Monday, April 6, 2015

Office Lens - Digitize Handwritten Notes and Diagrams

Office Lens is a new app for iOS and Android (still in limited beta) designed for converting pictures of notes on whiteboards and paper into notes that can be edited in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. If you don't need to edit the notes that your take pictures of, you can simply export the file created by Office Lens to JPEG or PDF. Probably the neatest aspect of Office Lens is that hand-drawn images and figures captured through the app can be separated from the text to move and manipulate as individual objects in PowerPoint slides. See the video below for an overview of Office Lens.

Applications for Education
Office Lens could be a great app for students to use to snap a picture of something on a whiteboard then add their own comments to it in a Word Document.

The option in Office Lens to separate hand-drawn objects could be a good way to digitize a brainstorming session. When I brainstorm I often do it in a paper notebook that has pages of edits. By taking a picture of the brainstorming session I could separate each part of the notes then move them into new positions on slides or in a document.

H/T to Lifehacker and about a half dozen other tech blogs I read this weekend.

Use Zaption to Enhance Video Content

This is a guest post from Jennifer Carey (@TeacherJenCarey) of EdTechTeacher - an advertiser on this site.

Video has become a more ubiquitous element in education today: YouTube Videos, Kahn Academy, Flipped Content, iTunes U, and more. However, most teachers don’t want their students passively absorbing content. Rather, they want to make sure that students are engaged with the material. A great tool for incorporating more responsive features in your lessons is Zaption, which you can use to create interactive videos via a web browser or their free iOS App.

Take the Zaption Tour to see what's possible.

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 1.55.49 PM While Zaption does offer a robust, subscription model, the free tool will allow teachers to do a lot with both existing videos as well as those they create. After you sign up for an account, select “New Tour” on the top left of your screen. This will open the editing screen. The great thing about Zaption is that everything is drag and drop. So if you’re a bit lost, just try clicking and dragging something! If you want to add video, you can search for content online (YouTube, Vimeo, PBS, Nat Geo, etc), the Zaption library, or upload your own videos. Once you find the video that you want, simply click “Add this video to tour.”

Once the video is added, you can trim it down to the most important points and add subtitles. You can add multiple videos as well as still slides, drawings, and text slides in order to build a larger, more comprehensive broadcast. Once you have completed the video, it’s time to add in the interactive features! With the free version you can include: open responses, multiple choice, and check box questions (the pro feature adds a broader range of response elements that you may want to explore).

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 1.56.19 PMTo share your video, simply click the red “Publish” button on the top right. Once published, click on the “share” button where you can retrieve a shareable link or an embed code to use on a website or an LMS. You can view responses to your questions by clicking on “Analytics.” Zaption videos are viewable via their free iOS App or via a web browser.

EdTechTeacher will be offering Summer Workshops on The Flipped Classroom, Google & Chromebooks, iPads, and more in 5 cities this June and July.

GraphFree - An Online Graphing Tool for Students and Teachers

GraphFree is a new online graphing tool for students and teachers. On GraphFree students can enter plot graph points manually or enter an equation or function to see a graph generated. Each graph can then be saved as an image to use in a document, a presentation, or in a SMART Notebook folder. GraphFree provides a helpful gallery of tutorial videos and an extensive guide for new users.

Applications for Education
GraphFree provides a nice alternative to some expensive graphing calculators and apps. For a lot of high school students GraphFree will provide all of the functions that they need. GraphFree can also be used by teachers to simply download a blank graph to use for in-class graphing assignments done on paper.

Chromebook users might also want to take a look at these Chrome apps for graphing.

How to Create a 3D Gallery of Images and Videos

Russel Tarr at has come up with another neat tool for students. The Classtools 3D Gallery Generator enables students to create a virtual 3D gallery of images and videos. Each gallery can have up to ten images and or videos. Below each image or video students can insert captions to provide explanations of the significance of the visuals in their galleries. In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of how to use the 3D Gallery Generator.

Applications for Education
As is demonstrated by the sample, the 3D Gallery Generator can be a good way for students to organize a small presentation about topics they have researched.

The Classtools 3D Gallery Generator could also provide a good way for students to create a fiction story. They could use the 3D Gallery Generator as a storyboard tool in which they upload pictures that they want to use in writing their stories through the captions below each image.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Mailbag - Answers to Questions from Readers

Every week I receive quite a few emails and Facebook messages from teachers looking for recommendations for sites and apps that solve a problem for them or their students. The questions that have broad appeal I like to include in my weekly-ish mailbag post. This week's questions and answers are posted below.

Q1. Long time follower, first time corresponder. I have you to thank for making the transition to Google Drive easier after I participated in one of your small group webinars a few years back. I am a big fan of Creative Commons and shortcuts. Do you know of any tools out there that would automatically include the Creative Commons license on the image? is a Creative Commons image search tool that will include all of the attribution information in the bottom of the image when you download an image. A video tutorial on embedding into a blog can be seen here. (Disclosure: is owned by which advertises on my blog).

Another option is Alan Levine's Flickr CC Attribution helper. I have a video tutorial about that tool available here.

Finally, if your students are only using the images in presentations, Haiku Deck has an integrated CC image search. The attribution comes attached to the pictures found through the iPad and web versions of Haiku Deck. Click here for a video tutorial on Haiku Deck's web app.

Q2. Thank you so much for responding so promptly to my e-mail. All of your comments are quite helpful. If you have time to reply again, I have a follow-up question: How does one submit and upload a Garage Band recording to any of the sites you suggest? I could not get the recording to upload out of DropBox. The file isn't supported in GoogleDrive. Additionally, it will not upload into SoundCloud, AudioBoom, etc. I am not sure what I am missing.

I put together some screenshots that explain how to move a file from GarageBand to SoundCloud (the process is the same for other file hosts too).

Q3. Our students are about to begin a project creating videos through still images and perhaps some recorded video chunks on their phones. I would like to have them be able to do voice overs, but am unsure of a good web based video editor that I can use that 9th graders can navigate and store their information. Do you have any suggestions for me?

WeVideo is a good option. Your students can upload and store images in their accounts. Students would then drag-and-drop images into a timeline record a voice-over while looking at the images. WeVideo can also integrate into a Google Drive account.

If you have a question you can email me or message me through the FreeTech4Teachers Facebook page. I try to reply to every email.