Monday, June 22, 2020

Updated - How to Create Virtual Class Pictures With Pixton EDU

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about using Pixton EDU to create a virtual class photograph for the end of the school year. When I originally set out to write that post, I had planned to include a video tutorial. The first video that I made wasn't great so last week I recorded a new version which you can now see right here on my YouTube channel or as embedded below.

The first half of the video above focuses on how to create a virtual class photo if you already have a Pixton EDU classroom created. The second half of the video shows you how you can create a Pixton EDU classroom and how your students can create their own avatars in your Pixton EDU classroom. For screenshots of the process, see this post from a couple of weeks ago.

Pixton EDU can be used for a lot more than just making avatars and virtual class photos. Here are five uses of Pixton EDU to consider.

Disclosure: Pixton EDU is an advertiser on this blog. 

NASA Selfies - Put Yourself in Space and Learn a Bit About It

NASA Selfies is a fun and free app for "taking a selfie in space." What it really does is just put your face into the helmet of a space suit that is floating in space. You can pick the background for your space selfie. Backgrounds are provided from NASA's huge library of images. When you pick a background, you can tap on it to learn more about what is shown in the picture. For example, I chose the background of Pinwheel Galaxy then tapped on it to read about that infrared image captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

Using NASA Selfies doesn't require you to sign-up or sign-into any kind of account. The selfies that you make with the app are saved directly on your phone or tablet's camera roll. After your image is saved you can share it however you normally share images from your phone or tablet.

Get NASA Selfies for iOS here and get the Android version here

Applications for Education
NASA Selfies could be a fun app to let students use to inspire a little curiosity about space. It could also be good for capturing some fun pictures to use in a presentation of simple video like those created with Adobe Spark video.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Story Spheres - Create Audio Tours of Immersive Imagery

Story Spheres is a free tool for adding audio to 360 degree images that you own or have the rights to re-use (Creative Commons licensed or public domain). With Story Spheres you can add audio narration and ambient audio to your 360 images. Once you have a 360 image that you want to use, using Story Spheres is fairly easy to use. Before you try to make your own, take a look at this one about Uluru to get a better sense of what's possible with it.

To create a Story Sphere you will need to create an account on the site. Once you've created an account you can upload any 360 image that you own. After uploading your image you can then upload audio files to use in your Story Sphere. (Audio must be recorded outside of Story Spheres, a tool like Online Voice Recorder would work well for this activity). When your audio is uploaded you then position the audio play button in your 360 image. You can choose to have the audio automatically play or play only when clicked by the viewer of your Story Sphere.

Completed Story Spheres can be shared in all of the usual manners that you might expect including a direct link and embed codes. My Story Sphere about a historic home in my neighborhood is embedded below.

Applications for Education
One of my favorite uses of Story Spheres is creating short local history projects. Students can explore their communities and capture imagery that they then narrate to tell the story behind what they have photographed.

I used the Google Street View app to capture the 360 imagery for my Story Sphere, but there are many other free apps that will let you capture 360 imagery without needing to purchase a 360 camera.

Spacecraft AR - Explore NASA Spacecraft With Augmented Reality

Spacecraft AR is a free iPad and Android app offered by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The app enables students to learn about various NASA spacecraft including the Curiosity rover, Voyager, Mars Exploration Rover, and a handful of other spacecraft. Spacecraft AR includes information about each spacecraft's development and use.

With Spacecraft AR installed and open on their iPads or phones, students can select a spacecraft or mission then point their iPads or phones at a flat floor or wall see the spacecraft appear. Once the spacecraft appears on screen students can move to see other angles of the spacecraft and move the spacecraft. Students can also pinch and zoom to change the size of spacecraft they're looking at.

Spacecraft AR reminds me of NASA's previous AR app, Spacecraft 3D. The key difference between the two is that Spacecraft 3D required students to scan a printed target in order to make spacecraft appear on screen. Spacecraft AR does not have that requirement, but it does require that you have a fairly recent iPad or Android device that has either Apple's ARKit or Google Play Services for AR (formerly known as ARCore).

Get the iPad app here and the Android version here.

Applications for Education
Spacecraft AR and Spacecraft 3D are fun apps for students to use to learn about the robotic spacecraft that NASA uses or has used to explore our solar system. I think that the app could be used by students of any age, but it probably best for kids of upper elementary school and middle school age.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Five Overlooked Features of Google Forms Quizzes

Google Forms has been my go-to tool for making quizzes and surveys for at least a decade. Over the years Google has added lots of handy little features that have made my job easier when it's time to make a quiz. Unfortunately, not all of those features are obvious when you start using Google Forms. Here are five little features of Google Forms that are often overlooked.

1. Changing default point values.
2. Using the confirmation message as a prompt for students.
3. Automatic shuffling of question order.
4. Automatic shuffling of answer choices.
5. Enforcing a minimum response length on short answer questions.