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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Audioboo Is Now Called audioBoom - Still the Same Great Service

The popular audio recording service Audioboo announced today that they will now be called audioBoom. You do not need to create a new account in order to continue using the service. Just as before you can create audio recordings and match them to pictures online or through the audioBoom Android and iOS apps.

Applications for Education
The audioBoom education section is full of great examples of using the service in classrooms.

One of the ways that I've suggested using Audioboo in the past is to have students use the mobile app to create short podcasts while on a field trip. The same can be done with the newly rebranded audioBoom.

Students can use the online version of audioBoom to create short recordings in which they explain the focal point of a picture that they have taken.

audioBoom recordings can also be inserted into ThingLink image projects.

Comics in the Classroom - Webinar Recording

Last night Storyboard That sponsored a webinar on using comics in the classroom. The webinar reached capacity quickly and unfortunately some people who wanted to join the live session could not get in. The recording of last night's webinar is now available to view online. I have embedded the recording below (if you're reading this in RSS or email, you may have to click here to see the video).


The slides from last night's session are included below.

ContextU - A Good Digital Textbook on the American Revolution

Back in May I shared information about a great U.S. History resource called ContextU. ContextU's purpose is to help students see the greater context for significant events in history. When it launched last spring ContextU was focused on the American Civil War. Thanks to Ken Halla, I have learned that ContextU now offers a section on the American Revolution.

Just like in the Civil War section, in the American Revolution section on ContextU students open a table of contents from which they can select an event, person, or theme to see it in the context of other events, and themes leading contributing to the American Revolution. Through timelines, Google Maps, diagrams, flow charts, timelines, and text ContextU provides context for each chosen event, piece of legislation, or theme. Students can jump from event to event or from theme to theme by following the hyperlinks within each diagram.

Applications for Education
ContextU's American Revolution section is still being developed but what is available now is quite good. The advantage of ContextU over a textbook as well as many other websites is the ease with which students can see how an event fits into the larger context of the causes of the American Revolution.

CK-12 Introduces Dozens of Interactive Physics Simulations

The CK-12 Foundation was busy creating new things this summer. Over the summer they launched a new Android app and new tools for finding and viewing review materials. This week they released dozens of new interactive physics simulations.

Each of the CK-12 physics simulations start with an introductory animation that explains the concept being demonstrated. After watching the demonstration students can play with a set of variables to see the effects of changing those variables. For example, in the archery demonstration students can change how far a bow is drawn to see what affect that has on the speed of the arrow. After experimenting with variables students can click the "challenge me" button to view a set of questions that ask them to utilize the information they learned through the simulation.

Applications for Education
The CK-12 physics simulations that I tried were not in-depth enough to be stand-alone lessons. That said, the simulations could make excellent supplementary materials to use as part of lesson online or in-person. I think that middle school and some high school students will enjoy experimenting with the variables in the simulations.

Video Review Lessons - A Student Video Project

This is the point in the new school year at which many teachers are wrapping their first units of the study of the year. One of the activities that I did to wrap-up and review units of study was to have students create short video lessons about topics we covered in each unit. Each student chose (or was assigned if they didn't want to choose) a topic and created a sixty to ninety second video that was shared with the class. The videos were shared on a class wiki hosted on Wikispaces. My students used a variety of tools for making their videos including iMovie, WeVideo, KDenLive, and JayCut (now defunct). What follows are the tools that I recommend now.

Web-based and desktop video tools:
PixiClip is a good option for creating simple instructional videos. PixiClip provides a whiteboard space on which you can draw, upload images to mark-up, and type. While adding elements to your PixiClip whiteboard you can talk and or record a video of yourself talking. In fact, you can't use the whiteboard without at least recording your voice at the same time. Recordings can be shared via social media, embedded into blog posts, or you could grab the link and include it on webpage.

Screencast-O-Matic is a screencasting tool that I featured last week. It is available in a free version and a pro version. The free version allows you to record for up to fifteen minutes at a time (that is plenty of time for most screencasts), publish to YouTube in HD, and save videos to your computer as MP4, AVI, and FLV files. Screencast-O-Matic features a highlighted circle around your cursor so that viewers can easily follow your movements on the screen. A webcam recording option is included in the free and pro versions of Screencast-O-Matic. All of these features could be used by students to create simple video lessons in which they talk over a set of slides on their computers.

WeVideo is the web-based video editing tool that I probably mention more than any other on Free Technology for Teachers. Students can create videos by uploading images, video clips, and audio recordings to their WeVideo accounts. WeVideo also includes tools for recording voiceovers and using webcams to create raw video footage.

iPad video tools:
On the free eduClipper iPad app you can create instructional videos on a whiteboard in the Khan Academy style. You can also use the app to create a video in which you annotate an image or document while talking about it. After creating your video you can save it to an eduClipper board that you have shared with your students through the eduClipper classroom setting. Your students can view the videos on their iPads or in the web browsers on their laptops.

30hands is a free iPad app that makes it very easy to create a narrated slideshow. To create a basic narrated slideshow on 30hands all you need to do is import images from your iPad’s camera roll then press the record button below each image to record your narration. If you don’t have any pictures on your iPad you can take pictures using the 30hands app. 30hands also allows you to draw images instead of importing pictures. You can combine imported pictures with drawn images in your presentations. And you can draw on top of imported images. When your project is complete you can save it on your iPad or share it with the 30hands community.

eduClipper and 30hands are great for simple videos, but some students may want to create a bit more complex video. In that case, don't overlook iMovie which comes standard with new iPads. 

Android video tools:
SyncSpace is a whiteboard app available Android tablets. SyncSpace can be used to create drawings and documents on your tablet. You can create using free-hand drawing tools, using typing tools, or a combination of the two tool sets. Your drawings and documents can be sent to and synced with other users so that they can comment and edit your drawings and documents.

Clarisketch is a free Android app that has great potential for classroom use. The app allows you to take a picture or pull one from your device’s camera roll and then add your voice to it. While you are talking about your picture you can draw on it to highlight sections of it. Completed projects are shared as links to the video file hosted on Clarisketch. You can share the link to your Clarisketch video and have it play on nearly any device that has a web browser. See my sample here.

WeVideo's Android app allows you to create and edit videos on your tablet or phone. If you're looking to create a slide-by-slide instructional video in which you or your students talk about what's happening on the screen, then WeVideo could be a good choice for you. Wes Fryer recently wrote a great post about his experience with the app. In that same post Wes also did a nice job of comparing it to some similar iOS apps.

(Disclosure: I am an advisor to eduClipper).