Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Crash Course on The Odyssey

John Green is back with a new Crash Course on literature. The first installment in the new course is A Long and Difficult Journey, or The Odyssey. In typical Crash Course style John Green packs all of the basics about The Odyssey into one fast-paced video.


Applications for Education
A Long and Difficult Journey, or The Odyssey is obviously designed as an introduction to the story. I would consider having students watch it after reading and then ask them to identify things that they think John Green should have spent more time on. Then challenge your students to produce their own videos to emphasize the key points that they've identified.

As is common in Crash Course videos, Green makes a few comments that some might consider PG-13. Watch the video and decide for yourself before sharing it with your students.

Create Public Courses on OpenEd

Since it was launched six months OpenEd.io has seen a steady stream of updates. The latest update offers support for public courses. Any course that you create using the Common Core-aligned resources in OpenEd.io can be shared publicly. This update should create a larger pool of shared resources for teachers and students.

As a registered OpenEd user (registration is free and takes less than thirty seconds to complete) you can create courses and playlists of videos and other materials that you find in the OpenEd directory. You can align your courses and playlists to Common Core standards. If you choose to align your course to a standard, OpenEd will suggest materials to you. OpenEd supports inclusion of assessments within your course.

Applications for Education
My favorite aspect of OpenEd.io is the search tool. Rather than searching and hoping to find a video on YouTube that matches the standard(s) you're addressing in a lesson, you can start with the standard and have OpenEd locate videos for you.

OpenEd.io offers iPad and Android apps that your students can use to access your courses and assessments.

You Can Build Your Own Search Engine

Earlier this week I received an email from someone who had found the custom video search engine that I built last summer. The person who emailed me asked how I did it. There's not much to it other than following a few steps at Google.com/cse. As you can see in the directions embedded below, you don't need any coding skills in order to build your own search engine.



Applications for Education
Creating a custom search engine is a good way to provide some gentle search assistance to students. You can create search engines that only include websites that are appropriate for your students' reading levels.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Webinar Recording - Digital Storytelling With Comics

Last night I hosted a free webinar about digital storytelling with comics. The webinar was sponsored by Storyboard That. In the webinar we discussed how to create comic strips with Storyboard That and how to use them in other services including WidBook and WeVideo. The recording is embedded below.

StoryBoard That offers free and paid plans. The free plan is adequate for classroom use. The paid plans offer a slew of extra features like classroom account management, uploading custom images, and more storyboard formats. Through Friday Storyboard That is offering a 25% discount to readers of Free Technology for Teachers. To get the discount just go to storyboardthat.com/FreeTech

SpeakPipe - Receive Voicemail Through Your Blog

SpeakPipe is a neat little service that allows visitors to your blog to leave you voice messages without picking up a phone. I had it installed on a classroom blog for a while. Until this week the only way to have SpeakPipe appear on your blog was as a pop-out widget. Now you can embed the recording widget directly into your blog (the sidebar is the ideal placement).

With SpeakPipe installed on your blog anyone can click on the "send voicemail" button and leave a message for you. When a visitor clicks the "leave voicemail" button she will be prompted to allow access to her computer. Then the visitor can start recording a message for you. Visitors can, but don't have to, enter their names and email addresses for you. You can listen to and download the messages left for you in your SpeakPipe inbox.

Applications for Education
When installed on a school website SpeakPipe could provide a good way for parents to leave voicemail messages. SpeakPipe messages can be downloaded to your computer so if you need a simple way for students to record their voices for use in a multimedia project, SpeakPipe might be handy to have on your classroom blog.