Thursday, September 6, 2018

Virtual Reality Book Tours

In 5 Multimedia Projects for Social Studies Classes I included the idea of having students make their own virtual tours of historic and interesting landmarks. The concepts used to make a virtual tour of historic landmarks can be used to create virtual tours based on the books that students read. This is easier to do with books that use the names of real places (cities, states, countries), but it could be done with books that have fictitious locations.

Make a VR Book Tour With Google's VR Tour Creator
  • To make a VR book tour with Google's VR Tour Creator start by having students select a handful of key points, including their locations, in the books they're going to make tours about. Have students write a few sentences about each location and its significance in the book.
  • If you want your students to include audio in their tours, have them record that audio and save it on the computers they are going to use to make their tours. Vocaroo provides an easy way to record and download spoken audio. Click here to learn how to use Vocaroo.
  • Your students can use the imagery that is built into Google's VR Tour Creator and or use images that they have taken or images that they find online at places like Photos for Class. Images that they find or take themselves can be layered into each stop in their virtual tours.
  • Now your students are ready to start putting together their VR book tours. This video provides an overview of the basic steps needed to make a VR tour. To add audio to the tour, follow the steps outlined in this video. And watch this video to learn how to layer-in pictures that students take or find online.

Make a VR Book Tour With Patches
If you want your students to make VR tours of books that feature imagery places (like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings) then you should take a look at using Patches.

Patches is a free online tool for creating virtual reality scenes. Patches offers animated characters, animals, buildings, and common objects that you can place inside a virtual reality scene. Just drag and drop objects and animations from the selection menus to the Patches design canvas. You can create and customize your VR scenes as much as you like by changing object positioning, color schemes, and even the speed at which an animation moves. You can preview your VR scenes within the Patches editor. Completed projects can be viewed in a VR viewer by just enter the link assigned to your project into your mobile phone's browser.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

How to Highlight, Annotate, and Share Pages From Microsoft Edge

This year I have made an conscious effort to spend more time exploring the free tools that teachers and students can use. One of those tools is the Microsoft Edge browser that includes built-in features for highlighting, annotating, and sharing webpages with your colleagues and with your students. In the following video I demonstrate how to use the highlighting, annotating, and sharing features built into Microsoft Edge. I think you will find that these tools are easy to use, perhaps even easier than using Chrome extensions for sharing webpages.

How to Use the Read-aloud Option in Microsoft Edge

Last week I featured some accessibility extensions for Google Chrome. For those who prefer to use Microsoft Edge there are some excellent accessibility options built into that browser. Those options include a read-aloud function and a simplified reading view of webpages. Watch my video that is embedded below to learn how to use the read-aloud function that is built into Microsoft Edge.

5 Multimedia Projects for Social Studies Classes

If you teach social studies and you're looking for a new project to engage your students this year, I have some suggestions for you. All of the following ideas can be modified for use in elementary school, middle school, or high school settings.

Create Virtual Tours
Services like Google Expeditions are great for locating virtual tours for students to watch. But there aren't tours for everything in the world. In fact, there are probably neat places right in your area that haven't been featured in virtual reality tours. This year have your students make virtual tours of interesting and notable places in your community. Google's VR Tour Creator is a great tool for doing that. Watch the following videos to learn how to get started. 

Create a News Podcast
Rather than just doing the standard "current events discussion day," have your students record short podcasts in which they talk with a classmate or two about current events articles they've found interesting. provides an easy way to record and publish podcasts in minutes.

Build Augmented Reality History and Geography Games
Metaverse Studio lets anyone create an augmented reality game. For the last year teachers have been using it to create AR breakout games for a wide range of topics including geography and history. Watch the following video to see how you can create an augmented reality game on Metaverse.

Make a Short Documentary
If we make students watch documentary videos, we should also let them try making their own. Adobe Spark Video is one of the easiest tools for students to use to try their hands at making short documentary videos.

Build Multimedia Timelines
The timeline project is as old as history classes. Today, you can put a modern spin on that project by having students build timelines that include videos, audio recordings, pictures, and interactive maps. Timeline JS is the best tool for doing that. Watch the following video to learn how to use Timeline JS.

Three Good Options for Digitizing Your Students' Physical Work

Whether it's a model made for a science fair or a paper on which a student successfully solved a complex math problem, there are times when we want to save a copy of physical work to use in digital portfolios. The following three tools are great for taking a picture of a student's physical work, annotating that picture, and saving it for future reference.

I have been impressed by SeeSaw since the first day that I tried it on my iPad. SeeSaw lets you take pictures, draw on them, record yourself talking about them, and then add them into a portfolio. Today, you can do this with SeeSaw's iPad app, Android app, Chrome app, and in your computer's web browser. SeeSaw's YouTube channel has many excellent tutorials to help you get started.

You might think that you need a Microsoft tablet like the Surface Pro to take advantage of all of features of OneNote. But, as I have discovered this year, OneNote for iOS, Android, and web has many excellent features. One of those great features is the ability to take a picture and draw on it. You can do this with all of the OneNote mobile apps. You can also draw on pictures in OneNote online. 

ClassDojo Student Stories
ClassDojo's new Student Portfolios service puts students in control of creating their own digital portfolios. Students can choose the items that they want to include in their portfolios. They can include pictures, documents, videos, notes, and drawings in their portfolios. The best of ClassDojo Student Portfolios is that the portfolios can stay with a student from year-to-year even when they change teachers.

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