Wednesday, December 12, 2018

WWF Free Rivers - An Interactive, Augmented Reality Story About Rivers

WWF Free Rivers is a free augmented reality iPad app produced by the World Wildlife Foundation. The app uses augmented reality to present a story about rivers. In the app students learn about the importance of free-flowing rivers in world. The app offers a series of sections or experiences through which students can learn about how free flowing rivers support wildlife, agriculture, and people.

WWF Free Rivers tells students stories about the implications of changes in weather patterns, damming rivers, and pollution on river ecosystems. Students interact with these stories by moving their iPads and or by pinching and zooming on elements in the stories. Unlike some other AR apps the animations within WWF Free Rivers can be experienced by students from a variety of angles. A great example of this is found early in the app when students can see what a dam does to a river. During that experience students can see the dam from above, from below, and from the sides.

Applications for Education
WWF Free Rivers could be a good app to incorporate into a science or geography lesson. The app can be used by students without the need to sign-in or sign-up for an account in order to use the app. Despite not needing to sign into the app, students can close their iPads and pick up the story wherever they left off provided that they don't tap the button to restart the stories.

Try Pexels Videos to Find Green Screen Backgrounds

Making green screen videos can be a fun way for students to share what they've learned through research about a place or event. And it's a great way for kids to make their own weather forecast and newscast videos. Last week on Twitter I was asked where I go to find video clips to use as the background for green screen videos. Pexels Videos is a good place to find free video clips to use as background in green screen productions.

Pexels Videos offers hundreds of short videos that you can download for free and re-use in your own video productions. You can browse the collection or search according to keyword. You can also just jump to this selected collection of video clips suitable for green screen productions. The videos are stock footage and very few have any spoken words in them. To download a video from Pexels you just have to click the green download button next to the video you want to use. You don't have register on the site in order to download Pexels Videos. Attribution is not required for most videos, but double-check before using a video that you've downloaded from Pexels Videos.

When you are selecting a video to use as the background in a green screen production, try to choose one that has some fairly wide open space so that you're not blocking key background elements when it is used behind a person.

Learn more about making green screen videos in my upcoming course, Video Projects for Every Classroom

Google is Closing Fusion Tables

Years ago Google introduced Fusion Tables as tool for creating interesting data visualizations. Over the years newer and better tools have emerged for creating data visualizations. In fact, the "explore" function in Google Sheets can now generate some impressive data visualizations. That's why Google has announced that Fusion Tables will be shut down in 2019.

Fusion Tables were often used with data from the Google Public Data Explorer. There's no word on if that project will continue, but I would guess that it doesn't have long either. The Public Data Explorer site hasn't been updated since 2014.

One of the things that you could do with Fusion Tables was create maps that were representative of data sets. You can also do that by importing a Google Sheet into Google's My Maps tool. Watch this video to learn how to do that.

A Couple of Thoughts About Flipgrid Stickers

A couple of weeks ago I was at a conference to present on the topic of formative assessment. Flipgrid was one of the tools that I mentioned in my presentation. After my presentation a nice woman asked me for my thoughts about the stickers and drawings that kids can add to their Flipgrid videos. She found them to be a distraction for her students. She's not alone in that experience. I've talked to many other teachers who felt the same way.

If you find the stickers and drawings in Flipgrid to be a distraction for your students consider only enabling the stickers and drawings as a reward for your students. The stickers and drawings are also useful for obscuring objects and faces in videos. Watch my two minute video to learn more about disabling stickers and drawings in Flipgrid.

And if you have never tried Flipgrid, this video will get you started.

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