Friday, November 26, 2021

Free Webinar Next Thursday

Next Thursday at 4pm ET/ 1pm PT Rushton Hurley from Next Vista for Learning and I are hosting the sixth episode of the second season of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff! We'd love to have you join us! You can register for the session right here

In every episode we answer questions from readers and viewers like you. We also share some cool and interesting things that we've found around the Web. Rushton tends to share cool videos and pictures while I tend to share cool tech tools. And we both try our best to give helpful answers to your questions about all things educational technology. 

Please join us! And feel free to email me in advance with your questions or send them in live during the webinar. 

Recordings and resources from our previous episodes are available on this Next Vista for Learning page

Thursday, November 25, 2021

My Big List of Tools for a Variety of Classroom Video Projects

Other than questions about Google Workspace tools, I get asked more questions about making videos than any other three topics combined. Over the years I've used dozens and dozens of video creation tools. This is my current list of recommended video creation tools for classroom projects. 

Video Reflections/ One-take Videos
These are videos that require minimal, if any, editing before publication. In this type of video creation activity teachers will pose a prompt to their students and their students will response with a short video statement. 

Flipgrid is the best known of all platforms designed for students to record video responses to a teacher's prompt. Teachers can create online classrooms in which their students post short video responses. Teachers can moderate submissions before the rest of the class can see the videos. And teachers can use Flipgrid to give feedback directly to their students. There are many other features of Flipgrid that are worth noting and are included below in the section about whiteboard videos. Watch this video to learn the basics of Flipgrid. 

Padlet is a tool that I've used for more than a decade for a wide variety of purposes including collecting short videos from students. Students can use the recording feature that is built into Padlet to record a short video and share it with the class. Here's a short overview of how to record videos in Padlet. 

Audio Slideshow Videos

Other than one-take videos, the audio slideshow style of video is probably the easiest of all video formats to create. It's also one of the most misunderstood when it comes to using it in classroom. For an audio slideshow project to be effective students first need to plan the sequence, find the best visuals, apply appropriate text (but not too much), and choose an appropriate soundtrack. If you want to take it a step further, you'll want students to create a script to narrate their videos. Here's an overview of attributes to look for when students create audio slideshow videos. 

Here are my top three choices for students to use to make audio slideshow videos. 

Adobe Spark Video
Almost since its initial launch five years ago, Adobe Spark has been my go-to recommendation for this style of video project. Adobe Spark makes it easy for students to create succinct audio slideshow videos. Adobe Spark limits the amount of narration that students can record on each slide within their videos. Adobe Spark also includes a library of background muic that students can have inserted into their videos. Finally, students can upload short audio clips to include in their audio slideshow video projects. In this short video I demonstrate how to create a video with Adobe Spark.



Canva
Canva now offers two ways for students to create audio slideshow videos. The first way is to simply put together a series of slides and then select a soundtrack to play in the background. That process is demonstrated here. The other method is to use Canva's full video editor to add narration an custom timings to an audio slideshow video. That process is demonstrated in this video.



Microsoft Photos
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.

Green Screen Videos

Making a green screen video can be a lot of fun for students and also a lot of fun for peers, parents, and teachers to watch. Ten years later I still occasionally refere to this video from Greg Kulowiec's middle school class as an example of a fun green screen project. Making a green screen video can seem intimidating at first, but once you've tried it a time or two you'll find that it's not as complicated as it might seem. Today there are lots of tools for making green screen videos. Here are the three I typically recommend and introduce to teachers. 

Make a Green Screen Video in iMovie
If you have access to a Mac or an iPad, this is the tool to use. It's free (provided you already have a modern Mac or iPad) and has just enough features to make a nice green screen video, but not so many features that it takes a long time to learn how to use it. Watch this video to learn how to make a green screen video in iMovie on a Mac. Watch this one to learn how to make a green screen video on an iPad.



WeVideo
For Chromebook users and Windows users, WeVideo is my go-to recommendation. Here's a demonstration of how it works.



Zoom + Adobe Spark
If you don't have a physical green screen to record in front of, you could use Zoom's built-in virtual green screen capability then import that video into Adobe Spark for final editing. Watch this video to learn how that is done.

Animated Videos

Making animations is a great way for students to bring their written stories to life on screen. Depending upon the story, the animation could be as short frame or two that plays for twenty seconds or it could be a five minute story.  

ChatterPix Kids
ChatterPix Kids is one of my favorite digital storytelling apps for elementary school students. ChatterPix Kids is a free app that students can use to create talking pictures. To use the app students simply open it on their iPads or Android devices and then take a picture. Once they've taken a picture students draw a mouth on their pictures. With the mouth in place students then record themselves talking for up to thirty seconds. The recording is then added to the picture and saved as a video on the students' iPads or Android devices. Watch my tutorial videos below to learn how to use ChatterPix Kids on Android devices and on iPads.




Slides + Screencasting
Google Slides, like PowerPoint and Keynote, provide users with lots of ways to animate elements within their slides. Use those animation tools to make clipart and simple drawings move on the screen. Then capture those movements with a screencasting tool like Screencastify or Screencast-o-matic. Of course, you'll want to include a voiceover while recording. This method can be used to create animated videos like those made popular by Common Craft. You can read about and then watch this whole process in this Practical Ed Tech article.

Canva
Canva has lots of animation options that you can add to almost any graphic that you create in it. You can animate text, make objects spin and move, and even add audio to play in the background when you make a graphic in Canva. Your finished designs can be downloaded as animated GIFs and as MP4 files. In fact, that's how I make the videos for my Practical Ed Tech Instagram account. Additionally, Canva's new video editor can be used to create animated videos. That's a process that I demonstrate in this video

Whiteboard Videos

From creating a math lesson to explaining a workflow there are lots of purposes for creating whiteboard-style instructional videos. Last year I had students make simple whiteboard videos to explain network and wiring diagrams. Here's a handful of tools for making whiteboard instructional videos. 

Try using Screencastify to record over the free drawing space provided by Google's online version of Jamboard. One of the benefits of using Jamboard for this kind of video is that when you are done you can share the Jamboard images with your students. You could even share the Jamboard via Google Classroom so that students have a copy of the process that you demonstrated while making your video.



Loom is also an excellent and popular choice for making screencast videos right from your web browser. In the following video I demonstrate how I paired Loom and Google's Jamboard to make a whiteboard-style instructional video. One of the tips that I shared in the video is to use the sharing option in Jamboard to give your students a copy of the drawings or sketches that you use in your instructional video.



Flipgrid offers an integrated whiteboard function. You can use this feature to create whiteboard videos for your students to watch in Flipgrid. You can also have your students use the whiteboard tools to reply to a prompt that you have given to them. In my video that is embedded below I provide an overview of how to use the whiteboard function and a couple of other functions in Flipgrid.



Wakelet has integrated the Flipgrid camera into their service so that you can create whiteboard-style instructional videos directly within your Wakelet collections. Watch my video below to see how that process works.



Seesaw is my go-to tool for making digital portfolios. I like it because it's a versatile platform that can be used for more than just portfolio creation. You can use it as a blog, use it to share announcements with parents, use it to distribute assignments, and you can use it to create whiteboard videos. In fact, there are a couple of ways that you and your students can create whiteboard videos in Seesaw. Both of those methods are outlined in my new video that is embedded below.

Just a half a mile from the railroad track...

It's Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S. I usually celebrate the day with my family in Connecticut watching the road race in my hometown. Unfortunately, that tradition is on hiatus again this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and some other factors attributed to work schedule. One Thanksgiving tradition that isn't going on hiatus is listening to Alice's Restaurant. If you'd like to join me in this tradition, here's Arlo Guthrie performing Alice's Restaurant
 
Happy listening! Happy Thanksgiving!

(Did you notice that this was posted exactly at noon?)



Fun fact! If you search for the song on Wolfram Alpha you will find a chart of Wikipedia traffic for the search term "Alice's Restaurant." So the question/ cultural history lesson for students is "why do people search for that term around Thanksgiving?"

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

A Tip for Finding and Reading Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipes

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is eating the leftovers the next day. I enjoy a good turkey sandwich almost as much as Ross, but I do like to mix it up a bit and try other ways to use leftovers. In fact, I was doing that earlier this week (yes, I was planning for Thanksgiving leftovers) when I got super annoyed by all of the pop-up and scrolling ads on various recipe websites. That's when I implemented one of my favorite search tips, searching by file type. 

To the end of my search term "turkey shepherd's pie" I added filetype:pdf. I did that in order to only find links to PDFs containing recipes for turkey shepherd's pie. There aren't annoying pop-ups and scrolling ads on PDFs to get in the way of reading a recipe. 

The other trick that I often use when looking for recipes online is to use the OneNote web clipper to save articles instead of just bookmarking the links. The web clipper will let you view the article without having to actually go back to the original web page. 

Both of these tips for finding and reading Thanksgiving leftovers recipes can be employed whenever you're searching online. I used the file type search method earlier this fall to help someone identify a piece of old archery equipment and I used it just a week ago to find a copy of the owner's manual for the portable generator in my garage. 

Watch this short video for a demonstration of searching by file type and a demonstration of the OneNote web clipper. 


Searching by file type is one of just many search strategies that students need to know. That strategy and many more are taught in my online course, Search Strategies Students Need to Know. The course is on sale this week for 33% off. Register here and take the course at your own pace. 

Display a Timer With a Google Document

Earlier this week a reader of my weekly newsletter emailed me to ask for advice on how to display a document and countdown timer on the same screen. The idea being that the document is displayed on a large screen via an LCD projector or Chromecast and a small timer is also displayed. The document could be displaying questions for students to answer or procedural steps for them to follow in an alotted amount of time. 

I offered a simple suggestion for displaying the document and a timer on the same screen. My suggestion was to just resize two browser tabs so that the full document and a small timer are displayed on the same screen space. This short video demonstrates how to do that.