I have been doing a bit of work lately with YouTube. One of the challenges is adding content. Although there is the option to live stream or create videos from still images, both of these approaches have their limits. Here then is a list of other options:


An iOS application, Touchcast allows you to not only easily record, but through the use of a green screen, add your own settings and backgrounds. In addition to this, it has a great teleprompter which helps alleviate the problem of not quite looking at the camera, as well as helping with pace and fluency. For more information, read my post here.

Adobe Spark Video

Originally Adobe Voice, Adobe Spark Video is a multi-platform application which allows users to easily present ideas and information in an engaging manner. It provides connections to range of content to create slick and stylish presentations in minutes. Once finished, users can  download videos to publish elsewhere. For more information, read my introduction or watch my video.


An animation program, Powtoon allows users to build on the idea of a PowerPoint presentation in the creation of a engaging video. With a range of templates to work with, there are many options for what is available. However, projects do have the potential of becoming complicated quickly.


A new application, Lumen5 has been designed to quickly and easily visualise the web by identifying the key elements of a post or a page. Similar to Adobe Spark Video, it provides access to a range of Creative Commons images and music to create posts. The goal is to automate the creation of content through the use of artificial intelligence. For more information, see Kevin Hodgsen’s post.

So what about you? What applications do you use to create visual content? As always, comments welcome.

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flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Edmodo is an education social networking tool. It provides a means for teachers to easily create an online space where students can connect and communicate. Some examples of some of the things that you can do with Edmodo include:

  • Set tasks and assignments: Whether it is a quick task or a bigger assignment, Edmodo allows you to easily set dates and provide information and resources. In addition to this, once submitted feedback can be provided in a timely manner. Only limitation is focus on scoring, rather than rubrics.
  • Provide links and resources: Although URL shorterners and QR codes make it easier to share long webpages, there is nothing better than simply clicking on a link. You can also provide additional materials, such as documents and images to support learning.
  • A place to respond and reflect: Along with sharing material, Edmodo provides a place for students to post and comment. There are different options associated with this and it can all be locked down by the teacher if needed. Posting can occur within a group or directly with a teacher, but never between students.
  • Include parents in learning: Parents can be provided with a group code to connect. This does not mean that they will be able to see everything, instead they are connected with their child, having access to assignments, events, alerts, direct messages and anything else you tag them in.
  • Connect with other teachers globally: An underutilised function, Edmodo provides the ability to connect with teachers in a safe and secure environment. The initial setup asks for information about subject areas, this then aligns teachers with others in their subject areas. There is a stream of information provided that allows people to share and connect. This not only provides the means for finding ideas and resources, but also for collaborating with teachers around the world.

It needs to be noted that Brookside has signed up for School Account. Not only does this help to organise things, but it prevents students from signing up as a teacher and creating their own groups.

Further Reading

Edmodo Support Site – a collection of frequently asked questions associated with every aspect of Edmodo.

Social Networking for Schools by John Pearce – a thorough presentation from John Pearce looking at all the different elements to consider when it comes to Edmodo.

Edmodo Still Has My Heart by Bianca Hewes – a reflection from a Secondary teacher on how she uses Edmodo within her classroom.

7 Steps on How to Use the New Edmodo by Blake Waldman – A collection of ‘how to’ videos associated how to do different actions within Edmodo.

Should my class blog, tweet, Google App, Moodle, Desire2Learn, or Edmodo? Arrghhh!!! by Royan Lee – A comparison of the different Learning Management Systems and social media platforms available and things to consider.

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creative commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by Chris Pirillo: http://flickr.com/photos/lockergnome/6258696195
In the last few weeks, many of my students have been grappling with the creation of digital products. Even though I more often than not leave the decision up to them as to what medium they choose to use, too often they arrive at the same conclusion – Microsoft PowerPoint. Now I am not saying that using PowerPoint is wrong, I just question the why it is always the first choice.
This wondering got me thinking about how we have arrived at such a situation. My feeling is that the students are often rushed in regards to choosing the medium for their presentsations and given little scope or encouragement to branch out. I love +Michelle Meracis‘ phrase ‘student voice, student choice’. Yet for too many, in sticking with PowerPoint, this supposed choice is reduced to ‘images and text‘ as +Corrie Barclay warns.
I think that this perceived lack of choice is sometimes brought about by teachers who themselves feel uncomfortable about offering different options and only model one way. I was really encouraged by a recent post from Barclay ‘1 iPad, 1 Task, 15 Ways‘. In it he outlined what he saw as some of the options available for a particular assignment his students were completing. The reality is that there are always alternatives, I guess the challenge is being aware of them.
Coming back to my point about PowerPoint, here then are three simple alternatives to the traditional presentation:

Haiku Deck

Initially built for the iPad, but now accessible in the browser, Haiku Deck allows you to create highly visual presentations by quickly access Creative Commons images. Sadly, the appropriate use of images is too often overlooked in and out of the classroom in my opinion as for many it involves too much effort. Anything then that simplifies this process is only a good thing.

Becoming a Connected Educator (TL21C) – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires


An online platform, Powtoon allows you to create catchy animated videos with ease. With a wide range of images and icons, it often dragging items into the slide and then deciding how things will appear and for how long. In addition to this, there are a wide range of templates you can use as a starting point.


Adobe Voice

A free iPad app that Dale Pearce put me onto, Adobe Voice is both easy and effective. Like Haiku Deck, it provides access to a wide range of Creative Commons images and icons, as well as an array of themes. What makes it different though is that, like Microsoft Photo Story 3 for Windows, it provides a means for easily narrating various slides. The only issue I have is that the videos are housed within Adobe’s storage system, which can be a bit cumbersome.

For those who do wish to persist with PowerPoint, George Couros recently wrote a fantastic post outlining ten things to consider when creating a PowerPoint (and not animations). Another interesting resource I found was a presentation by Jesse Desjardins on Slideshare:
Although as I have suggested elsewhere that it takes more than an app to make a good presentation, the medium does at least have a part to play. So what presentation tool are you using or should I just give up the ghost and learn to love PowerPoint?

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