September 2018: Favorite tools for schools

Kathy's Katch

If you are reading this blog post, chances are you do not need to be convinced students should be creating projects and products to showcase acquisition of content knowledge. And you probably already have a pedagogical model you use for infusing technology seamlessly into the curriculum to enhance teaching and learning. It may be SAMR, Bloom’s Revised Digital Taxonomy, the Texas Teacher STaR Chart, TPACK, the ISTE Student and Educator Standards, some other local model, or, my favorite, the TECH model by Jen Roberts shown below.

In this blog post, I will be sharing some of my (current) favorite creation tools with you. I use all platforms of devices, so I am going to share apps that run on many platforms, and some that just run on one. I am a believer of using the best tool/app for the job, and encourage schools to adopt a single platform for all, but give students access to devices on other platforms, too. The best tool may not be available on the adopted platform. For instance, if you are a Chromebook district, have some carts of iPads available for student use. And, if you are primarily a Windows district, consider buying iMacs or MacBooks and running Windows in Bootcamp. This gives students access to the powerful, stand-alone tools that come with both Mac computers and Windows computers. Again, we want them to have the right tool available for their need.

MY FAVORITE TOOLS

Podcast Creation: Anchor

Anchor is an easy-to-use podcast creation tool. It is available as an online tool, an iOS app, and from the Google Play store. Once you create an account, you receive your personal Anchor page, which followers can visit to listen to your podcasts. In addition, you get the RSS feed of your podcast, which allows you to register it is with a podcast aggregator, like iTunes, and followers can then subscribe and automatically receive any new podcasts you post.

There are several other cool features of Anchor. Listeners can send you a short audio response to your podcast which you can moderate and decide whether or not you want to share it with the public. You can even invite a distant guest via their cell phone to record the podcast with you. In addition, once you have the podcast created, you can embed it on your blog, share it with social media, and re-use parts of podcasts for future podcasts. And all of this is for free!

Desktop Publishing: Canva

I am graphically-challenged. It takes me a long time to design a business card, an invitation, a Facebook or blog header, posters, flyers, brochures, and labels. Luckily for me, there is a wonderful online tool called Canva which provides me with tons of templates and backgrounds and icons to use to create professional looking graphics. (There are tons of assets in Canva for free, but you can subscribe to Canva to take advantage of some of the advanced features and have access to more assets.) They also have a teacher and student version which you should try out first!

The image below includes all the types of graphics you can make with Canva. And you can also start from scratch with a blank canvas and design whatever you want! It is available as an online tool, an iOS app,  Android app and is in the Chrome store. I know you cannot read the tiny type below (you can click on the image), but, suffice it to say, templates are included for resumes to restaurant menus and everything in-between! (.) You can also upload your own graphics to Canva to use in your creation and purchase some great content assets from Canva for $1 each.

Virtual Reality Viewing: Ricoh Theta App

For those of you with access to Cardboard-compatible headsets and devices for student viewing of 360° images, or handheld tablets with no headsets, I recommend installing the Ricoh Theta app on those devices, which is available for iOS and Android. You can then put VR images or videos in a Dropbox or Google Drive folder, share the URL with the students, and they can then download the images to the device they are using. The Ricoh Theta app can open items that are in the Photos or Gallery on the devices. (You do not have to have a Ricoh Theta 360° camera to download and use the app.)

What is special about the Ricoh Theta app is the ability to pick the way you want to view the image. When you open the image, you can just use your finger to swipe around and see all aspects of the image, which is called the “Normal screen”. You can pick “VR view (twin lens)” to get the split image you would need to view the image with a Cardboard-comaptible headset. To have the students feel more immersed in the image without using headsets, you can have them use the “VR view (single lens)” on a tablet or smartphone. With this view, they stand up and rotate their body in a circle and they feel as if they are at the site where there image was taken.

Check out the screen recording below that I made on the iPhone to show the three different views.

 

UTILITY APP: RotateNFlip (iOS)

When I used the screen-recording tool on the iPhone to shoot the demo video above, the resulting video came out in sideways in portrait mode and there is no way to flip a video in edit mode on the iPhone, like you can with an image. With the RotateNFlip app, I was able to get the landscape-shot video into landscape mode and upload it. It is well worth the 99 cents it costs!

Next month’s blog post (October 18) will cover video creation, curation, and sketchnoting tools, while November’s post will include my favorite presentation, animation, and infographic creation tools. I will also provide you with quick overviews of some other utility tools I like to use for specific types of work.

What tools or apps do you have students using for podcasting, graphic creation, and VR viewing? Share in the comments and include links to some example projects, too!

 

 

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