Monday, June 13, 2016

First run with Facebook 360

Facebook recently announced their support for 360 degree videos and picture from their app, so today I tried out uploading 360/panoramic pictures to our district Facebook page!

A couple things I found out:
  1. I tried using my favorite 360 app Dermandar, but Facebook caught on. You see, there are only certain apps that Facebook will let you upload with. Dermandar apparently isn't one of them. 
    Can you tell which images were taken with Dermandar? Facebook can!
  2. Using the pano feature on your iOS camera works fine, except that it's not a full 360 degrees. It's 180 degrees. A big deal? No, but it would be nice if it was full 360. Maybe it's something I'm missing?
  3. Because you don't get a full 360 with the iOS camera, you have to be more thoughtful about where you stand. It can't just be in the middle of the playing field.
  4. You have to upload by clicking the Photo button in the Facebook app, not from where Facebook prompts you to check out the Photos in your Camera Roll. I'm thinking that will get updated, and it's a minor detail, but a mistake I tried. 
Overall I think it is a cool way to share different parts of your school or classroom. I've got a couple more places in mind to go get pictures for and other ideas on how to improve it. I did create a page on our website that has the full Dermander 360 images embedded. My plan is, as of right now, to do both since neither take very long to create. What ways do you see 360 videos being useful for schools? 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Educational iOS Apps that Support Chromecast

Our district has been using the Reflector app for mirroring our iPads to the projectors. While that has been working OK in most situations, we are beginning to explore whether or not the Chromecast would be an option as we introduce more iPads to staff. Why the Chromecast over the Apple TV? Mainly cost. While you can still purchase older versions of the Apple TV at half of what a new one costs, they are still twice as much as the new Chromecasts
The problem, and why many schools go with the Apple TV, is that the Chromecast doesn't mirror the iPad like an Apple TV or an adapter does. It's designed to stream video and audio. Which is why I'm compiling a list of iOS apps that support Chromecast that our teachers could use in the classroom. Admittedly, there isn't a lot. That's where a conversation with a teacher comes into play. What are they planning on projecting from the iPad? If it will routinely be something that can't be shared by one of the apps below, then maybe a Chromecast isn't the right option for their classroom. But if they plan on sharing websites and their Google Slides notes, then why pay twice as much for what they need? Because we are focusing on iPads, Android apps that could be used for educational purposes are not included below. And yes, there are 1000s of apps that support Chromecast, but most are for entertainment purposes. The apps below I can at least make an argument for educational purposes!

All teachers need the Chromecast app to connect and set up their device. 

Google Chrome - this web browser shows students what you are looking out, although, because it doesn't fully mirror, you can't see web URLs. Utilize Google Classroom to get URLs to students.

Google Slides - we encourage staff to put all of their presentations and notes online anyway, so Cast them with the Google Slides app.

YouTube - we encourage staff to use YouTube for sharing video content, either their own or someone else's. 

Also YouTube Kids for teachers sharing brain breaks via their iPad. 

Since it is cold out right now and indoor recesses occur frequently, I'll mention Connect4 Quads which brings the popular Connect 4 game online. Hasbro has a couple game apps available.

Some other resources:
Possibilities for Chromecast in the Classroom - Synergyse

Have other apps that should be included? Mention them in the comments below!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Screencastify - An Alternative to YouTube Webcam Capture

YouTube announced last week it was closing down it's (I guess not very) popular webcam capture feature that allowed you to record a video directly to YouTube instead of having to record somewhere else, then upload. This was a huge blow to our speech teacher, who has kids set their Chromebooks on a table to record their speeches so they can reflect and critique themselves.
The alternative we are using is the Screencastify Chrome extension. I've mentioned Screencastify in the past as a screencasting tool, but there is also the option to just record what the camera sees, basically the same thing that the YouTube capture did. Just like screen recordings, the video is then saved to either Google Drive or YouTube, whichever the user prefers. In talking with the speech teacher this morning, he said that it actually seems to be working better than the YouTube webcam capture. They would periodically have videos that stop uploading to YouTube and students would lose them. They haven't had those issues so far. The free version limits you to ten minutes of recording, but most of the speeches that students are recording fall under that limit. The Google Drive option could also be a little more reassuring for students who many be a bit apprehensive about accidentally posting their practice speech to the public on YouTube. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Not Always My Favorite

I think it's very important that students create stuff. Having to transfer what you know into a new product it's extremely valuable for really understanding a concept. What tool is used to make that stuff can vary greatly and is largely irrelevant to the bigger goal of increased knowledge. Just like students, teachers have their own favorite tools for creating stuff for students. Like everyone else, I have my favorite apps for different tasks on my iPad or iPhone. As apps change, my preference changes. I used to be a HUGE Penultimate fan (see why here) until they "improved" their app. I was one of many who couldn't stand the new update. While they've made some changes (shameless plug that I was once quoted on TechCrunch), it's never been the same and, although it was once a staple of my iPad dock, it's no longer anywhere on my iPad.
On the other hand, there are some tasks that have two apps that switch back and forth between being my favorites. Screencasting on an iPad is a great example. For a long time, I was in the ShowMe "camp" because of how much I liked their online community. Then Educreations added multiple pages. I sway back and forth depending on their most recent update. I generally tell people to try out both and pick one you like.
Another one is book creation. My two favorites, in alphabetical order, are Book Creator and My Story. Unlike the screencasting apps, these two go back and forth of my "favorite" depending on the situation I'm in. If I'm creating a book for myself, it's definitely Book Creator. It's layout is hands down more "sophisticated" looking. It also allows you to add video within your book, something My Story doesn't do. However, for younger students, the My Story layout is much more friendly. Just recently they introduced the ability to share My Story books between iPads.
1st graders creating books on how to make no bake pies.
We used this to make a template for 1st graders and then Air Drop the template to their iPads. Students could then edit their own book and resend it back to me as a movie. They have the option of making it an ePub that you can read in the Safari browser, an option that is fantastic for class presentations or sharing with parents, but I noticed that when students sent the link back to me, all of the ePubs had the same short URL. I've reached out to My Story, so hopefully that'll get cleaned up. You can see the student videos below.

So which app is best for each task? Depends on the audience, the day, and the most recent update. The apps will always change, but the purpose of the learning will not.