A Conversation About Chromebooks in Education

I recently had the pleasure of talking about Chromebooks in education with Michelle Luhtala for an instalment of edWeb.net’s webinar series.  Michelle took one thing I mentioned to heart – look at what she created after I suggested Autodraw.com as a tool for Chromebooks during the webinar:

Created by Michelle Luhtala using Autodraw.

Michelle and I spoke about how Chromebooks differ from Windows and Mac devices as well how Chromebooks can best be used in classrooms.


Does your district need some help determining the right Chromebook for students? I can help! E-mail mistermullaney@gmail.com to inquire about my consulting services!


Michelle documented links to tools and media we talked about using Pearltrees:

Michelle Luhtala's Pearltrees collection of links based on our Chromebooks conversation. Image links to the collection.
 Michelle’s Pearltrees collection of links based on our conversation.

Watch the webinar by clicking this link:

Do you have questions about using Chromebooks in the classroom? Comment below or tweet me @TomEMullaney.

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7 Tips for Google Earth in the Classroom

Remember when Google Earth was a slow desktop program? Thank goodness it is now has a sleeker web version (earth.google.com/web) that is perfect for teaching geography. This is especially true for students using touchscreen Chromebooks. Additionally, the iTunes Store Google Earth app is great on iPads. Here are 7 tips for getting the most out of Google Earth in the classroom.

Tip # 1: Use Google Earth for Geology Concepts

Do you teach about volcanoes, plate tectonics, seafloor spreading, or other geology concepts? If so, click the ship steering wheel in Google Earth to access Voyager.

The steering wheel in the Google Earth toolbar opens Voyager: Interactive stories and maps.
Look for the steering wheel.

Then click “LAYERS” and enjoy some very useful content. Watch as I demonstrate:

Tip # 2: Use Google Earth for History

Google Earth Voyager has plenty of great content besides Geography. Click the steering wheel and click “HISTORY.” Each unit of content, called “stories,” leads students through an interactive map. PBS Learning Media authored five of the History stories. Watch as I demonstrate how to access Voyager History stories and the first two scenes of the Underground Railroad story:

Tip # 3: Find Voyager Stories

There are stories in each tab in Voyager. The tabs other than Layers and History are Editor’s Picks, Travel, Nature, Culture, Sports, and Education.

The tabs other than Layers and History are Editor's Picks, Travel, Nature, Culture, Sports, and Education. 

This content is very useful but challenging to find because there is no search function inside Voyager. Scrolling is the only option for finding stories in Voyager. The good news is the search in the Google Earth toolbar searches Voyager stories. At present, a search term has to match a term in the story title. Watch as I demonstrate:

Tip # 4: Learn More About Countries and Cities with Points of Interest

Search Google Earth for a country or city. The search will take you there on the map and add points of interest in the right part of the screen.

Points of interest in Google Earth.

Each point of interest comes with content. What a great way to introduce foreign places. Watch as I preview Tanzania’s points of interest:

Tip # 5: Use Google Earth to Measure, Distance, Area, and Perimeter

The ruler in the Google Earth toolbar is useful for showing students real-life applications for the geometry concepts they learn in math class.

The ruler tool in the Google Earth toolbar measures distance and area.

The ruler measures the distance between points on a line. It also creates shapes and displays their perimeter and area measurements.  On the iPad, there are buttons for copying that data:

Screen capture of a shape in Google Earth. There are buttons for copying the area and perimeter measurements.
Notice the “copy” icon to the right of the area and perimeter measurements.

One drawback of shapes in Google Earth is they cannot be saved. To level up using Google Geo Tools to teach geometry, have students create shapes in Google My Maps. This is a great way to teach scale and how maps can be distorted. For example, maps show Greenland to be about the size of Africa. Is that true? Make a copy of this Google My Map and have your students move the shape to find out.

  • Click the [    ] in the upper right corner to view this map fullscreen.
  • Click the three dots. Then click “Copy Map.”


Watch as I demonstrate using shapes in Google Earth and Google My Maps:

For more information on Google My Maps, please read my blog post, Google My Maps Tips and Tricks.

Tip # 6: Perfect Image Captures on the iPad

The camera icon in the Google Earth iPad app.
Notice the camera icon in the Google Earth iPad app.

Pressing the camera icon results in a screen capture of the Google Earth screen without toolbars:

A picture produced by the Google Earth iPad app.

This also works in the Google Earth Android app. Watch as I demonstrate the Android app.

Tip # 7, Your Anchor Activity: Use I’m Feeling Lucky for Anchor Activities

All done reading the first 6 tips? Great! The Google Earth toolbar has a dice icon. When clicked, it functions as “I’m Feeling Lucky” and takes students to a random location. What a great anchor activity!

The dice in the Google Earth toolbar Is
Roll the dice. Or to be more precise, click the dice.

When students say, “I’m done,” reply with “Great! Click I’m Feeling Lucky and share three things you learned about your random location with the class during the last five minutes.” Watch as I demonstrate using the “I’m Feeling Lucky” dice:

Thank you for reading this post! What Google Earth questions do you have? Please comment below or tweet me @TomEMullaney.

The Getting Started Guide for Touchscreen Chromebooks in the Classroom

“The new Chromebooks are here!”

Many teachers will be saying that as their school transitions to Chromebooks for students or refreshes old Chromebooks. The new education model Chromebooks have touchscreens and convert to tablet mode. The combination of touch and Chrome OS is probably here to stay awhile. Lenovo has released a Chromebook with a screen students can literally draw on with a pencil.  There is even a just-released Chromebook tablet. David Andrade breaks down the reasons why schools may switch from iPads to Chromebook tablets for elementary students in his blog post, New tablets for Education – comparing the new Acer Chromebook Tab 10 and the new Apple iPad.

This guide is meant to help educators get started using these new Chromebooks that have both touchscreens and keyboards. Everything referenced in this post until the very end is web-based and immediately accessible upon signing in to a Chromebook. The very end of this guide suggests some tools that are great but will require district Google administrators to enable the Google Play Store.

Before you do anything, even before reading this – beg, borrow, steal, cheat, lie, simply ask, or do whatever is necessary to get your hands on a new Chromebook the second it arrives in a district warehouse.  Reading about apps and educational uses is great but nothing matches the experience of actually using the device.

On to the guide. Let’s start with sketching, jotting, and drawing on touchscreen Chromebooks.

Isn’t that straight up substitution?

Of course it is! “Substitution” has become a loaded dirty word in education. Even the most innovative teacher uses substitution in every lesson. Effective technology integration incorporates constant motion through different levels of SAMR. Jaclyn B. Stevens‘s SAMR swimming pool clearly illustrates this:

The SAMR Swimming Pool Info-graphic by Jaclyn B. Stevens
The SAMR Swimming Pool by Jaclyn B. Stevens of the Friday Institute. Source

As Stevens says in this video, “Just as educators work across the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, the levels of the SAMR model must also be flexible and align to what students are doing in a classroom.”

Classrooms should be places where students always feel free to quickly jot or draw something to help them process and make connections. Research suggests drawing is the most effective way to learn! Or just doodle for brain breaks. For more on the benefits of drawing for learning, please read A Simple Way to Better Remember Things: Draw a Picture from The New York Times (1/6/19).

Annotating a website or PDF for a grade is rotten. However, getting messy annotating a website or adding content to a Google Jamboard Jam to process information, give feedback, or create a digital gallery walk is different. Use these tools to help kids get messy. Encourage it.

An example of this is sketchnoting. Sketchnoting is so beneficial for kids and adults.  Sketchnotes are often created on iPads that are more expensive than Chromebooks with a paid app (Procreate). Why shouldn’t kids sketchnote on Chromebooks for free?

Sketching/Drawing/Jotting/Tool #1: Google Keep

Google Keep is a great tool for drawing on images or creating sketches. This works in the Google Keep web app:

Google Keep is great for this purpose though it is not the most robust drawing tool. I lamented there was not another Google tool for drawing (don’t get me started about the misnamed Google Drawings) until I saw this tweet from Jessica Garrigan:

Sketching/Drawing/Jotting/Tool #2: Google AutoDraw

Google AutoDraw is much more than an auto draw tool. I created the image for this blog post in AutoDraw using a touchscreen Chromebook. Watch as I demo:

AutoDraw lacks the ability to save files. Create, download, and start with a blank slate next time. Let’s hope that changes soon. It also does not have an erase tool though it has an undo button and the ability to delete elements of a sketch by selecting and deleting. For more information about AutoDraw, read these two blog posts:

Google Keep and AutoDraw do not let students sketch or annotate on top of websites. Enter the Web Paint Google Chrome extension.

Sketching/Drawing/Jotting Tool #3: Chrome Canvas

Discovered by Chrome Unboxed in December 2018, Chrome Canvas is a great Google tool for drawing. It saves images and lets students download as PNG files. I like it better than Google Keep for jotting on top of images. Additionally, each drawing tool has size and opacity sliders which are absent in Keep and AutoDraw. Users of Adobe suite mobile apps are familiar with these sliders. Check out this sketch of Gritty created by The Verge:

I’m obsessed with Gritty.

Watch as I demonstrate this great tool:

Sketching/Drawing/Jotting/Tool #4: (Annotating Websites Edition): The Web Paint Google Chrome Extension

The Web Paint Google Chrome extension is great for marking up websites.

Take advantage of this by using Web Paint with Google Keep to search the text on saved clippings from the web:

One drawback of Web Paint is it only works with what is on screen. There is no ability to scroll down the page. Robby Payne at Chrome Unboxed figured out that using Web Paint in conjunction with the FireShot extension allows for marking up an entire page and then saving it as a PDF.

Freeform Collaboration Tool: Google Jamboard

Google Jamboard is a drawing tool but its usefulness is elevated through collaboration. It is the perfect platform for student brainstorming. Google recently announced a streamlined web version of the great mobile Jamboard app. Watch as I demonstrate.

 

Does your district need some help determining the right Chromebook for students? I can help! E-mail mistermullaney@gmail.com to inquire about my consulting services!

A Drawing for Assessment Tool: Formative

Formative, found at goformative.com, allows students to draw in an assignment. The applications for this, especially in Math, are innumerable. In this simple example, I draw in a formative (Formative’s name for assignments) I created asking students to explain the Schlieffen Plan.

Schlieffen Plan Drawing in Formative

In this example, I provided students with a map to draw on. Better yet, don’t provide the map! Students can insert images themselves. Or not. Let students determine how best they can depict a concept. I made a formative with two Schlieffen Plan questions – one with a map and one without. Feel free to make a copy for yourself.

Drag-and-Drop with Instant Feedback Tool – Quizlet

Dragging-and-dropping isn’t the highest level learning activity but at least Quizlet matching gives students instant feedback. Notice what happens when I choose the wrong answer and then the correct answer:

Animated GIF of correct and incorrect answers in Quizlet matching
Incorrect, then correct. Help yourself to this French Revolution vocabulary Quizlet deck.

Writing by Hand on Touchscreen Convertible Chromebooks

This applies only to touchscreen Chromebooks that are convertible – meaning that can be used in stand, tent, and tablet form factors. Students can hand write in Google Docs, Slides, to enter a website URL, or basically anywhere they can input text. Please note this does not work if a mouse is connected to the device. Watch as I demonstrate.

Google Earth

The web version of Google Earth is perfect for touchscreen Chromebooks. It’s not just for exploring and storytelling – Google has added a lot of educational content to Google Earth Voyager. Watch as I demonstrate in this YouTube playlist of 7 short videos:

Bring Touchscreen Chromebooks to the Next Level – Android Apps!

Web apps are great but the magic of touchscreen Chromebooks is found in the Google Play Store. Great apps for education productivity, creativity, and collaboration live there including my beloved free Google Jamboard app! Here are two blog posts where I review great Android apps for education on Chromebooks:

Email your district’s Google administrator to request enabling the Google Play Store in your district’s domain. Share with them this video by Allison Mollica which explains how admins enable Play Store access and this video by Thomas Rup and Eric Lawson which explains pushing Android apps to Chromebooks.

Keep Yourself in the Chromebook Loop

More important than any tool is staying up-to-date on what’s happening with Chrome OS and education. To do this:

  • Follow the linked Twitter handles in this post. These educators share great resources for integrating technology in the classroom. Some of them are not Chromebook superfans like me. Great! Better to have a broader perspective.
  • Stay up-to-date about Chrome OS updates with the aforementioned Chrome Unboxed website.  The site is constantly publishing valuable updates and tips-and-tricks.
  • My Education Chromebook Reviews YouTube playlist includes videos that demonstrate the pluses and minuses of each model and show them in action. I will add to the playlist as reviews for new devices are published.

I hope this guide is useful. To those of you already using touchscreen Chromebooks in the classroom, what did I miss? Please comment below or tweet me, @TomEMullaney. Thanks for reading.

Five More Educational Android Apps for Chromebooks

As touchscreen Chromebooks with Google Play Store access become more common in education, Android apps will be a big part of making devices game-changers for the classroom. We are not there yet, but the future has great potential. I have blogged about five Android apps I like for education. Here are five more good ones.

Google Keep

Google Keep is the cat’s pajamas. It is great for brainstorming, to-do lists, collaboration, and feedback. Watch as I demonstrate the Google Keep Android app which comes with slightly more functionality than the web app.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Why doesn’t Google Keep’s web interface allow teachers to use their mic?
  • Webcam does not integrate for video.

YouTube

Why spend precious memory installing the YouTube app? The answer is simple – 360° video! Convertible Chromebooks act like windows into another world when viewing a 360° video in the YouTube Android app. Watch as I demonstrate:

Pros:

  • Enhanced ability when viewing 360° video.
  • Use that ability and Google Keep’s integration with Google Docs and Google Slides to give your students narrative feedback.
  • Ability to download videos.
  • The Android app works better than the web app when in tablet mode.

Cons:

  • None. The app is most valuable as a 360° video viewer and it does that job well.

Adobe Photoshop Sketch

In my previous post, I shared Adobe Illustrator Draw. That is a great tool. A more brush-centric tool is Adobe Photoshop Sketch. This app is so artsy it leaves brush strokes on the canvas! Watch as I demonstrate:

Pros:

  • Very artsy – it’s like painting without ink.

Cons:

Snapseed

Snapseed is Google’s photo editing app for Android. It has surprisingly robust features for a free Android app.

Here is another video where I play with Snapseed’s Head Pose tool:

Pros:

  • Great tool for manipulation of images – especially photos.
  • Watch what happens when you use the Head Pose tool!

Cons:

  • I can’t think of any. I’m Team Snapseed!

Science Journal

Usually, when I suggest a tool on this blog, I wholeheartedly endorse it. That is not the case with Science Journal. It’s worth sharing because it has great capability for capturing and organizing Science lab data. It debuted in Spring 2016 and it seems like Google has not been interested in it since. (Update: Google has recently published new Science Journal content. Yay!) Still, Science teachers should check out the Science Journal activities Google published in Spring 2016.

Pros:

  • Great tool for collecting and organizing Science lab experiment data.
  • Google has activities ready to go.
  • Ability to record sound.
  • Webcam integration.

Cons:

  • It is less useful on Chromebooks without a world-facing camera.
  • Google seems to have given up on it.

Thank you for reading.  Want to know if your Chromebook can run Android apps? Here is the list of Chromebooks that support Android apps. How would you use Android apps with your students? Please comment below or tweet me, @TomEMullaney.

Image sources:

Android logo (Wikimedia Commons)

Google Chrome logo (Wikimedia Commons)

Google Play logo (Wikimedia Commons)

Five Educational Android Apps for Chromebooks

Update (11/5/2017): I have published Five More Educational Android Apps for Chromebooks.

When Google announced Android apps were coming to Chromebooks, I was not enthused. Chromebooks are great for learners and teachers because of the Chrome OS’s simplicity and lightning-fast boot-up. I was defensive about Chromebooks and not excited about change.

My love of Chromebooks for education is not universal. Joe Wilcox, citing kids’ love of iPhones, argues, “The PC, whether desktop or notebook, is obsolete in the classroom… If the fruit-logo company doesn’t seize the moment, a competitor will—and almost certainly selling devices running Android.”

But what if Chromebooks incorporated Android apps in a way that did not compromise the OS while giving teachers and learners the best of all worlds – mobile apps, keyboards, and touchscreens?

I recently purchased the ASUS Flip C302 which has Play Store access. My wariness of Android on Chrome OS was mistaken. The Flip C302 is a dream. Everything works great, including Android apps.

Long term, I hope companies make convertible flip touchscreen Chromebooks with a world-facing camera above the keyboard. This gives the device full tablet functionality. ASUS has done this with its C213. Time will tell if these Chromebooks are iPad killers. In the meantime, here are five educational Android apps to consider using with your students.

Google Classroom

Google Classroom’s web interface is great. One thing missing is the ability to instantly embed content from a laptop’s webcam and/or mic. The Classroom Android app allows this:

Further, John Sowash documented the app giving very useful notifications.

Pros:

  • Very mouse friendly. It actually works better with the mouse rather than the touchscreen.
  • Ability to embed directions and content using the webcam and/or mic.
  • Enhanced notifications.
  • The Android app allows teachers annotate on student work and saves it as a PDF.

Cons:

  • Why doesn’t Google Classroom’s web interface allow teachers to use their webcam and mic?

Google Expeditions

The Google Expedition Android app renders beautifully on a Chromebook. I made this screencast with it:

Pros:

  • Teachers can search for and preview Google Expeditions from their Chromebooks.
  • Teachers can lead Google Expeditions from their Chromebooks.
  • Students can view Google Expeditions from their Chromebooks like they would with iPads.

Cons:

  • None I have encountered yet.

For more on using the Google Jamboard Android app on Chromebooks, please read my blog post, Bring Collaboration to Next Level with Google Jamboard app.

Squid

Squid is an Android app for note-taking, Math, and sketch-noting. Thank you, Robby Payne of Chrome Unboxed, for turning me on to it. Have a look at me trying it out:

Pros:

  • Its simplicity of use.
  • Graph and lined paper in the free version.
  • Annotate images in the free version.
  • Notes can be exported as PDFs, JPEGs, and PNGs for free.
  • Premium is relatively cheap – $1/month or $10/year.

Cons:

  • The highlighter is a premium feature.
  • Importing PDFs is a premium feature.
  • Writing does not work with the mouse.
  • On my Chromebook, the only input that works is “Finger,” meaning it does not recognize pressure sensitivity with my stylus.

Screenshot 2017-07-04 at 10.01.52 AM
Active pen does not work on my Chromebook.

Adobe Illustrator Draw

The Adobe Illustrator Draw Android app is a wonderful tool for art and sketch-noting:

Pros:

  • The mouse works for a lot of features.
  • It’s free!
  • So many beautiful options for colors, shapes, and brushes.
  • Images can be saved as PNGs – with transparent backgrounds if desired.

Cons:

  • Shapes cannot be manipulated by the mouse.

Google Jamboard

Google Jamboard is a $5,000 piece of hardware marketed at businesses. The device looks very fun to play with but at that price point, it is likely a non-starter for education. However, the hardware is powered by an Android app available for free in the Google Play Store. The app renders well on Chromebooks. While not perfect, it has great potential for students to collaborate in a fun way:

Pros:

  • Real-time collaboration.
  • Very fun!
  • Handwriting recognition.
  • Nice ability to clip anything from the web and add it to a jam.
  • Jams can be shared as PDFs and images to Google Classroom. This makes me hopeful there might be more education integration coming for the app in the future.

Google Jamboard exports jams as PDFs or images to Google Classroom.
Google Jamboard exports jams as PDFs or images to Google Classroom.

Cons:

  • A touchscreen is essential. The mouse does not play well with Jamboard.
  • The app renders nicely on Chromebooks but is not very useful on phones and rendered very darkly on my wife’s Samsung Galaxy Tab A.
  • Only five colors available for drawing.
  • Shape recognition not perfected.
  • Difficulty grabbing objects. Notice the difficulty I experienced in the video.
  • Google Drive files render very small.

Thank you for reading.  Want to know if your Chromebook can run Android apps? Here is the list of Chromebooks that support Android apps. How would you use Android apps with your students? Please comment below or tweet me, @TomEMullaney.

Image sources:

Android logo (Wikimedia Commons)

Google Chrome logo (Wikimedia Commons)

Google Play logo (Wikimedia Commons)

Ten Things You Can Do This Summer To Prepare For Teaching In A 1:1 Classroom With Chromebooks

Has your district told you your students will bring Chromebooks with them to class in the fall? Are you eager to integrate this technology into instruction but unsure how? Here are ten things you can do this summer to hit the ground running in the fall, brought to you by a teacher who has been in your shoes.

1. Ask your administration for a Chromebook to use this summer.

You want to know the Chromebook user experience before school starts. What better way to learn than by doing? This teacher loves Chromebooks in the classroom for many reasons. You will too, especially if you understand the platform your students use. See if your administrators are willing to loan you the same model students will use in the fall. Use it for everything this summer and you will be prepared.

2. Become a Google Educator.

If you want to successfully use Google Apps for Education (GAFE) in classroom instruction, you need to be proficient in them. Go through Google for Education’s process to earn Google Educator certification. The process involves online modules and five $15 (as of Summer 2014) tests. Author’s Note (6/28/15): This process has just changed. Please have a look at Google’s new options and see what works for you. Going through the modules will make you more than proficient in Google Apps. Taking and passing the exams will earn you a Google Educator certificate, a nice asset for your CV.

 3. Upload your files to Google Drive.

This is essential for you to work with your students in a 1:1 classroom. After the Google Educator modules, you should be able to easily upload folders to Google Drive. Or, you can watch this video about doing it with a Windows computer:

Or this one about doing it with a Mac:

 

4. Get to know Google Classroom.

First, watch this video introducing Google Classroom. Imagine the possibilities. Get excited!

Then, read up about Google Classroom and how to use it to do transformative things such as seamlessly include absent and home-bound students in your class.

5. Learn from the experts.

There is so much great content about integrating technology into the classroom. It can be overwhelming. Start small by following these eight experts on Twitter and reading their blogs regularly. If starting a Twitter account seems overwhelming, read Alice Keeler’s blog post about signing up for Twitter. Here are my favorite education technology experts. Their names hyperlink to their blogs.

6. Digitize your print documents.

Do this during the summer to save time during the school year. Once a print document is digitized, it can be altered and, hence, improved.

7. Convert your multiple-choice assessments to paperless Google Forms your students can answer on their Chromebooks.

My visual tutorial will guide you through this process. Doing this during the summer will save you untold time at the photocopier and ScanTron machine during the school year. If you are curious about grading, read my grading tutorial, but it will not be necessary until you give your first multiple choice assessment.

Author’s Note (12/3/15): The visual tutorial linked above will work for you if you are working with the old Google Forms. If you are working with the new Google Forms, please read this post to get acquainted. 

8. Use TEDEd to change the way video is used in instruction.

Rather than have the whole class watch a projected video, you can add short-answer and multiple choice assessment questions, discussion prompts and links to further resources to any YouTube video. Make a list of your favorite YouTube videos used in instruction, and make them into powerful instructional tools with YouTube this summer. Students can work with videos at their own pace on their Chromebooks and you can use TEDEd’s tools to assess understanding.

Author’s Note (12/3/15): EdPuzzle is also a great tool for engaging students with video. Additionally, please read my Five Strategies for Using Video in the Classroom

9. Use Split PDF to break up large curricular PDFs into smaller documents.

Instead of printing the pages of the PDF you want your students to read and scanning them, use Split PDFto make original quality PDFs of the exact pages you want students to read. Split PDF connects to your Google Drive to access your PDF. It makes a new file with only the pages you specify. Students then read beautiful PDFs on their Chromebooks, not scans of photocopies.

10. Join Google Plus education technology communities.

This will serve as another great source for education technology information. Just like with education technology experts on Twitter, start small. Here are four great communities to join:

Teaching in a 1:1 classroom with Chromebooks reignited my passion for education. I hope it does for you too! If you would like to talk more about successful technology integration in the 1:1 classroom, please comment below or send me a tweet at @TomEMullaney.

Making Lesson Recap Videos with Screencastify

Making video recaps of my lessons has revolutionized my teaching. I am so grateful to Chris Aviles for suggesting it at EdCamp New Jersey. A parent told me she wishes every teacher made video recaps. A learning support teacher uses them to help my students study in her instructional support classes. Students who need multiple opportunities to learn and absent students benefit the most from video lesson recaps.

I have documented how I use SnagIt to make recaps on my Chromebook. SnagIt met my needs until it had a problem with static in March 2015. I researched and found that Screencastify does essentially the same thing. Screencastify is an extension for the Google Chrome browser so it works an any computer with the browser.

Watch this video where I discuss how I use Screencastify:

After installing the extension…

Screenshot 2015-04-02 at 1.26.35 PM

Before starting the recording be sure “Desktop” is selected and “Embed webcam” is not.

Screenshot 2015-04-02 at 1.29.36 PM

“Desktop” makes sure Screencastify captures the entire screen. “Embed wecam” puts a small webcam in the lower right corner of the screen when you screencast. I prefer to open the computer’s webcam and size the window to my liking.

When you stop recording, Screencastify puts the video file in a Google Drive folder.

Screenshot 2015-04-02 at 1.33.33 PM

Screenshot 2015-04-02 at 1.40.34 PM

Screenshot 2015-04-02 at 1.42.35 PM

Overall, I have been thrilled with Screencastify. Its file sizes are roughly 10-20MB per minute. That is much lower than SnagIt-made video files. This saves me time when uploading videos to YouTube. If you do not want to be on YouTube, share the video in Google Drive with your students. The small file sizes mean less bandwith used when multiple students view it in your classroom.

Video lesson recaps have tremendously benefited my students. I am happy to share this strategy far and wide. Please be in touch if you want to discuss further!

Making Lesson Recap Videos with SnagIt and a Chromebook

I went to to EdCamp New Jersey at the end of November where I heard Chris Aviles suggest teachers should make video recaps. He argued that in a 1:1 classroom, video lesson recaps are a powerful tool to fight learned helplessness. A student doesn’t know the answer to a question? Have them watch the video recap. Chris also made the point that video recaps give students multiple opportunities to learn and help absent students catch up.

Intrigued, I set about using December to incorporate video recaps into my practice. I made this video about what I have done so far:

After you create your account (I used my school Google e-mail), SnagIt creates a folder in your Google Drive. It is called “TechSmith” after the company that makes SnagIt.

Screenshot 2015-01-02 at 7.10.08 PM

When you record using SnagIt, the app will capture your screen and the Chromebook’s microphone. I use the Chromebook camera so students can see my face rather than listen to a disembodied voice. When you stop a recording, it will appear as ” unfinished video” in the TechSmith folder.

Screenshot 2015-01-03 at 8.15.27 AM

You can rename your video in the SnagIt video player and push it directly to your GAFE connected YouTube account.

Screenshot 2015-01-03 at 8.27.53 AM

When SnagIt is finished processing you can access the video file in the TechSmith Google Drive folder.

Screenshot 2015-01-03 at 8.31.28 AM

From Google Drive, you can download the video. I take this extra step because I post videos to my personal YouTube channel.  I want the videos to still exist should my job change. It is very easy with only upload and download time as minor inconveniences. Login to your personal GMail account and go to YouTube. From there:

Screenshot 2015-01-03 at 8.34.50 AM

Then simply click on upload and you’re good to go.

Screenshot 2015-01-03 at 8.39.29 AM

Pixiclip is another tool with great potential for video recaps. As I explained in the video above, I stopped using Pixiclip because when my students play it back on their Chromebooks they cannot rewind and fast forward.

Video lesson recaps are one way educational technology transforms educational practice. I am only one month into using them and am thrilled with the opportunities they create for my students!

 

 

Why This Teacher Loves Chromebooks

Remember when consumers and schools had two computer choices: PCs and Macs? Both came with significant negatives. For PCs, it was computers that frequently crashed or froze. For Macs, is was price. Many schools now use the iPad for 1:1 classrooms. It still has a high cost and lacks a good keyboard. At last, a new solution is here.

The Chromebook outdoes PCs for affordability while being sleek and stylish like a Mac. Like the Mac I had at a previous teaching job, my Chromebook performs very well and does not crash. My students and I are loving our Chromebooks.

My district is using Chromebooks with eighth and ninth grade students this year as a pilot program. I am so fortunate two-thirds of my classes are with eighth and ninth grade. I hope the district makes the entire middle and high schools 1:1 with Chromebooks next school year.

How Chromebooks are Different for the User

Here are two slides I have used to explain the unique features of Chromebooks to my colleagues.  These are not the most beautiful slides; I used them to go over this topic quickly before a longer discussion on 1:1 classroom management.

Screenshot 2014-10-09 at 9.46.14 AM

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Why My Students and I Love Them

Let me list the reasons:

  • The quick boot-up time. Please, Google, do not change this. Please do not switch to Android. The Chrome OS has no applications save for the Chrome browser, a calculator, and a camera. I often have students close their Chromebooks for class discussion. Students are right back where they left off upon re-opening them.
  • Automatic log-in to Google Apps for Education. Using a COW or a computer lab meant that students would boot up the computer, log in to the computer and then log in to Google Apps for Education. All this took some time. Chromebooks change this process to one essentially instant step. Once a student has logged in, they can click icons for GMail, Google Drive, Google Classroom and Google Calendar and arrive instantly.
  • Great battery life. I have been using a school-issued HP Chromebook since July. During the summer I worked with it all day. By the end of the day there was a good deal of battery life remaining. This included a lot of use of video and music too. Students at my school leave their Chromebooks on chargers in their homerooms overnight. Battery life has not been an issue for them.
  • The keyboard. My school-issued HP Chromebook has a nice keyboard. I much prefer my students use it than type on an iPad or an iPad add-on keyboard.
  • The screen! My school-issued HP Chromebook has a beautiful wide HD screen. YouTube HD videos look stunning.

My One Concern

As you can tell, I love the Chromebook. There is one concern I have with it: the touchpad. The touchpad requires two fingers next to each other to right click. I have been doing this since July and have not mastered it. I plug a mouse into the Chromebook to be as productive as possible. If you have students with motor issues, I highly recommend pairing mice with their Chromebooks.

The Chromebook touchpad is also very sensitive. When they started using Chromebooks in the classroom, some of my students would inadvertently click “submit” on Google Forms I used for assessment when they did not mean to. My work-around for that has been to make every question in my forms a required question.

Set each Google Form question to required and sensitive touchpads won't be a problem.
Set each Google Form question to required so sensitive touchpads won’t be a problem.

The Ideal 1:1 Solution

That issue aside, Chromebooks are the ideal solution for 1:1 classrooms. They are more affordable than iPads and PCs without the crashes and clunky-ness of  PCs. They are cheaper than iPads with a better keyboard and seamless integration with Google Apps for Education. The Chromebook is an efficient, powerful machine. I have a feeling it will become a big part of education, personal and business computing in the next few years.