Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Revisiting Audioboo: Podcasting made incredibly simple

I received an email from a colleague a few days ago asking for advice on a podcasting app that she can use with her students.  I immediately suggested that she check out Audioboo, even though it had been a couple of years since I last used it myself.

Audioboo offers one click audio recording, with a simple publishing process. With the free account, students can record up to 10 minutes per post.  What Audioboo lacks in extensive editing tools, it makes up for with a very simple cropping tool. Its simplicity makes it the perfect podcasting application for use with students. Though I discovered Audioboo through its iPhone app, there is also a user-friendly website interface as well as an Andriod app (currently in beta).

Check out the Audioboo in Education page for ideas and examples for using podcasting with your students. School news, expert interviews, peer assessments, biography projects; the possibilities seem limitless.
I was also excited to learn that Audioboo is now available in the Edmodo app store, offering unlimited use for just $4.99.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Inklewriter: Choose Your Own Adventure for the 21st Century

Remember the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books from the 1980s? They were the ingenious creation Edward Packard, and put you, the reader, in the story. At the end of a chapter, the reader would choose how the story would proceed from among a couple of plot options.  I was not a prolific reader in my youth (something that I regret now) but I do remember how engaging these books were.  The web application Inklewriter puts the power of creating this kind of interactive story at your fingertips.

Inklewriter allows writers to focus on their writing, while the application takes care of the challenging task of organizing the various plot twists.  I believe that this kind of application has the potential to revolutionize creative writing classes.  I teach history, and I know that there is an application for this product in the history classroom - I just haven't figured it out yet.

Here is a promo video put together by Inklestudios:

Remind101 keeps getting better - File attachment feature added

Over the past couple of years, the educational texting application Remind101 has become one of the most important communication tools in my arsenal.  As a simple blast-text tool, Remind101 gave me reason enough to put it to use with my classes. But this small start-up has not  rested on its laurels.  They have continued to make improvements, broadening the scope while maintaining the tool's simplicity.

Remind101 owes a lot of its success to the fact that they continue to seek out advice and feedback from real teachers.  They are not the company at edtech conferences wining and dining school district folks with $30,000 events. They are the guys and gals wearing the cool t-shirts and picking teachers' brains around a pint at the small pubs.  This grassroots market research has led to several improvements and new features, such as small-group texting and others.

Remind101's newest feature, released just a day or so ago, allows teachers to attach files to their text messages. This is exciting news. Many of the messages that I send through Remind101 points students to resources that I have posted on my class website or Edmodo. Now I can simply attach those files to the message. The attachment does use up 20 characters, leaving me 120 characters for the body of my message.  A small price for this great feature, but something to keep in mind.  I have not yet encountered a file-size limit.

What kind of stuff would you attach to text messages to students? Homework assignments, reading packets, pics of the class whiteboard, fun pics of class activities. The possibilities are exciting. So, how would you use this new feature? Remind101 is running a contest of best practices. Come up with some great ideas to share, and you could win an iPad. If you have still not given Remind101 a test run, I urge to go there right now and try it out.

Here is a short promo video on Remind101's new attachment feature.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

FETC 2014: Day 3 and Hitting Our Stride

Thursday, January 30, 2014 - 1:30pm

It has been a busy morning. I presented my first workshop of the week this morning, and that always makes for a scramble to get ready. That's my excuse for getting a late start here and on Twitter.  I'll try to make it up throughout the rest of the day.

There are some great sessions on today's lineup, and a few that I consider can't miss opportunities. Here is what I'll be checking out this afternoon:

Exploring New Literacies for Networked, Self-Directed Learners and Makers with Will Richardson @willrich45 - 3:20pm in S310GH
If you have not heard Will speak before, don't miss this opportunity. I attended his session yesterday and had not planned on going back today. However, I have to hear more from this guy. He is starting the conversation that we should all be apart of - How do we fundamentally change education to serve today's learners.

Digital Learning Across the Curriculum with Eric Sheninger @nmhs_principal - 4:20 in S310EF
I missed Eric this morning because I was presenting my own workshop at the same time.  Like Will Richardson, Eric's is another can't miss session. Eric is transforming education at New Milford HS in way that should serve as a model for the rest of the country. Don't miss this one!

As you wander the exhibit floor this afternoon, make sure you take time to visit the folks at Remind101 and WeVideo. These are two products that I really believe in, and both companies want to hear your ideas and feedback.

I have several posts that already need to be written, to go in depth with some of the most important things being discussed this week. Keep an eye out over the next few days.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

FETC 2014: Day 2 Underway

Things are starting to pickup at the OCCC. Crowds will continue to build throughout the day, peaking at the Opening Keynote at 3:30. Discovery Education's Chief Architecture and Engineering Expert Danny Forster will deliver this year's opening keynote address. Over the year's, the opening keynote has been a mixed bag - some good, some lacking the inspiration that teachers look for in a keynote. I report later on how this year's address is received.

My day started with a session that I am still sitting in - Educating Modern Learners: Intensive Look at the Contexts, Literacies and Practices that Supports Students by Will Richardson @willrich45. Why isn't this guy doing one of this year's keynotes? Like most attendees, I do get excited about learning about new tools. Many get really pumped up scouring the exhibit floor for free pens and water bottles. But this is the kind of session that every attendee should be hearing. Will is asking the right questions. Questions like, "What are the key changes we have to understand in order for the conversation to be relevant?" I plan on devoting a post later on Will's talk, so I'll refrain from further comment now.

So what does the rest of my day look like?

As I mentioned, I'm looking forward to the opening keynote. Before the keynote, I'll be at Techshare Live! with Adam Bellow, Hall Davidson, Leslie Fisher and Kathy Schrock. Techshare begins at 11am in the main hall (SA1). This is always a popular session, and really serves as the unofficial kick-off for FETC. If you going, get there early to beat the crowds to the good seats.

I'll probably dropout of Techshare a little early to get over to Meg Ormiston's talk, Engaging Students in BYOT Classrooms. Meg is great and the topic is hot.

I'll wrap-up the day at tonight's PLN Tweet-up at TGI Friday's. This is our 4th year getting together for the "unconference" event, and is always a great time to interact face to face with the PLN. Get more info here. All are invited.

I'll be posting later with more in depth comments on Will's talk, and anything else that comes up today.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

FETC 2014: Game-based learning is the buzzword today

The learning has officially begun at FETC 2014. It is becoming clear, at least for today, that "game-based leaning (#GBL)" will be one of the buzzwords that comes out of this year's conference. FETC, Learning Games Network, and BrainPOP have put together a full-day of workshops to help teachers implement #GBL in their classrooms.

A couple of the tools being shared early on are Kahoot! and Lure of the Labyrinth.

Kahoot! is a classroom response system. It accommodates images, making it really useful as a formative assessment tool.

Lure of the Labyrinth is fun math-focused game. One of the interesting points that came up when talking about this game is that many of these games are being developed so that instructions are not needed. That should help teachers with implementation, particularly if using them in a flipped environment.

Scott Osterweil, who will be speaking later in the week, talks about the Nature of Play and Learning:

More on #GBL later . . .

FETC 2014: The calm before the storm

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - 8:30 am

By this time tomorrow, the Orange County Convention Center will be a bevy of activity as conference attendees will be scrambling to register and kick-off their week of learning and sharing. This morning . . . it's a mere trickle. Today's schedule consist of paid workshops, and while things will pick-up as the day progresses, it will still pale in comparison to the onslaught that we'll see tomorrow. FETC has over 8,000 registered for this year's conference, a significant increase over the past couple of years.

A quick glance at today's workshop schedule and it appears that Google Apps and game-based learning will be hot topics this year. It will be interesting to see what other buzz words surface throughout the week. I plan on popping into a few Google sessions today. I'm looking forward to hearing what Cindy Lane and Chris Craft have to share.

I'll be posting several times a day, throughout the week, so please stop by often. I'll also be Tweeting everything that you will want to see from FETC 2014. Follow me at @stephenveliz on Twitter.