Friday, 9 February 2018

Flipgrid for the camera shy

Click the image to access the slide full of links.


While working with a school this week, one teacher (shyly) admitted that he liked Flipgrid, but he did not feel comfortable filming himself.  This was not the first time I have heard this.  I like to challenge people to venture outside their comfort zone but I am not always successful.  I fear that there are educators and students who are avoiding this great tool because they think they need to be on camera.  I'm here to tell you that is not the case!  Flipgrid has an option to upload a video rather than film live.


The best part is you don't need fancy video production tools to film...there are plenty of free, simple tools you can use. 

In the spirit of curating, and not dumping (see The Cult of Pedagogy blog post if you don't get my reference - it is a superb read), I have curated a list of 5 (well 6) tools you can use to create videos to upload to Flipgrid. 

Note: For the first three tools you need to Appsmash (using multiple apps in conjunction with one another to complete a final task) with my favourite free screen casting tool - Screencat-o-matic.  I love screencast-o-matic because in the free version you can record up to 15 minutes, crop the recording area, and trim the recording.  All videos can be saved to your local drive as mp4s.  AND...it now works on Chromebooks!!!

So...let's look at the tools:
  1. Voki
    In the free version of Voki you can use pictures from a selected, customizable list of Avatars and backgrounds.  Then you can record your voice, type a message that can be read in a voice of choice, or upload a pre-recored message.  Published Vokis can be shared on Twitter, Facebook, G+, email or via link, but for Flipgrid, appsmash with Screencast-o-matic to record the video.
  2. My Simple Show
    My Simple Show is a video explainer.  You write a script, it suggest photos to insert into the presentation, and (in the free version) it narrates for you.  You need to upgrade to record your own voice BUT of you appsmash with screencast-o-matic and you can mute the narration and record a voice over!
  3. Stop Motion with Google Slides
    This is one of my favourite slides activities.  Essentially, you put a character on a background, make tiny tweaks on each slide and them publish to the web to make a mini movie. This tutorial by Kim Pollishuke and Sandra Chow is a great resource to teach how to make stop motion videos using Google Slides.  Again, appsmash with screencast-o-matic to add narration.
  4. Chatterpix (iOS app)
    Chatterpix is likely the easiest tool to use.  You to upload a photo of your choice, then you draw a line across the mouth in the photo.  You can record your voice and add filters and stickers to your recording.  When you are done you can emails yourself the .mp4 file that can be uploaded  to Flipgrid.  Best of all - it is free!
  5. Sock Puppets (iOS app)
    Sock Puppets lets you create your own lip-synched videos.  The videos feature sock puppet characters, customizable backgrounds, props and scenery.  Finished videos are saved to your camera roll and can be uploaded via the Flipgrid app.
Check out my Grid for quick examples of each tool and get even the most camera shy participant Flipgridding (yes, I made it a verb - that's called anthimeria btw) in no time.



Saturday, 20 January 2018

My Week on a Chromebook

Inspired by conversations between Jonathan Wiley and Mindy Cairney on their podcast The EdTech Takeout, this week I decided to try to use only my Chromebook.  I often have teachers ask me if a class set of Chromebooks would work for a 1:1 environment, and while I have used my Chromebook, I have always had my Mac as my primary computer.  I figure to best advise, I should dive into the Chromebook to see what limitations it might present.




Here is what I found:

Keyboard Shortcuts
I am a really big keyboard shortcut user.  I missed those A LOT.  A quick Google search led me to a cheat sheet of Chromebook keyboard shortcuts.  This was really handy.  Some of the ones I used the most:
  • Alt+Backspace works as the Delete Key
  • CTRL + Right Arrow jump from word to word (although it didn't quite work like my beloved CMD +right arrow to get to the end of a line.)

Quickly Flipping Between Accounts 
I have both a Gmail and EDU that I toggle between constantly. I didn't think I could have two accounts logged in to the Chromebook at the same time but apparently, you can!  #HappySurprise.  I could never figure out getting my second gmail though.

No Firefox
I have one system at work that I need to access via Firefox...so that was something for which I had to jump to my Mac.

No iMessage
I love the integration of iMessage on my Mac.  My whole family is on it...but so long as I kept my phone close I made it work.

Split screen
Love the ease of this.  All I had to do was drag windows to the corners to see multiple windows open at the same time.

Small Screen
Don't love the small screen...I could get a bigger one, but the one I have is only 11".

Notifications
There are little blue dots when a tab (email, twitter) has notifications. That was cool and not as distracting as the notifications on the Mac.

Programs 
Spoke to a Chem teacher - for the purpose of his course he has tools that plug into the computer to do experiments programs that need to be downloaded - students would not be able to do that.

Speed - or lack there of.
OK, this was the BIGGEST drawback.  It was SLOW!  There were a number of times during the week I had to jump to the Mac because the Chromebook came to a stand still. (I imagine this had something to do with the millions of tabs I had open.)

All in all, I think a class set of Chromebooks would be fine for students.  The week was not as difficult as I thought it would be.  But for my uses, I think I am sticking to my Mac.  (Although, I am not adverse to checking out a more powerful Chromebook with touch screen and app capabilities.)

For more advanced Chromebook users what I have shared might seem straightforward, but if are on a Mac and wondering...these were my insights.