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Friday, December 15, 2017

VR Hangar - A VR App from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

VR Hangar is a new virtual reality app produced by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. This free virtual reality app is available to use on Android phones and on iPhones.

VR Hangar contains three virtual reality tours that feature landmark moments in aviation history. Those moments are the Wright Brothers' first flight, Chuck Yeager's record-breaking flight in the Bell X-1, and the Apollo 11 mission. Each of these tours incorporates artifacts from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

I tried all three of the virtual tours in VR Hangar and was most impressed by the Apollo 11 tour. It felt like the most immersive of the three tours and it appeared to feature more archival imagery than the other two tours (that is probably to be expected as there is less available imagery of the other two events).

There is one quirk of the VR Hangar app that you should tell your students about before they use it. That quirk is that what appears to be "back" arrow is actually the arrow for moving forward in the tours. I discovered this because I initially used the "home" function in the app thinking that I had to go back to the beginning to start each part of each tour. In fact, I just needed to use the arrow that appeared to indicate moving backwards, but actually indicates moving forward.

How to Use Flipgrid - A Guide for Getting Started

Flipgrid is a fantastic service for collecting video responses to prompts that you pose to your students. It has been a hit whenever I have demonstrated it in a workshop or conference presentation during the last year. The basic idea behind Flipgrid is that it enables you to post a video prompt and then have your students respond through video by using the webcams in their laptops or through the cameras on their smartphones or tablets. All responses are collected and displayed in a grid format. Watch the following video that I created and learn how to start using Flipgrid today.



You can contribute to the grid featured in my video by clicking here.

Back in November Caroline Schaab was kind enough to author a guest post in which she shared four ways to use Flipgrid in fourth grade.

A Handful of Apps for Exploring the Potential of AR in Education

Earlier this week I shared a neat augmented reality app called SkyView that helps users identify constellations, planets, and satellites in the night sky. SkyView could be helpful in sparking students' curiosity about space. SkyView shows some of the potential for augmented reality in education. There are other apps that I often share with people who are just beginning to explore how AR works and its potential in education. Those apps are featured below.

Plum's Creaturizer from PBS Kids is a free iOS and Android app that lets students create fun cartoon creatures then place them into outdoor settings through the use of augmented reality. The purpose of the app is to have students learn and show how the characteristics of an animal help it thrive in its environment. In the following video I demonstrate how the app works (apologies for the background noise, I recorded this video outside to show how the AR feature works in real settings).



Spacecraft 3D is a free iPad app produced by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Spacecraft 3D uses augmented reality technology to bring NASA spacecraft to life on your iPad. To get started using the app you first need to print out the spacecraft target codes. Then your students can scan those target codes with their iPads. The spacecraft then becomes a 3D model that your students can explore.

The Walking With Dinosaurs app uses a bit of augmented reality to take students on a virtual walk with dinosaurs. To use the apps you have to print out the "targets" that when scanned reveal a dinosaur's story. The apps also allow your students to include pictures of themselves in settings with the dinosaurs that they learn about through the app.

Disneynature Explore is a free iPad app designed to help children learn about bears, butterflies, lions, chimpanzees, and sea turtles. The activities for learning about each animal include augmented reality components. Students can use their iPads to take pictures to put animals into settings that they photograph. The app encourages students to go on nature walks with their parents. On the nature walks students can take pictures and record observations in their digital field journals.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality will be two of the topics covered in January in the Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group

Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities With Me

As you may know, part of the funding to keep Free Technology for Teachers running comes from speaking fees and registration fees for my online courses. For 2018 I have some new online course offerings, new on-site workshops, and new keynotes. You can learn more about these offerings through the links and descriptions below.

2018 Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group

For 2018 I'm organizing a year-long professional development cohort that I'm calling the Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group. Membership in the group includes biweekly webinars (live, but recordings will be available too), online discussion forums, and monthly Q&A sessions only available to members of the group. Click here to get more information and or enroll today!

Teaching History With Technology

My popular Teaching History With Technology course is now available in an on-demand format. There are eight modules in the course. You can start the course at any time and work at your own pace. For the rest of December you can join this course for 30% off the regular price. Register here.

G Suite for Teachers

This is an on-demand version of my very popular Getting Going With G Suite course. G Suite for Teachers features ten self-paced lessons designed to teach you everything you need to know to feel comfortable using all aspects of G Suite for Education in your classroom. This course goes beyond just the "how to" and delves into some activities that you can adapt to for use in almost any classroom. Register in December and you'll get 30% off the regular registration price. Register here.

I'll Come To Your School

Do you need help implementing a new technology initiative in your school? For more than a decade I've been helping teachers learn to love using technology in their classrooms. Let's talk about how I can help you too.

One OneNote Feature I Wish Google Keep Had

As many readers know, I'm a long-time user of all things Google. That includes Google Keep which I have been using for all of my bookmarking and note-taking since Evernote gutted its free plan about two years ago. Recently, I've embarked on a quest to give other bookmarking and note-taking tools an honest try. So for the month of December I'm using OneNote, Zoho Notebook, and Google Keep in a side-by-side-by-side comparison of sorts. I'll share my full report on these comparisons in January.

There is one feature that I have already identified in OneNote that I wish Google Keep had. The OneNote Chrome extension allows me to clip full pages into my notebook. In Google Keep I can only save a link and any text that I copy and paste into a note. Having the full page clipped into my notebook helps me remember why I saved a particular link without having to open the link in a new tab or window. It's a small thing, but it is one thing that I can say I prefer about OneNote compared to Google Keep.

Applications for Education
Just as it helps me recall why I saved a webpage, clipping a full page can help students more quickly recall why they saved a particular webpage compared to if they just bookmarked a link.