Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Seven Whiteboard Tools for Teachers & Students

Whiteboard apps on tablets and in your web browser can be great for diagraming and explaining concepts. Here are seven good options for creating diagrams and other drawings on your iPad, on your Android tablet, or in your web browser.

Aww App is a super simple browser-based application for creating drawings. To get started just go to AwwApp.com and click on "start drawing."  To invite people to collaborate on your drawing just send them the link assigned to your drawing board and they can join in the drawing fun. If you would like to use Aww App on your classroom or school website and you have familiarity with editing the code of your site, you can install Aww App for free.

Draw It Live is a nice little website that offers a free space for you to instantly create a collaborative whiteboard to use with anyone you like. To use Draw It Live just go to the site, click the "collaborative whiteboard" link, enter any nickname you want, then start drawing. You can invite people to draw with you by sending them the url assigned to your whiteboard. Draw It Live provides a chat box that you can use to talk to your collaborators about what each of you is doing on the screen.

FlockDraw is a simple service that allows people to quickly and easily collaborate on the creation of a drawing. To use FlockDraw simply visit the site, click the "start drawing" button, and start drawing. To invite other people to draw with you, just send them the url assigned to your drawing board. What's really neat is that anyone who visits the url after the drawing has started will see all of the drawing motions they missed unfold in front of them. You can embed your FlockDraw drawings into a website.


SyncSpace is a whiteboard app available for iPads and Android tablets. You can get the SyncSpace app for iPad here and the Android app hereSyncSpace can be used to create drawings and documents on your tablet. You can create using free-hand drawing tools, using typing tools, or a combination of the two tool sets. Your drawings and documents can be sent to and synced with other users so that they can comment and edit your drawings and documents.


Educreations is a new iPad app that turns your iPad into a whiteboard. You can use the app to illustrate concepts and narrate what you're doing on the screen. You can draw images from scratch on the Educreations iPad app or you can upload images and draw on them. Your completed lesson can be shared directly to others or made public on the Educreations website.

Knowmia is a website and an iPad app for creating, sharing, and viewing video lessons. The website portion of Knowmia is a collection of videos made by teachers for students. There are roughly 7,000 videos in the Knowmia collection right now. Many of the videos are pulled from YouTube while others are hosted on Knowmia. The videos are arranged by subject and topic. Registered teachers can upload and tag their own videos. The Knowmia iPad app is an app for creating your own whiteboard videos. You can draw free-hand on the whiteboard screen or insert pre-made shapes. You can also use pictures and video clips in your video lesson.

ShowMe is a free iPad app for creating whiteboard videos. You can draw and talk at the same time while being recorded. Your videos can be shared and uploaded to YouTube through the app. There is a public gallery of lessons that you can browse and contribute to. Click here to download the app from iTunes.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Presidential Debates 52 Years Later

Tomorrow (or today depending on when you read this) is the first debate between President Obama and Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney. You can watch the debate live on YouTube through the YouTube Politics channel. That is certainly a much different way to watch the debate compared to how the first televised Presidential debate between Kennedy and Nixon was watched in 1960. The Kennedy v. Nixon video is embedded below.



Applications for Education
I probably wouldn't have students watch all of the video above, but I might pull out sections of it to have students compare the debate topics of 1960 with the debate topics of 2012.

Try Pathbrite for Creating Academic Portfolios

Pathbrite is a free service for creating digital academic portfolios. Pathbrite provides an easy-to-follow template for creating your portfolio. There are ten parts to the template, but you can skip parts that you don't think you need. Your Pathbrite portfolio can include transcripts, letters, and samples of your work. You can import information from a number of social networks as well as upload materials that are stored on your computer.

Applications for Education
About a month ago someone asked me if I had a standard digital portfolio template to use with students. At that time I didn't, but now with Pathbrite I do have one. Pathbrite could be a good tool for high school students to use to organize materials and create a portfolio that they can share with college admissions counsellors.

Pic Collage - Quickly Create Image Collages

Pic Collage is a free service for quickly creating picture collages on your iPad or Android tablet. The app does not require you to register or connect a social network profile in order to create a collage. If you do connect a social network profile to Pic Collage you can pull in pictures from those accounts. Otherwise you can upload pictures that are stored on your device or take new pictures using the Pic Collage app.

The Pic Collage user interface is easy to use. Just tap the blank canvas to import pictures from your device, from a social network profile, or by taking a new picture. To arrange the images in your collage just touch and drag them. You can expand or contract the images by pinching on them.

Applications for Education
Back in June Angela Oliverson wrote a great post about using collages pique students' interest in books. I encourage you to read that post.

Animated Map - Britain's Royal Navy in WWI

The Guardian recently published a neat animation of British Royal Navy ship movements in the years just before WWI, during WWI, and the years just after WWI. If you watch the animation you'll notice shifts in the patterns of activity during the years depicted. The animation moves quickly and is not interactive so I had to watch it a few times to notice everything it depicts. The animation itself is neat, but what I actually found more interesting is the data that was used to create the animation. The animation was created using these ship logs. To see images of some the ships in the logs, visit this ship list.

Applications for Education
When I saw the animation my first thought was to ask students to investigate why some routes were maintained during the war while others were abandoned. A good follow-up could be to have students try to investigate U.S. Navy ship patterns for the same time period.