Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Animated videos and presentations

If you want to add some "pizazz" to videos or presentations, PowToon seems a very easy to use and not costly tool to do that. The free version will allow for a 5 minute video. Please check it out, and be ready to spend  some time playing with it, it will be time well spent though...

Create collections of web resources

There are two tools that I explored to create playlists of useful web resources:
    1. Mentor Mob or Lesson Paths An easy way to create a path to web resources on any topic. Visually attractive results too.I am pasting a Lesson Playlist created by someone on blended learning below.

    Create your own Playlist on LessonPaths!

    2.  Blendspaces This one uses different words (create a lesson) for a similar approach (create a playlist). Equally easy to use and a little more robust in application sharing and a very nice visual result as well.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Slidetalk. converts slides. to video. with text. to voice.

Wouldn't it be great if there were a way to share your PowerPoint slides publicly online? Ok, so it's already possible to do that via SlideShare. But what if you want to add voice recording? Ok, ok, VoiceThread already allows that, too. But what if you don't want to record your own voice? What if you can't?

SlideTalk provides a special solution for this issue. Users can upload their slides, add narrative text for each slide, and share a public, narrated video of their PowerPoint with text-to-voice speech technology.

If this sounds too good to be true. wait. until. you. listen. to the. demo. video. below. Text. to-speech. technology. has come. a long. way. but it. still. leaves much. to be. desired. Imagine. listening. to. your. presentation. narrated. like an. emergency. weather. update: "During. Phase. Two. of our. project. we. implemented. the. following. steps. with. // ...thunderstorms. and the possibility. of. nickel. sized. hail. in Macoupin. and Ford. Counties... // ...and. this. table. shows. our data. results..."

Don't get me wrong -- this service could definitely be useful for a demographic of users who want to provide narrated lecture videos and lack the software necessary for recording (or are too shy to record) their own videos.

However, people who can record their own voiceover narrations probably should do so. If the point of recording a lecture with your slides is to make them more engaging for viewers, SlideTalk unfortunately falls a bit short of this goal.

Learn more about SlideTalk here >>

Find a second opinion on the service via eLearning Industry >>

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sizes for images and visuals in social media and other places

When we have to embed a video or post an image in Compass 2g (AKA Blackboard Learn) or in a website, we try to follow the 640x480 or lower.
This website provides sizing for those types of embeds that can be used in social media but in course embeds as well. I am happy to have this information, i will be using it a lot!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Using Popcorn Maker to Edit Online Videos

Popcorn Maker is an online video editing tool that allows users to edit online videos and add multimedia-rich content.The following video provides a demonstration of what is possible:

I've attempted to create a test video in Popcorn maker using a video I already own and share on YouTube. A few observations:
  • It's important that the video is already publicly online, because that's the only way to import it into the editor; there is no Upload option.
  • There is a bit of a learning curve for users who don't do a lot of editing. I found that I could add text, but I couldn't change the color from the default black -- there is a box to enter a number code to change the font color, but no color wheel or swatch sampler to let me pick a different color. I was able to add a shadow behind the black letters, but even so they aren't always visible against the background.
  • Some prior knowledge of video editing is also helpful to understanding the timeline and how to arrange layers of text and images on top of videos. This resource may not be for beginners, unless they are willing to spend some time self-instructing by experimentation.
  • Once I added something that I wanted to remove, the only way I could find to do this was to move the item to a new layer and then delete the layer. 
  • Twitter option: This seems to give the option of posting a person's feed or search terms, but I couldn't get it to display either. It's possible that it displays differently after the work is saved, but I also wished that I could embed a single specific tweet rather than a feed or ticker of multiple tweets.
  • There doesn't seem to be a way to trim the length of videos. I was able to pause this one and then skip to the very end, but I couldn't cut the section I wanted to remove.
My Popcorn maker video:

All in all, it's a fun resource, but not as robust as software like Camtasia (my current favorite). It does, however, get points for adding social media content like Google Maps and Wikipedia (though Twitter is not yet as functional as the other two).

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Few Useful eLearning Resources

This past weekend at the 2012 Ubiquitous Learning conference, I attended a session by Mark A. Woolwine, who showcased several online resources for use in education. Several of them were already familiar to me, but there were just as many that were not.

The following is a selection of resources from Woolwine's presentation, "Engaging Students with a Mosaic of Technology" that might be new and useful to eLearning instructors:

To Share with Students --

Cramberry - https://cramberry.net/
A free online flash card tool for students. Students can make their own flash cards or use ones that are already available on the side, then see their progress. The free account allows students to study 30 cards per day.

My StudentBook - http://mystudentbook.com/
StudentBook is a free application to help students manage assignments, exam dates, and grades.

Time Management / Organization --

Sandglaz - http://www.sandglaz.com/
This is yet another free-with-basic-options time-management app, not specific to students but more general for anyone looking to boost productivity.

Wunderlist - http://www.wunderlist.com/
Another free task management app, with desktop, mobile, and web-based versions.

Concept Mapping and Collaboration --

Concept Board - http://conceptboard.com/
This service allows for real-time group collaboration on concept mapping and other documents. There is a free 30-day trial, but then users need to pay an annual account fee.

Creately - http://creately.com/
This is another concept mapping tool that allows users to create online diagrams, flow charts, etc. The free version has more limited options.

LucidChart - https://www.lucidchart.com/
This is another concept-mapping tool that lets collaborators work on a diagram in real time. it's free for a 14-day trial and then has a monthly fee.

Vyew - http://vyew.com/s/
This is another real-time collaboration platform. Users can work share documents, multimedia, etc. in a shared space. Free with limited real-time users.

Lesson Plans & Testing --

Lesson Plan It - http://lessonplan.it/
This is a free online lesson plan builder.

McScoring - http://www.mcscoring.com/
This is a web app that lets teachers create an online form for simple multiple choice tests. Test questions and other information will need to be provided separately, but this makes it easy for instructors to process test scores.

Visually Powerful --

Graph.tk - http://graph.tk/
This is an online, open-source graphing utility, apparently. The link goes directly to a graph with a small formula box and no explanatory text.

SlideRocket - http://www.sliderocket.com/
This is an impressive multimedia-rich presentation builder/social sharing platform for people who want to move beyond PowerPoint, free-with-basic-options. There is also a free iPad app.

BioDigital Human - https://www.biodigitalhuman.com/home/
This application may not be terribly useful in the College of Business, but it looks cool. BioDigital Human is a 3D platform to help students understand anatomy and medicine in a virtual simulation.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Camtasia automatic captioning?

The issue of creating captions is something that comes up very frequently and we would like to have all videos captioned but it will take a huge amount of time. Now Camtasia offers the possibility of automatic captioning bu using the Speech-to-text feature, which automatically creates captions from voice narration or audio on the timeline. It has to be trained, and can only be used in the PC, but i think it is a good solution, if the instructor uses his / her own PC to create the mini lectures with Camtasia.
Here a tutorial on how to do it: