VR/Augmented Reality Apps for the Class…or for fun!

Google Expeditions:

Website           App

Google has put together a project called Expeditions Pioneer that helps teachers create full field trip experiences, including roles such as a guide and student.

Another amazing thing about Google Cardboard: as long as you already have a smart phone, the rest of the device is as cheap as 15 bucks!  These can go up to $120, but the $15 work just as well.  I personally have the device by Viewmaster (roughly $30) and I like it a lot.

  1. Usability: How easy is the application to use for teachers? Students?
    • Google Cardboard itself is the easier VR solution I have used so far.  Google has specifically geared it towards the EdTech movement, with simple controls, easy setup, and as many eye pieces as you can imagine.  The idea of actually building the VR kit in class out of cardboard and a few lenses is a great learning experience for the students as well.
  2. Motivation: What motivate teachers to use the app for teaching? Students for learning?
    • By being able to build the kit yourself, teachers can use Expeditions as a multi-learning unit.  Once the kit is built, there are many expeditions for teachers and students to “visit”.  Being able to tie an expedition into history, science, and math, gives teachers a plethora of uses.
    • Students will love the idea of immersion into a subject.  Instead of reading a book about the pyramids of Egypt, they can go on a virtual tour and “experience” the pyramids for themselves.  They would also be able to continue the learning process at home (as long as they or a parent have a phone and a $15 dollar Cardboard kit.
  3. Pros: What are the benefits of using this app? (for teachers? for students?)
    • Cheap: as long as you already have a smart phone, the rest of the device is as cheap as 15 bucks!  These can go up to $120, but the $15 work just as well.  I personally have the device by Viewmaster (roughly $30) and I like it a lot.
    • Easy to purchase in bulk.  Google and Best Buy sell Expedition kits for classes. These come with WIFI enabled phones, headsets, and learning kits
  4. Cons: What are the downsides or limitations of using this app?
    • No IOS version yet
    • Technology moves fast.  Google has already released a new VR solution.

 

 

New York Times VR:

Website              App

Using the Google Cardboard setup, students are able to interact with journalism stories and learn about subjects in an interactive and immersive environment.

  1. Usability: How easy is the application to use for teachers? Students?
    • Like Google Expeditions, the New York Times VR app uses Google Cardboard as a gateway into the experience.  It is incredibly easy to setup and start a story.  By simply putting on the Google Cardboard, selecting the app, then selecting a story, you can jump right in.  Interacting within the app is intuitive for all ages.  Without an remotes, you simply move your head around and focus on an area to select various options.
  2. Motivation: What motivate teachers to use the app for teaching? Students for learning?
    • For a Journalism or Mass Communication class, this would help students understand the idea of crafting a story, focusing on individuals to personalize a story, and how to film in a captivating manner.  As Mass Comm and Journalism teacher, I would use this as an example of a well-crafted story and production.
    • Students can view these on their own time and always refer to them as examples.  It also gives in depth coverage of stories that you may not pay attention to if they were standard video and copy.
  3. Pros: What are the benefits of using this app? (for teachers? for students?)
    • As with the Expedition app, this is cheap: as long as you already have a smart phone, the rest of the device is as cheap as 15 bucks!  These can go up to $120, but the $15 work just as well.  I personally have the device by Viewmaster (roughly $30) and I like it a lot.
    • New York Times actually included a free Google Cardboard kit with issues of the New York Times as well.
    • Great starter into the world of VR journalism.
  4. Cons: What are the downsides or limitations of using this app?
    • NY Times has not produced enough content for continuous use.

 

 

 

 

Screen Recording Tools

Screencastomatic-tutorials-800x400

Screencast-O-Matic (https://screencast-o-matic.com) is a great piece of software to easily lets you record the action happening on your computer screen or a section of your computer screen.  Recently I upgraded all of my PC’s to Windows 10 and I have discovered a great little feature built in to the Operating System that works wonderfully, and accomplishes similar tasks to Screen-Cast-O-Matic. The Windows Game Bar is part of the XBOX features built into Windows 10, and while it was built to help record gaming footage, it works at any time for any application.  With a simple tap of the Windows Key + G, the Windows Game Bar pops up and allows you to record audio and video of everything on your screen.  After you have finished recording, you have to enter the XBOX app (which is totally strange) and find all your recorded videos.  You can easily upload to YouTube, or my personal favorite video hosting site, Vimeo.com.  Since this is recorded in a standard MOV file you have free range to edit, post, quickshare, or do whatever you may want with the recorded footage.

 

The Game Bar is a fantastic Windows 10 feature and I wish it was not tucked away as part of the XBOX app.  I feel if this was just part of the standar OSand not associated with the Game Bar, it would used more often.  Either way, if you have Windows 10, this is a fantastic way to record your screen for any and all screencasting sessions.

 

Another notable application is Camstudio (Camstudio.org).

CamStudio is able to record all screen and audio activity on your computer and create industry-standard AVI video files and using its built-in SWF Producer can turn those AVIs into lean, mean, bandwidth-friendly Streaming Flash videos (SWFs).  Camstudio is Free!  From the website:

So where can I get it and how much does it cost?

You can download and use it completely free – yep – completely 100% free for your personal and commercial projects as CamStudio and the Codec are released under the GPL (for more details on this license, click here.)

There are no royalties or any monies to pay – although if you do use it for a commercial product, I wouldn’t say no to a copy of whatever you produce.

 

 

-m

Forming a PLN: Personal Learning Network > Post Liturgy Nap

 

Over the past few weeks I have been forming my PLN as an educational technology professional.  Most of this has been done through an eyeballed recipe consisting of blogging and Twitter, with a sprinkling of Facebook and Flipboard.  I have to admit, I have never been one to blog, nor have I been a person who spends any significant time on Twitter; so while I was up to the challenge, I was not all that excited about it.

Blogging has always been something that I wanted to do, but honestly, just never have had the time….well that may be stretching the truth a bit.  I’m sure I have the time, I just never had the drive.  I would much rather go out with a camera and shoot a video or hunt down a great photo.  At the very least, I would probably watch the video again or feed my ego with some likes on Instagram!  Nevertheless, I started my sojourn through the world of educational technology blogging.

It has been a bit of a challenge to create interesting topics, but more of a challenge finding ways to grab the attention of other connected educators.  Most of us are using similar tools, have similar thoughts, have read the same books, own a smartphone, work on a computer, put our pants on one leg at time, etc etc…SO HOW DO I GET PEOPLE TO KEEP ON READING!   I do not want my blog to consist only of tech reviews or my thoughts on daily news stories, I also want to provide original insights into how or why I think a certain way.  I regress…finding unique topics to write about is challenging!  If EdTech was the only thing that I did perhaps it wouldn’t be such a challenge, however I am currently teaching my courses at CSU Fresno, running a business, managing a startup, directing shows, acting, and my cat is currently attacking my hand as I type.  My mind is more than a bit cluttered.  Though, I must say, a posts in and a few encouraging and pleasant comments about my blog gave me some insight.  I do not necessarily need to go searching for stories that have never been written about before, I just need to talk about them and expose my frame of mind around those stories.  Using this cluttered mind of mine may just give me enough unique insight to keep people coming back.

And then there is Twitter.  Look, there is no denying that Twitter is the worst possible way for a group of individuals to interact about a single subject together in any sort of organized manner.  Did people somehow forget about forums, Google Groups, chat rooms, dedicated online community sites?  It truly is a mess of a social network.  However, after spending some quality time with Twitter, I discovered it is also incredible for sharing such a vast amount of knowledge between various people.  In a dedicated group or forum, there would be a complete lack of cross knowledge like there is on Twitter.  I have discovered a plethora of insight from peoples re-tweets that I never would have seen inside an EdTech forum.  Communities are strong within the Twitter platform, and it amazes me how quickly even the most followed Twitter user will reply to a message.  Slowly but surely I am making a Twitter name for myself, and hoping that personality may win some followers.

If I have any advice on growing a PLN it’s this: express your character.  Be the quirky, whimsical individual you are, and just share what is one your mind.  And if you are not a quirky, whimsical individual, then be the person who shares all the great tech tips for the other guys to retweet!

peace

-m

Evernote 4 eva

Evernote is a fantastic tool for note taking.  Let me start again…

Evernote is a fantastic tool for solving all of lifes problems.  Ya that feels better.

I have been an Evernote user since 20008, and I have always loved it.  At first I used it simply for jotting down notes on my Blackberry.  I then moved on to using the voice recording, photos, searching, folders, scanning documents, scanning business cards and automatically connecting with the contacts on Linkedin (pretty sweet I know).  However, about a year ago I purchased a Surface Pro 3 (now rockin the Surface Pro ) and I began using Micr0soft Onenote for various reasons, but mostly the touch screen and pen support.  While Onenote is fantastic for any document you may need pen support in, I slowly began to miss certain features of Evernote.  I attempted to supplement Onenote with various task management apps, reminder apps, business card scanner apps, voice recorder apps…then it hit me, WHY DONT I JUST USE EVERNOTE!

Long story short, there is not a perfect note taking app, however Evernote does lead the pack.  It is incredibly intuitive, handles task management and reminders like a pro, the built in scanner app is second to none, and its cross platforn any system you can throw at it.  The one thing (and it is indeed a big thing) is the lack of Surface Pen support.  I know use both note taking apps for various things.  Any time I know I will need to use my handy Surface Pen, I bust out Onenote, and using a handy IFTT recipe, that Onenote gets sent to my Evernote.

 

Go ahead and give Evernote a try if you havent yet.  It’s pretty much a game changer.

 

TIPS

http://www.pcmag.com/slideshow/story/323014/35-tips-every-evernote-user-must-know

https://blog.evernote.com/blog/2015/02/02/10-evernote-power-tips-keep-productivity-track/

https://blog.evernote.com/blog/2015/04/22/8-tips-to-master-a-more-paperless-life-with-evernote/