Friday, July 31, 2015

Emaze for presentations

As the school year approaches it is time to start organizing and planning for lectures and presentations.  Most people turn to the traditional PowerPoint but there are some other programs out there that can do neat presentations for free or cheap.

Emaze is one of these sites.

Emaze is a platform that allows users to build professional looking presentations with various backgrounds.   Aside from creating your own presentations, there are millions already available to use.

Pro members can download and collaborate, but free members can basically just make slides and save them at emaze. There is a pro plan available for education as well that is half the price of the business plan.  The paid version is monthly and there are different sized accounts.   But, I don't do anything that isn't free, so I will stick with the freebie.

I found some really nice presentations that relate to content I plan to teach this year.  Why re-invent the wheel?

I am impressed by the ease of use of the site and the availability of so many presentations to be used.  Teachers can find a lot of sources for their classes and can build presentations as well.  I can also envision a teacher using this in a class as a means of a project.  

Friday, July 24, 2015

Diving into technology

As the school year nears, many teachers are ready to get back into the grind.  Some are going to walk into new endeavors, including being in a One to One environment.   This transition can be tricky for some, so there are a few things to consider before taking the plunge.

  1. Technology shouldn’t be used as a replacement for instruction.  It should merely be a tool to help you.  Don’t plan lessons around the technology, sometimes, you can get better results as a human leader than as a tech leader.   Kids love technology, but there isn’t always a need to have it.  If you can teach a lesson the traditional way do it.  Just because you have technology doesn’t mean you have to use it all of the time.
  2.   Spend some time using a tool.  Before you implement something, use it yourself.  Don’t assume kids know how to do something, you must teach them to use the tool.  When you know the tool, you can help the kids use it better.  
  3. Don’t use a ton of tools, focus on a few that work.  Overwhelming kids with a dozen tools for projects will make them despise using technology.  Stick with a few that you know work for the projects you are doing and use them.  Some tools can be used for many different things with great success.
  4. Find sites that you can refer to for help.  There are a lot of great blogs out there that provide readers with hundreds of tips, tricks and sites that can be used for education.  Spend a little time checking them.  I was told once by a very smart edtech blogger to spend just a little time each day to check out stuff.  Don’t spend hours working on this, just a little time is all you need.  
  5.  Get a twitter account.  Twitter is the best place to find technology tools and tips.  There are thousands of edtech specialists out there who can help you find what you need. Follow them, they will all offer great things.

All in all, jumping into a One to One environment can be done very simply with preparation. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Make a free video fast: Stupeflix

I have been a frequent user of Animoto for quite some time.  I use it to do my new releases videos for the library and for my classroom.  It's easy to use and doesn't take much time.  I found another site that does a very similar thing- Stupeflix.  Stupeflix lets videos and images merge to a video using music.

I made a test video, and it went really fast.  I added photos and then I selected music from the website's built in library.  It is very similar to the music on Animoto.  Photos can be uploaded from computer, caught from the webcam or pulled from an online storage (flickr, instagram)

There is a free version as well as a paid version.  I did the free version, got a minute of video which for a new releases presentation is sufficient.  I felt it was a fairly easy to use program as well.  Simply create an account, and make a free video.   Once you do that, you can actually send it out to Youtube, Vimeo and others.

It seems like a pretty easy site to use.  It just took me a few seconds to make a video.  It is worth looking at.

Friday, July 10, 2015

MIXLR for live broadcasting

While I am not much of a podcaster, I know a few of my colleagues who would probably enjoy hosting their own radio show.  Even as a foreign language teacher, I could see myself having my students do a small radio broadcast for a speaking activity.

Mixlr is a free broadcasting site that downloads an app to your computer or device.  The free version gives you an hour of broadcasting whatever you wish.  You can be a DJ and play music, do a talk show- whatever.

You can embed the broadcast into your blog so when people visit, they can listen to your podcast/ broadcast.

I can envision this as a way to do school announcements each day; it seems easy, as each broadcast gives you a specific embed code to add to the site. This would be a great way to link to social media as well.  As you record, it also creates a live link to share on Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler and Google+.  The showreel can be placed on a blog to see archived conversations.

There is also a chat component built into the program, so visitors can go to your showreel, listen live and ask questions to the speaker over the system.

I can see a lot of possibilities with a school using this program.   A virtual interview | Daily announcement |  A broadcast of a library program | A message from the administrator | A student radio show | Basketball game play by play - the list goes on and on.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Looking for cloud storage? Try Otixo

I am sure that many of my readers are a lot like me, cloud storage junkies.  I have accounts in seven or eight different places to store my data and documents.  As some of my past posts have mentioned, I use a lot of different places:  Dropbox, Box, Drive, OneDrive, just to name a few.

A discussion at one of my tech counsel meetings resulted in me learning about a place that unites all of your cloud storage into one easy spot.  It's Otixo.  Otixo has several versions, a free one with a limited amount of capabilities and a paid version that allows more file transfers at once.
I am still getting to know the site, but, I have found that you can link personal and professional cloud drives together (if you are logged in to the right one when you do the initial setup.)  This is perfect for me because sometimes, I have documents on one that I need on the other. Since each of my accounts has different amounts of space, I often have two.  

One cool component, the app.  There is a version of this available for all devices: Windows, IOS, Android.  It seems very easy to use and the fact that it is so mobile makes me really like it.  I love how simple it is to maintain and how much you can see.  I also like that it doesn't just do file storage, like PDF and DOC but, it also works with image storing platforms like Picasa and Flickr.  

I think this is a fantastic place for the cloud storage junkies like me to visit.  I suspect you will find a lot of use in a site like Otixo.