Saturday, September 14, 2013

Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good evening from Greenwood, Maine where it was a perfect evening for an autumn camp fire in my backyard. Yesterday, I had the good fortune to work with teachers at The Crossnore Academy in North Carolina. We had a great day exploring the ways that teachers and students can use Google Apps in their classrooms. I got home very late from North Carolina which is why there was only one post yesterday. I'll make up for that over the weekend. Speaking of weekends, if you use the weekend to catch up on blog posts that you missed, this list below provides a good way to see what other readers enjoyed this week. 

Here are this week's most popular posts:

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Remind 101 offers a free tool for sending text message reminders to students.
ClassCharts is a free attendance and behavior recording tool.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
Vocabulary Spelling City offers spelling practice activities that you can customize.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments.
ABCya.com is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is organizing two iPad summits this school year.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Tools for Creating Screen Capture Images and Videos

This evening I received a question from a reader who was wondering what I use to create the annotated screen capture images that you see in the guides that I produce. I create those images by using Jing which I have installed on my Mac and Windows computers. There are other services that I have tried from time to time. Those services along with Jing are described below.


Vessenger, producers of a group messaging system, offers a free program for capturing and annotating images on your computer screen. The free program, called Snaplr, is available for Windows and Mac. With Snaplr installed you can capture all or part of your screen. Snaplr's annotation tools include text boxes, highlighting, and free-hand drawing tools. When you've finished creating your annotated screen capture you can save it as a PNG file or attach it to an email message in Outlook.

Using the print screen key on your PC or "command+shift+4" on your Mac are easy ways to create a screen capture. But if you want do more and draw or annotate on that screen capture, give Snaggy a try. Snaggy is a web-based tool for drawing on, annotating, and sharing screen captures. To draw or write on your screen capture just paste your screen capture image into Snaggy. Snaggy offers tools for highlighting a section of your screen capture, typing on it, and drawing free-hand on your image. You can also use Snaggy to crop your image. When you're ready to share your screen capture, Snaggy assigns is a custom url that you can Tweet, email, or post anywhere you like. Snaggy lets you save your edited screen captures to your computer too.


Monosnap is a free screen capture tool for Mac and Windows. Monosnap is advertising that they will soon offer it for Android and iOS too. To get started download Monosnap. Once installed you can use Monosnap to capture a portion or all of your screen. One neat option is to capture your screen after a ten second delay. After capturing your screen you can draw on your image, type on it, or highlight portions of the screen capture image. You can save your screen captures on your computer or upload them to a free Monosnap account.

Szoter is a free online tool for annotating images that are stored on your computer. You can also use Szoter to capture and annotate screenshots. You can use Szoter on the web or download the Adobe Air version of it to run on your desktop. Either way you can upload images, draw on those images, and type on those images. When you're done annotating and drawing on your images you can save them to your local computer or share them online through your favorite social networks. Szoter can also be used to capture your screen and create annotated screen captures.

Explain and Send is a free Chrome extension that I have just installed in my browser. The extension allows me to quickly select all or a portion of my screen, draw on it, type on it, and share it. The extension installs in seconds and if you have synchronization enabled (click here to learn how) it will be available to you on all of the computers that you use. After you have created your screen capture you can share it via email, Twitter, or Facebook.

Pixlr offers a large set of image creation and editing tools. One of the tools that can be quite handy is Pixlr Grabber. Pixlr Grabber is Pixlr's screen capture tool. Pixlr Grabber is available as an extension for Chrome or Firefox. Using Pixlr Grabber you can capture your screen, crop the screen image, and print what you like. You can also send the image to Pixlr Editor for further editing options.

Screenr is a very simple, easy-to-use tool for creating screencast videos. You do not need to register in order to use Screenr, but if you want to save your recordings you do need a Twitter account. Screenr uses your Twitter ID to save your recording and publish it to Twitter (you can opt not to publish to Twitter). The recordings you make using Screenr can also be published to YouTube or you can download your recordings.

Screen Castle is a simple screencast creation tool that is completely web-based. To use Screen Castle simply visit their website, click the start button and you're recording. You have the option to enable voice recording for your screencasts. Screencasts made using Screen Castle can be viewed on the Screen Castle website or embedded into your website or blog.

Screencast-O-Matic is a web-based screencast creation tool similar to Screen Castle. Screencast-O-Matic allows you to specify how much of your screen that you want to record. Screencast-O-Matic gives you up to fifteen minutes of recording time per video. If you want to include a webcam view of yourself talking you can do that too. To do that enable your webcam and then when you record a small video of you will appear in the corner of your finished video.

Quick Screen Share is a free screen sharing service from the makers of Screencast-o-matic. To use Quick Screen Cast just go to their website, select share your screen, and enter your name. Quick Screen Share will then provide you with a URL to share with the person with whom you are screen sharing. When that person opens the link you he or she will be able to see your screen. Quick Screen Share doesn't require you to install anything (assuming you have Java installed) or require you to register for the service.

Show Me What's Wrong is a free service offered by Screencast-O-Matic. The service is designed to help you help others with their computer problems. To use the service enter your name and email address to have a custom url assigned to you. You then send that url to the person who needs help. The person receiving your email opens the link and then starts recording his or her screen while talking about the trouble he or she is having. When the person you're trying to help finishes recording his or her screencast is sent directly to you.

Webpage Screenshot is a Chrome extension that you can use to capture all or part of webpage. You can draw and type on screenshots you make with Webpage Screenshot. One feature of Webpage Screenshot that is quite helpful is the option to capture the entire content of webpage even if it doesn't appear in your current view of the webapge.


The tool that I use most often of creating annotated screen capture images is Jing. Jing enables you to take a picture of part of your screen or all of your screen. Once you've captured the area you want in your picture, you can type on it, draw arrows on it, and highlight sections of text within it. To use Jing you must download and install the free software for your Mac or PC. Once it's installed, launch it and it runs in the background until you need it. You'll know that Jing is ready for you to use because you will notice an orange ball in one of the top corners of your screen. It takes up very little screen real estate and is ready to use whenever you need it. You can also use Jing to record a video of your screen. Simply select the area of your screen that you would like to show, click the record button and begin talking. Jing will capture everything you say and do for up to five minutes.

Awesome Screenshot is a great Chrome, Firefox, and Safari browser extension for capturing, annotating, and sharing screenshots. Once you've installed Awesome Screenshot you can simply activate it from your browser to capture a page or region on a page, draw boxes, draw lines, blur out information, and add text to your screenshot. When you're satisfied with your screenshot you can save it locally or share it via the url provided by Awesome Screenshot.

Bounce is a neat application that not only allows you to make annotated screen captures of websites but also allows you to instantly share those screen captures with others. To use Bounce go to their website then type in the url of any website you like and click "Bounce." Bounce will then create an image of that website on which you can draw boxes and annotate those boxes. You can create as many boxes and notes as you like. When you're done creating notes, Bounce will provide you with a unique url for your screen captures that you can share with others. If you create a Bounce account (optional) you and other Bounce users can annotate the same screen capture.

Capturing and Annotating Your iPad's Screen
To capture whatever you're currently viewing on your iPad's screen simultaneously press the on/off switch and the center "home" button. Your screen capture will be saved to your iPad's camera roll. After creating my screen capture I like to use Skitch for iPad to draw and type on the image. Using the latest version of Skitch for iPad you can register for an Evernote account and then your images will automatically be saved in Evernote. You can download Skitch for iPad here.

Capturing and Annotating Your Android Device's Screen
If you want to capture your screen on an Android device that is running Android 4.0 or higher you can do so by holding the "volume down" and "power" button at the same time. Then you can share those images to another service to mark them up.

There is one method that I've used to capture my Android tablet's screen. By using AirDroid you can mirror your Android device to your Windows or Mac computer. Then you can use a desktop screen capture tool like Jing to capture an image of your Android tablet's screen. It's far from being a perfect or quick method, but it works.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

SchoolsWorld - A Good Source of Educational Videos

SchoolsWorld.tv is one of the sites that I recently added to my list of alternatives to YouTube. SchoolsWorld.tv is a site that offers hundreds of educational videos for students. The videos are a mix of instructional videos, mini-documentaries, and demonstration videos. You can search for videos according to subject area. Each video is accompanied by a short overview of its key points and a list of key terms. Embed codes are not available for SchoolsWorld.tv videos so your students will have to view the videos directly on the site.


In addition to the videos teachers will find PDFs, slides, and games that they can use with their students. Those materials are not available for every video in the SchoolsWorld.tv library.

By Popular Request - October Webinar - How To Use Google Drive in School

I have had many people ask if I would offer another section of my PracticalEdTech.com webinar series How To Use Google Drive In School. I have scheduled another offering of the series in October. The series will meet on October 8, 15, and 22nd at 7pm Eastern.

How To Use Google Drive In School is a three hour interactive course for educators who want to learn how to use Google Drive (Google Docs, Presentations, Forms, Spreadsheets). This course covers everything from the basics of document creation to using scripts to automate workflow in Google Drive.

Registration is limited to 25 people per course. For only $87 all participants receive digital how-to guides, access to three hours of live webinar training, access to all webinar recordings, and access to a dedicated course discussion forum.

The cost of the three part course is $87. While the webinar series is not free it is significantly less than cost of flying me to your school for the day or the cost of attending one of the Google Apps Summits. Click here to register. The next section is scheduled to meet on October 8, 15, 22 at 7pm Eastern. Registration is limited to 25 seats per section. Click here to register today!

Course Highlights
*Creating and sharing documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.
*Using Google Documents and Presentations for collaborative writing and reading exercises.
*Using Google Forms and Spreadsheets for collecting and analyzing data.
*Using Google Documents as a publishing platform.
*Managing the flow of files in your Google Drive.
Registration is limited to 25 students per course.

This course is designed for educators who:
*Are new to using Google Drive/ Documents.
*Have previously used Google Drive/ Documents but would like a refresher course.
*Would like to learn how Google Drive/ Documents can be used to help their students meet ELA Common Core Standards.

Click here to register today!


About the cost and my decision to advertise it on my blog:
Every time that I advertise one of these webinars I get messages from people who are upset that I am advertising it here and or that I am charging for it. I understand why some people feel that way. The purpose of this blog and my goal for years has always been to help people use free technology in their classrooms. Google Drive is free for anyone to use. However, my time for teaching isn't free. Likewise, I pay licensing fees to GoToTraining and to Wistia for hosting all of the media content of the courses. 

Be Darwin for a Day With New Google Street View Imagery

The latest update to Google Maps Street View imagery features the Galapagos Islands. The imagery can take you underwater to view fish and sea turtles, to beaches to see sea lions sunbathing, and along mangrove-lined shorelines. The imagery also lets you see inside the research facilities on the Galapagos Islands. You can explore all of the imagery on the Google Maps Views website.



Applications for Education
Consider combining your students' exploration of the Galapagos Islands Street View imagery with Darwin, A Naturalist's Voyage. Darwin, A Naturalist's Voyage is an outstanding virtual tour of Charles Darwin's nearly five year journey on the Beagle. Darwin, A Naturalist's Voyage has fourteen segments chronicling Darwin's voyage from start to finish. Throughout the tour viewers will see sketches from the journey, hear readings from Darwin's journals, and learn about the journey as a whole. The virtual tour is not limited to just Darwin's work as a naturalist. Darwin, A Naturalist's Voyage explores social issues of the time such as slavery.