Mar 13

Free Browser-based Screencasting with Screencast-O-Matic

Infrequently I’m required to use a Windows computer to create something, and today I needed to combine 2 PDFs for our school newsletter and post them to our website. Our district is using DotNetNuke as our CMS (content management system) and for some reason our site pages need to be edited in Internet Explorer for Windows. (Strange things have happened when I’ve edited with my favorite browser on all platforms, Google Chrome.) I recorded a 7 minute, 45 second screencast today demonstrating how I use the free Windows software program “PDFmate PDF Converter Free” to combine 2 PDF files into a single file, and then publish that file to our school website.

I recorded and posted this screencast to YouTube using the free, browser-based website and service Screencast-O-Matic. Since I don’t have a Pro account it created a small, unobtrusive watermark in the lower left corner of my final video. Screencast-O-Matic (@screencasto on Twitter) works almost identically to Screenr, which used to be my favorite browser-based screencasting tool. Unfortunately, Screenr hasn’t been updated for awhile and now it’s not compatible with the latest version of Java. I added Screencast-O-Matic to the Narrated Slideshow / Screencast page of Mapping Media.

(cross-posted from Moving at the Speed of Creativity)

Feb 12

Join via Videoconference: Mapping Media Part 2 (Spring 2014)

The past few years I’ve enjoyed opportunities to work intensively with Montana teachers through summer professional development institutes offered at the University of Montana as well as courses I’ve taught over videoconferences bridged by VisionNet. Western Montana CSPD and Nancy Marks have been the primary catalysts for these learning opportunities. Both of my past courses have been offered for graduate credit through the University of Montana, and have focused on the first six media products in the “Mapping Media to the Common Core” digital literacy framework: Interactive Writing, Narrated Art, Five Photo Stories, Radio Shows, Visual Notetaking, and Narrated Slideshows / Screencasts. I’m pleased to announce that this semester I’ll be offering “Part 2″ of Mapping Media for the first time as a seven part course, again via Montana CSPD and the University of Montana. This second part will focus on three more media products, which are more involved than the first six in several ways. The media products are: Quick Edit Videos, Multimedia/enhanced eBooks, and Simulations or Games.

Whether or not you live in Montana, you can join us via H.323 videoconferencing for this seven part course. We meet every two weeks for an hour and a half after school on Thursdays. Specifically: 4:30-6:00 pm (Mountain) | 3:30-5:00 pm (Pacific) | 5:30-7:00 pm (Central) | 6:30-8:00 pm (Eastern). Our meeting dates for the course will be:

  • Feb 27 Introduction
  • March 6 & 27: Quick Edit Videos
  • April 10 & 24 : E-Books
  • May 8 & 22: Simulations or Games

Registration is discounted to $160 per person or $125 for groups of 2 or more if you register by February 17th. Visit the Western Montana CSPD website for complete details. We’d love to have educators from other states in addition to Montana join us for this fantastic course! Specifically, I’d love for YOU to join us!

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Feb 07

Visualize: Sticky Learning (Visual Notetaking)

These are my slides for the opening keynote at tomorrow’s Oklahoma A+ Schools statewide conference in Norman. I’ve titled it, “Visualize: Sticky Learning” and will focus on visual notetaking. The presentation will just be 20 minutes long, so it’s a bit more like a TED talk than a “standard” conference keynote. I’m going to try and follow the TED Commandments!

I made a few revisions to the slides from earlier in the week, and changed the video I’m using to this one about the Olympics from ASAP Science which was just published yesterday but already has over half a million views: “How Olympians Have Changed (1924-2014).”

I’m using this video during the presentation for an activity in which audience members will actually practice visual notetaking. The video also shows how visual notes can become a whiteboard animation. More examples of both are available on the visual notetaking page of “Mapping Media to the Common Core.” I also added some examples of my own students’ visual notes, which they created in December during a lesson I titled, “Visual Notes and Dreaming BIG.”

Visual notetaking embodies Robert Marzano’s recommended instructional strategy of “non-linguistic representation.” It is also a practical, “do-able” way for teachers to encourage creative expression alongside deeper cognitive processing of lesson ideas. Visual Notetaking in the classroom can be wonderful, whether it’s done “old school” with paper and crayons or digitally using FREE iPad apps like Brushes 3, Paper by FiftyThree, Adobe Ideas or Inkflow.

In addition to challenging conference participants to practice visual notetaking themselves during the remainder of the conference, I’m also challenging them to watch Rachel Smith‘s fantastic TEDx talk, “Drawing in Class.” This is a must-see for every classroom teacher and professor. If I haven’t convinced you to start encouraging your students to use visual notetaking inside and outside of class, Rachel will!

Jan 12

Register for iPad Media Camp in Summer 2014 in Illinois, Texas, Kansas & Oklahoma!

Online registration is now available for summer 2014 sessions of iPad Media Camp in Illinois, Texas, Kansas & Oklahoma! Dates and locations for this summer include:

iPad Media Camp* is a three day series of hands-on workshops designed to inspire and equip educators to facilitate student media projects using iPads. Participants should BYOI (bring your own iPad) to camp. iPad Media Camp is led and facilitated by Dr. Wesley Fryer, author of the 2013 ebooks, “Mapping Media to the Common Core: Vol 1” and “Hopscotch Challenges: Learn to Code on an iPad!” and the 2011 ebook “Playing with Media: simple ideas for powerful sharing.” 2014 will be the third summer of iPad Media Camps!

The daily agenda for each day of iPad Media Camp is available. Daily topics include:

  • Day 1: Narrated Art, Screencasting and Narrated SlideShows
  • Day 2: Quick Edit Videography
  • Day 3: Interactive Writing and eBooks

Check out how the curriculum of iPad Media Camp has evolved and changed since 2011 when it started on our curriculum site ( powered by Google sites. Select the session you want to view in the left sidebar of the site. Curriculum for summer 2014 will be shared publicly as sessions are offered in June and July.

Registration for Summer 2014 iPad Media Camps is open to all PK-20 educators, with the exception of 16-18 June 2014 (Houston, Texas) which is only open to elementary teachers. The Houston iPad Media Camp will be co-led / co-facilitated by Gail Lovely and Wesley Fryer. The other three sessions will be led/facilitated by Wes.

Check out this two minute video trailer for iPad Media Camp to learn more!

Some reactions and quotations from participants in past iPad Media Camps include:

Dr. Fryer made the impossible happen for me. I was able to create movies and books! I’m an old dog and he made it fun and easy to learn new tricks. Great workshop and a great presenter.

If you are interested in coming up with innovative ways to engage your students in class with media they are truly interested in, you need to attend this camp. The things I’ve learned in this camp, and others taught by Wes, have made my class exciting for kids to attend and helped make them responsible media creators.

Go directly to Media Camp. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200! It was so worth my time. Even old dogs can learn new tricks! Thank you for all your hard work.

I hope to see you at an iPad Media Camp this summer!

* iPad Media Camp is an independent workshop and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Apple Inc. iPad® is a trademark of Apple Inc. See “Guidelines for Using Apple Trademarks and Copyrights” for more information. Direct all questions about iPad Media Camp to Wesley Fryer.

Jan 08

Helping Students Use Creative Commons Images in Presentations

I received an email question this week from another teacher in our district about how she can best help students use Creative Commons licensed images for their class presentations. This was my answer.

My new favorite way to have students create presentations with Creative Commons images is to use the free app or website Haiku Deck:

Students enter keywords and the app or website builds a PowerPoint presentation (which they can also import into an app like Explain Everything) with related images. It even puts the attribution website addresses at the bottom of each slide! It’s amazing and the only thing like it I’ve seen to date.

Other options are use the Flickr Creative Commons image search site:

or Compfight:

I would go with Haiku Deck… I think the image filtering there is better. Always the possibility of finding inappropriate images with image searches, so it’s something to be aware of.

I hope this helps! More image search options are on:

Dec 26

Combine Audioboo Sound Recordings with Audacity

Audioboo is one of my favorite (and FREE) iPhone/iPad apps for audio recording and sharing. Since Audioboo provides HOSTING for audio files you record, it’s not necessary to find another website to share your audio recordings with others. Audioboo does this for you. In this post, I’ll explain how you can use a trick to directly save mp3 audio versions of Audioboo recordings you (or others) have shared online, and then combine them together in a single recording using free Audacity software on a laptop or desktop computer. This is a great technique to use if you want to combine multiple student “narrated art” projects with AudioBoo together, or if you want to create longer “radio show” student projects using AudioBoo to record the individual segments.

This December I used the free Audioboo app on my iPhone to record excerpts of several music concerts I attended at school and at church. These included four different recordings: Singing Oh Christmas Tree, Nostalgic for the 1950s, O Holy Night, and Images of Christmas. In order, these were recorded at Independence Elementary School in Yukon, Oklahoma, at Quail Creek Elementary in Oklahoma City, at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Oklahoma City, and at First Presbyterian Church in Edmond. The embedded AudioBoo versions are below.

These are the steps I followed to combine these four Audioboo audio files into a single mp3 file, which I shared on my “Sounds of My World” blog.

1. Save Audioboo recording as a MP3

When you click on the title of an Audioboo recording on your channel, the “direct link” to that Audioboo will open in your web browser. Add “.mp3″ (without quotation marks) to the end of that direct web link, as shown below.

After you add .mp3 to the web link and press return or enter, your web browser will forward to the saved mp3 file for this recording on the Amazon S3 cloud.

With that mp3 file opened directly in your browser, choose FILE SAVE AS and save the mp3 file into a new folder on your computer. In this example, using the Chrome web browser, I saved the mp3 audio file into a new folder on my computer’s desktop.

2. Import MP3 Files into Audacity

Audacity is a free, cross-platform audio editing software program. (Cross-platform means it runs on Apple/Mac computers as well as Windows computers.) If you have not already, download and install Audacity on your computer. You will also want to download and install the free LAME encoder for MP3 files. From a technical standpoint, this can be the most tedious part of all these instructions. Refer to the Audacity wiki for help.

After completing the above steps, you should have a folder on your computer containing the four audio files you want to combine. In this example, I saved four different Audioboo mp3 files locally. It helps to put these in a new folder on your desktop for quick access.

Use the FILE – IMPORT menu command in Audacity to bring all the audio files you want to combine into a new Audacity project file.

By default when you import an audio file into Audacity, it will start at the 0:00 time mark. Use the TIME SHIFT tool (it looks like a horizontal timeline icon with arrows on its left and right sides) to drag each audio file to the time mark where you want them to start. Audacity will show a vertical yellow line when you reach the end of the preceding audio file, which can speed up this process if you imported your audio files in the same order you want them to play in the combined version.

3. Export Your Combined MP3 File

Now you are ready to export your combined audio file as a “flattened” MP3 audio file. Do this by choosing FILE – EXPORT in the Audacity menu.

Like QuickTime export settings, there are a lot of choices for MP3 audio exports in Audacity. Generally I use 32 kbps for spoken audio podcasts, and 64 kbps for files (like this example) which include music. You can use higher quality settings, but the better the quality settings the larger the final file size will be. This correlates to longer download times for people who will listen to your file.

If you don’t have a WordPress site where you can upload your audio files directly, as I do with “Sounds of my World,” you can upload your final combined file to another site. Good, free options include SoundCloud (which tracks numbers of plays and provides embed code) or Dropbox. You can upload to AudioBoo, but standard/free accounts have a 3 minute time limit for individual tracks. I recommend SoundCloud.

If you use these ideas to combine multiple audio files recorded with AudioBoo or another app/website, please let me know with a comment or via Twitter! Good luck and have fun combining audio recordings with Audacity!

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Oct 16

7 Part VideoConference Course: Mapping Media to the Common Core (Nov 2013 – Feb 2014)

This winter, from November 2013 through February 2014, I’ll be teaching a seven part course over interactive video (H.323 videoconferencing) on “Mapping Media to the Common Core” through Western Montana CSPD, VisionNet of Montana and the University of Montana. This course goes into detail about the first six products in the “Mapping Media” framework, and uses my eBook by the same name as our course text. I taught this course in the same format in Spring 2013. For $150 per person, or $100 per person if more than 2 people at your site register, you and teachers you know can participate in this unique, engaging, and inspiring blended learning experience. The session dates and topics are:

  1. Nov 7, 2013 Introduction
  2. Nov 21, 2013 Interactive Writing
  3. Dec 5, 2013 Narrated Art
  4. Dec 19, 2013 Five-Photo Story
  5. Jan 9, 2014 Radio Show
  6. Jan 23, 2014 Narrated Slideshow/Screencast
  7. Feb 13, 2014 Visual Notetaking & Course Wrap-up

Connection times each Thursday we meet will be:

  • 3:30-5:00 pm (Pacific)
  • 4:30-6:00 pm (Mountain)
  • 5:30-7:00 pm (Central)
  • 6:30-8:00 pm (Eastern)

More details are available on the following Google Doc. This seven part course has also been submitted to the CILC as an available professional development opportunity for teachers and librarians. You must attend sessions at a site which supports H.323 videoconferencing and connect over the internet to VisionNet’s bridge. This course is BYO-iPad, and some basic iPad skills are prerequisites. (Getting online, setting up email, installing apps, multitasking (switching between apps), copying/pasting, and screen capture.) Registration and videoconference connection details are included on the Google Doc. Please share this unique PD opportunity with other educators you know! Last spring we had 8 different sites in Montana participate, this time we’re opening up registration to sites outside of Montana. It would be great to have you and other educators at your school join us for this transformative learning opportunity!

Mapping Media to the Common Core: Vol I

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Oct 16

How to Share Videos from a School iPad Cart

I visited with a K-3 librarian today who recently received a cart of iPads at her school for teachers to check out and use with students. She was unsure how to share videos the students create and save to their iPad camera rolls, however, with apps like iMovie, Puppet Pals, and Sock Puppets. In this post I’ll summarize my recommendations to her, which involve setting up a special Gmail account “for the cart” as well as a YouTube channel teachers and students can publish to with the free YouTube Capture app.

Setup a Gmail Account for the iPad Cart

In shared iPad cart situations, it’s generally best for students and teachers to NOT put their own email account credentials onto the iPads. When email credentials are saved in the iPad settings, it’s easy to forget to delete them after someone is finished using the iPad. From a security standpoint, teachers should NEVER give students direct access to an iPad or other computer which has their own email credentials saved / cached. One solution to this quandary, which has worked well in schools where I’ve helped coach teachers with technology integration techniques, is to ask the IT department to setup a special / unique Gmail account for the entire cart.

Once that Gmail account has been created, a librarian or teacher (or a team with parent volunteer help!) needs to enter and save the email credentials on EACH iPad in the cart. Do NOT directly provide the account password to students. The password can be saved in the iPad settings so a teacher doesn’t need to enter it each time students want to email media OUT from the iPad.

This email account serves two primary purposes for the cart. First, It permits students to email media (like photos) OUT from the iPad, to websites like a Blogger site used for 5 Photo Story projects. (See examples on Since the account will be used only to SEND email from the iPad and NOT check the account, some configuration changes are needed so students won’t be able to check any incoming email on the iPads. For those steps, refer to Tony Vincent’s excellent December 2011 post, “How to Set Up Gmail for School iPads and iPods.” Tony explains how to setup a custom Gmail filter so all incoming mail is deleted right away. The result is that the “iPad cart email account” is just a SENDING email account.

The one addition I’d make to Tony’s instructions involves the “signature file” for your iPads. In the mail account settings for the signature, instead of leaving it as the default “Sent from my iPad” I would change it to include the number of the iPad in your cart. For example, if you’re configuring iPad #6 in your cart, change the signature to read “Sent from iPad 6.” Of course students can delete or change this at the time they send an email, but many will not and this will provide some accountability if a message is sent that you need to research / figure out who sent it.

Setup a YouTube Channel for the iPad Cart

The second primary role your iPad Cart Gmail account can serve is to provide a YouTube Channel which can act as a “publishing sandbox” for the videos students will create using the iPads when they’re checked out out to them. If your school district is already using Google Apps for Education, YouTube is one of the services your network administrator / IT department can “turn on” for teacher and student use. Many schools still have YouTube blocked for teachers as well as for students. There are many different ways to address the issues raised by YouTube access, from objectionable content to bandwidth. On the content site, some schools are opting to use Google’s free “YouTube for Schools” Program. This provides student access to curated, educationally appropriate YouTube videos and more complete access for teachers. This is a good baseline for ALL schools. Blocking YouTube entirely for students today is analogous to some school districts a few years ago which blocked all access to YouTube includes fantastic educational content which students MUST be allowed to access. In addition, teachers (at a minimum) should be allowed to publish video content to YouTube from the school network. I recognize this isn’t “reality” in many schools today, but these are things we need to keep advocating for with administrators as well as board members. Like access to the Internet more generally, access to YouTube for teachers and at LEAST curated YouTube access for students today is a vital literacy issue. Blocking that access entirely is tantamount to stopping all student access to the library. It shouldn’t happen and we should advocate in appropriate ways to change policies if they overblock the web in schools, including YouTube.

Refer to this official Google support tutorial for instructions about setting up your YouTube channel.

Once your channel is setup, download and install the free YouTube Capture app on all the iPads on your cart. You or other teacher/parent helpers will need to individually login the apps to the shared cart’s YouTube account, using the Gmail address and password. Do this by clicking the “settings gear” icon in the lower left corner after launching the app. Once the login credentials have been saved, teachers or students will be able to directly upload saved videos from the iPad’s camera roll to the shared YouTube channel.

Suggestions and Guidelines for Teacher and Student Use

Ideally, teachers should always keep a record of what students checked out and used which iPads during a class period. That way if there is a question later regarding damage to an iPad or content created / published from a specific iPad, the responsible students can be more readily identified.

Use the language “video sandbox” to describe the shared YouTube channel you’ve created and will be sharing access to with teachers and students.

This YouTube channel is not designed to the primary video showcase site of your school or library. Rather, it’s a place to publish ALL KINDS of student work so it can be linked and embedded on other websites as needed/desired. What you do NOT want is a situation where a teacher or student says something like, “Well, this video isn’t an example of our best work, so we don’t want to publish it online.” Certainly there are times and contexts where work shouldn’t be shared publicly online. A large percentage of student work can and should be posted online, however, in an open format others can access to view.

Our tendency in many schools today, when it comes to digital sharing, is to “opt for private.” By privately sharing, we rob most of the power of digital publishing from the assignment and activity. Without question, both parent and student permission forms to share student work as well as photos and names MUST be signed first. Examples from several school districts are available. Once that permission is secured, students should be encouraged to share the majority of their digital work online so it can become part of their digital portfolios.

Here are two paragraphs included in my eBook, “Mapping Media to the Common Core: Part 1,” which I tweeted recently and would love for every teacher to copy and adapt as appropriate. We need to help coach teachers how to respond to questions like “Why are you using YouTube with my child?” and even role-play these kinds of responses. Here’s my suggested script:

Our school takes Internet safety and protecting student privacy very seriously, and as a teacher I do too. Parents and students have the choice of whether or not to post student work publicly online, but I strongly encourage it. Our national and local academic standards emphasize digital literacy, which includes students publishing and sharing their work online in a variety of multimedia formats. Our students have many choices about how they share their work online, and many of the digital projects we do don’t include student photographs or student faces in videos.

In addition to the requirements for students to learn digital literacy by actively practicing it online, there are many benefits to publishing student work online. One of the biggest is having an authentic audience. I want my students to share their work with a bigger audience than me, their teacher, because I know when they do they often do better work. It can be motivating for students to receive feedback and suggestions online not only from student peers, but also from parents, grand“grandparents, or other people living in different countries. I assure you we take Internet safety very seriously, and one of the ways we do that is by practicing safe ways to interact with others online. We never share our email addresses, phone numbers, or other personal numbers like that online with others. We talk about what is appropriate and not appropriate to post about online and talk with strangers about online, and I’m confident the digital publishing we do in our class is helping students learn to develop responsible digital citizenship skills

Be aware that open commenting is the DEFAULT setting for all YouTube videos. To err on the conservative side, teachers using the iPad cart YouTube channel may want to login and periodically “bulk edit” videos to change them to MODERATED commenting. This means comments others leave on your videos won’t show up until a teacher / account administrator approves them. It’s a good idea to embed YouTube videos on classroom blogs or other websites, where comments can be moderated by teachers. There is currently no way to set YouTube comment moderation ON by default, it has to be done after a video is uploaded. Thankfully (and this changed in the last six months) it IS possible to bulk-edit video settings including comment moderation.

Specifically train both teachers and students in a suggested syntax to use when uploading videos to a shared YouTube account. For example, the homeroom teacher’s last name might be used at the start or end of the title, along with a student’s first name or group name in the title. Tags can also be used to label videos. Without good titles and tags, uploaded videos can become “mystery media” artifacts with undefined authorship. Unfortunately, uploaded media which isn’t labeled properly can be “lost” in a channel filled with other videos, since it can’t be readily located using search keywords. This is the process of adding meta-information to digital content, and while it can certainly be OVER-done with too many requirements, it’s a mistake to under-emphasize it’s importance as well.

Hopefully these suggestions and tips are helpful to you. For a great video discussing the value and benefits of using a YouTube channel with students, see Ginger Gregory’s video with her students from last May, “Developing Communication Skills With YouTube & iPad Videos.” It’s one of my all-time favorite “quick edit videos” created with an iPad!

I’ll be leading a workshop in Yukon, Oklahoma next Wednesday on “Quick Edit Videography with iPads and iMovie” for Storychasers. Registration is available via EventBrite, and more information is available about iPad digital storytelling workshops by Storychasers. Also check out the curriculum and resources for iPad Media Camp, which addresses quick-edit videography in day 2.

Sep 10

Why Playing with Media and Mapping Media Matters

Today I recorded a series of six videos, exploring different questions relating to technology integration and multimedia communication for students and teachers. These include:

  1. Why are playing with media and mapping media important?
  2. What is mapping media to the curriculum or Common Core?
  3. Why are words important and how can students practice digital citizenship?
  4. Why are digital portfolios important and how can students build them?
  5. What excites you about learning today?
  6. How can educators use the Mapping Media framework?

You can access these videos separately via a YouTube playlist, or watch them together in a combined, 6.5 minute video:

I decided to use this video as my opening “trailer” on my YouTube channel. I recorded these as promotional videos for an upcoming conference in October. I’ve been wanting to record a “whiteboard animation” video (RSA style, like Tony Vincent did recently for the 2013 Mobile Learning Conference) using VideoScribe HD for iPad, but I haven’t made time for that yet. I will soon, however! Additional apps and software programs for creating whiteboard animation videos are included on the “visual notetaking” page of Mapping Media.

I was inspired in my format for these videos by recent interviews with industrial designer Robert Brunner, posted by Katie Fehrenbacher in her article for GigaOm, “Designer Robert Brunner on the difficulties of making hardware and the future of Apple.”

Are there other questions you think I should address via this approximately 60 second video format, relating to playing with media, mapping media to the curriculum, or technology integration in general?

I recorded these video clips on my iPhone5 with the built-in microphone, and edited the video in iMovie ’11 on a MacBook Air laptop.

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Aug 15

Create iPad eBooks with Recorded Audio and Text Highlights FREE

Today in the “apps playground” at the 2013 iPad Academy hosted by Chicago Public Schools, the awesome elementary teacher Autumn Laidler (@MsLaidler) taught me how to use the free iPad app “Little Story Maker” to create ebooks which include BOTH your recorded voice and “text highlights.” Like many books on the website, an eBook with “text highlights” has individual words highlight or change color as they are read aloud. I’ve wanted to create eBooks like this for a long time, and I’m so excited to know how to do it now! The main disadvantage of “Little Story Maker” is that it does not currently support any kind of eBook export, so you can only view the ebooks you and your students create on the same iPad used to make them. Autumn shared that the $2 app “Story Creator Pro” also supports audio recording and text highlights, and does support ebook exporting. I have not tried it yet, however.

This evening I recorded a six minute screencast demonstrating how “Little Story Maker” eBooks look and sound, and how you can create them.

The photos used in this enhanced ebook were originally created as a “5 Photo Story” in the July 2013 iPad Media Camp, and shared on my 5 Photo Stories blog on Blogger.

Little Story Maker for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store

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