Screenshots and Annotations Are Easy With the New Snip for Windows

snip beta

The Windows Snipping Tool is a useful app, but a limited one. There are, after all, many better alternatives like Skitch, Snagit, or even the OneNote Clipper. Today, Microsoft added another to this list. It’s called Snip. Although currently still in beta, Snip allows you to take screenshots, add annotations, record audio, and save your clips with anyone you want. In short, Snip is everything the Windows Snipping tool should be. Here’s how it works.

Once installed, Snip hides discretely on the side of your screen, just like Snagit. When you are ready to capture your screenshot, simply hover over the Snip toolbar to select the type of capture you want to execute. There are three basic tools you can use to capture a screenshot – the crosshair selection tool, the camera, and the whiteboard.

snip tools

A quick click and drag with the crosshair selection tool is all that is needed to make your first capture. Once you are done, the Snip editor will open giving you options for annotations that you can add to your screenshot. Although you absolutely can add annotations with your mouse, the drawing tools in the editor are largely aimed at those with touchscreen devices. However, there is the option to record audio on top of your screenshot and save it as an MP4 video file. T

This pseudo-screencasting option is an interesting option for educators and certainly opens up a lot of possibilities. In fact, if you look on the Snip home page, you will find several examples by students and educators who used the recording feature to talk about student work, explain a homework assignment, or teach poetry.

snip editing tools

The whiteboard is idea for explaining a concept and can be used in conjunction with the recorder to make screencasts that are similar in appearance to something like Educreations on the iPad. There are not as many options while recording, but the end product is somewhat comparable. The whiteboard is particularly useful for Math and Science teachers who may want to record a brief video that includes mathematical equations or cell structures, neither of which is easy to accomplish in a text based program.

Clicking the camera button will let you take a picture with whatever cameras you have on your device. Captured images can be edited with the aforementioned annotation tools. In the classroom students could use this option to talk about some art work they created, to tell digital stories, or describe areas on a map.

Snips can be shared quickly and easily. They can be copied and pasted into another app, shared by email (this didn’t work for me), or saved to your device. Videos have the additional options of being able to be shared via a link, or embedded in a website. All snips, past and present, are stored in your Library, which you can access via the book icon on the toolbar.

Snip is still in beta, so be prepared for the odd glitch here and there. However, in the time that I have had to play with it, Snip has performed very well and Microsoft have informed me that new features are on the way soon. Better still, Snip will update automatically so you will always have the latest version. Check it out for yourself in the video demo below, or head over to https://mix.office.com/Snip to try it out yourself.

How to Make Professional Looking iPad Screenshots

iPad Screenshots Title

When creating materials for professional development with teachers, I always try to ensure that my visuals are clear, well-designed, and easy on the eye. So, when I do iPad training, I often turn to a variety of screenshot apps in order to achieve these goals. The apps below are some of my go-to apps and are ideal for creating tutorials or eye-catching graphics for iOS devices.

One of my favorite apps is Screenshot – Frame Maker. It is a simple app, but a clever one. It automatically detects your device type and orientation and provides an appropriate frame. You can adjust the margins and choose whether you want a reflection on the screen or not. Framed screenshots can be saved to Dropbox or the camera roll, and shared by email, Twitter, or Facebook. You can also copy the image to paste into other apps.

Screenshot – Frame Maker is free, but if you want to create more than five images, you need to spend 99c on an in-app purchase to unlock unlimited exports. However, only real screenshot images can be used in this app. You can’t just add any picture from your camera roll. The only small issue I have with this app is that there is no option for an iPad Air frame, even if you use an iPad Air screenshot. You can choose between the older iPad 2 style frame or the iPad Mini. Given that the iPad Air design is a lot like an iPad Mini, this is the frame I choose most often. An example is included below.

Screenshot frame maker ios

A similar app that is also well worthy of consideration is Screenshot Maker Pro. It includes several options that Screenshot – Frame Maker doesn’t offer. For instance, you can add any image to your device frame, not just screenshots. You also have a choice of devices that you want to use. As well as iPads, you can also choose from every version of the iPhone, the Apple Watch, the Macbook Pro or an iMac. Screenshot Maker Pro includes several angles for these devices, lets you add a drop shadow, and even a ground reflection.

This app is free for up to two framed screenshots. After that, you need to pay the $2.99 in-app purchase to unlock unlimited exports and remove the ads. Images can be saved to your camera roll and then shared to other apps on your device. I enjoy using this app, but again, there is no frame for an iPad Air, so I am thinking that there must be a reason for this. An example with the iPad Mini frame is below.

Screenshot Maker Pro

Of course, once your screenshot is saved to the iPad, you can continue to add to it by adding annotations in a free app like Skitch. It lets you add shapes, arrows, text and more to your framed iPad screenshots. It even has a handy blur tool that lets you obscure sensitive information like email addresses or passwords. Skitch is an extremely versatile app, so it is no wonder that it is so popular with educators using iPads in the classroom. Take a look at the example below to see some of the things you can do with Skitch.

screenshot annotated with Skitch

Unfortunately, a byproduct of creating all these awesome framed iPad images is that your camera roll is now chock full of redundant screenshots that are doing nothing more than taking up precious space on your device. Thankfully, there is an app for that: Screenshots – Find, Share, Hide, and Delete Screenshot. This useful app will find all the screenshots in your camera roll and let you delete the ones you don’t want in just a couple of taps. Screenshots is a universal app that works on iPhones and iPads.

So, whether you are putting together some training materials, or looking for some graphics for a flyer or a website, these iPad screenshot apps should definitely be on your shortlist.

Related article: How to Take a Screenshot on an iPad and Annotate it!

Padlet for iPad is Now Available!

padlet for ipad

The schools I work with use all kinds of different devices and different platforms with which to enhance teaching and learning in the classroom. There are very few tools that are used in all of these districts, but one that is popular no matter where I go is Padlet.com. Why? Because it is a free, cross-platform app that works very well regardless of the technology you use. It has always been an website that made sense for iPad schools, but the release of a dedicated iPad app means Padlet will work better than ever on your favorite tablet.

If you are a regular user of Padlet, (formerly known as Wallwisher), you will instantly be at home with the intuitive user interface on the iPad. Everything looks pretty much the same as the website version, but is more responsive due to the touch-optimized version that Padlet has created for the iPad. Simply tap the gear icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to start setting up your first Padlet, or choose an existing Padlet from your dashboard if you have used Padlet in the past and already have a log in.

Padlet for iPad

Adding posts to a Padlet wall can be done by tapping the plus sign or by double tapping on the screen. The posts look just like the ones you get online with a title and a body for more text. You can add a link from the web to a website, photo, video, document, song or just about anything else. Alternatively, you can take a photo or video with the iPad, or choose a photo or video from the iPad’s camera roll. I don’t know if there is a limit to how long a recorded video can be, but the 60 second video I took worked just fine.

Because this is the iPad version, there are a number of gestures that are included to help you navigate your Padlet on a touchscreen. You tap a post to expand it, pinch to resize it, a long press and drag will move it, and double tapping any post lets you edit or delete it. Of course, some of these gestures only work if you have the correct permissions to edit and changes things on the Padlet board you are working on.

Sharing is handled a little differently on the iPad than it is on the web version, simply because you use a different menu, but you will largely have the same options. To share, tap the ubiquitous iOS share icon in the bottom right-hand corner, and you will see that there are a number of apps that you can open to share the link. However, on the bottom row, there are a number of additional options like view/copy link, generate embed code, export as an image, and export as a PDF. Perhaps most useful for the classroom, when your iPad is projected to a large screen, is the View QR Code option. This displays a large QR code that students could then scan with their iPads to visit your Padlet. If the QR code opens the link in Safari, students should see the option to open the Padlet app, (if installed), which will in turn open the board you linked to in the Padlet app.

Sharing a Padlet board on the iPad with a QR code

So, overall, there is a lot to like about the new Padlet app and it is definitely worthy of a place on your iPad if you do a lot of brainstorming or back channels in your classroom. It doesn’t really give you access to anything you couldn’t do before, but the interface is cleaner than a browser, and it works quickly and efficiently in the app. I haven’t used the app extensively yet, but it seems like it does everything that you would expect it to. Download Padlet for iPad here and feel free to share your thoughts on this app below.

10 Tips for Windows 10

10 tips for windows 10

Have you upgraded to Windows 10 yet? Microsoft are offering it as a free upgrade for consumers running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, but is it really worth it? In a recent article for Hubpages I wrote about 10 Top Tips for Teachers Using Windows 10. Together, I believe that these features are a compelling reason to make that upgrade worthy of your priority list.

Being a brand new operating system, there are obviously a number of new additions that have been added to improve on the functionality of Windows 8.1, but there is a lot that is familiar too. To that end, many pundits are calling Windows 10 the best of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. The features that I most appreciate, from an educator’s point of view, include:

  • Web Notes: Annotate the web with the new Microsoft Edge
  • Reading View: A clean, uncluttered view of websites
  • Virtual Desktops: A way to group and access your favorite applications
  • Continuum: Mobile when you want it, desktop when you need it
  • Wireless projection: Freedom to roam the classroom

Web Notes in Microsoft Edge

So, if you are new to Windows 10, or need some tips on how to make the most of it, be sure to check out my 10 Top Tips for Teachers Using Windows 10. You can also check out my companion article, Microsoft Edge: Performance & Style for Students & Educators!

If you’re already using Windows 10, I would love to hear what your favorite features are, and how you are thinking about using it in the classroom. I for one think that it has a lot of potential and believe that it should go a long way to heal some of the wounds that were inflicted by Windows 8.1. What do you think?

Free Mystery Skype Curriculum for Schools

mystery skype curriculum

Do you use Mystery Skype in your classroom? If so, you are probably familiar with how it works, but if you are looking for some extra tips, or want to get some other teachers involved, you should check out the new Mystery Skype Curriculum that Microsoft has put together for teachers who are connecting their classrooms all around the world.

The curriculum is free for anyone who wants to use it, but you do need a Microsoft account in order to sign in and view the latest version. Microsoft accounts are free, and you may already have one if you have a Hotmail or Outlook.com email address. If you are on Office 365 school, there is also a OneNote Class Notebook set up and good to go. You can find that here.

The curriculum is in the form of a OneNote notebook. OneNote, if you don’t already know, is a free, cross-platform, note-taking tool that is part of the Microsoft Office suite. You can download your own copy of OneNote for free on almost any device you can think of by visiting onenote.com. You can also read more about OneNote on this blog.

skype globe

The notebook is divided up into five sections. Each one tells you more about the best ways that teachers can use Mystery Skype in the Classroom.

  1. Welcome: How to play, why you should play, how to get started, etc.
  2. Documenting Your Adventures: A section where you can record your questions, the questions of the other class, and job assignments for students.
  3. Teacher Resources: Assessment rubrics, a time zone converter, tips for a successful call, and more.
  4. Student Resources: Self-reflection rubrics, success criteria and a debrief sample.
  5. More About Skype: Additional resources about Skype.

I would absolutely encourage you to download OneNote and get your own editable version of the Mystery Skype curriculum, but if you want to check it out without logging in or downloading anything, you can access a view-only copy on the web right here.

Overall, the OneNote Mystery Skype Curriculum is a great resource for teachers that will save you time and make your Mystery Skype games more engaging and more authentic for your students. It is a great activity to do in the classroom and the new Skype for Web means you might not even need to download Skype for desktop. It also means you can even use Skype on Chromebooks or any other device you happen to be using that doesn’t have Skype for desktop installed! The web version is still in beta, but you can check it out here.

Nuzzel: The Social News Feed for Connected Educators

Nuzzel for education

I first learned about Nuzzel from Tony Vincent, and today I use it more than ever. What is it? Nuzzel is a way to see the most popular links and stories that are being shared by your PLN. It basically filters out the noise and lets you see what the people you follow are most interested in right now. Nuzzel is updated frequently, and is a very efficient way to aggregate the best of the web so you can stay current with the latest conversations. Nuzzel is available for free on iOS, Android, and the web. Here’s how it works:

1. Connect to the app with your Twitter and/or Facebook accounts. With your permission, Nuzzel will analyze your respective feeds and compile the most shared and talked about stories from the people you follow.

2. Along the top of your screen you see four tabs. The first is the default feed, “News from Your Friends“, which as mentioned above, is a list of stories that your friends on social media are sharing right now. The list is sorted by the number of shares, with the most popular stories at the top of the feed, and newer (or less popular) stories towards the bottom. You can click or tap on any of these stories to read them, and also share them to your favorite social network.

Nuzzel for iOS screenshot

3. Another interesting option is the “News from Friends of Friends” feed. As the title suggests, these are popular stories that are being shared not by people you follow, but by friends of the people you follow. This can give a very different feed, with different stories, but is often still very relevant to the kinds of things you are interested in. It can also be a great way to find new people to follow based on the kinds of stories that they are sharing.

Nuzzel friends of friends

4. The remaining tabs at the top point to News You May Have Missed and your Recently Read Stories. Both are useful features that help you get more out of this useful app, but personally, I don’t use these features nearly as often as I use the first two.

5. The last thing I am going to highlight is the column on the right-hand side of the screen – Your Friend’s Feeds. This lets you view the news feed of your social media friends who are also using Nuzzel. This is akin to browsing through their Twitter or Facebook feed, but it picks up the stories that were curated for them by Nuzzel based on who they follow. I find this a great way to find specific content based on the special interests of some of the people I follow. The screenshot below is a snapshot of Tony Vincent’s news feed!

Tony Vincent's Nuzzel feed

Nuzzel is great for lots of reasons. It helps you stay connected with the best of social media without the need to be “connected” all the time. It also filters out a lot of the noise that some people complain about when they are using social media networks. Lastly, Nuzzel is a great discovery tool that gives you lots of content that you can share with your own followers. So, if you haven’t tried Nuzzel before, I would definitely recommend checking it out.

Cameo by Vimeo: A Free Video Editor for iOS

cameo video editor for ios

When using an iPad, there are not many free video editors that are robust enough, or have enough features, to warrant you spending a lot of time and effort on. Recently, I write about the Clips Video Editor. It is a great free option for schools or anyone else who is looking for a quick easy editor. Today I am writing about a new app that recently got a big overhaul to make it much more useable. It is called Cameo by Vimeo.

Technically, Cameo is an iPhone app. It is optimized for an iPhone 5, 6 and 6 Plus. However, it runs just fine on an iPad if you want it too. It doesn’t have a whole lot of bells and whistles, but it does the basics well and has some nice touches that you may not find in other apps. You can see a sample video below that I very quickly put together with the Cameo app.

Getting started is easy. Simply pick the clips from your camera roll that you want to add. Right now, it is video only, no pictures. Once you have the clips you need, your movie will begin playing but you can jump into the editor screens by tapping one of the three buttons in the bottom right hand-corner of your screen.

The scissors icon is a great place to start. Here you can trim the beginning or end of a clip, rearrange the order of your clips, add a caption or title to one or more clips, and optionally mute the audio of any of your videos. A number of audio tracks are built-in to the app and are available by tapping the music icon. Here you can browse by genre or see the featured artists that Vimeo is highlighting. The last button (the color pallete icon) lets you choose a theme to apply to your video. This is optional, but some nice effects can be achieved by choosing a video filter, and Cameo allows you to vary the strength of any effect you add. Each theme has its own selection of fonts that will be applied if you add any titles.

 

cameo editor screen

Once you are done editing, tap the check mark in the top right-hand corner of the screen. At this point, you can give your video a title, choose a thumbnail, and add a description. You can choose to upload it to Vimeo, or save it to the Camera Roll. Note that finished videos will automatically fade to black at the end, and so will the music. Also, if your video is longer than your chosen music track, the track will automatically loop. At the moment, this is not something that the Clips Video Editor does.

All in all, it is a very polished experience, and a nice video editor that could be ideal to introduce students to the power of video editing. It is missing a few things that you might want like transitions or the ability to set the volume of a music track. It would also be great if you had some ability to create exit titles to cite source materials, but otherwise there is a lot of positives here and I enjoyed using the app. I have no reason to suggest otherwise, but if the app remains free, it is easy to recommend it for the classroom.

I’ve always liked Vimeo. You might not always have the choice or variety you get with sites like YouTube, but there is a lot less noise. There are also some great storytellers on Vimeo, many of which are highlighted in Staff Picks each week. Some of these videos can be great model examples for film, journalism, and language arts students who are looking to tell digital stories of their own.

Another reason I like Vimeo is for the stock footage channels. There are several film makers on Vimeo that freely distribute video clips for you to use and download for your own use. The ones on the video clip above, were sourced from a Vimeo Group called Free HD Stock Footage. I often look here when I am looking for background videos for things like green screen video projects on the iPad.

So, if you are looking to edit video on the iPad, and don’t have the time (or money) to spend on iMovie, Cameo is well worth a look.