upload. Wikia calls those maps "custom maps."

Custom maps are created in Wikia Maps by uploading a picture or selecting a picture from the Wikia Maps gallery. You could upload a picture of a historical map, a picture from a place that you visited (I'm thinking of my pictures taken from the top of the Empire State Building), or you could upload a picture of a drawing that you made. You can add map placemarks to the image that you upload to use as the basis of your custom Wikia Map.

Applications for Education
My first thought when I saw the custom option in Wikia Maps was that it could be a good tool for students to use to create maps about fictional places they have read about in their favorite books. To do this students would draw a map of what they think a fictional town or fantasy world looks like. After completing the drawing, students would take a picture of it and upload it to Wikia Maps where they can add multimedia placemarks to their maps of fictional places.

H/T to Google Maps Mania

Finally! TodaysMeet Now Offers Chat Moderation for Teachers

Yesterday, I shared the news that TodaysMeet now offers the option to create accounts and close TodaysMeet discussions early. Today, TodaysMeet added the option to moderate comments in a discussion.

To moderate comments in your TodaysMeet room simply place your cursor over the lower-right corner of the box in which an inappropriate comment was written. When place your cursor over that corner a "delete" link will appear. Click delete and the comment is gone.

Applications for Education
The ability to moderate comments has long been the feature that teachers have wanted to see in TodaysMeet. The moderation feature along with the new options for creating accounts and closing discussions early make TodaysMeet a better option than ever for hosting classroom backchannel discussions.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have used TodaysMeet to provide my students with a place to ask questions throughout the day. By using a backchannel tool like TodaysMeet my students who have a lot to say don't dominate the classroom conversation. At the same time my shy students are given a place to comfortably ask questions.

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