Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Otus Adds New Features Including a Lockdown Browser

Otus is a fantastic learning management system (LMS) that I've watched mature from its early iterations as an iPad-specific tool to a full-fledged LMS. This week, the folks at Otus announced a new round of updates to their LMS. Included in those update is a new lockdown browser mode that can be activated when students are completing an assessment delivered through Otus. Lockdown browser mode will keep students locked into the assessment until it is completed. As you can see in the screenshot below, there are also options to restrict printing and to assign time limits.

Other updates to Otus include a redesigned lesson builder, more reporting options, and more options for updating student profiles.

Applications for Education
The lockdown browser mode is one that a lot of teachers ask for. In fact, on Monday night I answered an email from a reader who was looking for a tool that would do exactly what lockdown browser mode does in Otus. Using lockdown mode could help to reduce the chances of students opening a second browser window to search for answers while completing an assessment online.

If you're going to be at the ISTE conference next week, stop by the Otus booth to see lockdown browser mode in action.

Identifying Cities from Historic Maps - A Geography Game

Late last year The Guardian published a challenging geography quiz. The quiz presents historic maps of ten cities. You have to identify the city by examining the map. The quiz is multiple choice so you do have a little bit of hint as there are only three choices for each map. The quiz gives instant feedback when you submit your answers. The ten cities in the quiz are Berlin, Tokyo, Mexico City, Barcelona, Sydney, London, Kolkata, Rome, Lima, and Vienna.

Applications for Education
The Guardian's historic city map quiz could be a good activity for students to complete. Rather than just guessing at the answers I would have students look at the answer choices then find historic maps of each city in the answer choices before making a selection. Students could use the David Rumsey Historic Map layer in Google Earth to find historic maps of cities. Students could also use Old Maps Online to find historic maps of cities.

H/T to Maps Mania

Anchor Now Has an iPad App for Easy Podcast Creation and Publication

Anchor is a free service that makes easy to record, edit, and publish your own podcasts. In fact, you can record and publish your first podcast in less than six minutes. You can use Anchor in your web browser, as an Android app, as an iPhone app, and now as an iPad app.

Yesterday, Anchor released a new iPad-specific app for recording and publishing your own podcasts. Anchor's iPad app lets you record, edit, and publish your recordings from one convenient place. If you're just getting started you can start by making simple spoken recordings. If you're looking to make your podcast sound a bit more professional, you can use Anchor to import audio from multiple sources and then edit it all in Anchor. Watch the following video for an overview of the Anchor iPad app.

Podcasts that you make through Anchor can be published to iTunes and many other popular podcast listening platforms. You can also have your podcasts played through your blog. Watch the following video to learn how to embed an Anchor podcast into an Edublogs blog.

And if you're looking for ideas for classroom podcast topics, start with this list of ten topic suggestions.

New Google Forms Customization Options

For years and years people have asked me if there is way to customize the fonts in Google Forms. And for years and years I've had to say no. That is finally going to change! Yesterday, Google announced the addition of new Google Forms customization options.

Choose Your Font Style
You can now choose from a selection of fonts to use in your form's title and in the questions in your form.

Mix and Match Theme and Background Colors
For many years you've been able to choose a form theme and even upload your own images to use in your form's theme. However, you couldn't customize the form's appearance much more than that. Soon you'll be able to change the background color of your form independently from the the color of the header. You'll still be able to upload an image to use in your header too.

You can find the new customization options by clicking on the palette icon in a Google Forms header. (That's the same icon you use to change the header color now).

The new Google Forms customization options will be rolling out over the next fifteen days. If you don't see them in your account today, don't worry, you'll get them soon.