Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Practical Ed Tech Podcast - Episode 33 - Larry Bird

In this week's episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast I'm back from the flu and from a short vacation. Highlights of this episode include new Google Docs tools, a new way to make videos from text, and a cute app for little kids like mine. As always, I answered a handful of questions from readers, viewers, and listeners like you!

Get the complete show notes in this Google Doc.

Listen to the episode right here or on your favorite podcast network.

Listen to all episodes of the podcast here or find them on the following podcast networks:

Volcanoes 101 - Updated

A few years ago National Geographic published a video titled Volcanoes 101. Last month they published a new video with the same name. The new Volcanoes 101 explains the types of volcanoes, their shapes, common locations, and what causes volcanoes to erupt.

On a related note, The BBC has a series of interactive guides that explain how natural disasters are caused. The series of guides is twelve years old, but still includes good information presented in a clear manner for students. Included in this series is a twelve part animated explanation of volcanic eruptions. The series also includes explanations of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis.

Applications for Education
Volcanoes 101 is the right length and has the right style and pacing to make it an excellent choice for a flipped lesson intended to introduce the big concepts of a lesson about deserts. My go-to tool for making flipped lessons continues to be EDpuzzle. You can learn how to use EDpuzzle by watching the following video.

5 Ways to Create Social Videos

Yesterday, I wrote about a new video creation tool called InVideo. InVideo is one of many tools to emerge in the last couple years that is designed to help users create eye-catching videos to post on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter. These videos use a mix of images and text to grab your attention and quickly tell a short story. Most include music, but can also be effective even when the music is turned off. If you're using social media to share school or classroom announcements, you might want to try making social media videos. Here are five tools worth trying for making social media videos.

Lumen 5
Lumen5 is a service that will produce a video for you based upon your written work. To create a video with Lumen5 you can enter the URL of your published work or paste in the text of your blog post. Lumen5 will then select highlights from your writing to feature in a video. Lumen5 generates a preview of a video for you based on the title, keywords, and key phrases in your blog post. The video will consist of images and video clips matched to the words in your blog post.Completed Lumen5 projects can be shared directly to Facebook. You can also download your video to use on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and anywhere else that you like post short videos.

Canva offers tons of templates for making social media graphics. One of the overlooked options for sharing Canva graphics is exporting as MP4. In the following video I demonstrate how to create a video with Canva.

Adobe Spark
Like Canva, Adobe Spark offers a lot of templates for making social media graphics. Adobe Spark also offers a dedicated video editor for making videos. You can make a video from scratch or use one of the templates that is designed specifically for posting on social media.

Sharalike is a simple video creation tool that is available as a browser-based tool as well as an Android app and iOS app. All three versions let you bulk upload/ import a collection of pictures then drag and drop those pictures into the sequence in which you want them to appear. Once you've arranged your images you can add music from Sharalike's library of free, royalty-free music. Sharalike will then create the video for you. I've successfully uploaded as many as 45 pictures at once to Sharalike to make a video. The only downside to Sharalike is that you can't download your video, you have to watch it online.

Headliner is an online video creation tool that offers templates designed for creating videos to share on social media. Headliner also offers a neat service that will turn your spoken audio or podcast files into video files. Headliner offers their pro version to schools for free.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Quickly Turn Articles Into Videos With InVideo

This morning I was browsing Product Hunt when I saw a new product that was promoting itself as a way to create "insanely good social videos." The service is called InVideo. While it is fairly easy to use to make audio slideshow-style videos, that's not why I'm mentioning it today. The reason I'm mentioning it is that contains a feature to convert written articles into videos.

InVideo offers lots of tools and templates for making audio slideshow videos to share on social media and elsewhere. One of those tools lets you copy the text of an article into a template then have InVideo automatically select images to match the text of the article. A similar InVideo template lets you enter the URL of an article and have a video made with images that are automatically selected to make the text of the article. In both cases parts of the text appear on the slides with the images. And in both cases you can manually override the automatic image selections.

When your InVideo video is complete you can download it for free with a watermark applied to it. Alternatively, you can invite other people to join InVideo and the watermark is removed. Or you can purchase an InVideo subscription to have all watermarks removed.

Applications for Education
InVideo probably isn't a tool that students can use because it does require a phone number in order to sign up. That said, it could be useful for teachers who want to provide their students with a visual summary of the key points of a long passage of text.

Convert PDF to Word and More

I don't get nearly as many requests for help with file conversion as I did 5-10 years ago, but I still do get them from time to time. Last week I was asked for help converting a PDF into Word for editing. My immediate suggestion was to try the conversion tool available from Online Convert.

Online Convert offers a dozen tools for converting all kinds of files from one format to another. That includes a free tool for converting PDFs into Word documents. To use the PDF to Word conversion tool simply upload your PDF or import it from your Dropbox account. Once your PDF is uploaded just hit the "start conversion" button and your file will be converted. You can wait on the Online Convert screen for the file conversion process to happen or you can enter your email address to be notified when your converted file is ready to download.

In addition to the PDF to Word conversion tool, Online Convert offers tools for converting video files, audio files, image files, ebook files, and a handful of other file types.

Online Convert also offers a Chrome extension and a Firefox add-on for converting files without having to visit the Online Convert homepage in a new tab or window.

Applications for Education
Thanks to services like Google Docs and Microsoft 365 we no longer have the problem of years ago when students would email assignment submissions as file attachments that couldn't be read because they were in the wrong file format. Today, the utility of a tool like Online Convert is in converting our older documents and files into formats that we can edit and update. The last person who asked me about converting PDF to Word was trying to do so that he could update some older handouts that he still wanted to use with students.

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