Thursday, May 12, 2016

TechSmith is Ending Support for Popular Free Products

Eighteen months after acquiring the popular Knowmia Teach platform, TechSmith has announced that they are shutting it down this summer. It was a great iPad app and online platform for creating and sharing flipped video lessons.

Knowmia isn't the only product that TechSmith is shuttering. They are also ending support for Snagit for Chrome and removing ScreenChomp from the App store this store. Snagit for Chrome provided a nice way to create screen capture images and videos on a Chromebook. ScreenChomp was a nice, free iPad app for creating screencast videos.

TechSmith says they're ending these popular services so that they can focus on Snagit for desktop and Camtasia which both cost a minimum of $23.66 even with an educational discount.

I'll be sharing a list of alternatives to TechSmith's products soon.

Update: I just heard from TechSmith that they are going to continue support for Screencast.com and Coach's Eye, and Jing. So they're closing half of their free products. 

How to Blend Images in Google Slides

Earlier this week I posted the image you see to the left as part of my blog post about CK-12's summer math program. That image was made by blending two images together in Google Slides. To make the final image I went to Pixabay and grabbed a public domain image of a beach and a public domain image of an abacus. Then in Google Slides I used the image editing tools to layer the images and adjust the transparency so that it looks like the abacus and beach are blended together. Watch the video embedded below to see how I did it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Add Voice Notes to Pictures in Google Keep

This morning I was frustrated trying to get the new annotations feature in Evernote for Android to work correctly so I went back to using Google Keep to annotate my pictures on my Android phone. As I was annotating a picture I noticed that I could add a voice comment to the same note that my picture was in.

To add a voice comment to a picture in Google Keep you simply open the app and tap the camera icon in the "take a note" field. Then after taking your picture (or importing from your camera roll) tap the "+" icon in the lower-left corner to add a note. You can choose to type a note or your can tap the microphone icon to record a note. Then just start speaking. The audio file will automatically be attached to the note containing your image.

Applications for Education
Sometimes a voice note more accurately conveys what a student wants to remember about than a text note does.  Adding voice notes to pictures in Google Keep could provide students with a relatively easy way to make notes for themselves about a diagram or math problem that you've shared with them.

LitCharts Offers Guides to Popular & Classic Literature

LitCharts is a relatively new service that provides teachers and students with guides and summaries of classic and popular literature. The service currently offers more than 300 titles.

LitCharts guides can be viewed online or you can download the guides as PDFs. To download a PDF you do have to enter your email address. The online version of the guides available on LitCharts feature background information on a book's author, a color-coded list of themes in the book, a plot summary, a character list and summary, and an interactive chart board of themes in the book.

The interactive chart boards on LitCharts offer a way to explore the entire guide from one place. The chart board is a wheel of chapters of a book. The wheel is color-coded with themes from the book. When you click on a chapter and color in the chart board you will be shown a short summary of that section of the book followed by a link to read more. Color-coding makes it fairly easy to follow a theme through the book.

Applications for Education
I learned about LitCharts from Terri Eichholz who pointed out that some teachers will find LitCharts to be just another cheat sheet. But other teachers will put LitCharts to use by taking advantage of the color-coded theme tracker in LitCharts. One thing that I might do with the color-coded theme tracker is pick sections from two or more themes and ask my students how the author connects the themes throughout the book.

MindMup 2.0 Includes Vertical Mind Mapping

MindMup is a nice mind mapping tool that can be integrated into your Google Drive account. MindMup works like most mind mapping tools in that you can create a central idea and add child and sibling nodes all over a blank canvas. MindMup nodes can contain text and links. When you're ready to save your MindMup mind map you can save it to Google Drive, save it to your desktop, or publish it online. If you publish it online, you can grab an embed code for it to post it in a blog post or webpage.

Earlier this week MindMup released a new feature in MindMup 2.0. You can now organize your mind maps vertically and create hierarchy structures in your mind maps.

Applications for Education
Creating mind maps is one of my favorite ways to organize ideas and information. I've often had my students create mind maps as an exercise in making visual connections between important concepts, events, and people in a unit of study. The new vertical hierarchy structure in MindMup could make it a good option for organizing things like genealogy research projects.

H/T to Jen Deyenberg