Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happy Birthday YouTube! Tips and Tricks For Doing More With Our Favorite Video Service

Today (April 23, 2014) is the 9th Anniversary of the first video ever being uploaded to YouTube. You can still see that first video here

Many districts are realizing the potential that YouTube learning can have in the classroom. There are lots of great videos and channels out there on 1000's of topics. I have put together a list of some of my favorite tools to use with YouTube. Some are for the creation end, while some are for the consumption end. Overall they hopefully will give you a good start on getting more out of your favorite video service.

YouTube Video Editor-When it comes to video editing, my skills are definitely lacking. And lets face it. Either you don't have the funds for the sweet video editing setup or you need something quick. The YouTube Video Editor is a great alternative. Upload your raw video and you can make cuts, transitions and add text to your movie. Do you find you are missing something for your video? Do a Creative Commons video search right there and find what you need. You can also upload sound tracks to ambiance. Once done, the video saves right to your YouTube account. Easy!

Quiet Tube-We all know there is some junk out there on YouTube. Be it the related videos or in the comments. Quite Tube might be the answer for you. This is a bookmarklet that, when  you are on a video you want to watch, you click and it strips away all the content on the page except for the video. No annoying comments. No inappropriate suggested videos after. Just the video you want to show.

Tube Chop- There are some videos where all you need is a small portion. When I am designing Moodle courses, I will sometimes only need small parts of videos to embed. Welcome Tube Chop. Take the URL of the video you want to chop and trim both the beginning and end to what you need. You can then share it via a link or embed the chopped video on your site or page.

Drag On Tape-There may be times you need a series of videos and they would be better off watched one right after another. Drag On Tape does just that. Insert the videos via their YouTube URL. You can trim to the sections you want, add another video and another and another, creating your own personal mixed video that you can then post via a link or embed.

Watch2gether- Sometimes watching a video as a group is just what you need. Watch2gether does just that. You create your own, private screening room. You then share the room via a link with your group. They enter and you can watch the video, synced together. There is an option to create playlists and the chat feature works great for collaboration.

So there are 5 of my favorite YouTube tools. Do you have a favorite tool or maybe a tick to share? Leave a comment below.

Creative Commons Image

Monday, April 21, 2014

Why #Edcamp Is So Awesome

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending another Edcamp. This one makes 7 for me. #EdcampElon was another event in a long like of teacher-driven professional development that can have a lasting impact on the learning of all who attend.

Don't know what an Edcamp is or looks like?

My experience with Edcamp has been that of a participant and an organizer (EdcampNC!). And seeing it from all sides really helps me believe that Edcamp, is quite possibly the best Professional Development I've had.

But why?

I really think it comes down to 3 things.

1) Attendees

EdcampElon brought together teachers, administrators and education professionals from across NC and beyond. It was a very diverse group with K-12, higher ed, all subject areas, experiences and locations represented. I knew just looking around the room at who was there, the day was going to be great. And they did not disappoint. During the sessions every person contributed. No matter how small or in what way, every single voice that was at EdcampElon was heard. We could deeply disagree about a common theme and that was ok. We listened to each other and pushed each others thinking.

Edcamp appeals to educators from all walks of life. It's not just teachers, or just admin or just other groups that attend. It's a diverse group with a diverse background that makes the Edcamp experience a rich one.

2) Sessions

It was clear even before the event that deciding on sessions was going to be difficult. There was a Twitter chat before EdcampElon to help prepare folks before they came and to get ideas on what folks wanted to talk about. The Padlet board was filled with ideas even before Saturday came. And when the time came to decide on what we talk about it was a mad dash to the board to get your session there. It wasn't just people who had experience on a topic that wanted to share. It was people who had something they were struggling with that they wanted the wisdom of the crowd to talk about it.

That was the case with my session, "To Flip or Not To Flip." I make no bones about the fact I think flipping, in the commercialized way it has gotten, is terrible for kids. I knew there were going to be flipping experts there so I wanted to have a conversation about it. I only had my point of view. I wanted that of the others. It wasn't a presentation and it wasn't a lecture. It was a conversation about the pros and cons. In the end both sides came away with a better understanding and lots to think about.

The sessions at an Edcamp you would be hard pressed to find any where else. The Edcamp setting is more conducive to conversation rather than the lecture. And lecture is discouraged anyway at an Edcamp. The diversity of the attendees lends itself to a diversity of sessions proposed which helps push the learning of everyone there.

3) Collaboration

Hands down, the best thing that came out of EdcampElon were the collaborative notes. Once the sessions were decided on, docs were set up so that during each session participants could add notes so we all had takeaways. Again, its the wisdom of the crowd. So while I was in an amazing session on digital leadership (which you should really check out the notes for) I could watch the notes for the BYOD or Twitter chats session. And even if I couldn't watch the notes in real time, I had them afterwards.

Sure, I've been to plenty of workshops and conferences where there were collaborative notes. But never had I been anywhere when there were notes like that for every session. And it wasn't a big deal to set up or organize. When the session started someone asked if there was anyone willing to take notes. Most of the time someone was already on the doc and had started. That kind of collaboration lends itself to deep learning and understanding.

I had a great time at EdcampElon. There is lots I was able to reflect on during the drive home and plenty to consider this week. I encourage you, if there is an Edcamp near you, go. You won't regret it. And if there isn't one near you, start one. You could provide the professional development of a lifetime for another educator. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Things That Have Me Thinking-4/18

This is my series where I explore a few things that I have seen or heard about that is pushing my thinking, getting me to see something a different way or just something I want to share. This week we look at the 3 things about apps I've been exploring.

Field Day- I have been doing a lot of work lately investigating and helping teachers learn what authentic-based learning means. In a sense, its providing real-world problems that mean something to students, aligned to standards. One way we’ve been doing that in classrooms for a while now is Problem-Based Learning (PBL). Now, with the proliferation of mobile devices into classrooms there could be a true renaissance in learning. There is no doubt that the mobile devices can help with PBL but often students are using many apps to organize and create content.

Enter Field Day.

This app is specifically designed with PBL in mind. It provides a space for kids to organize their ideas, enter data through a variety of sources (web, photos, etc) and a summary so making presentations is quick and easy. My favorite part is the strategies section that helps students get going with their thinking and it’s aligned to Blooms Taxonomy. Even better the app is free so it makes it easy to get it going in your classroom.

Codding- It seems like many of the conferences I got to lately have specific sessions or strands dedicated to teaching kids how to code. And thats a good thing. Coding teaches so many crucial skills like critical thinking, math reasoning, artistic design and more. There is even a whole movement dedicated to get kids coding and see its not just nerds in dark rooms writing gibberish on the black screen. And again, with mobile devices becoming more and more prevalent in the classroom, coding is becoming easier to integrate into any curriculum.

CodeAcademy is one of my favorite and addictive apps. The app is simple, teaching coding and HTML in a few basic steps. At the end you have a webpage that you built from scratch, through coding you can share.

Daisy The Dinosaur-For our littlest coders, Daisy is designed to show kids how different coding actions do different things. Creating strings of commands, kids can make Daisy do all sorts of things.  

Cargo-Bot- This is another one I am having trouble putting down. Its a game, but through the game you learn the effects programming have on your potential outcomes. The goal is to follow the commands to do something with a crate. By putting together strings of commands you make the crane do things like pick up, move, toss, etc. Each level gets progressively more difficult but you really get a grasp for the power of programming.

Where To Find Apps- As we’ve seen there are some really great apps out there to learn all sorts of things, organize all sorts of things or to just have fun. While the cream usually rises to the top, what about the hidden gems in the App Store? How do you find the good stuff or weed out the bad?

Teachers With Apps-This site is one of my first stops when looking for apps. Organized by category its really easy to find reviews, information and more on the apps teachers are using in their classrooms. The blog posts are great too, helping find collections to recommend to teachers.

TCEA iPad Apps-This doc, organized by content area is constantly updated with iPad apps. There are sections for administrators, special needs and stuff thats just plain fun too.

Android4Schools-iPads aren’t the only devices out there. Many districts have Android devices. Richard Byrne of Free Technology For Teachers fame created a site to highlight good Android apps to use in the classroom. Loads of good stuff here.

So that is the stuff that has me thinking. What about you? What are you thinking about this week?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Reinventing The Classroom Virtual Conference #reinvent14

This is a really awesome time to be in the classroom. From Bring Your Own Device to Web 2.0 tools to students connecting across oceans, there are some pretty incredible things happening with learning.

The new Reinventing The Classroom Virtual Conference aims to discover and share the most innovative, long-lasting and creative projects and share in a global conversation about what is right with education, world-wide.

Taking place on Thursday May 1, 2014, educators will gather online to share in several strands:

  • Teaching With Technology
  • Student Devices
  • Online Learning
  • Subject Specific Edtech
  • Creative Edtech
  • Web 2.0 and Social Software
  • Administrative Support

Odds are you are doing something great that deserves to be shared with the world. The conference is looking for presenters willing to share for a hour what they are doing, thinking, seeing or making. But don’t wait. The call for proposals closes April 25. You can learn more about submitting here.

The great thing about conferences like this is that it will last almost 24 hrs! So no matter where you are in the world you can take part in the learning. The hashtag for the conference is #reinvent14 so you can follow conversations on Twitter too. And there will be archives posted to the conference site if you can’t join that day.

I hope you can join on May 1 and I hope you’ll consider sharing a session.

Special thanks to ClassFlow for sponsoring!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Learning and Programing With @GoSphero

A few weeks ago the folks over at Orbotix sent me a Sphero to try out. I had seen them before so when given the chance to get hands on I couldn't resist.

What is a Sphero?

So as you can see it's a robotic ball that you control via Bluetooth from your smartphone or tablet.

But it's more than that too.

There are a slew of apps that you can download that allow you to take your Sphero to the next level.

Interested in Augmented Reality? The Rolling Dead app uses your Sphero to navigate through your world to destroy the onslaught of zombie hordes.

Are you an aspiring golfer? Sphero Golf follows a virtual course that you set up where ever you are. The Sphero is your ball. The trick is you have to program the strokes just right to get the Sphero in the hole.

But Sphero is more than just games. Where I see the benefit of this little ball is the programming.

There are several apps that allow you to get into the brain of Sphero to see how it works and how making slight adjustments, changes the way it behaves. Two of my favorites are MacroLab and orbBasic for Sphero. This app contains several basic, pre-loaded programs for you. This gives you a sense of how things work. Then you can enter each and begin making adjustments. Feeling confident? Try to start programing from scratch.

What I really enjoy is you can see your output immediately with your Sphero. There really is a sense of satisfaction, even if it doesn't do exactly what you thought it would.

As if Sphero didn't already belong in every classroom, they've just released Sphero for Education, an effort to get kids thinking about programming and doing it too. They've created some great lessons on things like rate and time, geometry and percentages and they have loads of examples of how others are using their Sphero's in their classrooms. They are real-world but the kids learn programing too. They also have a deal on getting a classroom pack of Sphero for your classroom.

The Sphero would make a great edition to any STEM or STEAM classroom!