Digital Storytelling Without Word Processing Part 2: Edtech Apps

Decorative image with educational technology logos

In Part 1, of this post, I shared some Google apps students and teachers can use for non-narrative storytelling. In this post, I will share some edtech apps that I have found to be powerful tools for storytelling without word processing.

Please keep in mind, this is one educator’s take on digital storytelling with edtech. These are just some apps for this purpose. There are many more out there.

Audio

Serial ushered in the golden age of ubiquitous podcasting. Podcasting and sound recording are perfect for student storytelling. For example, students could interview a historic figure or even a concept, “We’re here today talking all things geology with Plate Tectonics…”

For fast no-frills recording, try Online Voice Recorder. For a great sound editor with music integration, use Soundtrap. Available in web and mobile (Google Play Store) (Apple App Store) versions, Soundtrap and was designed for making music digitally. It is perfect for voice recording because that is the first option when creating a track.

Voice & microphones is the first option when adding a track in Soundtrap.

The music options in Soundtrap make it perfect for adding intro and outro music or background music accompanying speech.

Soundtrap is freemium. Users get 5 free projects. I have used Soundtrap alot. I just delete an old project when I get to the cap. One last awesome thing about Soundtrap – students can collaboratively edit!

Soundcloud is the best option for hosting sound and podcasts. It has the best embedded player for websites. For example, when I told my story for the pilot episode of my podcast, I used Soundcloud. Have a look at this professional-looking embed:

Soundcloud is freemium so users can hit their free limit. I did with my podcast so I paid for premium. Despite that drawback, Soundcloud is the best option for embedding sound in digital portfolios.

One last note about audio: For an app dedicated exclusively to bite-sized classroom podcasting, have a look at Synth.

Video

There was a time when I thought video creation was an impossible, daunting task for someone like me with a Chromebook and nothing resembling professional video equipment. Now I have a YouTube channel with hundreds of videos. How did that happen? The Screencastify Google Chrome extension, that’s how. I was so enamored with Screencastify that I blogged about it shortly after I started using it in 2015. Here is a Screencastify basics video I made after they updated their interface in 2018:

Screencastify videos save to Google Drive and are shareable with one click.

Despite the name, this tool is for more than screencasting. One of the best things about Screencastify is that it integrates with device webcams to enable vlogging. If you think vlogging has no real-world possibilities for our students, Google, “Vloggers monetizing YouTube.”

For web-based video editing, try WeVideo. It is user-friendly and fun to use. The WeVideo YouTube channel has great resources to help you get started.

Users need to pay for the premium version of these tools to remove their watermarks from videos. For me, paying for these subscriptions and sticking with my 2017 ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 has been much cheaper than buying a Mac with iMovie and still having to pay for a screencasting tool.

One last note about video: For an app dedicated exclusively to bite-sized classroom video, have a look at Flipgrid.

Curation with ThingLink

Students and teachers can use simple curation to tell a story. There is no better tool for curation than ThingLink which lets users add interactive content on top of an image. I’ve long loved ThingLink for many reasons including its perfect integrations with Google Slides, Google Forms, and YouTube that allow users to view these without opening new tabs!

Here is an example of a ThingLink I made for a World War I digital breakout. This ThingLink tells stories about the war and US propaganda:

One last benefit to ThingLink: Its mobile app (Google Play Store) (Apple App Store) will record sound. So that is another option for hosting sound on web sites such as digital portfolios.

Infographics – Canva and Piktochart

In Part 1 of this post, I shared Google Data Studio, an advanced Google app for telling stories with data. In this post, let’s explore two easy apps for this purpose: Canva and Piktochart.

Canva is a great graphic design tool that I have long admired. It is useful for making charts out of data. Have a look at what I made with Canva using the Bernie Sanders favorable/unfavorable data referenced in Part 1 of this post:

Bernie Sanders favorable/unfavorable ratings by group. Infographic made with Canva.

Piktochart is very similar to Canva with more of a focus on info-graphics. I am not as enamored with what I created using the same data with Piktochart though it has a very useful capability for digital portfolios.

Bernie Sanders favorable/unfavorable ratings by group. Infographic made with Piktochart.

Piktochart can generate a chart that embeds on websites and shows values when scrolled over. Unfortunately, the embed does not work in WordPress but you can see it in action on this Google Site. How great is this for digital portfolios?

Don’t know how to import data into Canva and Piktochart? I made a quick video demonstrating how to do it for each app:

Even More Tools – The Adobe Suite

I have enjoyed using Abobe’s artistic tools such as Illustrator Draw, Photoshop Sketch, and Photoshop Mix on my Chromebook. But Adobe also apps for storytelling under their Spark umbrella. Spark Post is a graphic tool similar to Canva and Piktochart. Spark Pages is good for telling stories on the web. Spark Video is a video creator. It’s home screen has story templates.

Adobe Spark Video home screen

I have only dipped my toe into the Adobe Spark pool but have been impressed with what I have seen others do with these tools. Have a look and see if they can help you and your students tell stories.

I hope these edtech apps are helpful as you create stories for your students and help them become storytellers. What edtech apps do you use in your classroom? Please comment below or tweet me, @TomEMullaney. Thanks for reading.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I HAVE NOT RECEIVED COMPENSATION OF ANY KIND FOR MENTIONING THE PRODUCTS OR SERVICES IN THIS POST. I WAS NOT SOLICITED TO WRITE THIS POST AND I HAVE NO RELATIONSHIP WITH ANY OF THE COMPANIES MENTIONED.

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