Friday, June 14, 2013

Fotopedia Reporter Lets You Create Beautiful, Geo-located Digital Stories

Since its launch a few years ago Fotopedia has been a great place to view images of nature. One of my favorite iPad apps is the Fotopedia National Parks app in which I browse great imagery of some of my favorite places. This week Fotopedia introduced a new service that allows you to create your own beautiful picture stories.

Fotopedia Reporter, available for use online and as an iPad app, lets you upload pictures and geo-locate them to create digital stories. When you use Fotopedia Reporter you create digital booklets of your images. When you upload an image you can add a description to it, center it on a map, and link to a Wikipedia entry about the place or thing featured in your picture. All stories must have at least six images plus a cover image.

Applications for Education
Fotopedia Reporter could be a fantastic tool to have your students use to create digital booklets about places that they study in a geography lesson.

Tour Mark Twain's House In Google Maps

Google Maps received another update yesterday. On the Google LatLong Blog it was announced that 1,001 new places can be viewed in Street View. One of the places featured in the announcement is Mark Twain's house. The exterior of the house was previously viewable in Street View. The new imagery takes you inside the house.

The 1,001 new places in Street View are not only in the United States. New Street View imagery of notable places in Canada, Europe, South America, and Asia is now available in Google Maps too. Take a look at the
Singapore Zoo in Street View.

Applications for Education
Google's continuous expansion of Google Street View imagery means that our opportunities to take students on virtual tours continues to expand too. I love using imagery to prompt students to ask questions that they can then research the answers too. For example, I can now take my students inside Mark Twain's house and show them this corner of this living area which may then lead to questions about what Mark Twain and his contemporaries did for home entertainment.


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Thursday, June 13, 2013

5 Benefits of Using Backchannels In Your Classroom

Over the last two weeks I've introduced a lot of teachers to using Padlet, TodaysMeet, and Socrative in their classrooms. All three of these tools can be used as backchannel and informal assessment tools. I've written about various ways to use each of these tools in the past. (Click here for TodaysMeet, here for Padlet, and here for Socrative). Here are some of the key benefits of using backchannels in your classroom.

1. Shy students are given a place to ask questions and contribute to conversations.

2. Students who process information by asking a lot of questions can ask an unlimited amount of questions without dominating the classroom conversation. Everyone can see their questions and you can choose when to address their questions.

3. Gauge your students' interest in and or prior knowledge of a topic.

4. Extend your classroom conversations beyond the time in your school's schedule. If you have started a backchannel during a classroom conversation and it's going well you don't have to worry about running out of time because you can have students continue the dialogue later in the day. Students who thing of a question or comment later in the day can add them without having to wait until the next class meeting to share that question or comment.

5. Gauge the effectiveness of an activity in real time. By having students share questions and comments during an activity, you can get an immediate sense of the effectiveness of that activity by gathering feedback from all of your students.

5 Ways Students Can Create Audio Slideshows

Somewhere between a PowerPoint presentation and a full-fledged video is the audio slideshow. Creating audio slideshows can be a good way to add meaning to slides that otherwise might not mean much without a presenter. Here are some ways that students can create audio slideshows.

Narrable is a neat service for creating short narrated slideshows. To create an audio slideshow on Narrable start by uploading some pictures that you either want to talk about or have music played behind. After the pictures are uploaded you can record a narration for each picture through your computer's microphone or by calling into your Narrable's access phone number. You can also upload an audio recording that is stored on your computer. Narrable projects can be shared via email, Facebook, or by embedding them into a blog.

UtellStory is a service for creating and sharing audio slideshows. To create and share your story through UtellStory you can upload pictures, add text captions, add audio narration to each slide, and upload a soundtrack to support your entire story. Completed projects can be embedded into your blog, emailed to your friends, or shared through your favorite social networking sites. Watch UTellStory's introduction here. Creating my first UTellStory project, available here, took me about ten minutes after registering on the site. To create my story I uploaded pictures that I had saved on my computer, but I could have also pulled images from Flickr. Then I added the narration to each slide. In the free version of UTellStory you have thirty seconds per slide and up to two minutes of total audio. I rearranged my slides after recording by simply dragging them into the sequence in which I wanted them to appear.

Present.me is a handy service for recording video and or audio to accompany your slides. Present.me allows you to sync your recorded audio and video to your slides then publish everything as one complete package. Here's how it works; upload a set of slides to your Present.me account, then use your webcam to record a video of yourself talking about those slides. Your video and slides will appear side-by-side when you have finished recording. If you don't want to record a video, you can simply record audio only. Present.me accepts a large variety of presentation file types. And if you sign-in with your Google account, you can import presentations to Present.me from your Google Drive account.

Hello Slide is a tool that you can use to add voice narration to slides that you display online.Hello Slide is different from services like Slideshare's Zipcast (which requires a paid subscription) because instead of recording your voice you type what you want the narrator to say. Where you might type "speakers notes" in other slide programs, in Hello Slide you type out the narration. Hello Slide creates the audio and narrates your slides for you. While the voice is slightly robotic, it is much much better than most text to speech services.To get started using Hello Slide, register for a free account, upload a PDF of your slides, then start typing your narration. It's very easy to use Hello Slide.

 In my mind one of the original audio slideshow tools is Animoto. It's been around for a long time (in web 2.0 terms) and it is still a good tool for students to use to bridge the gap between slideshows and videos. Animoto makes it possible to quickly create a video using still images, music, and text. In the last year Animoto has added the option to include video clips in your videos too. If you can make a slideshow presentation, you can make a video using AnimotoAnimoto's free service limits you to 30 second videos. You can create longer videos if you apply for an education account.

Summer Safety Video - The Grip of the Rip

 If your summer vacation plans call for taking kids to the beach, NOAA has safety reminder for you. The Grip of the Rip is a short animated video about rip currents. The video covers recognizing signs of a rip current, what to do if you're caught in one, and what to do if you see someone caught in one. The video and the transcript are available here. I've also embedded the video below.