Friday, December 18, 2020

Three Ways to Create Year-in-Review Videos

This is the time of year when just about every media company is publishing some kind of year-in-review video. Asking students to create year-in-review videos can be a good way for them to recall their best moments of the year or to recall the most important news stories of the year. Students can use the following free tools to create year-in-review videos.

Adobe Spark Video

Adobe Spark is a good choice for creating year-in-review videos because students can record voice-overs to explain the significance of each image or video clip that they use to summarize the year. A simple formula for students to follow is to have them add one image or video clip for each month of the year. Learn how to use Adobe Spark by watching this tutorial. Adobe Spark supports real-time collaboration so students can work together to develop students remotely.

Microsoft Photos with Built-in Search

Microsoft Photos includes a video creation tool for making short audio slideshow-style videos. You'll find this by just opening the native photos app in Windows 10. Within the editor there are tools for adding animated effects to still images, insert your existing video clips into a video project, and tools for adding audio to your video. There's also a great option to search for Creative Commons licensed images and insert them directly into your video project. The best part of that feature is that attribution information is automatically added onto the images you choose through the built-in search tool. 

In the following video I provide a demonstration of how to create a video in Microsoft Photos in Windows 10. 

Canva Video Creation Tools

Canva offers a couple of options for creating videos. You can use a slideshow template then add music to it. Follow the directions here to use that method. The other option is to record a voiceover over a set of slides in Canva. Here's a video with directions on how to do that. 

Save the Captions from Your Google Meet Calls

CaptionSaver Pro for Google Meet is a new Chrome extension that launched on Product Hunt earlier this week. CaptionSaver Pro does two important things for Google Meet users. First, it will automatically turn on captions when you start or join a Google Meet call. Second, it will automatically create a text file containing the captions. That text file can then be downloaded to your computer or sent to your Google Drive. 

The free version of CaptionSaver Pro for Google Meet will capture the transcript of the captions and then you have to manually save the transcript. The paid version will automatically send the transcript to your Google Drive as a text file. 

Applications for Education
CaptionSaver Pro for Google Meet could be a good extension for anyone who needs to have a record of what was said during a Google Meet call. The marketing for CaptionSaver Pro for Google Meet indicates that in the near future there will be an option to have timestamps corresponding to the transcript.

Fifteen New Primary Source-based Lessons from Docs Teach

DocsTeach has been one of my go-to resources for U.S. History lessons for many years. DocsTeach offers more than 1,500 primary source activities to use in elementary, middle, and high school history lessons. Additionally, DocsTeach provides tools for creating your own online lessons using primary sources from the National Archives of the United States. 

This week DocsTeach published fifteen new activities across three themes in U.S. History. Those themes are Industrialization, Immigration, & Progressive Reforms, World War II and Holocaust Refugees, and The Revolution, New Nation, & Expansion. Within these themes there are new primary source-based lessons for elementary, middle, and high school students. 

You can learn more about how to use DocsTeach by watching this video overview that I recorded last year. 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

How to Create Your Own App With the MIT App Inventor

The MIT App Inventor is a free app development tool that has been available for free for the last decade. It's a great tool to use to introduce students to some programming concepts while letting develop apps that they can actually use on their phones. While it might seem complicated at first glance, after they have mastered a few basic concepts students can create some amazing applications through the MIT App Inventor. 

This morning I used part of my snow day to create a video tutorial on how to create your first Android application through the MIT App Inventor. Watch the video then try making your first app. Or watch the video in one tab while following my instructions with App Inventor open in another tab. 

Applications for Education
My 9th grade students are currently using it to create quiz game apps. One of them is trying to create a "personality quiz" application (what kind of cat are you?). I've personally used the App Inventor in the past to create a study guide for a U.S. History course that I taught. And I've seen 6th and 7th grade students use App Inventor to create scavenger hunt games.

Tozzl, Tozzl, Tozzl, Tozzl, Tozzl - How to Search for a Trademark

Back in October I received an email from the owner(s) of the domain It was a cease and desist notice for using the word "Tozzl" in some of my old blog posts and videos. Today, I received a second one from them. In both cases I'm telling them to take a flying's why. 

There is a lesson in Trademark, Copyright, and Fair Use here for anyone who cares to continue reading. 

Years ago the domain was owned by an independent developer who created a nice backchannel tool. I wrote quite a few blog posts about various ways to use it classrooms. I also made a tutorial video about it. Unfortunately, it no longer exists and the new owners of the domain are upset because blogs like this one rank higher in search engines than the new Tozzl website does. 

The email that I received in October and again this morning threatened a lawsuit if I didn't remove all references to Tozzl. According to them it is their trademarked term. Unfortunately for them, Tozzl isn't actually a registered trademark in the U.S. Trademark database. Furthermore, using the word Tozzl in an editorial context is a fair use. 

I responded to Tozzl's email in October by pointing out that their claim had no merit and that they should get lost. This morning I responded a bit more strongly by threatening to sue them for harassment and emotional distress. Then, as I always try to do, I decided to turn this into a teaching moment and made a video about how to search the U.S. Trademark database know as TESS. You can watch that video on my YouTube channel or as embedded below.