Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tools to Create Video Lessons

**UPDATE April 2016** eduCanon is now called PlayPosit

In preparation for my summer tech training, I have been evaluating tools to create video lessons. These tools could be used to create flipped lessons where the students watch the video outside of class. These tools make the videos interactive and also allow teachers to see if students actually watched the video before class.

I have evaluated EDpuzzle, eduCanon and Zaption. I am using the free versions of each to evaluate all three tools. Two of these tools, Zaption and eduCanon, offer premium versions for a fee.

EDpuzzle is completely free for teachers--they do not offer a premium version. EDpuzzle allows you to create classes and track student progress through the videos. Students need an account for EDpuzzle but they do not need an email address to create an account. Students can add themselves to the classes you create using a class code.

With EDpuzzle you can upload your own videos or use videos from one of many sources like YouTube, Khan Academy, TED, Numberphile, TeacherTube and more. You can crop the video and use just the portions you like or you can use the entire video. EDpuzzle allows you to add questions to any point in the video. You can add multiple choice or open ended questions. You can also add comments to the video to better explain video contents. EDpuzzles can be assigned to students through the EDpuzzle interface or you can share a link or embed a puzzle on a blog or website. EDpuzzle allows you to search already created puzzles and edit them. Here is a sample EDpuzzle.

eduCanon allows you to create bulbs which include video and other elements. Video can come from YouTube (several educational YouTube channels are linked directly to from the eduCanon dashboard), Khan Academy, National Geographic, Shmoop and more. You can crop the video to get just the portion you want to include in the bulb or use the entire video. The free version allows you to add multiple choice and check all that apply questions. You can also add a reflective pause. The text editor allows you to add text as well as images, links and embed codes. You can even pause the video and record your own voice. The premium version gives you additional question options that include free response, fill in the blank, skip to a moment in the video and viewing websites along side the video. The free version allows you to create unlimited lessons, monitor unlimited students and create up to eight classes. Below is a sample eduCanon bulb.

Zaption allows you to create video tours. The free version of Zaption allows you to add text slides, image slides, drawing features (this could be good to have students work out a math problem), and open response, multiple choice and check box questions. You can trim a video to get just the portion you want. The free version allows you to add six interactive elements with a single video. You can also copy and edit Zaption tours that other teachers have created. The premium version gives access to additional tools including numerical response questions, drawn response questions, discussions and a replay feature. Below is a sample Zaption tour.

All three services allow you to embed the completed videos. Zaption does not require students to create an account to access tours. EDpuzzle does require an account for students but they do not need an email address to create an account and can log in via Google or Edmodo. eduCanon also allows students to log in with their Google or Edmodo accounts or they can create an account using only a username, no email address needed.

When assigning an EDpuzzle the teacher can select an option to prevent skipping. This means the student must go through the video in its entirety and cannot just skip ahead to the questions.

The eduCanon student sign up process could be confusing. In order to join a class students are presented with a box that says "Teacher class or name." On first glance it looks as if a student has to search by teacher name or class to join a class. On the teacher's profile there is a teacher search code. This code can be entered in the student's "Teacher class or name" search box. This is much easier than trying to search by name or class. But this feature is not explained well on the student side. Once in a class, students can see assignments. eduCanon videos do not allow the students to skip ahead. They must watch the video from beginning to end. The eduCanon videos do not show where the questions are located on the timeline until after the questions are answered. Once the questions are answered students can go back and review the questions by clicking the marker on the timeline.

All three services provide video analytics which allows the teacher to track student progress. Zaption gives you a break down of right and wrong answers as well as how long a student spent viewing a video. This is helpful since Zaption does not provide the teacher with the ability to prevent students from skipping ahead in the video. If a student watched a two minute video in thirty seconds and answered all the questions, you can be pretty sure they skipped ahead to the questions! Of the three services, Zaption provides the best analytics.

So I suppose the next logical question is, which one do I like best? There are pieces out of each service that I like. I really like the analytics Zaption provides. But I like the ability in EDpuzzle and eduCanon to prevent the students from skipping ahead in the videos. I worry that EDpuzzle is completely free with no premium version to support it. I think most teachers could get by with the free versions of Zaption or eduCanon although the premium version of Zaption does include some nice extras.

I think the key with these video lesson tools is like any other tech tool, find the one that works best for you and use it. There is no reason to use all three of these tools because they are so similar.

Monday, March 23, 2015

#edcamp Reflections

On Saturday, I attended my fourth #edcamp and second #edcampomaha. I needed a little battery recharge and #edcampomaha did not disappoint. I was especially excited to see all of my friends and hear about all of the great things they are doing in their schools. One friend I was particularly excited to see was Brent Catlett (@catlett1). Since Brent moved to MO, I don't get to see him as often as I used to. I just love being around this guy because of the excitement he exudes always. So when Brent issued a blogging challenge, I immediately accepted.

Brent's challenge was to write a blog post about the evolution we have gone through regarding what we wanted to get out of our first #edcamp to what we want to get out of an #edcamp now.

I haven't been to as many #edcamps as some people but I have been to a lot of conferences in my day. At a traditional conference I generally expect to sit and get and those are generally the types of presentations I give at a traditional conference. I think teachers who haven't been to an #edcamp still expect that type of session. That is what I found so refreshing about the #edcamp model. A conference where no one prepares a thing and sessions are decided that day. A conference where the session "presenter" is really more of a moderator and maybe has a question or two but no set agenda and no prepared presentation.

The first couple of #edcamps I attended were all about smack downs and who could demo the coolest tool or newest app. As you know, I am all about the cool tech tools so I thought this was great. But over the last couple of years, I've found that I'm not excited as I once was about the latest and greatest tool or app. I'd really rather my teachers find one or two good tools and learn to use them effectively rather than trying the latest and greatest thing all the time.

The sessions I look for now at #edcamp are the ones where a good conversation is had. I do not want to go to a session and sit silently while a presenter presents. I am there to contribute to a conversation not be talked at. After all the smartest person in any room is the room itself. (If you ever lead an #edcamp session, please remember that.) And this is why I love the #edcamp rule of "listen with your feet." If you aren't getting anything out of a session, it is perfectly fine to get up and leave.

The best #edcamp session I have ever attended is one that Brent did at #edcampomaha. I think the topic was something along the lines of 1:1 initiatives. Brent threw out a question and we just talked. Brent did a masterful job of directing the conversation without "presenting" the topic. Everyone in that room felt like they were a part of that session.

At #edcampomaha on Saturday, Patty Wolfe (@wolfep) and Dave Evertson (@dave_evertson) from Cozad did a session on their Maker Fair. They showed a video of highlights of the day and talked a little bit about it. And that led a couple of the participants in the session to talk about how they are using Genius Hour with their students. The conversation that Patty and Dave started with just naturally evolved into Genius Hour and it was great.

I also love the hallway sessions that are held at #edcamp. These are sessions where you get so caught up in talking with someone in the hallway that you forget to go to a session! And these sessions can be just as powerful as a scheduled session.

As a tech trainer I have struggled with continuing to offer the traditional sit and get style sessions, although I know some of my teachers still want that. Attending #edcamps has really broadened my view of how professional development could be conducted. I love that NETA has jumped on the bandwagon and started to offer conversation strands which are very similar to #edcamp sessions. And I need to do a better job of offering this type of PD to my staff.

I went to #edcampomaha on Saturday needing a little battery recharge and I definitely got that. If you haven't yet been to an #edcamp yet, what are you waiting for? I do believe #edcampcentralNE is just around the corner! See you there!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Today's Maker Movement

I'm a sucker for classic movies. Movies like Pollyana, The Parent Trap, Mary Poppins, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. If I find one of those movies on and I have time, I will watch it. Such was the case Sunday morning when I came across Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

I hadn't seen this movie in years and I had some time, so I watched it. But I soon found myself watching the movie not as I had when I was a kid but watching the movie now with the eye of an educator.

If you aren't familiar with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, it is the story of an inventor named Caractacus Potts and his carefree children and a car named Chitty Chitty Bang Bang that takes them on a wonderful adventure. Potts has created many wonderful things but has yet to find the one invention that will support his family. The family includes his eccentric father who in a fantastical tale told by Potts is kidnapped by a baron and taken to Vulgaria. While trying to hunt down Grandpa, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with family in tow transforms into a boat and then into a flying car. (Okay, it sounds ludicrous but it really is a good movie.)

So how does this relate to the maker movement of today? While I was watching the beginning of the movie and the inventor showing off all of his crazy inventions, it struck me that this is what we want our students to do.

Not one of the inventions had been popular or successful, yet he kept inventing. How does this relate to today? We want our students to keep inventing, to keep trying, to keep creating, to fail and try again. If Caractacus Potts had stopped with his first failed invention, he wouldn't have come to invent Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. And he wouldn't have come to invent Toot Sweets, the product that turns out to be successful. And it is important to note that Toot Sweets was actually a failed product in and of itself but they found a unique use for it. How many products started out as failures but found their way to market with a different use? Post-it Notes, anyone?

While Grandpa is kidnapped in Vulgaria he is forced to try and make a car that flies even though he didn't create Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He and other prisoners actually sing a song about embracing failure! How perfect is that for today?! Just check out the first verse and chorus of the song:

Every bursted bubble has a glory!
Each abysmal failure makes a point!
Every glowing path that goes astray,
Shows you how to find a better way.
So every time you stumble never grumble.
Next time you'll bumble even less!
For up from the ashes, up from the ashes, grow the roses of success!
Grow the roses!
Grow the roses!
Grow the roses of success!

Once Grandpa embraces the idea that "There's magic in the wake of a fiasco! It gives you that chance to second guess!" he's ready to give it a try. Just listen to the words in The Roses of Success. I really feel like it could be the theme song to the maker movement, Genius Hour, 20% Time and creators everywhere!

I hadn't watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in years and as I watched it again on Sunday it struck me how a movie made in 1968 that was set in the 1910s could have relevance today. But it absolutely does. Creating, inventing, making, failing, trying again are all things we want our students to do today. It was important when this movie took place. It is even more important to encourage that in our students today. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Favorites of 2014

Seems like the start of a new year makes people reflect. So I have decided to reflect on my favorite new ed tech products of 2014. These were my favorite products to debut in 2014.

Canva is one of my all time favorite tools. Canva is an easy to use graphic design program. It has a simple drag and drop interface. You can use one of Canva's premade templates or create your own from scratch. Premade templates include Twitter and email headers, presentations, posters, invitations, Pinterest posts, photo collages and more. You can use one of the thousands of free graphics Canva has, upload your own or buy one of Canva's graphics for $1.00. I have used Canva for absolutely everything this year! Any time I need a graphic for anything, I use Canva. The header for this blog was created in Canva. You can see other things I have made by visiting my Canva profile. Canva even has a great iOS app that functions just like the web app. Canva has a design school where you can lean how to use Canva and get great design tips at the same time.

Google Classroom was released in August of 2014 and was the answer to many teachers' prayers. Google Classroom is a file management system that makes sharing files with students a breeze. No longer do teachers have to collect student email addresses, create mailing groups, share handout folders, collect handin folders and search for shared documents. Google Classroom does that and much more. Google Classroom is so simple to set up. Students add themselves to your classroom and the teacher can control everything. Google Classroom is not just for collecting Google assignments. Use it to collect any assignment from Office to web created files. The best comment I heard from a student was "I wished all my teachers used Google Classroom so I wouldn't have to lose any more papers."

Kahoot was actually released in 2013 but 2014 was truly the year of Kahoot. Kahoot is a games based student response system. Students use any web enabled device to answer a series of questions. Fastest fingers matter in Kahoot as the faster the correct answer is entered, the more points that is scored. I have used Kahoot with all age groups of people from adults to elementary students. Every age group loves this tool! Kahoot can make a boring review session exciting. You can create your own quizzes in Kahoot or use one of the 984,000 public Kahoots that have been shared by other Kahoot users.

2014 saw the debut of lots of ed tech tools. As we know with anything on the web, what is here today may not be here tomorrow. I think these three tools have staying power. And best of all, all three are FREE! What was your favorite ed tech tool of 2014?