Friday, March 7, 2014

Use Google Drawings to Start Image-based Conversations

One of the lesser-known features of Google Drive is the collaborative aspect of Drawings. Drawings in Google Drive allows you to collaboratively create drawings from scratch and or alter images that you upload to Drawings. By uploading an image you can draw on it and write on it to add labels. Google Drive Drawings supports commenting just like Google Documents. The sharing options in Drawings are the same as those of Documents too.

By using the collaborative drawing tools you could start online image-based conversations with your students. You could also use these tools to have your student collaboratively label diagrams. Directions for these processes are included in the screenshots in the slides below.

Augmented Reality + Avatars + Video = Fun Storytelling

This week at NCTIES 2014 I've learned as much I've shared. One of the highlights for me was seeing teachers combine the use of multiple apps to create one finished product. One of the combinations that I stumbled upon this week was using Tellagami creations in WeVideo.

Tellagami is a free iOS and Android app that students can use to create talking avatars set in a variety of backgrounds. Tellagami offers a stock background imagery, but you can also turn on your device's camera to place your customized avatar into any setting that you want use. For example, I took a picture of a crowd and put my avatar into the crowd. After customizing your avatar and background you can add your voice to the avatar or you can type text that will be read by the avatar. The finished product can be saved to your camera roll or shared through email. I sent my finished Tellagami project to myself through email where I then downloaded the movie file to use in WeVideo.

In WeVideo in the web browser on my laptop I uploaded my Tellagami file to edit out the "tellagami" banner that rolls at the end of the file. I was also able to add in transitions between multiple Tellagami files. If I had other video files I could have added those into the project too.

Applications for Education
Tellagami alone is a great tool for students to use to create short stories for a variety of purposes. One neat use of Tellagami would be to use a science lab as the background for video about lab safety. Or your have students write short stories then animate them through Tellagami. You might also use the app to have students create animations to represent their understanding of a historical event.

By uploading Tellagami files to WeVideo (iMovie also works for this purpose) your students could create a longer video with separate parts or chapters.

Thanks to Kathy Schrock the many other people who helped me formulate these thoughts at NCTIES. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Best of the Web 2014

Earlier today at NCTIES 2014 I shared an entirely new version of my popular Best of the Web presentation. In this version I shared only tools that are new-to-me since last year's NCTIES conference and or have released significant enhancements in the last year. The slides from the session are embedded below. If you would like a copy of these slides click here to open them in Google Drive then select "File,""Make copy" to save a copy for yourself. I will be updating the speaker notes to include more links.

Tynker Launches an iPad App That Helps Kids Learn Programming

The online programming education service Tynker has released an iPad app for students. The Tynker iPad app features stories that students animate by completing a series of programming challenges. The programming happens by organizing a series of blocks that represent commands. In that way it is similar to apps like Daisy the Dinosaur and MIT's App Inventor.

The Tynker iPad app provides the first story / programming challenge for free. The subsequent challenges require in-app purchases. The first story contains twenty challenges for students.

Applications for Education
The Tynker iPad app could be a good one for elementary school students to use to begin to learn about the logic that is used in programming. Students older than ten or eleven may find the challenges too simple.

Create Your Own Geography Games With These Free Tools

One of the fun things that we did earlier in my NCTIES workshop about Google Maps and Earth was to play a couple of rounds of GeoGuessr. GeoGuessr shows you a Google Street View image and a clue to try to guess where in the world the imagery was captured. Playing GeoGuessr is a fun way to get students to look at all of the visual and text clues they have in order to form a good guess as to where in the world they think the imagery came from.

You can create your own GeoGuessr games by using GeoSettr. When you visit GeoSettr you'll see two screens. A map with a Pegman on your left and the Street View imagery for the Pegman's current location on your right. Move the Pegman around, zoom-in if you like, until you find the location that you want people to guess. When you've found the right location click "set round" to save the location. When you've set five rounds (locations) your game is assigned a URL that you can distribute. Just like any other GeoGuessr game when someone plays your GeoSettr game he or she will try to use the visual clues in the Street View imagery to guess the location. After making a guess GeoGuessr shows you the correct location and how far away from the correct location your guess was.


Mission Map Quest
, developed by Russel Tarr, is a map-based tool for creating virtual treasure hunts. The concept is simple, you create a series of clues that your students need to follow to identify places around the world. You can add as few or as many clues to your Map Quest as you like. When you're ready to have students try your Quest just give them the web address of the challenge or have them scan the QR code assigned to your Quest.