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Monday, March 6, 2017

A Visual Awareness Test

Last week in a presentation about search strategies and fake news awareness I shared the following video from Transport for London.


My purpose in sharing the video was to make a point similar that in the video. When you're not expecting to be on the look out for strange or unexpected things, you don't always see them. The correlation that I made was to passive social media browsing. Sometimes when we and or our students browse through streams of social media posts we don't always look critically at the memes and news stories that we see.

Storymap JS - Tell Stories With Maps

The New York Times has a new feature called Harriet Tubman's Path to Freedom. The feature is a presented in scrolling map format. The map is combined with a timeline format that shows the sequence of and locations of significant moments of Tubman's work in freeing herself and helping other slaves escape. Harriet Tubman's Path to Freedom is part of a larger series of stories about the Underground Railroad.

Looking at the presentation of Harriet Tubman's Path to Freedom reminded me an excellent storytelling tool called StoryMap JS. StoryMap JS comes from the same people that offer Timeline JS. On StoryMap JS you can create mapped stories. On StoryMap JS you create slides that are matched to locations on your map. Each slide in your story can include images or videos along with text. As you scroll through your story there are simple transitions between each slide.

StoryMap JS integrates with your Google Drive account. To get started with StoryMap JS you have to grant it access to your Google Drive account. StoryMap JS will create a folder in your Google Drive account where all of your storymap projects will be saved. With StoryMap JS connected to your Google Drive account you will be able to pull images from your Google Drive account to use in your StoryMap JS projects.

Applications for Education
StoryMap JS can be a great tool for students to use to tell stories that have strong geographic connections. One of the best examples of StoryMap JS for classroom use is found in the Manifest Destiny storymap featured on the StoryMap JS homepage.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo for the link to Harriet Tubman's Path to Freedom.

12 Ways to Create Videos On Chromebooks

It seems like every month there is a new tool for creating videos on Chromebooks. In the two months since I published my last post about making videos on Chromebooks, two more good options have presented themselves.

Of course, creating a good video requires more than just picking the right tool for the job. You will also want to have a plan for producing the video. That's where a planning template like this one is helpful.

Come to the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp to learn how to best use these tools in your classroom. 

Know Lounge is a complementary service to the Know Recorder apps for Android tablets and iPads. Know Lounge lets you create an online room in which you can host tutoring sessions and record videos. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use Know Lounge as teacher.



If you have a Chromebook that supports the use of Android apps, your students can create animated videos with Toontastic 3D. Students can pick from a variety of story setting templates or they can create their own within Toontastic 3D. Once they have established a background setting students then select cartoon characters to use in their stories. Students can choose from a wide array of customizable cartoon characters or they can create their own from scratch. Once characters are placed into the story scenes students can begin recording themselves talking while moving the characters around in each scene. Students can swap characters between scenes, change the appearance of characters between scenes, and move characters from one scene to the next. Watch my tutorial below to learn how to use Toontastic 3D.


Pixiclip is a free tool for creating simple instructional videos. Pixiclip provides you with a blank whiteboard on which you can draw, type, or insert images. You can record your voice as you draw or type on the screen. A variety of drawing tools is provided in Pixiclip. You can use Pixiclip without creating an account on the service. If you do create an account you can keep your videos private. Learn more about Pixiclip in my video embedded below.



My Simpleshow is a free tool for creating Common Craft style explanatory videos. The best aspect of My Simpleshow is the emphasis that the developers have placed on storyline planing and development. As is demonstrated in my tutorial below, students have to write a script on My Simpleshow before they can begin to use the video editing tools. (Disclosure: My Simpleshow is an advertiser on this blog).



Adobe Spark is a suite of free tools for creating images, videos, and simple web pages. Key features of Adobe Spark's web app include an integrated Creative Commons image search tool, the option to download images as JPEGs, and the option to download your videos as MP4 files. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create images, web pages, and videos with Adobe Spark in your web browser.


Sharalike is a good option to consider when you want to create an audio slideshow. To create an audio slideshow on Sharalike simply import some images from your computer, your Android device or from your iPad, drag them into the sequence in which you want them to appear, and then add some music. Sharalike offers a small collection of stock music that you can use or you can upload your own music.



PowToon is a popular tool for creating animated videos online. PowToon provides a drag-and-drop editor for creating animated videos. The videos that you create feature digital paper cut-outs on a colorful background. Think of PowToon as an online tool for creating videos in the style made popular by Common Craft. PowToon provides drawings of people and objects that you can arrange on blank canvas. After adding your narration to the arrangement you can publish your video.

Magisto is a video creation tool that allows you to quickly drag videos and images from your desktop and or Google Drive account to your Magisto account. After you've uploaded the media that you want mixed, select a theme and music for your video.From the video clips and images that you upload, Magisto will select the best portions to remix and blend together. Magisto creates your video after you've completed the steps of uploading media, selecting a theme, and choosing music. The final video is emailed to you. In addition to the web-based service Magisto offers a Chrome app, an Android app, and an iPad app.


WeVideo offers the most features of any of the tools in this list. It is an online video creation tool that I have written about many times over the last few years. WeVideo offers templates that new users can follow to create their first videos. Advanced WeVideo users can skip the templates, use the full editor, and apply themes to their videos by choosing them from the themes menu in the editor. In the video editor you can upload your own media clips or use stock media clips to produce your video. WeVideo's Google Drive app allows you to save all of your video projects in your Google Drive account. WeVideo also offers an Android app and an iPhone app that students can use to capture images and video footage to add to their projects.

Nimbus Screenshot is my favorite tool for creating screencast videos on Chromebooks. It is easy to install, includes customizable countdown timer, and offers multiple ways to save and share your 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.

Recording a video with the webcam on your Chromebook can be accomplished through the use of a free Chrome app called CaptureCast. CaptureCast, produced by Cattura Video, allows you to record the screen on your Chromebook as well as input from your webcam. To record a video with the webcam on your Chromebook open CaptureCast in your browser then allow it to access your webcam and microphone. You can specify how high of a resolution you would like to use to capture your video. You can also choose your audio quality. If you have an external microphone connected to your Chromebook, make sure that you have it enabled before you start recording. When you have finished recording in CaptureCast you can save your video on your Chromebook or upload it to YouTube, to Vimeo, or to Google Drive.

Finally, YouTube offers some good video creation and editing tools that most people overlook. One of those tools allows you to combine video clips to make one longer video. You can combine your own videos and or use video clips from YouTube's gallery of Creative Commons licensed videos. So while your students aren't limited to just their videos, they also just can't grab any old video from YouTube, like this chart-topper, to include in their projects.

Come to the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp to learn how to best use these tools in your classroom.