Sunday, December 9, 2012
Change of Plans
To review for exams, I like my students to become an expert on a topic and share their knowledge with their classmates. Having a class set of iPads, I wanted my students to create a screencast on their assigned topic, then share the different ones with the class as a review activity.
I had heard great things about teachers using the Educreations app, but I realized there were a few things that were going to make things a little difficult for my classes. So I had to find a way to use it a little differently than the app was intended. First, if you create a student account, you can't actually create and save screencasts. I didn't want to give students my personal log in and password, so I had them create teacher accounts. Second, you can't save works in progress and come back to them. The app is designed as if the iPad was only used by one person. Since I have a class set of iPads, and 4 periods of students were going to use them, they had to start and finish the screencast in one period. I had planned the lesson as a two day activity. One way around having to save whole screencasts is that students can plan out each slide, put whatever pictures and text on it, and take a photo capture of the screen (by pressing the home button and the button on the top of the ipad - this will save a picture of your screen to your camera roll.) Then students can just put all their pictures back on each page the next day and explain and record their screencasts. After saving and uploading their screencasts, I have my students put the link into a google form on my website, then all of the screencasts are on the same page and it is easy for me to share them with the class, and they can watch all of them to review for the unit exam.
A few weeks ago I had big plans for my class. To review for their unit exam, they were to plan out and create another screencast using the Educreations app. They knew how to use the program, so they would be able to get the screencast done in one period. However the app's webserver was down for the day. I checked on twitter, and there were lots of tweets asking why it wasn't working. So I knew it wasn't my school's network. Having to change plans, I had my students use the video part of the iPads camera and my class set of whiteboards. They created "screencasts" using the whiteboards. It was a quick solution that still allowed me to have the students review and share their work. I did learn that when all the students are talking and recording in class, that they need to use mics to record. I know have headphones with mics built in and it really helps limit the sound recorded to their own voice, and not the whole class.
Using new technologies in class doesn't always go as planned. So you always need to think of another way to meet your lesson's objectives. Luckily, there are lots of apps and features of the iPads that will allow students to create things when there is no internet. And the students are flexible and just love to use the iPads, so they don't really care if things don't go completely as planned.