Friday, October 16, 2020

Story Spheres - Create Immersive Audio Tours of Interesting Places

Story Spheres is a neat tool for adding audio recordings to 360 imagery. Story Spheres lets you upload short audio recordings in which you describe to viewers what they're seeing, the history of what they're seeing, and the significance of what's in the scene they're seeing. It's possible to upload multiple recordings. When you're done you can can share your Story Spheres story in a blog post, on social media, or any other place that you typically post a link. Take a look at this Story Spheres story about Uluru to get a better sense of what can be done with Story Spheres. 

Back in June I wrote out directions for how to use Story Spheres. You can read those directions here or watch my new video about how to make a Story Spheres story. 


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.

A Small, Potentially Annoying Change to Google Slides

From improved meeting controls to an easier way to add citations in Google Docs, there have been a bunch of positive changes to Google Workspaces (formerly G Suite) this fall. Now Google has made a change to Google Slides that could prove to be quite annoying to some of us. That change applies to how videos are played in Google Slides. 

This week Google announced that the new default setting for videos in Google Slides is going to be automatic playback when presenting. The previous default was for videos to only play when you chose to play them while presenting. Now as soon as you advance to a slide that has a video in it the video will start playing. The new default playback will probably prove to be incredibly annoying to those of us who like to explain a bit about a video before we play it for our students or other audience. 

Fortunately, you can change the playback setting for the videos that you insert into Google Slides. You can do that by highlighting the video in your slide and then opening the "format options" menu. In that menu you can change the video from the default automatic playback to manual playback. 



Using Mood Clouds in Virtual and Hybrid Classrooms

Earlier this I published a video about creating and hosting polls in Google Slides with the Poll Everywhere Chrome extension. When I published that I mentioned that I use the word cloud option and have students respond to simple questions like "how do you feel after the long weekend?" and "what's the best word to describe today's lesson?" Students respond from their computers and a word cloud appears on the slide giving me a better sense of the overall mood of my hybrid class (half of my students are virtual and half are in-class on any given day). It's not perfect, but it works for me and it might work for you. 

Three Tools for Creating and Hosting Polls in Slides

As mentioned above, I'm currently using the combination of Google Slides and Poll Everywhere. You can watch this video to see how that combination works. Poll Everywhere also offers a PowerPoint add-in that works in a very similar manner. Of course, you could also just use PollEverywhere.com directly without the slides. All three options will let you display word clouds. 

Sli.do is another tool that you can use in Google Slides and PowerPoint to create an host polls. Students can respond to your polls from their computers or phones. I've used Sli.do in the past. I'm not currently using it for any particular reason other than I wanted to try something different this fall. Here's a little video overview of how it works in Google Slides. Both the PowerPoint and Google Slides versions will display word clouds of responses from students. 

Mentimeter is another polling tool that I've used at various times in the past, mostly in conference presentations. While it doesn't offer a Google Slides add-on, it does offer a PowerPoint add-in that you can use to create and host polls. Like the two services listed above, Mentimeter lets students respond to your questions from their computers and phones. Responses can be displayed in a variety of formats including word clouds. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

How to Make Whiteboard Videos in Wakelet

Wakelet is a tool that become immensely popular in schools in the last few years. A large part of the popularity is due to the many ways that Wakelet can be used. You can use it to host collections of pictures, to share bookmarks, and you can even use it to create instructional videos. That's exactly what I demonstrate in this new video


You can learn a lot more about making and teaching with videos in my on-demand course, A Crash Course in Making & Teaching With Video.

Five Free Tools That Help Students Format Bibliographies

When I was in high school we had to learn how to create bibliographies by working from a template that my history teacher, Mr. Diggs, provided to us. When I went to college, I referred to that template and an early version of The Student Writer to make bibliographies. Today, students have a wealth of online tools that can help them properly structure citations and bibliographies. I've featured a handful of them over the last couple of years. Here they are. 

Google recently added a citation tool to Google Docs that makes most citation add-ons redundant. With the latest update to Google Docs you can now create MLA, APA, and Chicago style citations directly in Google Docs without the need for a third-party add-on. You'll find the new citation feature in the tools drop-down menu in Google Docs. Watch this video to see how it works.



Bibcitation is a free tool that supports dozens of citation styles. To use Bibcitation select the type of resource that you're citing and then enter the requested information. In many cases, just entering the title of a book or a webpage URL will fill-in all of the other required information for you. After you have entered into Bibcitation all of the resources that you need to cite, a list of the citations will be generated for you. You can then download all of the citations in your preferred style as a document, as HTML, or as BibTex. Here's a video overview of how it works.



QuickCite is a free tool that helps students create properly formatted MLA 8 citations. QuickCite can also be used by students to create informal citations for use in things like blog posts, slideshows, and videos. One of the features of QuickCite that I particularly like is that it provides little help bubbles for students to consult if they aren't sure what to enter into the citation. I highlight that feature and other features of QuickCite in the following video.



MyBib is another free tool that students can use to create citations and bibliographies in a wide range of styles including the popular MLA, APA, Chicago, IEEE, and Harvard styles. Watch my video to see how your students can use MyBib to create bibliographies.



Formatically is a free tool that was designed by college students to help other students create properly formatted works cited pages. To use Formatically's instant citation tool just paste the URL of the page that you want to cite into the instant citation tool. Once pasted into the tool you can choose the format that you want to use for your citation. If there is an error in the citation, you can correct it by clicking the edit icon at the end of the written citation. The system works the same way for books except that rather than entering a web page URL you enter a book title. Watch the video embedded below to learn more about Formatically's instant citation tool.