Saturday, November 30, 2013

Animoby: Animated Learning for Anybody

For those of you looking for a whiteboard video creation tool to use on any tablet,  check out Animoby.

Android App

Apple App

Similar to other whiteboard screencast tools, Animoby lets users create multipaged screencasted videos.

Take a look at this demonstration from Animoby:

  • Use on Apple or Android devices
  • Variety of tools and colors
  • Connects to Dropbox
  • Import PDF's from email or Dropbox
  • Able to insert images
  • Able to zoom in and out
  • Save as compact files
  • Share and email projects
  • Various background templates
  • Share to Facebook, Twitter, Google+

New users will appreciate the extensive video tutorial menu on Animoby's website. The videos are easy to understand and demonstrate use of the app. While the interface is intuitive and easy to navigate, having the tutorials available is a positive. Also, visit Animoby's homepage to view what other users have created.

Students could use Animoby to demonstrate understanding of concepts taught in class. Imagine screencasts of students solving equations-- talk about showing your work! Students could also demonstrate active reading skills by recording themselves talking through reading a text on a PDF or picture taken of an excerpt from a book. Music and Math teachers will appreciate the preloaded backgrounds available: from blank sheet music to various styles of graph paper, subject area teachers will easily be able to create screencasts to use in their classes.   I'm partial to the white lined paper background, as you will see in this example I created:

I used the Animoby app on my iPad to create this screencast of the literary device, Personification. I did a quick Google search for images, saved them in my camera roll, and added them to the presentation, cropping the images as needed. Animoby's save feature allows me to start a project, save it unfinished, and return to as needed before recording and publishing it to the web.

Recording was simple, and the quality is excellent. I really like that I was able to zoom in and out of each image while recording. You'll hear my dog Charlie barking at the neighborhood cat in the background, but I can still be easily heard over the noise. I could have deleted it and re-recorded the audio, but I chose not to for the sake of demonstration. After the final product is published, I emailed it to rmyself to generate a URL from which I can get the embed code or share to Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. The embed code could also be used for adding the Animoby projects to blogs or Edmodo posts. 

What I would like to see is Animboy be able to connect to Google Drive.  I use Google Drive more so than Dropbox, and having this option would be a major plus. It would also be nice to have the option to include background music. While Animoby works great on tablets, I wonder if a paired down version could be available for smartphones. Teaching in a BYOD district with most of the students using smartphones, having a screencasting tool for a smartphone would be an asset.

Animoby is versatile and easy, and I'll be sure to recommend it to colleagues and students.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

#DogChat Brody at Work

I haven't posted much recently about Brody and decided it was time to share some recent pictures from school.  Brody is in his 8th year as a therapy dog, and whether it is greeting visitors during my morning hall duty or sleeping while I teach, he is right at home. We even get our yearbook picture taken together. He has become such a fixture over the years that most people greet him instead of me. I really can't complain knowing that he makes the lives of the students and staff just a bit happier everyday. To read how we got started therapy-dogging in school, read this post.

Enjoy the pictures!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tab Scissors & Glue: Extensions for Chrome Use

Tab Scissors and Tab Glue are two extensions to use for quickly splitting your tabbed browser windows into groups and "gluing" browser windows back together. As a teacher who has to transfer grades from my Edmodo gradebook to my district gradebook, both extensions save me time minimizing and sizing windows. Anything that I need to do using split screens can be done more efficiently with Tab Scissors and Tab Glue.

Check them out:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Voki: A Tool for Bringing Characters to Life

Voki is a free web 2.0 tool used to create talking avatars.  Characters can be customized to look like historical figures, animals, cartoons, and even one's self. For a fee, users can join Voki Classroom for more access to options and the ability to control privacy settings. Vokis are limited to 60 second recordings of either a user's voice or a computer generated voice, so I use Voki for quick assignments or part of a larger project.

Creating a Voki is very easy and can be done quickly. Even in the free version there are a plethora of options and characters to choose from. Users can change the background image and customize the look of the stock characters. Publishing Vokis is easy too and users can publish directly to sites as well as copy/paste a hyperlink or embed code.

My 9th grade Honors students incorporated Voki as part of their Create a Hero Project, creating a profile of their hero character and give him/her life using Voki. Students provided an overview or teaser for their hero's journey stories and published the Vokis on their student blog pages by embedding the Voki into their Hero Stories. I was able to show my students how to embed in HTML without having to go over the basics of coding-- something I have yet to learn. Students also shared their Voki with others in their Edmodo small groups.

Here are some examples from my students. Click on the PLAY icon in the bottom left corner of each one to hear a preview of their stories.

 My students could also create Vokis of characters explaining concepts taught in class or summarizing chapters in a novel. World Language teachers could use Voki for recording students speaking short passages. History teachers could have students bring historical figures to life. Voki is an easy to use and versatile classroom tool for any subject area. For other lesson ideas, visit Voki's Lesson Plan Page.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tell Me All About it with Tellagami

Tellagami is a mobile app that lets users create a short animated video using any mobile device. This is a cool tool for BYOD students and teachers to use for animated project videos.

In three easy steps, users create a "Gami" animated avatar by customizing their character, selecting a background image, adding dialogue, and sharing it. Once you have the app, there is no account log in information to worry about.  Students and the teacher could share devices to use Tellagami.

Sharing Created Gamis

While not having to worry about log in information is a plus and sharing is easy, there is not currently a way to see a library of the Gamis one makes when in the app. Once a Gami is created, select share via email to grab the URL hyperlink or save in the camera roll/ video/Tellagami folder of a device. Teachers could have students turn in their Gami by submitting the URL on a class Google form or turning the URL in via an assignment on Edmodo. Students could also embed the Gami in a digital portfolio such as a Google Site or a blog. While archiving created Gamis via email isn't ideal, I can't complain when considering the cost (FREE) and ease of use.

If you are having trouble locating the embed code, first send yourself the URL via sharing through email. Go to your email, then click on the URL and return to the Gami created. Click on the share icon in the upper right corner and the embed code will appear. I don't know why the embed code doesn't automatically appear in the app, but I'm hopeful that the Tellagami developers will remedy this soon.

Ideas for Use

For use in the classroom, students could take a picture of a project with their mobile device and upload the picture as their background image.  Adding dialogue students could record their voice or type in text that explains their project. The student could then share the link to the Gami via email, Twitter, Facebook, or copy/pasting the link to a learning management system such as Edmodo. An embed code is also provided for posting the Gami to a blog.

Tellagmi could be used for mini-virtual field trips. Students could search and select a background image of a location significant to the content being studied and record a message about the location.

For #flipclass teachers, Tellagami for quick delivery of content. Upload a picture of a diagram, equation, or any other pictorial information and record a Gami explaining the concept then share.

This easy to use tool has a plethora of uses for the classroom. From classroom presentations to delivery of content, Tellagami will allow students and teachers to tell viewers all about any concept.

Here are two examples I made: one has a computer generated voice with an uploaded background and the other has a Tellagmi provided background using my voice for the avatar. You can customize and select the options that fit your project.