Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What can we do with a blank slate?

Many of our students need visuals. For these visual supports we often go to paper, whiteboards (I love to have some small ones handy), and now, apps. All of these methods work well for a quick sketch that supports an idea, a concept, a vocabulary word, a relationship. Technology can provide us access to more detailed visuals in the form of saved images, and can take this blank slate and add features such as dynamic annotation and voiceover.

One such tech-based blank slate is Educreations Interactive Whiteboard. I have been working with a small private school on integrating iPads in their curriculum, and we chose this app as one to start with. Teachers are often tempted to use only apps that are filled with content; these engage students, for sure, but I am a big fan of working with students in a process to create, using the classroom content as a context. This process tends involves more planning, collaboration, and of course, language than does the use of content-based apps (which of course can be leveraged in their own way). Recently I made a short(ish) tutorial on Educreations that I thought I would share here:

Educreations is one in a genre that includes the free ShowMe and Screenchomp, and also paid apps such as Explain Everything and Doodlecast Pro. The tutorial above also includes a view of Flickr Creative Commons and how to save photos from that resource, which is important to consider in using Educreations. Though you CAN just save Google Images and use them in an Educreations project, because this app saves to the web, you SHOUD NOT due to copyright issues (that process is OK to use if the saved photo will stay on your iPad for instructional purposes and not be republished to the web). If you save photos from Flickr Creative Commons, a process that just involves a few extra taps and a statement of where the images came from (see this link for a step-by-step), you are following copyright guidelines. Of course you can skirt all that by using your own drawings and images, or using one of the paid apps in this genre, such as Explain Everything or Doodlecast Pro, that allow you to save to the Camera Roll rather than the web.

So, what can you do with this kind of app?

What other ways have you used Educreations? Let us know in the comments.

Disclosure: Author contracts to Mindwing Concepts to contribute to their blog, and Mindwing Concepts provides professional development through a partnership with Ely Center, LLC, where this author is employed.

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