Friday, May 9, 2014

7 Web-based Tools for Creating Short Video Stories

Yesterday, I wrote a post about Adobe's new digital storytelling iPad app called Adobe Voice. After posting that on Facebook I received a few requests for suggestions for similar tools that can be used in a web browser. Here are some nice web-based tools for quickly creating short videos.

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.

Sokratik is a newer service (still in beta) for creating audio slideshows. To create a presentation on Sokratik you simply add a picture, video, and or text to each slide and when you're done adding slides you can record your voice over each one.

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. is a handy service for recording video and or audio to accompany your slides. 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 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. accepts a large variety of presentation file types. And if you sign-in with your Google account, you can import presentations to from your Google Drive account.

PixiClip is a slick tool tool for creating, narrating, and sharing drawings. PixiClip provides a whiteboard space on which you can draw, upload images to mark-up, and type. While adding elements to your PixiClip whiteboard you can talk and or record a video of yourself talking. In fact, you can't use the whiteboard without at least recording your voice at the same time. Recordings can be shared via social media and or embedded into your blog posts. PixiClip does not require you to create an account in order to use the service. However, if you want to save your recording to re-visit and edit you will need to create an account. Accounts are free and take less than thirty seconds to create.

Animoto is still the old standby in this field. 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.

YouTube Photo Slideshows is one of the frequently overlooked tools built into YouTube. To create a YouTube Photo Slideshow you simply upload some pictures, select transitions, and select some music to play in the video. After uploading your images you can use the annotations tool to add as much text as you like to each frame of your video. If you're working in a school that uses Google Apps for Education, your students can use their log-in credentials on YouTube so they don't have to create separate usernames and passwords. Click here to find complete directions for creating YouTube Photo Slideshows.

Students Can Develop and Test Rocket Designs on OpenRocket

OpenRocket is an open source model rocket simulator that students can use to develop and test rocket designs. Students build their rocket designs by assembling pieces from the component gallery. As they add components to their designs students see the pieces fit together in a sequence. Selecting components is just one aspect of using OpenRocket. Students have to specify the characteristics of each component to make them function as a system in their rockets. When students test their designs the results are displayed as a flight graph.

I found three good OpenRocket tutorial videos on YouTube. Those are embedded below.

Applications for Education
OpenRocket does not have a slick interface, but the depth of customization and feedback more than make up for that. OpenRocket could be a great tool to students to use to test and see various physics concepts in action.

Thanks to Doug Peterson for sharing this on Twitter earlier this week. 

Letter Feed Messenger Provides a Better Way to Track Changes to Google Documents

Letter Feed Messenger is a Google Documents and Google Sheets Add-on designed to make easier to keep up with the changes in your Documents and Sheets. Rather than having to open the revision history to see changes or open the comments to see suggested edits, Letter Feed Messenger puts all of that information and more into a column on the side of your Document or Sheet. The video below provides a short overview of Letter Feed Messenger's features.

Applications for Education
Using Letter Feed Messenger could help you save time when editing a student's work. Rather than having to search for changes you can jump right to them by using the column of updates created by Letter Feed Messenger.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

EWC Presenter Re-brands as Visme - Create Slides and Infographics Online

EWC Presenter is a neat tool for creating infographics including musical infographics and slideshows. The service has recently re-branded as Visme. Visme is referring to itself as the "Swiss Army Knife for Visual Content." Just as you could on EWC Presenter, on Visme you can slideshows, banner graphics, and interactive infographics. Your Visme creations can be shared online by embedding them into websites or blogs. You can also download your creations as image, PDF, or HTML5 files.

Applications for Education
Visme could be an excellent tool for your students to use to create infographics based upon data that they research or gather on their own. Some student infographic projects that I've seen include comparing development data and community demographic data.

Geddit Adds Handy New Options for Giving Students Feedback on Informal Assessments

Geddit is a free service for quickly gathering feedback from your students through any web-enabled device. I initially reviewed the service back in March. Since then Geddit has added a couple of helpful new features. First, you can now comment and send messages directly to individual students through Geddit. This feature will allow you to follow-up with a student who replied "I don't get it" to a question.

The other new feature of Geddit that teachers will like is the personalized Review Page for students. On their personalized Review Pages students can review topics covered in class, revisit areas of concern, and see your personal comments about their responses to your Geddit prompts.

If you haven't seen Geddit before, it gives you the ability to push questions to your students' devices. You can create and send multiple choice and short answer questions. You can also simply ask "do you get it" at any time to check for your students' general feelings about a lesson you're conducting. The feedback that you gather from your students through Geddit can be displayed in a variety of graph and list formats. The list format that I like best shows me how each student responded to my "do you get it" question and highlights the students who responded with "no" or "kind of."

Applications for Education
Geddit was already trying to distinguish itself in the student-response system field by providing a wide variety of data collection formats. The new messaging option and student Review Page option give another distinguishing aspect that can improve the way that you collect and work with student response data.