Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Thunkable - Design and Publish Your Own Apps

Thunkable is a free platform for designing, testing, and publishing your own Android apps (support for iOS apps is coming soon). Through Thunkable you can create your apps even if you don't know how to write code. That is possible because Thunkable uses a drag-and-drop design framework. That framework, based on the MIT App Inventor, shows you jigsaw-like pieces that have commands labeled on them. Your job is to put the pieces together to make your apps work.

Thunkable offers detailed written tutorials and video tutorials. A playlist of tutorials for beginning app designers is embedded below.


Applications for Education
A service like Thunkable and MIT App Inventor could help your students become the next great app inventor. Both services let students test, develop, and publish their own apps. Your students might make an app that helps them study better like George Burgess who developed Gojimo did.

5 Ways to Show YouTube Videos Without Related Content

Anyone who has ever opened YouTube in front of a classroom knows the feeling of dread that comes with hoping that the "related" content in the sidebar really is related content. Likewise, you hope that the "related" videos at the end of the one you're showing are appropriate for your classroom. Here are five ways that you can avoid showing related content when you show YouTube videos in your classroom.

1. Put the video into a Google Slide and show it in full screen mode. This will remove all of the sidebar content. To prevent suggested videos from showing at the end of a video that you put into a webpage you will need disable the "show suggested videos" option in the embed code provided by YouTube. See my screenshot below for directions on how to do that.
Click image to view in full size.

2. Watchkin is a service that allows you to watch and project YouTube videos without seeing the related sidebar content typically seen on YouTube.com. Watchkin can be used in a few ways. You can enter the direct URL of a video into Watchkin to have the sidebar content removed. You can search for videos through Watchkin and have family-friendly results displayed (if a video appears that is not family-friendly Watchkin has a mechanism for flagging it as inappropriate). Watchkin also offers a browser bookmarklet tool that you can click while on YouTube.com to have the related content disappear from the page.

3. View Pure is a simple little tool that strips way all of the distractions of related videos, comments, and promoted videos. To use View Pure just copy the link of a video into the "purifier," click purify, and your video will be displayed on a blank white background. You can also install the View Pure bookmarklet to accomplish the same goal.

4. Quietube is a handy little browser extension that removes all the clutter from YouTube allowing you to view only your selected video. Quietube removes all advertising, sidebar content, comments, and ratings. Installing Quietube requires nothing more than dragging the Quietube button to your toolbard. Then anytime that you're on YouTube click the Quietube button to remove all of the clutter and just watch your selected video. Quietube works for Viddler and Vimeo videos too.

5. SafeShare.tv makes it possible to view YouTube videos without displaying the related videos and associated comments. To use SafeShare.tv simply copy the url of a YouTube video and paste it into SafeShare.tv. SafeShare also offers browser bookmarklet that eliminates the need to copy and paste links.

7 Great Tools for Creating Flipped Lessons from Existing Videos

When they are used in the right context flipped lessons can be a good complement to classroom instruction. Not everyone has the time or skill to make effective instructional videos for their students. In those cases you can take advantage of the millions of hours of instructional videos found on YouTube and other video sharing sites. But don't just have your students watch the videos then come back to your classroom. Have them answer some specific questions that you build into the instructional videos that you find online then share with your students.

Seven great tools for creating flipped lessons from existing videos:

TESTeach (formerly known as Blendspace) makes it easy for teachers to organize and share educational materials in a visually pleasing format. On TESTeach you arrange videos, links, images, and files around any topic of your choosing. TESTeach has built-in search tools so that you do not have to leave your TESTeach account in order to locate resources. When you share a set of TESTeach materials with your students they can give you feedback to show that they understand the materials or they can ask questions about the materials. You can also see if your students actually looked at all of the materials that you have shared with them. Using TESTeach can be a good way to create and deliver flipped lessons.


EDPuzzle is a popular tool for adding 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. In the videos embedded below I demonstrate how to use the main features of EDPuzzle.




PlayPosit (formerly known as eduCanon) is an excellent service for creating, assigning, and tracking your students' progress on flipped lessons. PlayPosit allows you to build flipped lessons using YouTube and Vimeo videos, create questions about the videos, then assign lessons to their students. Once you have found a video through PlayPosit you can add questions to it at any point along its timeline. Students need to answer your questions before they move on to the next portion of your chosen video. You can track your students' progress within PlayPosit's classroom environment.

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.

Vizia lets you build multiple choice questions into any YouTube video. The responses that you gather appear in either a Google Sheet or a CSV file to download. If you use the Google Sheet option you can then use Flubaroo to grade your students' responses to the quiz. In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of how to use Vizia.

Monday, March 13, 2017

SpeakPipe - Collect Voice Messages Through Your Blog

SpeakPipe is a great tool to add to classroom blogs. SpeakPipe allows you to collect voicemail messages through your blog. With SpeakPipe installed on your blog anyone can click on the "send voicemail" button and leave a message for you. When a visitor clicks the "leave voicemail" button she will be prompted to allow access to her computer. Then the visitor can start recording a message for you. Visitors can, but don't have to, enter their names and email addresses for you. You can listen to and download the messages left for you in your SpeakPipe inbox.


Applications for Education
When it is installed on a classroom blog SpeakPipe provides a good way for parents to leave voicemail messages. Having your messages in SpeakPipe lets you dictate a response that can then be emailed back to the person who left the message for you.

SpeakPipe offers another tool called SpeakPipe Voice Recorder. SpeakPipe's Voice Recorder is a free tool for quickly creating an MP3 voice recording in your web browser on a laptop, Chromebook, Android device, or iOS device. To create a recording with the SpeakPipe Voice Recorder simply go to the website, click "start recording," and start talking. You can record for up to five minutes on the SpeakPipe Voice Recorder. When you have finished your recording you will be given an embed code that you can use to place it in your blog or website. You will also be given a link to share your recording. Click the link to share your recording and that will take you to a page to download your recording as an MP3 file.

SpeakPipe's Voice Recorder does not require you to register in order to create and download your audio recordings. The lack of a registration requirement makes it a good choice for students who don't have email addresses or for anyone else who simply doesn't want to have to keep track of yet another username and password.

Students could use SpeakPipe's Voice Recorder to record short audio interviews or to record short audio blog entries.

Teachers could use SpeakPipe's Voice Recorder to record instructions for students to listen to in lieu of having a substitute teacher read instructions to their students.

Pixlr Mobile - Easy Image Editing & Collage Creation

Last week I published a post about Pixlr's suite of online image editing tools. That post prompted a few questions from readers seeking iOS and Android apps for image editing. My first reply to those questions was to take a look at Pixlr Mobile for Android and iOS.

Pixlr Mobile lets you edit your images with eraser tools, cropping tools, drawing and writing tools, and basic exposure adjustments. The app also includes a large selection of collage creation templates. A brief overview of Pixlr Mobile is provided in the video embedded below.


Applications for Education
Pixlr's collage tool could be used by students to showcase the highlights of a field trip or a school event. The image editing tool can provide students with an easy way to touch-up an image to use in a presentation or in a storytelling website.