Tuesday, June 14, 2022

When You Give a Kid a Camera

Last year we gave our daughters (four and five years old) a couple of kid-friendly digital cameras. My daughters love taking pictures with their little cameras and take them on almost every hike, trip to the wildlife park, and just about every new place that we visit. 

My daughters little cameras store roughly 800 pictures before they have to be transferred to a computer or deleted. After a hike on Sunday their cameras were full and I had to transfer some pictures to my laptop so that they can take more pictures when we go to the zoo

It was while looking through the 800 pictures they took that it dawned on me that they value of their cameras for us as parents is to get some insight into how our kids view nature and what they think is interesting. Aside from pictures of fingers partially covering the lens and blurry shots of feet there were lots of pictures of rocks they found interesting, close-ups of flower petals, pictures of worms and bugs, and some pictures of our dogs. 

Now that their cameras have more storage space, we're off to the zoo. I can't wait to see the pictures they take there! More importantly, I can't wait to hear them talk about the pictures that they took and why they took them. I guess you could say we're starting to dive into the world of digital storytelling. 

Monday, June 13, 2022

A Quick and Easy Way to Make Your Own Wordle-like Game

A few months ago I published a video about how to make your own Wordle-style games. Since then Wordle craze has not shown any signs of slowing down (at least amongst my network of friends and colleagues). New DIY tools for making your own Wordle-style games seem to pop-up every week. The latest one that I've seen is also the easiest to use. 

Strive Math now offers Custom Wordle for making your own Wordle-style games. To make your game simply go to the site and enter the word that you want to use as the correct answer. Your word can be any length. 

Sharing your Custom Wordle game is just a matter of giving people the link to your game. There is not a requirement for you or for them to enter any personal information in order to play the game. And just like the real Wordle game, when people get the answer they can annoy their friends by posting their scores on social media. 


Applications for Education

The cynic in me says that this is a nice SEO ploy by Strive Math. That said, if you're looking for a way to create a custom Wordle-like game for your students to play, Custom Wordle by Strive Math could be the tool for you.

And if you've been around the edtech world long enough to remember when the original Wordle craze started, here are five Wordle word cloud tools

A Giraffe in Our House - More Fun With Augmented Reality

Tomorrow we're going to the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston. My daughters have been looking forward to it for weeks! The giraffes are what they are most excited to see. This morning my youngest daughter asked to see pictures of giraffes. What she really meant was that she wanted to see augmented reality giraffes in our house. She knew that was a possibility because of our little platypus exploration last winter. So we spent a little time looking at augmented reality giraffes this morning in anticipation of tomorrow's trip to the zoo.  

Here's a little video of a giraffe in our dining room

How to Create Videos of Augmented Reality Animals

To create the videos of augmented reality animals in my house I simply did a Google search for them on my Pixel 5 then chose the "view in your space" option to have the animals rendered in AR. Once the animals were rendered in AR I then just held down the record button that appears on the screen when viewing an AR object via Google mobile search. The video automatically saves to the phone and from there you can share it anywhere including YouTube and Instagram. 

The whole process of making a video with augmented reality videos might sound complicated, but it's not. I demonstrated the whole process in this short video


Applications for Education
I use the augmented reality animals in Google mobile search to feed my daughters' curiosities and interests in animals that they otherwise wouldn't see except in a zoon. For slightly older kids think making videos of augmented reality animals could be a fun way to have students record short videos about animals and explain how why they would or wouldn't do well outside of their natural environment. Students can also stitch together a series of the short videos to tell a story about the animals. For example, I can envision creating an entire story about the adventures of a giraffe wandering through my neighborhood.  

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Screencasting on Chromebooks - Built-in Tool vs. Third-party Tools

Last week Google introduced a new screencasting tool for Chromebooks. Besides being a built-in part of Chrome OS the screencasting tool has some nice features for teachers and students. Those features include automatic transcription creation and ease of sharing with students and colleagues. So that might make you wonder why you would want to use anything else to create a screencast on your Chromebook. Here's a brief overview of a few tools for creating screencasts on your Chromebook. 

Chrome OS Built-in Recorder
The obvious benefit of using the built-in recorder is that you don't have install any third-party extensions. Additionally, your recordings automatically save to your Google Drive. And because the video is saved in your Google account, it is incredibly easy to share your videos with your students. The best aspect of the built-in Chrome OS screencasting tool is that your video is automatically transcribed for you and your students can have that transcript translated into the language of their choice. 

The shortcomings of the Chrome OS screencast recorder are the limited drawing tools and limited editing tools. It will probably get better in time, but right now it doesn't have nearly as many drawing and editing options as other screencasting tools like Screencastify and Loom. 

Screencastify
Screencastify was one of the first screencasting tools developed specifically for Chromebooks (it should be noted that it can work on any computer running the Chrome web browser). Over the years it has improved in leaps and bounds. Today, Screencastify offers more than just a tool for recording a video of your screen. It offers a complete video editing platform. 

With Screencastify you can record your screen, use a wide variety of drawing and zoom tools, and edit your recordings in your web browser. Recordings can be automatically saved to your Google Drive account, downloaded as MP4 files, and shared to other services including Google Classroom, YouTube, and EDpuzzle. 

The editing tools in Screencastify include cropping, splitting, and merging clips. It also provides tools for blurring faces and objects in your videos. Finally, you can use Screencastify to build must-answer questions into your videos before you share them with your students. 

Loom
Loom is a popular screencasting tool partly because they offer a generous list of free features for teachers and because those features work really well. Perhaps my favorite of those features is the ability to record a screencast directly from your Gmail inbox or from anywhere else in your Chrome browser. Loom also offers automatic transcript generation, viewing insights (get notifications when people watch your videos), and a tool for suppressing background noise in your recordings

Like Screencastify, Loom lets you download your recordings and share your videos to variety of places including YouTube. 

Flipgrid
Although it's known for it, Flipgrid does offer a convenient screencast recording tool. It doesn't include a capability to draw on the screen while recording, but it is easy to use and easy to share your recordings with your students.  You can also combine a screencast with a simple webcam video or whiteboard video that you make in Flipgrid. If you want to know more about Flipgrid's other uses, take a look at this playlist of videos

How to Embed Full Page Content Into Google Sites

The design options in Google Sites have come a long way in the last decade. In the early days Google Sites had lots of functionality, but little in the way of design options. Today, there are not only lots of great themes and templates, there are also many ways to customize the layout of every page within a website made with Google Sites. Embedding full page content is one design option that was recently added to Google Sites. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to embed full page content into Google Sites. This is a great option for displaying Google Docs, Slides, and videos on a page without displaying the footer or banner header on the page. Watch the video to see how it looks. 



Applications for Education
Even if you use Google Classroom and provide parent access, there is still a good argument to be made for using Google Sites. By creating a classroom website with Google Sites you can have a place where parents can quickly and easily find information like lunch menus, calendars, course information, and materials lists. Having a classroom website is also a good way to share highlights of what's going on in your classroom. For example, you could display an image carousel in Google Sites to display pictures of students' projects or highlights of the school year.