Thursday, August 6, 2015

Highlight Debates or Analyze Presentations Through Vibby

One of last week's most popular posts was about a new video highlighting tool called Vibby. Vibby allows you to highlight and comment on sections of YouTube videos. You can even break the videos to play only the sections that you highlight in the video's timeline. An email that I received today from Vibby gave me a good idea about how to use the service to help students analyze debates and presentations.

Vibby is running a contest called Highlight the GOP Debate. In the contest they're asking people to highlight outrageous moments, exaggerated truths, and fluffy or meaningless statements. The contest is open to anyone who is a registered Vibby user.

Applications for Education
Reading about Vibby's Highlight the GOP Debate contest made me think about using Vibby to help students identify and understand key points in debates and presentations. You could ask students to watch videos and identify people who make consistent eye contact, who pace their presentations well, or any other characteristic that you want them to emulate when they deliver their own presentations. You could also have students use Vibby to identify and highlight examples of people using logical fallacies in debates, identify forms of advertising and manipulation, or highlight the best arguments made in a presentation.

Versal Adds a Gadget Marketplace and Google Classroom Integration

A wave of updates to ed tech products is a sure sign that the new school year isn't far away. Already today I've shared updates about SeeSaw, ClassDojo, and WhatsDue. Not to be left out, Versal has some updates for teachers too.

Versal is a service for building online courses. (Click here to learn how to use it). Courses can be comprised of text, images, videos, quizzes, and what interactive elements that Versal calls gadgets. Many Versal gadgets are designed to help students see and model problems in geometry and algebra. You will also find some Versal gadgets that are interactive, explanatory images. All of the Versal gadgets can be found in their new marketplace section.

The other update to Versal to note is their integration with Google Classroom. You can now create your online course with Versal and share it to your Google Classroom.

Seesaw 2.0 - More Great Features for Building and Sharing Digital Portfolios

Disclosure: SeeSaw is an advertiser on

Earlier this summer the popular digital portfolio service, SeeSaw, expanded to offer a Chrome app, Android app, and browser edition to go along with the popular iPad app. This week SeeSaw unveiled version 2.0.

SeeSaw 2.0 keeps all of the great features that have made it popular including letting students join your class by scanning a QR code, taking pictures of physical work, and importing digital work. To those useful features SeeSaw 2.0 adds more tools for drawing, an option for teachers to enable "liking" and commenting on work, and an option to log-in with a Google Account.

Applications for Education
Of the new features in SeeSaw 2.0 the most significant is the option to enable "liking" and commenting. If you enable that option for your students, they can use likes and comments to give each other feedback on the work in their digital portfolios.

One other new feature that you might find helpful is the option to archive old classes.

If you're planning to use SeeSaw this fall, take a look at the free presentation resource that SeeSaw offers. The presentation will help you explain to parents how SeeSaw works and why you're using it.

WhatsDue Gets a Refresh for the New School Year

WhatsDue is a free service for sending due date reminders to students. The service sends push notifications to students' iOS and Android devices. I reviewed the service last spring and thought that it was good as it doesn't rely on SMS/ text messaging. Just in time for the new school year WhatsDue released some updates.

There are three noticeable updates to WhatsDue on the administrative side of things. First, you can now define the type of assignment (homework, quiz, project, or custom description) and add a description to it. Second, the due date now defaults to "tomorrow" unless you change it. Third, you no longer have to specify a time for each assignment's due date. Instead of having to specify "August 14 at 9am" you can now just leave it as "August 14."

Here's how WhatsDue works. First, the teacher registers for a free account on the WhatsDue website and creates a class or classes. Each class is assigned its own unique join code. Teachers then invite students and parents to join the class through the join code. Once students have joined the class they will begin receiving due date reminders on their mobile devices.

Teachers can create multiple classes and schedule multiple reminders for each class from one dashboard on the WhatsDue website. Students opening WhatsDue on their iPhones or Android phones will see reminders of approaching due dates and past due dates.

ClassDojo Introduces a New Way to Communicate With Parents

A few weeks ago ClassDojo added a new feature for creating student groups within your ClassDojo classrooms. In that post I teased that more frequently requested features would be added to ClassDojo before summer's end. This week ClassDojo added another of those features in the form of what they're calling Class Story.

ClassDojo's Class Story is a feature intended to help you keep parents informed about what's happening in your classroom. Class Story provides a wall onto which you can post text and image updates for parents. Only parents whose students are in your classroom can see the updates and they cannot share them outside of the ClassDojo environment. Parents can "like" your posts on the Class Story wall. As a teacher you can see which parents have read the Class Story updates and which ones have not read the updates.

Applications for Education
ClassDojo Class Story could be a good supplement to using ClassDojo's messenger service. The Class Story feature is good for sharing the highlights of a class project or field trip. The messenger app is good for one-on-one communication with parents. Class Story will be available in the ClassDojo iOS, Android, and web apps. Click here to register for access today.

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