Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tackk Introduces Tackk Stream for Commenting on Digital Portfolios and Simple Webpages

Tackk is a nice service for creating simple webpages, announcement pages, and digital portfolios. I wrote a review of the service back in April. Today, Tackk added a new feature called Stream.

At its core Tackk Stream is a commenting system. But these are not your typical text-based comments. Tackk Stream allows you to include videos and images including animated GIFs in your comments. Tackk Stream can be made private or public. In the announcement of the new feature the Tackk team suggests using Stream for collaborating on the creation of task lists. Of course, you could simply use the service to gather feedback on something that you've written on your Tackk page.


Tackk from Tackk on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
Tackk could be a good tool for students to use to quickly create a page to show off some of their digital photography, video creation projects, or audio files. If your students use the private option you could use Tackk Stream to give them feedback on elements of their digital portfolios.

I Tweeted a Google Document and a Neat Thing Happened

Yesterday, I gave a short presentation on teaching with technology and primary sources. During that presentation I demonstrated how I have used Google Documents to support classroom conversations about primary source documents. I wanted to share the document with everyone in the audience but I didn't have email addresses to enter in the sharing field and the screen in the room was too small for folks in the back to see if I posted a shortened URL. So I Tweeted the document for anyone to find. My intent was to get the document out to the audience and the side effect was that any of my 62k+ followers could access it too.

I set the permissions as "can comment" on the document that I Tweeted yesterday. In the comments I found a note from Steve Goldberg that inspired my thinking about Tweeting Google Documents. This was his comment:

I made a few comments below -- I'm not sure what class/project this is for but I am intrigued by the use of combining a Google Doc with a Tweet for an assignment :) I'm writing from Durham, NC.

Applications for Education
The conclusion to this story is that I started thinking about Tweeting Google Documents while teaching a current events course. I envision it working like this:

  • Copy and paste text of an article into a Google Document (giving attribution for the source and making it clear that this is done only for critique under the guidelines of fair use). 
  • Set the permissions on the Google Document as "public, can comment."
  • Tweet and or Google+ the document. Include in the Tweet that I'm seeking polite comments to enhance the classroom conversation. 
  • Change the permissions back to "view only" when enough comments have been received. 
By Tweeting the document I can get comments from others that can add a different perspective to our classroom conversation about a current event. 

Yes, there are some concerns associated with making a document publicly available like this. First, I would not do this with students younger than high school age. Second, if you have a lot of followers you will need to closely monitor comments. Third, remember to change the permissions to "view only" when you have whatever you deem to be "enough" comments. 

A Quick Tip on Deleting Google Documents

This isn't a major update to Google Documents, but it is a convenient one. You can now send a document or presentation directly to the trash without having to return to your Google Drive dashboard. To trash a document you now simply have to open the File menu and select "send to trash" to delete your document. It is important to note that this option is only available to the owners of documents. Those who only have edit or view permissions will not be able to delete a document from the File menu.


Pixorial Announces Closure - Try These Other Online Video Creation Tools

Pixorial is an online video creation tool that I raved about when it launched a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, the Pixorial team has announced that they are shutting down on July 18, 2014. If you have projects stored in Pixorial, you have until July 18th to download your media.

Three good online video creation tools:
WeVideo is a collaborative online video creation tool. In the video editor you can upload your own media clips or use stock media clips to produce your video. The video editor provides tools for trimming the length of display and or sound of each element you add to your video project. What makes WeVideo collaborative is that you can invite other people to create and edit with you. The WeVideo Google Drive app allows you to save all of your video projects in your Google Drive account. WeVideo also offers an Android app that students can use to capture images and video footage to add to their projects.

PowToon is a nice service for creating explanatory videos through a drag and drop process. The videos that you create feature digital paper cut-outs on a colorful background. Think of PowToon as an online tool for creating videos in the style made popular by Common Craft. PowToon provides drawings of people and objects that you can arrange on blank canvas. After adding your narration to the arrangement you can publish your video. PowToon's free version limits your videos to 45 seconds.

Wideo is a service that allows anyone to create animated videos and Common Craft-style videos online. You can create an animated video on Wideo by dragging and dropping elements into place in the Wideo editor then setting the sequence of animations. Each element can be re-used as many times as you like and the timing of the animation of each image can individually adjusted. Wideo's stock elements include text, cartoons, and drawings. You can also upload your own images and audio files to use in your videos.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Zaption - Video Based Quizzes and More

Zaption is an interesting video assessment tool that I tried when it was in beta last fall. This afternoon I received an email from the Zaption team asking me to take a look at the new version of the service. I was impressed by what I saw when I tried it this evening.

Zaption is a tool for creating video-based quizzes. Unlike some services like TED-Ed that have students watch a video then answer questions at the end, Zaption allows you to display questions for students to answer as they watch a video.

To create a quiz on Zaption you start by creating a "tour" in your account. A tour is a combination of videos, images, and text arranged into a sequence. To add a video to a tour you can search and select one within Zaption. Zaption pulls videos from YouTube, Vimeo, PBS, or National Geographic. After choosing your video, start watching it then pause it when you want to add a question. You can add questions in the form of multiple choice, open response, or check box response. When students watch the video they will see your questions appear in the context in which you set them.

As mentioned above, Zaption tours can include images and passages of text along with your video. You can add questions over images and or between images and text. Take a look at the Zaption showcase for some great examples of Zaption tours that incorporate video, images, and text.

Applications for Education
Zaption could be a great tool for creating flipped lessons to share with your students. Students do not have to have Zaption accounts in order to use the tours that you create. The free version of the service allows you to include one video per tour (you can have unlimited tours).