Emerging Tools for Educators

Explain Everything

Product Site: https://explaineverything.com/

Sample: Watch until 0:46 seconds. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMiTn9SclPA&t=1s#t=16s

Overview: Explain Everything is an online whiteboard that can be used on any mobile device. It even works on your Chrome browser. The idea behind Explain Everything is to give users the ability to add drawings, images, videos or documents to the whiteboard, manipulate those items, and record the action along with your audio. Users can take the recorded video and edit it within the platform. The video is exported as an .mp4. Explain Everything started eight years ago as a single app on Apple’s iPad, but it has grown into a platform that is accessible on Apple and Android devices as well as Chrome OS.

Learning curve: Users familiar with interactive online tools will have no trouble using the interface on this app. Explain Everything offers online support that comes in the form of videos or articles. It also has a blog for users to catch up on up-to-date news and features.

Time required to create a product: This obviously depends on the complexity of the product. The bookmark contest video shown in the example above was created in less than 45 minutes. Other projects could take much longer, depending on how quickly the user feels comfortable using the tools. A simple project that includes a single slide with text, an image and voice recording could easily take less than 10 minutes.

Key features: What I like most about this online tool is how well it integrates with Google Drive and the device’s camera. Users can easily take a photo or upload a document from Google Drive and annotate it however they want. The entire annotation process can be recorded or just a single shot of the finished annotation.

Problems you encountered: The most difficult feature to understand is adding multiple whiteboard slides to a single project

Barriers that might prevent effective use: Pricing. The free version allows users to create only three projects, 1 minute of recording, 1 slide and just 200 MB of space. The individual plan allows unlimited videos, unlimited recording and slides and 10 GB of space for $8.99 per month. The team plan offers the same as individual but unlimited storage plus a variety of management tools. Pricing for team plans are not readily available.

Possible educational uses: I use this app on an iPad Pro, which uses the Apple Pencil. Considering I use Mac products in my classroom, the iPad Pro seems to be the easiest way to create projects. I mostly use Explain Everything in my video announcements class. It allows students to create a different kind of commercial that no other platform can offer. Users can also embed videos onto a websites or a learning management system.

Camtasia

Product Site: https://www.techsmith.com/video-editor.html

Sample: https://goo.gl/y9JAVj

Overview: Camtasia is video editing software created by TechSmith that can be downloaded from the internet. The purpose of the platform is to create screencasts for educational purposes.

Learning curve: Compared to other popular video editing platforms such as iMovie, Adobe Premiere Pro or ScreenFlow, the layout of this platform seems to give users a much easier editing experience. Having previous editing experience would be helpful. The layout is very similar to iMovie.

Time required to create a product: This depends on the length of the video and the experience a user has with editing video. I created my first video in under 20 minutes, but I also work with iMovie and Adobe Premiere Pro every day.

Key features: What separates Camtasia from other editing platforms are the graphics: annotations, behaviors, animations, cursor effects, gesture effects, intros, outros, icons, lower thirds, and motion backgrounds. All of these graphics are different than what users could find on iMovie or Premiere.

Problems you encountered: Pricing. The cheapest option is $169 for educators. If you use a Mac, Quicktime Player and iMovie come pre-loaded on the computer and both can be used for screencasts. Screenflow is $129.

Possible educational uses: I am currently a strong user of ScreenFlow, which is another video editing software for screencasting. Camtasia, however, takes screencasting to a new level in graphics with its intros, outros, text animations and backgrounds. It really makes ScreenFlow look like the minor leagues in screencasting software. 

Barriers that might prevent effective use: The biggest barrier is the pricing. Who is going to pay $169 for screencasting unless they get it reimbursed by their institution? Few teachers would pay this for their own classroom unless there was an incentive.

Quizlet

Product Site: https://quizlet.com/

Sample: https://quizlet.com/163061877/r2-figurative-language-terminology-flash-cards/

Overview: Quizlet is a mobile and web-based study application that offers learning tools and games in the form of study sets. Quizlet users can create sets, search for sets other users have created, or modify other user sets to learn information.

Learning curve: Quizlet makes its product completely intuitive. I had no trouble creating a study set for students to learn figurative language.

Time required to create a product: My study set consisted of 30 terms. It took me about 45 minutes to create it. Considering how much it helped students study for the figurative language quiz, it was well worth the 45 minutes.  

Key features: Once a user has created a set, or found a set that fits their needs, studying can occur in a variety of modes: flashcards, learn, writing, spelling, test, match, gravity and live.

Problems you encountered: Pricing. For a teacher to use more features on Quizlet, the cost is $3/month.

Possible educational uses: For $3/month, teachers can track student progress, add images and create your own voice for pronunciation, create custom teams, organize classes, remove ads, have offline access, and have a night theme.

Barriers that might prevent effective use: The only barrier is access to technology. All a student needs is access to the internet in order to use Quizlet. It’s available across all devices.

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