Tuesday, July 13, 2010

3 Web-based Tools for Creating Screencast Videos

Earlier this month my favorite web-based tool for creating screencast videos, ScreenToaster, announced that they are shutting down on July 31. The news that ScreenToaster is shutting down has me taking a look at some other web-based tools for creating screencast videos. Here are three other web-based screencast recording tools that you should consider as a replacement for ScreenToaster. If you're wondering why screencasting is important please read Using Screen Captures to Enhance Instructions.

Screenr is a very simple, easy-to-use tool for creating screencast videos. You do not need to register in order to use Screenr, but if you want to save your recordings you do need a Twitter account. Screenr uses your Twitter ID to save your recording and publish it to Twitter (you can opt not to publish to Twitter). The recordings you make using Screenr can also be published to YouTube or you can download your recordings. Screenr is my favorite of the tools on this list.

Screen Castle is a simple screencast creation tool that is completely web-based. To use Screen Castle simply visit their website, click the start button and you're recording. You have the option to enable voice recording for your screencasts. Screencasts made using Screen Castle can be viewed on the Screen Castle website (see my example here) or embedded into another website or blog.

Screencast-O-Matic is a web-based screencast creation tool similar to Screen Castle. Screencast-O-Matic allows you to specify how much of your screen that you want to record. Recording your voice is an available option. Every time that I've tried Screencast-O-Matic it was slow so you probably need to have a fast Internet connection to use Screencast-O-Matic effectively.

Shmoop - Making Learning Digestible

At ISTE 2010 I had the opportunity to meet with Ellen Siminoff, President and CEO of Shmoop. Shmoop, as I've mentioned before, is a provider of free and fee-based learning guides for Literature, Civics, US History, Music, Biographies, and recently added Economics learning guides.

Prior to my meeting with Siminoff I was already a fan of Shmoop as evident by the fact that I link to it from my classroom blog. After my meeting with Siminoff I was convinced that Shmoop has some good ideas about designing learning guides for students. Shmoop's primary goals, according to Siminoff is to make learning as digestible and as mobile as possible. To that end Shmoop designs all of their learning guides to be consumed in chunks rather than in one sitting. Shmoop has also made their learning guides available on Kindle, iPhone, Nook, and Sony Reader.

Of course any meeting with a company would not be complete if I didn't ask for a preview of what their future offerings will entail. Siminoff says that Shmoop users can expect to see learning guides for Mathematics and Science in the near future.

(Footnote, before the meeting I thought I was meeting with another Shmoop employee and I did not do my research on Siminoff. Turns out she's the former senior VP of Yahoo).

Nook Study - Free Study Tool from Barnes & Noble

Nook Study is a new application that Barnes & Noble is launching next month. Despite what the name implies, a Barnes & Noble Nook device is not needed to run Nook Study. Nook Study is a free program that will run on Mac and Windows operating systems. The feature of Nook Study that grabbed my attention is the access to more than 500,000 free ebooks which students can highlight, annotate, and bookmark within Nook Study.

Update: the previous broken link to Nook Study is now fixed.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
How Web Search Works
Seven Tools for Organizing Web Research
A Quick Guide to Annotating Using Diigo

Maps ETC - 5,000+ Historical Maps

Florida's Educational Technology Clearinghouse has a collection of more than 5,000 historical maps. The maps are licensed for free download and reuse by teachers and students. The collection is organized by continent and country. The US category is further broken down and organized by state and by historical theme.

Thanks to Donna Murray for the link.

Applications for Education
Historical maps can be very useful in helping students to get a better sense of an entire historical event or story. These maps could be used as a supplement to a history lesson or as the beginning of an inquiry-based lesson. These maps could also be used as overlay images in Google Earth files that students develop.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Free 33 Page Guide - Google for Teachers
Historic Maps in K-12 Classrooms
Maps of War - Animated Thematic Maps

Sport Science - The Physics of Home Runs

Last night Major League Baseball held its annual home run derby exhibition. The derby was won by "Big Papi" David Ortiz. During last night's broadcast of the event ESPN aired a short segment called Sport Science: The Home Run Derby. The segment explains the roles of the hitter's swing angle, the hitter's bat speed, and the speed of the pitched ball in determining how far a batted ball will travel in the air. The video of the segment is embedded below.

Applications for Education
Sport Science: The Home Run Derby could be a good way to get students who are interested in sports interested in a mathematics and physics lesson.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
10 Sources of Educational Science Games
Ten Problem Solving Games for K-8 Students
Physics Games for Your Blog or Website