Thursday, June 9, 2022

How to Record Screencasts on Chromebooks Without Extensions

A couple of days ago Google announced some new Chromebook features for teachers and students. One of those features is a new screencast recording tool that is built into the latest version of Chrome OS. 

The new screencast recording tool built into Chromebook OS removes the need to use third-party extensions like Screencastify or Loom to record a screencast video on your Chromebook. You can record all of your screen or part of your screen. If you like to include your webcam in screencasts, you can do that with the built-in recorder in the latest version of Chrome OS. The recorder includes some handy tools for drawing on your screen while recording. 

When you create a screencast using the built-in recorder on your Chromebook the recording is automatically saved to your Google Drive account. Once the recording is saved you can share it much like you would share any other file in your Google Drive account. 

Automatic Transcription! Perhaps the best feature of the new screencast recorder in Chrome OS is that it automatically generates a written transcript of your video. You can edit the transcript if you find some inaccuracies in it. 

Watch my new video to learn how you can record screencasts on your Chromebook without using any third-party extensions. 



Important! Update your Chromebook to the latest version of Chrome OS to access the new screencasting tool to record a screencast on your Chromebook

Focusable Looks Like a Promising New Approach to Online Instruction

Focusable is a new service from the same people that brought us Swivl and Synth. Focusable is currently in a private beta (public beta to launch in August) so there isn't a lot of information available about it. That said, what I've seen so far makes Focusable look like a promising new approach to online instruction.

The concept of Focusable is to help students focus on completing a learning activity (or series of activities). This is done through something that Focusable refers to as a flow. The flow includes a task, a timer, a reflection tool, and breathing (focus) exercises designed to keep students moving toward the completion of a learning activity. It appears to be different than just telling students to "set a timer and work for X minutes" because the flow uses very short timers followed by a reflection and a breathing exercise intended to get students to flow back into the assigned learning activity. 

You can sign up for beta access to Focusable on their homepage. It is there that you can also watch a short demo video of the Focusable concept. You may also want to read their announcement that introduces the Focusable concept and their article about the optimal learning experience

I've signed up for early beta access to Focusable because I'm curious to see how well their approach works. If it works nearly as well as they promise, it could be a great way to give personalized online instruction. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Science Fun in the Sun - Free Science Lesson Plan

As I write this it's a cloudy and relatively cold June day here in Maine. The sunshine will return and with it there will be some opportunities for fun outdoor learning activities. One such activity is building a solar oven and trying to cook something like s'mores in it. 4H offers free instructions on how to do that. One of the things that I like about 4H's instructions for making a solar oven is that at the end of the instructions there is a knowledge comprehension check and discussion questions to pose to students. 

Over the years I've shared other sets of directions for making solar ovens. Here's a recap of those resources.

NASA provides two sets of detailed, written directions for building solar ovens. This set of directions (link opens a PDF) was created for students in 7th through 9th grade. This set of directions (link opens a PDF) for building a solar oven was written for 6th through 8th grade students and culminates with students attempting to make s'mores with their ovens. 

Cooking With 'Sol (link opens a PDF) was published by the US Department of Energy. It was written for students in 5th through 8th grade to follow directions to create a solar oven. 

DIY Sun Science is a free iPad app from The Lawrence Hall of Science. The app features directions for hands-on lessons about the sun. The lessons are a mix of activities that students can do on their own and activities that they should do with adult supervision. All of the activities use common household goods. Some of the activities that you will find in DIY Sun Science are measuring the sun, making UV detectors, detecting solar storms, and cooking with a solar oven.

If you or your students want some visuals of how a solar oven works, SciShow Kids offers this video for you

Tech Coaches, Here Are 50 Ideas for Summer Workshop Sessions

Are you a tech coach, tech integrator, or media specialist who has been asked to run a summer workshop for your staff? If so, I have a resource for you! I created 50 Tech Tuesday Tips with you in mind. 

50 Tech Tuesday Tips was curated from more than 400 editions of The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter. In 50 Tech Tuesday Tips you will find ideas for lots of helpful things that you can teach to your colleagues and to students. Throughout the eBook you'll find tutorials and handouts that you can pass along in your school. 

Some of the many things you'll find in 50 Tech Tuesday Tips include:

  • What to do when a web app isn't working as you expect.
  • Building your own search engine.
  • How to create green screen videos.
  • Improving instructional videos. 
  • Streamlining email management.
  • Creating educational games. 
  • DIY app creation.
  • Podcasting tips for teachers and students. 



Get your copy of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips right here!

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Ten Ways to Use Adobe Creative Cloud Express in School

While watching the NBA Finals a couple of nights ago I saw a commercial for Adobe Creative Cloud Express. In that commercial they said something to the effect of "even Kindergarteners can use it." That inspired me to create this list of ten ways that Adobe Creative Cloud Express can be used in K-12 schools. 

Before jumping to the list, I'd like to point out that on my YouTube channel you will find some tutorials on using Adobe Creative Cloud Express including this one about making videos and this one about making websites


Posters and Other Graphics:
Adobe Creative Cloud Express offers many great templates that you and your students can use to create graphics like posters, collages, announcements, and Internet memes.
  • Students and teachers can create simple posters to print and post in their schools to announce club meetings, campaigns for class elections, or to post encouraging messages to students.
  • To help students understand and show that they understand what propaganda messages look like, I have had them create simple early 20th Century-style propaganda posters of their own. Adobe Creative Cloud Express has a built-in image search that can help students find pictures to use for those posters. Students can also upload pictures they've found in the public domain.
  • Create a meme-style graphic to share on your classroom, library, or school website. The graphic could be intended to encourage students and parents to remind each other of an upcoming school event. You could also create a meme to encourage students to continue reading over the summer. 
Videos:
The video editor is my favorite tool in Adobe Creative Cloud Express. Videos are created by adding text and images to slides. You can record yourself talking over each slide. A library of free music is available to layer under your narration or you can use that music in lieu of narration.
  • Create a short flipped-lesson. The recording tool makes it easy to precisely record your narration over the slides in your lesson. 
  • Have your students create video lessons. The slide aspect of  the video tool lends itself to students creating short Ken Burns-style documentary videos. Have them use Adobe's search tool to find images to use in their videos or have them use a site like Flickr's The Commons to find historical images. I've had students make this style of video to tell the stories of people moving west across the United States in the 19th Century. 
  • This is the time of year for end-of-school assemblies and celebrations. Use the Creative Cloud Express video creation tool to make a video of highlights of the school year. Rather than narrating the video you can use music from Adobe's library. 
Simple Websites:
Page is the tool for creating simple web pages to showcase pictures, posters, videos, text, and links. 
  • Create an event invitation page. Create a page that outlines the highlights of an upcoming school event like a fundraiser or open house night. Include images of past events, images of prizes, or include a video about the event. Should you need people to register for your event, include a link to a Google Form or Microsoft Form.
  • Create a digital portfolio with Adobe Creative Cloud Express. Students can organize their pages into sections to showcase videos they've made, documents they've written, and their reflections on what they've learned. 
  • Make a multimedia timeline. While it wasn't designed specifically for making timelines, the formatting does lend itself to timelines. Ask your students to research a series of events, find media representative of those events, caption the events and media with dates, and then place them into the proper order.
  • Write an image-based story. Students can write a story about themselves by using pictures they've taken placed into a simple site made with Creative Cloud Express. Another way to think about image-based stories is to have students search for images and use them as writing prompts. Ask them to choose five pictures and write a story that connects the images.