Friday, August 3, 2012

Create a B-Roll Media Gallery for Your Classroom

Credit: Alexkerhead
Whenever I run workshops on creating videos I stress that the best way to avoid any worries about copyright is to have students use their own video clips, images, and sounds in their projects. But often this is not feasible because you don't have enough time in your class schedule for kids to go out and capture or create all of the media they might need. One solution to this is to teach students to search for Creative Commons licensed works. Another solution is to have a gallery of B-roll media that your students can choose from.

To create a B-roll gallery you and your students should be taking pictures, recording videos, and capturing audio throughout the school year. Do this for a couple of school years and you will build a useful gallery of B-roll media.

Tools for creating a B-roll gallery:
This list can get you started, but it's just the tip of iceberg when you consider how many web and mobile apps are available to you and your students.

Aviary's Mobile image editor is a free app for iOS and Android devices. The Aviary mobile app allows you to quickly crop images and add effects to your images. What I like about Aviary's mobile app is that unlike Instagram you don't have to register or join any social networks.

To capture quick audio recordings try AudioBoo for Android and iOS devices.

To organize your gallery of B-roll media try using DropItToMe to have students contribute to a DropBox folder. If you're working in a Google Apps for Education environment use shared folders in Google Drive.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Use Hello Sign to Electronically Sign Documents

If you have ever received an email with an attachment that you need to put your signature on, you need to check out Hello Sign. Hello Sign is a free service that allow you to digitally sign documents. Hello Sign can be used on your computer, on your iPhone, and on your iPad.

On your computer you can use Hello Sign to record your signature by using your mouse or by importing a picture of your signature. Then whenever you need to sign a document just upload it to Hello Sign and apply your stored signature. You can email your newly signed document directly from Hello Sign.

On your iPhone or iPad you can use Hello Sign by selecting a document or by taking a picture of a document. I tried it out on my iPad and was impressed by how easy it was to use. I just opened the app, logged into my Hello Sign account, and snapped a picture of a document. After the picture was captured I had the option to apply a stored signature or sign the document using my finger on my iPad screen.

Applications for Education
If you have ever experienced the hassle that comes with having to print, sign, and scan documents generated at official meetings like school board meetings or special education case meetings you can save yourself that hassle in the future by using Hello Sign.

NextUp Helps Keep Your Meetings on Schedule

This tool is no longer online.

From the same person that brought us the super-useful backchannel service TodaysMeet comes NextUp. NextUp is a free service that is designed to help you keep your meetings moving at the pace you planned.

To use NextUp just go to the site, title your meeting, and start entering the key transition moments in your meeting. After entering the transition moments you can set times for each of them. When the meeting starts, click "start" on NextUp and NextUp will count down the time to each transition.

Applications for Education
NextUp could be a good little tool to help you help your students stay on task during a series of classroom activities. Set up the transition times then start the count-down and tell students that when NextUp changes they need to move on to the next activity too. - Quickly Create Simple Surveys

I've written about a lot of polling and survey services in the past. Most recently I shared this list of twelve good ones that range from simple one question tools to more feature-laden tools. This morning I learned about another good and simple tool for quickly creating an online poll. allows you to create simple one questions polls in a matter of seconds. To create a poll just go to and type your poll question. Then you can enter up to eight answer choices for respondents to select from. Your poll is automatically assigned a url. To get people to take your poll just direct them to the url and they can vote instantly. Registration is not required to create a poll or to answer a poll.

Applications for Education, like other polling services, could be useful for informally polling your students with questions like "do you feel prepared for the next assessment?" or "which topic(s) should we review again?"

Go Inside the Kennedy Space Center with Street View

Last month Google released some great Street View imagery of Antarctica. Today, Google released more great Street View imagery. The new imagery takes us inside the Kennedy Space Center. There are now 6,000 images of all of the notable aspects of the space center. Students can now look around in control rooms, hangars, launch pads and more.

View Larger Map
Applications for Education
New Street View imagery probably won't dramatically change the way anyone teaches, but Street View imagery is definitely a step above looking at static pictures in books and or online. In Street View students can pick what they want to explore in more detail. I also like that students get to explore the imagery on a map which should help them remember where the places they're looking at are located in the world.