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Monday, May 29, 2017

History Project Vignettes

The History Project is a service that I like to describe as StoryCorps With Timelines. When the service launched last summer it was designed to help people record and share personal stories in a timeline format. Each event on a timeline can include multiple pictures, text, and audio that you either record in the service or upload from a previously made recording. After using The History Project for a while I realized that although it was made for recording and sharing personal stories, it can be used to create timelines of any series of events.

Last week The History Project added a new format in which users can share stories. That new format is called Vignettes. Vignettes are essentially short slideshows of up to twelve images with minimal text. The slideshows automatically display in full screen at web addresses that are automatically assigned to them.

Applications for Education
The History Project Vignettes could provide your students with a quick way to share the highlights from a long timeline that they have constructed. Think of it as providing a summary of a timeline in a slideshow format.

See this blog post for a comparison of The History Project with six other multimedia timeline tools.

Screencastify and Nimbus Screenshot Compared

I recently received an email from a reader seeking a comparison of Screencastify and Nimbus Screenshot. Back in March I published a comparison of both tools along with Capture Cast. Here's a short recap of that comparison.

My preference is for Nimbus Screenshot because its free plan offers more of what I need than Screencastify's free plan offers. Nimbus Screenshot's free plan includes a countdown timer that displays before the recording starts, it records in higher resolution than Screencastify, and it doesn't apply a watermark to my video.

Here's a video that I made with Nimbus Screenshot on my Chromebook.



Bitly vs. Goo.gl

I recently received an email from a long-time reader who wanted to know my opinion of using Bitly compared to Goo.gl for shortening and sharing URLs. I have a slight preference for Bitly, but I don't think that you can go wrong by using either tool to shorten and share URLs. Here's my quick comparison of the two services.

Bitly - Pros & Cons
Pro - If you create a free Bitly.com account you can customize your shortened URLs so that they spell words or at least have initials and numbers that are related to an event. For example, I often use Bitly to shorten the URLs that I share at workshops. When I shorten the URLs I customize them with the initials or name of the school at which I am working that day. I find that doing this makes it easier for people to copy URLs that I display on a screen.

Con -  A few years ago Bitly removed the option to create QR codes while also shortening URLs. So if you need a QR code to go with your shortened URL, you might want to try Goo.gl.

Goo.gl - Pros & Cons
Pro - Goo.gl is available in your Google Account. You can create shortened URLs and QR codes at the same time in Goo.gl.

Con - Goo.gl doesn't let you customize the shortened URL that is generated for you. You're stuck with the randomly generated characters that are given to you.

Applications for Education
Both services make it easy to shorten the URLs that you want to display on a whiteboard or screen for students to write down. Rather than copying a long, complex URL like freetech4teachers.com/2011/03/two-simple-tools-every-classroom.html you could have students just copy bit.ly/2011simple. Both tools also provide you with the option to track how many times your shortened URLs have been used. So from a classroom management standpoint, if I post a shortened URL then see that it has only been used fifteen times and I have twenty-five students, I know that at least ten students aren't on the right page.