Thursday, July 8, 2021

Forky Mind Mapping - One of My New Favorites in 2021

I'm taking this week to recharge and get ready for the next session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. For the next few days I'm going to highlight some of my favorite new and new-to-me tools so far this year. 

I've tried dozens, possibly more than one hundred, mind mapping and flowchart creation tools over the last thirteen+ years of writing this blog. In fact, my first published writing was as a co-author of a chapter about mind mapping in the book What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media. I tell you that to say I've seen a lot of mind mapping tools. Of those, the best ones are usually the simplest ones. Forky is a new mind mapping tool that fits into the category of simple but effective. 

Forky is a free mind mapping tool that focuses on just connecting text boxes. As you'll see in this video, all that you have to do to make a mind map with Forky is to double-click on the screen then start typing in the text box that appears when you double-click. To add a new connected idea just hit the tab key on your keyboard and a new text box appears for you to type in. If you want to create a new text box that isn't connected to a previous one, just double-click somewhere else on your screen. You can make connections between boxes after they're written by simply holding the shift key while clicking on one box then another. 

Forky doesn't include support for inserting images, video, or any other media. It's just for writing a series of connected ideas. You can invite other people to view your Forky mind maps via email. 




Applications for Education

Mind mapping tools like Forky can be helpful to students when they are planning a creative story that has a few storylines in it. Forky's option to invite a collaborator could be used by students to invite their teachers to review their mind maps and provide some feedback.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Wordtune - One of My New Favorites in 2021

I'm taking this week to recharge and get ready for the next session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. For the next few days I'm going to highlight some of my favorite new and new-to-me tools so far this year. 

Wordtune is a Chrome extension that will make suggestions on how to change and or improve the structure of your sentences. It will work in a lot of web applications including Google Docs. Google Docs is probably the application in which most students can benefit from using Wordtune. That's why I made this short video to demonstrate how Wordtune works in Google Docs. 



Applications for Education
Wordtune could be a good Chrome extension for students to use to help them avoid using the same phrases and or sentence structures too often in a document.

On a related note, here's what I look for when testing a new Chrome extension.

Coverr - One of My New Favorites in 2021

I'm taking this week to recharge and get ready for the next session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. For the next few days I'm going to highlight some of my favorite new and new-to-me tools so far this year. 

Coverr is a relatively new website that is offering free B-roll video clips that you can download and reuse in your own projects. Most of the videos are silent and are short clips of less than a minute. Downloading them takes just one click. Registration is not required in order to download from Coverr and, according to Coverr's terms of service, attribution is not required although it is appreciated. 

You can search for videos on Coverr by entering simple keywords like "dog" and "cat." The other option for discovering videos on Coverr is to simply browse through the thematic collections of stock video clips. 

Coverr's user interface does have one element that might cause some confusion for students. Coverr appears to generate revenue through Shutter Stock's affiliate program. That's why there is a row of Shutter Stock video clips on the top of every page and another a little lower on each page. It would be fairly easy for someone to overlook the Shutter Stock label and end up clicking on one of the videos that isn't available for free. 

Applications for Education
Pixabay has been my go-to resource for free B-roll video clips for years. Coverr probably isn't going to supplant Pixabay as a my go-to, but it does represent an alternative source for free video clips that teachers and students can use without worrying about copyright infringement. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Type Studio - One of My New Favorites in 2021

I'm taking this week to recharge and get ready for the next session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. For the next few days I'm going to highlight some of my favorite new and new-to-me tools so far this year. 

Type Studio is a new video editing tool. When I used it for the first time yesterday I actually said aloud, "Whoa! That's Awesome!" What made me say that was using the editor to clip a section of video. With video editing tools you have to drag and select a section to delete it or enter time stamps of a section to delete it. In Type Studio I simply selected a few words from the transcript of my video and hit the delete key on my keyboard to remove a section of my video. 

After reading my first paragraph you might be saying, "that's great, but what if I don't have a transcript of my video?" Type Studio creates a transcript for you when you upload your video into their editor. Depending on the length of the video this can just a few minutes or can be quite a bit longer than that. Once the transcript is created it appears your Type Studio editor alongside your original video. Then to cut a section of your video all you have to do is select the words or sentences you want to remove and Type Studio will remove the corresponding section of the video itself. 

Type Studio currently supports fifteen languages. In addition to providing tools for clipping and cutting your videos, Type Studio provides a subtitling service. You could use Type Studio just to create subtitles and transcripts without having to actually do any editing of your video. 

Watch this short video to see how Type Studio works. 



Applications for Education
Type Studio isn't going to replace tools like WeVideo or iMovie, but that's not it's purpose. Where I think it fits into my toolbox is as a tool to quickly and accurately edit recordings of video lessons and recordings of things like lessons conducted in Zoom. It's a heck of a lot quicker and easier to delete a few words and have that section removed from my video than it is to go back into WeVideo or iMovie and try to find the exact right moments in the timeline to cut my video. 

Type Studio will also make it easy to quickly and accurately edit the transcripts and subtitles of the videos that I share with my students.  

Annotate Meet - One of My New Favorites in 2021

I'm taking this week to recharge and get ready for the next session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. For the next few days I'm going to highlight some of my favorite new and new-to-me tools so far this year. 

Annotate Meet is a Chrome extension that lets you draw on your screen during a Google Meet call. Annotate Meet provides you with a small set of tools that you can use to draw or type on your screen while hosting a Google Meet. To use the extension simply start a Google Meet then share your screen. Once you've shared your screen you can click on Annotate Meet in your Chrome extensions menu to access all of the Annotate Meet drawing and typing tools. The drawing tools include a variety of pen/ marker sizes, a customizable color palette, basic text typing tools, and an eraser. You can also clear everything with just one click if you don't want to manually erase. 

After I had it installed I found Annotate Meet easy to use. There is one quirk to be aware of before you start using it. The default color for the drawing tool is black which might not show up all that well depending upon the screen you're sharing. For example, if you screenshare a Google Document the black pen tool might not be enough of a differentiation from the text for your students to notice right away. I changed the color to a darkish orange color and the pen tool was much easier to see.

Applications for Education
Annotate Meet could be useful for providing remote tech support to students. I would use the annotation tool to draw on my screen to show students where they to click on their own screens. Annotate Meet could also be great for drawing on articles to highlight important parts of articles that you share with your students. I'd also consider using it when providing remote editing or feedback to students.

I probably wouldn't use Annotate Meet if I was conducting a full lesson that required drawings and diagrams. Those kinds of lessons I prefer to do a shared Google Jamboard because I can quickly provide students with a copy of Jamboard via Google Classroom whereas annotations on a screen in Google Meet aren't available to students after the meeting ends.