Thursday, December 10, 2015

Two Ways to Blur Faces in Videos

Whether it's a holiday concert, a science fair, or a sporting event throughout the school year there are plenty of opportunities for creating videos that include images and or raw video of students doing neat things. Not every student wants to appear in those videos. Likewise, not every parent wants his or her child's image to appear in those videos. Fortunately, there are a couple of relatively easy ways to blur a child's image in a video.

How to blur an image in a video slideshow:
If your video is just a set of images set to audio with a bit of text sprinkled-in, try using Skitch to blur students' faces before adding those images to your video slideshow. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how this works.

How to blur an image in a live-action video:
Blurring images in a live-action video is a bit more difficult to do than in a video slideshow, but it can be done. Within YouTube's video editor there is a "blur" function found in the "enhancements" section. Turn on the blur enhancement and YouTube will automatically blur faces in an image. The shortcoming of this feature is that it blurs all faces. There isn't a way to specify which faces to blur and which not to blur.

What's New in WhatsDue

WhatsDue is a free service (available for Android and iOS) that enables teachers to create and send due date reminders to their students. Students receive the reminders as push notifications on their iOS and or Android devices. During the last year I've found that teachers appreciate that WhatsDue is a simple platform that does its job well. Recently, WhatsDue pushed a couple of convenient updates.

Now in WhatsDue you can see when your students mark an assignment as completed. This should give you an indication of how many students completed assignments and when they completed them.

The other recent update to WhatsDue allows you to preview what an assignment reminder will look like to students and parents. This is a nice way to make sure that what you intend to send is actually what students will see.

How it works:
Here's how WhatsDue works. First, the teacher registers for a free account on the WhatsDue website and creates a class or classes. Each class is assigned its own unique join code. Teachers then invite students and parents to join the class through the join code. Once students have joined the class they will begin receiving due date reminders on their mobile devices.

What makes it different from similar services:
If you have been leery of using other reminder systems because of privacy concerns with phone numbers or two-way communication, WhatsDue might be for you. It doesn't require phone numbers and it doesn't have two-way communication. It also allows students to be reminded of assignments on a schedule that works for them. For example, they can set the app to remind them of assignments a day before or a couple of hours before an assignment is due.

Cast Your Vote for the Best Free Technology for Teachers of 2015

Usually at this time of the year I publish a list of my favorite apps and websites. The problem with my list is that it's based mostly on views of blog posts and informal feedback from participants in my workshops (I'll come to your school). This year I'm looking for your help in building the list of best apps and websites.

If you have a favorite app or website, please vote for it in the Google Form embedded below. Seven categories are included in the form. Please scroll down the form to see all categories and tools. I'll publish the final results next Friday.

Maine and the World Lost a Great Teacher This Week

Yesterday, I received the sad news that Bob Sprankle had passed away. Bob was a pioneer and legend in Maine's educational technology community. Wes Fryer has written a moving tribute to Bob

I didn't know Bob as well as Wes did, but I do have some thoughts to share. Many years ago when this blog was just beginning, Bob invited me to appear on his podcast with Alice Barr and Cheryl Oakes. Later, Bob asked if he could record one of my presentations at ACTEM's annual conference. It was truly an honor to be on his podcast and to have him publish a recording of my presentation. It was like getting a big pat on the back from the head coach. I knew then how Bob's students must have felt in his classroom. 

Easier File Search in Google Drive

Google Drive has always had a file search option, but it was kind of rough around the edges. Beginning this week you will notice a new file search option in your Google Drive account. The updated search tool in Google Drive will give you direct access to advanced search features. The advanced search features will let you refine your search by file type, date of file modification, who the file was shared with, and according to who shared a file with you. You can even search by email address to find a file that was shared with you.

The Google Drive mobile apps will offer the same search refinement options. Additionally, iOS users will be able to search for files without even opening the Drive app. iOS users can search for Google Drive files from the iOS search bar.

Applications for Education
These new search features should help students quickly locate files in their Google Drive accounts regardless of the devices that they use to access Google Drive. Searching for files by email address should be particularly useful to students who have a lot of collaborative files in their Google Drive accounts.

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