Monday, January 21, 2013

What To Do Before Posterous Shuts Down - And How To Do It

Last March the popular blogging service Posterous Spaces was bought by Twitter. Since then it has intermittent outages (including once just before I was going to use it in a workshop), issues with its SSL certificate, and now according to TechCrunch it appears that Posterous Space is not accepting new registrations. All of this indicates to me that Twitter doesn't seem to be too interested in keeping Posterous Spaces running for much longer. For that reason I am no longer recommending Posterous Spaces as a good place for teachers and students to blog.

If, like me, you're worried about Posterous Spaces shutting down you can create a backup of your the content of your Posterous blogs to use in another blogging platform like Blogger, Edublogs, or WordPress. The backup files include your post content (except for the images in my test of it), the CSS file, and the WordPress XML file associated with your blog. I've included screenshots of the process below. Lifehacker also has written directions for moving content from Posterous to WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr.

Step 1: Sign into your Posterous Spaces account and select "backup."
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Step 2: Select the blog(s) that you want to backup.
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Step 3: Enter captcha code and your email address to be notified when your backup is ready.
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Step 4: Download zip file containing the contents of your blog.
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A Short Guide to Green Screen Special Effects in iMovie

My friend Rushton Hurley's Next Vista for Learning educational video hosting service recently hosted a video creation contest for teachers and students. The finalists were announced last week and the winners will be selected next week at the FETC conference in Florida. One of the finalist videos that I think a lot of teachers can learn from is Green Screen Special Effects in iMovie. It's a two minute overview of how to set-up and use green screen effects. Watch the video here. You can see the full list of finalists here.

Applications for Education
One of the things that I love about Next Vista for Learning is that all of the videos on the site are intended to teach some kind of lesson. Another important aspect of Next Vista for Learning is that all submissions are reviewed before going live on the site. And finally, the videos don't have any pre-roll or post-roll ads like you see on YouTube videos. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Three Free Tools for Creating Stopmotion and Timelapse Videos

Creating stopmotion and timelapse videos can be a good way for students to tell a story that they have developed. Stopmtion and timelapse videos can also be helpful when teachers are trying to help students see how a lengthy process like osmosis works. While good stopmotion and timelapse videos can take a long time to create, there are some tools that can make the process a little easier. Here are three stopmtion video creation tools that are worth trying.

JellyCam is a free program for creating stopmotion movies. Using JellyCam you can create stop motion movies using images from your computer or images that you capture via your webcam. Once you've selected images you can quickly arrange them into a sequence. After the sequence is set you can specify how many images you want per frame. A soundtrack can be uploaded to your video. JellyCam uses the Adobe Air platform. If you don't have Adobe Air Runtime it takes just a couple of minutes to install.

Stop Frame Animator from Culture Street is a neat tool for creating animated stop motion movies. Creating your animated stop motion video is a simple drag and drop process on Stop Frame Animator. To get started creating your stop motion video select a background scene then drag your characters into place. While you have nine background scenes to choose from, the only characters you can use are wooden manikins. You can position the manikins' arms and legs in every scene. After choosing your scene and characters you can add some other props like chairs and beach balls. And if you want you can add sound effects and music to your video by selecting them from the Stop Frame Animator gallery.


OSnap
is an iPad app (available in a free version and in a paid version) that you can use to create stop motion and time lapse videos. The app is quite easy to use. To create a video with the OSnap app you simply need to start a project and take a series of still pictures using your iPad’s camera. Then adjust the number of frame per second to edit your video. If you want to, you can add a sound track to your video by selecting audio files that are stored on your iPad. You can go back and edit your videos by removing images and from the project at any time. Completed projects can be stored on your iPad, uploaded to YouTube, or shared via email.

A note about Sam Animation. When I sat down to write this post I intended to include a review of Sam Animation. Unfortunately, when I went to the Sam Animation website it was down and I don't know when or if it will return. I hope it returns because it is a great program for creating stopmotion videos.

HelloSign for Gmail Allows You to Put Your Signature on Attachments

A few months ago HelloSign released a Chrome web app that allows you to apply your signature to any document in your Google Drive account. This past week they released a Gmail plug-in that allows you to apply your signature to any document sent to you through Gmail. This convenient tool allows you to fill out and sign documents in Gmail. This eliminates the need to print, sign, and scan documents that you need your written signature or initials. See how it works in the 47 second video below.


Applications for Education
I love little productivity tools like HelloSign enable busy teachers to quickly take care of administrative tasks and spend more time focusing on the thing that love about teaching, actually teaching.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Six Weeks of iPad Apps for School (Or 46 apps I've liked)

Tomorrow marks six weeks since I officially launched my blog devoted to iPad apps for students and teachers. And since I won't win any awards for clever titles, I just called it iPad Apps for School. Since I launched the blog I've published 56 posts which is better than one per day. In the slideshow below I've organized 46 of the reviewed apps. The slideshow is organized in the following order: math apps, science apps, social studies apps, language arts apps, video apps, and productivity apps. Not all of the apps in this slideshow are free, but most of them are.



You may want to hit the full screen button to make it easier to read the text on the slides. (This is not how I format slides for presentations that I deliver live).