Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Threat of Invasive Species

When you drive into my home state of Maine two of the first signs you'll notice are a sign to watch for moose and a sign banning the importation of firewood. The reason for the moose crossing sign is fairly self-explanatory. The reason for the ban on importing firewood may not be so obvious. Importing firewood is banned because we are trying to prevent the introduction of invasive insects. The part of the explanation of why we're concerned about invasive insects can be found in a TED-Ed lesson titled The Threat of Invasive Species.

The Threat of Invasive Species is a TED-Ed lesson that explains the problems caused when plants and animals are introduced to non-native habitats. The lesson explains how plants and animals get introduced to new environments, what happens when they are introduced to those environments, and what some governments do to try to control invasive species.


Extending the lesson:
TED-Ed lessons include a small selection of multiple choice and short answer questions. You can use the TED-Ed platform and questions as they are written or you could use another platform to develop your own flipped lesson. The following three tools make it easy to develop your own flipped lesson or simply have students record and share notes with you while watching the video lesson.

Using VideoANT anyone can add annotations to any publicly accessible YouTube video. To do this copy the URL of a video and paste it into the VideoANT annotation tool. Then as the video plays click the "add annotation" button when you want to add an annotation. To have others annotate the video with you, send them the VideoANT link. You are the only person that has to have a VideoANT account. Your collaborators do not need to have a VideoANT account to participate in the annotation process with you. Nathan Hall wrote a complete run-down of all of the features of VideoANT. He also posted a how-to video. I recommend reading his post and watching his video here.

Vialogues is a free service that allows you to build online discussions around videos hosted online and videos that you have saved on your computer. Registered users can upload videos to Vialogues or use YouTube videos as the centerpieces of their conversations. In the video embedded below I provide a short overview of how Vialogues works.



MoocNote is a free tool for adding timestamped comments, questions, and links to videos. To do this on MoocNote you simply paste a link to a YouTube video into the MoocNote editor. Once the video is imported you can start to add your comments, questions, and links. The link features is particularly useful for providing students with additional resources for learning about the topics covered in your shared videos. MoocNote allows you to organize playlists (MoocNote calls them courses) of videos according to topics that you identify. MoocNote could be a good tool for high school teachers who want to organize playlists of videos for their students and add some clarifying information to those videos. You could also have students use MoocNote to annotate videos to demonstrate an understanding of the topic at hand.

A Good Lesson on Hurricanes

The Atlantic hurricane season season is here and It's Okay To Be Smart (produced by PBS) has a new video lesson about hurricanes. By watching Hurricanes: Engines of Destruction you can learn how the Coriolis effect influences the direction in which hurricanes rotate, the role of heat in hurricane formation, and the origin of the word hurricane. The video is embedded below, but you should also take a look at the video on YouTube to access the reference materials used in the creation of the video.


Try one of the following tools to build a flipped lesson around this video.

Vizia is a free tool for creating video-based quizzes. On Vizia you an import a video from YouTube or from Wistia and then add questions along the timeline of the video. You can ask multiple choice questions as well as short answer/ open-response questions. Adding a poll question into the video is also a possibility in Vizia. All of the responses to your questions are collected in a spreadsheet that you can download and or open in Google Sheets. When you create a Vizia video quiz you have the option to require that viewers enter their names and email addresses before they begin. Alternatively, you could make the first question in the video a prompt to enter a name.

VideoNotes is a neat tool for taking notes while watching videos. VideoNotes allows you to load any YouTube video on the left side of your screen and on the right side of the screen VideoNotes gives you a notepad to type on. VideoNotes integrates with your Google Drive account. By integrating with Google Drive VideoNotes allows you to share your notes and collaborate on your notes just as you can do with a Google Document. You can use VideoNotes to have students submit questions to you and each other while watching videos. Of course, you can insert questions into the conversation for your students to answer too.

EDPuzzle is a neat tool that allows you to add your voice and text questions to educational videos. On EDpuzzle you can search for educational videos and or upload your own videos to use as the basis of your lesson. EDpuzzle has an online classroom component that you can use to assign videos to students and track their progress through your video lessons. Within EDPuzzle's editor you can select portions of videos for students to watch. EDPuzzle offers the option to share your videos to Google Classroom.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Six Audio Recording Tools That Work In Your Web Browser

As I have mentioned over the last couple of days, last week someone rightly pointed out to me that the Practical Ed Tech Tips playlist on my YouTube channel was getting a bit too long (it has more than 200 videos in it). To rectify that problem I've created some smaller playlists consisting of videos that I've published on various topics within my YouTube channel. One of those smaller playlists features six web-based audio recording tools. The playlist is embedded below. Descriptions of each tool are included below the embedded playlist.


Through TwistedWave you can create and edit spoken audio recordings from scratch. Your completed tracks can be exported to Google Drive and SoundCloud. If you have existing audio tracks in your SoundCloud or Google Drive account you can also import it into TwistedWave to edit those audio tracks. TwistedWave's audio editing tools include options for fade-in, fade-out, looping, sound normalization, and pitch adjustments. The editor also includes the typical track clipping tools that you would expect to see in an audio editing tool.

Mic Note is a free Chrome app that allows you to create voice recordings, text notes, and image-based notes on one concise notebook page. The notes that you record with your voice can be time-stamped by clicking on your Mic Note note page while you're recording. You can also take notes without recording any audio. All notes support inclusion of images and links. The best part of Mic Note is that you can sync all of your notes to your Google Drive or Dropbox account.

Vocaroo is a free service that you can use to create short audio recordings. Creating a recording on Vocaroo is a simple process that does not require you to create an account or have any special browser plugins. Just go to the site and click record to get started.

SoundCloud's Android and iOS apps no longer have the recording features that they used to have, but the browser based version still offers a good recording tool. After recording in your SoundCloud account you can grab the embed code for any of your recordings.

AudioPal is a free service that anyone can use to create short audio messages to embed into blog posts. AudioPal offers three way to create messages. You can record using the microphone connected to your computer. You can record by calling AudioPal's phone system. Or you can create a message by using AudioPal's text-to-speech function.

AudioBoom offers an easy way for teachers and students to create short audio recordings that are matched to images. Android and iOS apps are also available from AudioBoom.

GPlates Portal - Visualizations of Geophysical and Geological Data

GPlates Portal is a resource that teachers of geology and geography will want to spend some time exploring. GPlates Portal is produced by the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney. In the GPlates Portal you will find twelve interactive displays of geological and geophysical data.

Most of the interactive displays that you will find on GPlates Portal are too advanced for most high school settings. That said, there are two displays that are appropriate for middle school and high school settings. Those displays are the Rift Velocity map and the Paleo Map Maker.

The Rift Velocity map provides a visualization of continental drift over time. The map includes a timeline that you can play back to see a visualization of continental drift. The divisions between each continent are highlighted on the map. Click on the highlights to focus-in a specific drift rate.

The Paleo Map Maker is similar to the Rift Velocity map in that you can see a visualization of continental separation. Rather than playing the visualization as an animation, the Paleo Map Maker lets you see static visualization of continental positions at specific times.

Applications for Education
The Rift Velocity map and the Paleo Map Maker could be helpful when trying to help students understand the rate of continental drift. The visualizations could also be useful in showing students how the continents moved to their current positions.

H/T to Maps Mania.

Next Vista Launches New Selection of ELL Videos

Next Vista for Learning is a video sharing that I've featured dozens of times over the years. Next Vista for Learning is different from other educational video sharing sites because all videos are reviewed before publication and all videos have to teach some kind of short lesson. Students and teachers can submit videos for publication on Next Vista for Learning.

The latest project on Next Vista for Learning is dedicated to publishing videos for English language learners. The project is called the English Language Project. The goal of the project is to create the world's largest library of videos for ELL. Teachers and students can contribute to the English Language Project by choosing a topic and then creating a set of videos about the vocabulary words related to the topic. Take a look at the English Language Project videos to see some examples of what you and your students could add.