Google
 

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Tricky Thing About Free Gradebooks - And Two Alternatives to Engrade

This afternoon I received an email from a reader who was looking for an alternative to Engrade. Engrade is a gradebook tool that has been free to teachers for a long time, but starting in September Engrade will no longer have a free option. I do have a couple of suggestions for free alternatives to Engrade. Those are Otus and EasyClass. Google Classroom also has a simple gradebook available to teachers.

My recommendation of Otus and EasyClass come with the caveat that you should make a gradebook selection in conjunction with your school's IT director so that you're both on the same page in terms of tech support and compliance with local student data security regulations. And if your school has an LMS that they want you to use, you should use that instead of venturing out to use a different system on your own.

Otus is designed to be a complete LMS (learning management system) for teachers. In addition to the gradebook you have options for sharing assignments and delivering quizzes directly to your students' inboxes. Otus provides teachers with a library of instructional resources (videos, texts, interactive review activities) that they can share with their students. Third-party resource providers are integrated into the Otus LMS. A couple of notable third party applications are Khan Academy and OpenEd. OpenEd offers thousands of math and language arts practice assessments aligned to Common Core standards. Otus is free for individual teachers to use. Otus can also be purchased for district-wide implementation which includes additional reporting tools for administrators.

EasyClass is also intended to be a complete LMS for teachers. On Easyclass you can host classroom discussions, post assignments, post resources for students, and deliver online quizzes to your students. Easyclass discussions and assignments allow you to post notes to the whole class. Assignment notes include due dates. Discussion notes don't include due dates. Both types of notes can include file attachments and links. Through the quizzes option in Easyclass, you can create multiple choice, true/ false, or essay quizzes. Pictures can be included with your quiz questions. You can make instant feedback available to students at the end of the quiz (except for essay questions). Quiz scores can be sent directly to your Easyclass gradebook.

Reminder! TechSmith Is Ending Popular Free Products - Try These Alternatives

Back in May TechSmith announced that they are ending support for some popular tools that they had offered for free for years. This afternoon I received an email from TechSmith reminding me that on August 31st they will be ending support for ScreenChomp, Snagit for Chrome, and Knowmia. Here are some alternatives to Snagit for Chrome, ScreenChomp, and Knowmia.

Alternatives to Snagit for Chrome:
Nimbus Screenshot is a free extension that allows you to capture screen images and create screencast videos. Screencasts recorded with Nimbus Screenshot can be saved to your local drive or to an online Nimbus account. I chose to save to my local drive then upload to my YouTube channel. You could also save to your local drive then share to Google Drive or another online storage service.

Evernote's Chrome extension now includes a screenshot tool. Images are saved directly to your Evernote account where you can then annotate them with drawings and text.

CaptureCast is a great tool for creating screencasts on a Chromebook. CaptureCast is rather easy to install. Your recording length is unlimited. You can record your webcam while recording your screen which you cannot do with the Nimbus tool or Snagit. Set-up of CaptureCast is easy too. For folks who don't want to use YouTube to share recordings, CaptureCast lets you share directly to a Vimeo account.

Alternatives to Knowmia and ScreenChomp:
30hands is a freemium iPad app that makes it very easy to create a narrated slideshow and or whiteboard video. 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.

Educreations is a free iPad app that turns your iPad into a whiteboard. You can use the app to illustrate concepts and narrate what you’re doing on the screen. You can draw images from scratch on the Educreations iPad app or you can upload images and draw on them. Your completed lesson can be shared directly to others or made public on the Educreations website.

ShowMe was the first whiteboard app that I ever tried and it is still good. ShowMe is an app for creating and sharing whiteboard-style lessons on your iPad. To support teachers, the Show Me website is building a gallery of lessons developed and shared by teachers. Each day there is a “Show Me of the Day” that is added to the gallery of lessons.

The Month in Review - July's Most Popular Posts

July has come and gone. In my part of the world the beginning of August signifies the beginning of fair season. And for schools in much of the world the beginning of August means that school will be starting soon. As you start to think about the technology that you might use in your classroom this year, take a look at the most popular posts of the month here on Free Technology for Teachers. Whether you're just starting to use technology in your classroom or you've been at it for years, this list has something for just about everyone.

Here are the most popular posts from July, 2016:
1. How to Enable Automatic Grading in Google Forms
2. A New Lesson Plan Tool for Google Docs
3. Flubaroo Compared to the New Google Forms Auto-grading Feature
4. ScratchMath - Great Ideas for Using Scratch in Elementary Math
5. Click to Spin - A Fun and Free Random Name Picker
6. Character Scrapbook - A Template for Reflecting on Stories
7. Google Forms Can Now Automatically Grade Quizzes Without an Add-on
8. How to Create Custom Word Clouds
9. ABCD Wordie Analyzes Text and Creates Vocabulary Lists
10. How to Create Online Collaborative Whiteboards

I Will Come To Your School or Conference
Click here to learn about my professional development services. 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
BoomWriter provides a fantastic tool for creating writing lessons. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards and cartoon stories.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
FrontRow offers adaptive online ELA and Math practice activities.  
Teach n Go is a comprehensive platform for teaching online courses.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosting host workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
Buncee offers a great tool for creating visual stories.