How to Use Microsoft Forms in Office 365 Education

How to Use the New Microsoft Forms

Have you seen the new Microsoft Forms? One of the most popular articles on my blog in the last 12 months was related to its predecessor – Excel Surveys. Not only did that post get a lot of views, but it also got a lot of comments from people with questions about the features of Excel Surveys, or more importantly for some, the features it did not have. You can still use Excel Surveys, but Microsoft are in the process of transitioning to something better – Microsoft Forms. This version includes automatic grading and built-in student feedback. Here’s what you need to know.

Getting Started

You can find the homepage for Microsoft Forms by going to forms.office.com, or you may see Forms listed in the Office 365 App Launcher. Both links go to the same place. Technically, Forms is still in Preview but you can sign in with your Office 365 Education account today and start creating surveys and quizzes. The new Microsoft Forms work on desktop and mobile browsers.

Once you are logged in, click the New button to create your first form. Replace Untitled Form with a title of your choice, and add a description underneath if you want to provide any directions or information for students or parents who are filling out your Form.

Building a Form

Tapping the Add Question button gives you access to the question types that are available to you in this new version of Microsoft Forms. The options include:

  1. Choice: for creating multiple choice questions! Tap or click the slider to allow people to select multiple answers. You can also tap or click the ellipses button to shuffle answers.
  2. Quiz: a multiple choice question that you allows you to select a correct answer for automatic grading. Tapping the comment icon on each answer choice lets you add student feedback for each selection. Multiple answers and shuffled answers are also available to you when working on Quiz questions.
  3. Text: to collect short (or long) text answers use the Text question type. Tap or click the ellipses button to include number restrictions like greater than, less than, equal to, and more.
  4. Rating: for adding a star or number rating. Could be useful as part of an exit ticket or for voting on class favorites. Ratings can be out of 5 or 10, and tapping the ellipses button will allow you to add a label at either end of this Likert scale.
  5. Date: a question type that only allows for an answer in date format.

Microsoft Forms Question Builder

More Tips & Tricks:

  • Any question type can be marked as a required question by sliding the Answer required switch to the right. This means students can’t submit the Form until they have answered all of these questions.
  • You can rearrange questions by clicking on them and tapping the up and down arrows to move them to the order you need.
  • Deleting questions is as simple as clicking the trash can while editing a question
  • Create a duplicate of any question by tapping the copy icon to the left of the question order arrows. This is ideal for adding similar question types, (E.g. Q1. First name, Q2. Last name).

Preview and Themes

You can see a live view of your Form at any time by clicking the Preview button on the toolbar at the top of the page. This will show you the view that students or parents will get when they access your survey. Clicking Back in the top left-hand corner returns you to the question editor.

Use the Theme button to choose from a variety of colorful designs that you can use to add more personality to your Form. The current selection is a little limited but I expect this will be expanded before too much longer.

Microsoft Forms Themes

Sharing Microsoft Forms

When you are ready to share your survey or quiz with others, click the Send Form button in the top right-hand corner of your screen. This opens a sidebar on the right-hand side of your screen with a variety of sharing options. These options include:

  1. Copy and Paste the Link: This is the public facing URL for your Microsoft Form. This is the link you will want to share with students, parents or whoever else might be filling in your Form. It is a pretty long link, so if you are not using anchor text, I would suggest sharing with a URL shortener like tinyurl.com or bit.ly.
  2. Email the Link: Click this button to open a new email in your default Mail client (e.g. Outlook) with the link to your form pre-pasted into the compose window ready to send.
  3. Download & Send the QR Code: In an age of mobile devices I especially like the inclusion of this option. It generates a QR code that links to your Form. You can download the QR code as an image and print it or add it to a website or electronic document.
  4. Embed in a Webpage: If you want to put your Microsoft Form directly on to a school or classroom webpage, you can use this option to generate the HTML code you need to allow people to fill out the Form on your website. You can even add a Form to a Sway and it works great with an LMS too!

sharing settings for Microsoft forms

The remaining option, Who can fill out this form, is an important one. Make sure you get this right before you send the Form to other people. These options let you choose the visibility and privacy for your Form. If you leave the default option selected, only those with an Office 365 account at your school will be able to fill in your Form. Users will need to log in with those credentials to even see the Form. The advantage here is a modicum of privacy and accountability because it will automatically collect the names and email addresses of those filling in your Form unless you uncheck Record the names of responders.

The other choice is Anyone with the link (sign-in not required). This is ideal if you are sending a survey to parents or collecting data on a more public scale because you do not need an Office 365 Education account in order to access this kind of Form. Note that this option has no way of automatically collecting user identification so if that is important you will need to add questions in your Form for names and email addresses.

Finally, make sure you check out the additional options under See all settings. From here you can apply a deadline that shuts the Form down on a given day and time. You can shuffle questions so no two Forms look alike. You can choose to display the correct answers to students after the Form has been submitted, or to close the Form so it is no longer accepting responses. Regardless of whether you want to use these options or not, you will want to check these settings because some are on by default, and they may not be the ones you want.

Analyzing Data

All the data you receive from people filling out your Form is stored in the Responses tab. You can view all your results here, or click the Open in Excel button to view the results in the desktop version of Excel. In the Responses tab there is a summary of all the data collected as well as a visual breakdown for each question. Clicking the Details link next to each question will show you a more in-depth view of how each individual student answered the question.

Form Responses

Managing Microsoft Forms

Microsoft Forms are not stored in OneDrive like Excel Surveys are. They live on the Microsoft Forms website. Your Forms are sorted by date with the most recently created Forms at the top and older Forms further down the page. Right now there is no facility to group them into folders, but this would be a useful future addition.

On the Forms homepage, clicking the ellipses button on the thumbnail of a Form will let you copy or delete a Form. No response data is copied when you duplicate a Form, only the questions in the order that you built the original survey or quiz.

Further Information

5 Creative Graphic Design Apps for iPads

iPad Graphic Design Apps

Are you ready to harness your inner designer? Today it is easier than ever thanks to a variety of easy to use graphic design apps for the iPad. These “text on photos” apps are increasingly popular and many of them do a great job of simplifying the design process for non-designers. They could be a great platform for exploring visual literacy and visual design in the classroom, or simply to spice up your social media presence. I myself have quite a few of these kinds of apps on my iPad so I thought I would take some time to share five of my favorites together with some of the reasons I like them.

1. Canva (Free with in-app purchases)

If you’ve heard of any of these apps before, you probably heard of Canva. It is available on the web, and for the iPad, and is a great way to get started creating fun, fresh looking images. Canva has a number of templates you can use (some free, some paid) and bucket loads of inspiration. I particularly like the icon gallery and the free image search, although I will often use sites like Unsplash too and bring those into Canva. This app is perfect for social media graphics, posters, presentations, blog post images and even infographics. There are also some great lesson plans for teaching design in your classroom that were written by educators like Vicki Davis, Monica Burns, Steven Anderson and more. The only real downside to Canva is that you need an account to use the app and that it is designed to be a service for those 13 and older.

canva for ipad

2. Adobe Spark Post (Free)

Adobe Spark Post is a relatively new app for the iPad, but it has been available for iPhone users for a while now. In many ways it is quite comparable to Canva, but it has a few neat features that are well worth exploring. For instance, if you have a graphic you want to share on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, Adobe Spark Post can automatically adjust your design so that the image is optimally sized for each social network. It also lets you change themes and color palettes at the touch of a button or add life to your design by saving it as a stylish animated GIF. There is a library of public domain images that you can search through and use in your designs, but you can just as easily use photos from your Camera Roll too. It is a lot of fun to play with and can also be accessed on the web at spark.adobe.com. A free Adobe account is required to use any of the Adobe Spark apps.

Adobe Spark Post

3. Word Swag ($3.99 with in-app purchases)

I have been using Word Swag for a little while now, but I was hesitant to purchase it because it was $3.99 AND has in-app purchases. As it happens, there is a LOT you can do with just the initial purchase. You really don’t need to buy anything extra, and some of the in-app purchases are actually free right now and have been for a some time. Word Swag integrates with Pixabay so that you can search for Creative Commons Zero images that you want to use in your design, but you can also choose from a number of solid, textured and gradient images without any searching at all. There are a huge variety of font styles to choose from and a variety of filters and font color effects. However, there is no real way to crop or resize your image. There is a Twitter Preview Area, but that is about the only guidance you get before you share online. That said, it is still a great app that produces some stunning images, and if you like inspirational quotes, you will love the built-in quote generator. Word Swag is also available for Android.

Word Swag for iPad

4. Over (Free with in-app purchases)

If you are hesitant about paying the $3.99 for Word Swag, try Over. I know it has a lot of in-app purchases, but again you get a decent amount for free, and you can collect free artwork every day just by accessing the free artwork gallery in the app. Over has some pretty robust photo editing tools that can be used to tweak photos from Unsplash, Pixabay, or from your Camera Roll. It has filters, blurring tools, shapes, fonts, artwork and more. However, I think it was a paid app when I first downloaded it so I am not sure how many of the features I enjoy are now listed as in-app purchases. For instance, features like the crop tool that lets you size an image for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & much more, is currently a 99c add-on, but I know I never paid for that. Still, there is a lot to like in the Over app and I do find myself going back to it more than I thought I would. It is a versatile app with some interesting creative options. Over is also available for Android.

Over for iPad

5. Studio Design (Free)

Studio Design is an app that I came across while researching what I was going to include in this blog post. I haven’t used it a whole lot, but based on the time that I have spent using it, I think it is worthy of inclusion here. It does many of the same kind of things that other apps in this category do, but perhaps most interesting to me was the ability to remix designs from other people. When you do this, the camera on your device opens with the fonts and other layers overlaid on your screen so that you can compose and take your own picture. For me, that had a lot of interesting creative opportunities and it models good digital citizenship because  published designs include a credit for the original designer. The app is 100% free, does not require you to set up an account, and has plenty free artwork that you can download. Studio is also available for Android.

Bonus Pick: Notegraphy (Free)

Looking to display some longer forms of text? If so, Notegraphy is worth a look. Simply type or copy and paste the text you want to beautify, then choose from a number of stylish themes that can be used to showcase your words. It is a little more restrictive than some of the apps above in terms of features, but there is something to be said for simplicity. It can also be used on Android and on the web at notegraphy.com.

Further Research

Some other apps that I have not yet had the chance to try, (but would like to), include Typic, Uptown & Co, Retype, Typorama, Rhonna Designs and Path On. Have you tried any of these graphic design apps for the iPad? If so, which ones are your favorites?

How to Use Twitter #Stickers & Edit Photos in Tweets

how to use twitter stickers

Earlier this week, Twitter introduced Stickers – a new way to add personality to the images you share from your phone or tablet. Stickers may see whimsical, but they are a fun way to add interactivity to images and they are yet another way you can edit photos before publishing them online. Why bother? Knowing how to use images correctly in tweets is useful because according to Twitter’s own stats, tweets with photos have seen a 35% increase in visibility and retweets. So, in this post I am going to show you how to use Twitter Stickers, as well as some other useful tips and tricks related to editing and sharing photos on mobile devices.

How to Use Twitter Stickers

The first thing to know is that, as of today, Twitter Stickers only work on the iOS and Android versions of the official Twitter app. Once you have that idea cemented in your mind, the rest is very easy.

  1. Tap the compose icon in the top right hand corner to begin your tweet
  2. Next, tap Photo to capture a new image or swipe up to choose one from your device
  3. Tap the smiley face to see the stickers that are available to you
  4. Browse the categories of stickers by tapping the icons on the bottom toolbar
  5. Tap a sticker to add it to your photo
  6. Resize or re-position the sticker by pinching or dragging
  7. Add more stickers by tapping the smiley face in the bottom right-hand corner
  8. To remove a sticker, press and hold on it, then drag it to the trash can

Twitter Stickers on the iPad

Once you have added stickers to a tweet, they inherit a visual tag. Other people can tap on your Sticker to see a timeline of tweets by other people who also used that sticker. You can also search under the #Stickers hashtag to see creative examples like the ones below:

stickers1

stickers2

How to Edit Photos in the Twitter App

You may already have a favorite photo editing tool for your mobile device, but if you don’t, or you just want to make some last minute adjustments, the Twitter app can help. Editing tools are available by tapping the pencil icon on an image after you have added your photo(s) to a tweet. You will then see a number of options that will let you tweak the image to your taste.

  • Magic wand: A one-click fix for lighting and color
  • Filters: A selection of color adjustments to add style or mood to an image
  • Crop Tool: Resize or rotate and image for your tweet

Once you have made the adjustments you need, click Save to store the settings. Note that your original photo remains as it was before. Only the photo you tweeted includes the image adjustments that you make in the Twitter app.

Twitter Photo editor ios

5 Top Twitter Photo Tips

  1. Twitter displays images best when they are in a rectangular 2:1 ratio. Images that are sized 1024×512 pixels will often work best, but apps like Canva and Adobe Spark Post can size images automatically so that they will look their best on Twitter. You can also use the wide crop in Twitter’s photo editor (see above) to get a similar effect.
  2. You can tag up to 10 people in a photo without sacrificing any characters from your tweet. Simply tap the Who’s in this photo? link to add the names of others you would like to notify about your tweet. This is great for tagging people in a photo, but is even better for notifying others about your tweet when you run out of characters in the tweet body.
  3. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, what is a GIF worth? Sometimes these animated images are all you need to say exactly what is on your mind. The GIF button is right next to the camera icon in your tweet composer and can be used with Twitter.com or mobile devices, but you can’t tag people in a GIF.
  4. You can add up to four images to a Tweet. Each photo can be edited and each photo can have stickers on it. You can reorder images by removing them from a tweet and selecting them again in the order you want them to appear. Photos can be up to 5MB and must be in the GIF, JPEG or PNG image format.
  5. GIFS and photos can also be sent in a direct message to other users. However, there are some restrictions. Stickers can not currently be applied to photos that are sent in a direct message, and you can only send one photo at a time.

I Use DuckDuckGo, Do You?

DuckDuckGo

I have a confession to make. I haven’t “googled” anything for a long time. I haven’t run out of things to search for, (I still do web searches dozens of times a day), but for the last 18 months or so I have been using an alternative to Google, and I haven’t looked back once. Here’s why you might want to think about doing the same.

What is DuckDuckGo?

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that has several unique features that set it apart from the likes of Google, Bing or Yahoo!. Among the most important to me is privacy. DuckDuckGo does not collect or share any of your personal information when you complete a web search. It is, to all intents and purposes, completely anonymous. The same cannot be said for Google, Bing or Yahoo! who use this data to build a profile about you so that advertisers can target you with ads that inevitably follow you around the internet.

Privacy is Dead, Right?

The vast majority of the internet is free to use, but it’s not without a cost. There is an expression I like that sums this up well – If you didn’t buy the product, you are the product. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Bing and others all offer compelling free services, but whether you know it or not, they also collect large amounts of personal data from you when you use their products. Cookies, ads and other tracking tools watch your every move and record your online activities.

The truth is, your personal data is valuable, and an increasing number of people are trying to get a hold of as much of it as they can. Grocery stores collect data on you every time you use a store card. Email marketers track the clicks they get from newsletters you subscribe to. Internet Service Providers, research companies, telemarketers, political parties and countless other people all want to know more about you so that they can use that data to their advantage. As consumers, educators, parents and citizens of a digital world, we need to be aware of this.

However, I think we need to do more than just educate ourselves. We need to go further and help inform others (especially teens) of the trade off that they are making when they first start using these services. Are you comfortable with the kind of relationship you are entering into with these services? Are there alternatives with better privacy policies? Is there any way to take a stand against this incessant data mining? Questions like these led me to DuckDuckGo in the first place and started me thinking more about online privacy.

DuckDuckGo Safari Firefox

Is DuckDuckGo Any Good?

Actually, it is. I wouldn’t use it if it wasn’t. I started off using DuckDuckGo on a trial basis but I couldn’t help think I would revert back to Google or Bing before too long. However, I stuck with it for several days and doggedly refused to use anything else, just to see if it really could work for me or not. What I soon came to realize was that the search results I got from DuckDuckGo were actually very good, and when I compared the keyword searches with Google or Bing I got similar (or better) results.

It is also a growing service. Last I checked, DuckDuckGo was handling an average of 11.3 million searches per day. This number is nowhere close to the billions of searches that Google handles, but it is a number that is increasing all the time and it is testament to the fact that they serve up great search queries. This means a sizeable number of people do use DuckDuckGo as their default search engine.

Does it Do Any Tricks?

Indeed it does. DuckDuckGo has some useful options like themes, region and time sensitive searches, but you would probably expect features like that. It has a safe search mode that is enabled by default and there are numerous custom options you can explore in the settings, including the ability to turn off advertisements. You will also notice that, depending on what you search for, images, news, videos, definitions, maps and more appear as instant answers at the top of your results page. Music, recipes, weather, and movies are also among these results with the ability to play audio and video files from the search page, as opposed to visiting a site like YouTube that tracks your viewing history.

Instant Answer Search Results DuckDuckGo

However, the real power of DuckDuckGo is found in the bangs. Bangs are a way to quickly search thousands of your favorite sites with a handy keyboard shortcut. Bangs use the search engine on your favorite sites to give you exactly the results you need. For instance, let’s say you wanted to look for an external hard drive on eBay. You could go to ebay.com and type your keywords into the search box at the top of the page. However, with DuckDuckGo, all you need to do is type !ebay external hard drive and it will display the same website search results.

Note: You can do something similar on Google with a search query like site:ebay.com external hard drive, but this will give you a list of search results on Google’s website, as opposed to ebay.com, so it is an extra click if you want to view any of those results and it is more cumbersome if you want to view more information on multiple results.

As you can see below, there are bangs for all kind of sites and services on the web. In fact, as of today, there are at least 8,225 so the chances are high that a bang exists for the site that you want to use. If for some reason it doesn’t, you can make a suggestion for a website to add. You can use bangs directly from the search bar on DuckDuckGo.com or via the address bar in your browser if you make DuckDuckGo your default search provider.

DuckDuckGo Bangs

Is DuckDuckGo a Good Option for Schools?

Both Microsoft and Google have strict privacy options in regards to how it handles the data from teachers and students who use their services. That said, there is no reason I can think of as to why a school couldn’t use DuckDuckGo as the default search engine on school devices. For instance, it could form part of a great conversation around how the web works today. It is has safe search built-in by default and is also a great option for students when they graduate and are starting to think about using some of the same services as individuals – services that are not governed by the privacy agreements they were previously bound to between technology companies and their school.

Additional Resources for Schools:

How (and Why) to Compress Video on iPads & iPhones

compress video ipad

Do your videos take a long time to upload to YouTube? Does the iOS Mail app refuse to send your large videos? If so, you should consider a video compression app for your iPad or iPhone. The job of a video compressor is to make your file sizes smaller so that they are easier to work with or share with other people.  Today I am going to show you one that I use and give you some tips on how to get the most out of it.

Why Use a Video Compression App?

Today there are lots of reasons why you might want to compress a video that you have on your iPhone or iPad. Smaller videos are easier to share with others whether that is via YouTube or simply to upload as a student assignment via Showbie or an LMS. Storage space is another good example of why you might want to compress videos. If you have a 16GB iPad (or iPhone) then free space is increasingly a problem. Compressing a video lets you keep a more friendly file-sized version on your device so that you can backup or remove the original. In schools, this can be a common problem.

If students are working on a shared video project, or filming with multiple devices, smaller video files are easier to transfer from one device to another via AirDrop or cloud services. They are also more email friendly because you can usually reduce them below the maximum file size limits found in most email services.

Video Compression Apps for the iPad & iPhone

The app I have been using for compressing video on an iPad or iPhone is called Video Compressor – Just Set the Target Size! It’s a free app and a useful one to keep on your iOS device for those times when you really need it. Best of all, the app is really easy to use. Simply select the video you want to compress, and move the slider to select the file size you would like to achieve, (also shown as a percentage reduction). Compressed videos are saved to the Camera Roll alongside the original video. This means you effectively have two copies of the same video, but the file size of one will be significantly smaller than the other.

Compress Video - Just Set the Target Size

The Downsides of Using a Video Compression App

Of course, everything has a downside. When you compress a video you are making a compromise between quality and file size. The more you compress a video, the more artifacts you will see on the final product. This means a video that has been compressed a lot could appear fuzzy or grainy when viewed full screen or on high resolution screens. So, it is a bit like limbo dancing. You have to think about how low can you go before things start to get out of control!:)

Often this comes down to trial and error as you work between what file size you need versus how much resolution you need. However, it could also come down to what your end goal is. For instance, is your goal to share an HD video at the highest quality, or are you just looking to share a first cut with an instructor or peer in order to get their feedback on your early edit? This is an important distinction to make, but the results you get from compressing a video may be better than you think if you are judicious with your use of the Target Size slider.

Should You Compress Videos?

At the end of the day, it comes down to what your needs are and how important it is to have the full resolution in your final videos. If you use services like Google Photos to back up your media, you are already compressing your photos and videos to a smaller file size if you opted for unlimited online storage, (like most people do). Google says that if your video is 1080p or less, it will look “close to the original” when uploaded to Google Photos. Ultimately that is what I aim for if I ever have to compress an iPad or iPhone video, but 720p is very usable too, especially if YouTube is the final destination.

Of course,  a good way to avoid compressing videos is editing. When you edit video on the iPad you have the chance to cut down the length of your videos, which will in turn cut down the file size of your videos. Shoot short, and edit tight. Nobody really wants to watch a ten minute video so if you can, try to aim for two to three minutes at the most on your finished, edited project. Otherwise, compression is a valid option. I don’t compress videos often, but when I do, this is the app I use.

Splice by GoPro: A Great Free Video Editor for iPads

splice ipad

While preparing a workshop for teachers on iPad movie making, I was reviewing my top picks for free iPad video editors. One of my early favorites, the Clips Video Editor, is apparently no longer available because the developers got bought out by Google and their apps have been removed from the App Store. So, as I looked for a replacement I came across Splice. This app has been around for a while but I was pleased to see it now includes a iPad version and a much improved user interface. The app was recently acquired by GoPro, but can be used to edit any video footage on your iOS device.

Splice lets you create videos, or photo slideshows, with no time limits, ads or watermarks. It also has an impressive list of editing features that include:

  • Trim, cut, crop photos and videos
  • Choose from a selection of lens filters for special effects
  • An impressive library of free soundtracks and sound effects
  • The ability to record your own voiceover narration
  • The option to overlay and mix multiple audio tracks
  • Ken Burns pan and zoom effect
  • Control over video playback speed – slow motion or super fast!
  • A collection of professional looking video transitions
  • Text overlays for photos or videos

splice ipad

The interface may take a little getting used to, but I found it pretty intuitive and easy to learn. It is different from iMovie, but different in a good way. Everything feels very modern and fresh. There is a great built-in, searchable help menu that can be used to find the features you want, but it is largely text based. A few screenshots here would add a lot to the usefulness of the help screens.

Finished videos can be shared in a number of ways. There is built-in support for direct uploads to YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, but you can also save to the camera roll or activate the “Open in” app picker to choose another app like Drive or Dropbox. However, perhaps most interesting is the ability to share via a link. When you choose this option, your video will be uploaded to GoPro’s servers and you will be given a link to the video that you can share with others. Only those with the link can access the video, and no account or login is required in order to share your video this way. Here’s a link to my sample Splice video. (Note: You can turn the GoPro outro on or off as required. In this case I chose to leave it on).

splice video editor

Any drawbacks? GoPro state that some features require newer devices and the latest version of iOS. As yet, I have not been able to uncover what those are, but no doubt time will tell. There are no themes like you might find in iMovie, and you can’t adjust how long text appears on a video clip. Once you add it, the text is there for the whole clip, just like it is in iMovie, unless you split the clip and only add text to the part you need. Finally, when in landscape mode, the narration button is harder to find than it should be. You need to tap Audio tab and then scroll up with one finger to reveal the additional audio track on the timeline.

Otherwise, if you are looking for a free video editor for your iPad, Splice by GoPro is well worth a look because it’s a powerful video editor that works really well on the iPad. I will definitely use it more in the future because I love the design of the app and the way everything is laid out. Below is a sample video that I put together in Splice with Creative Commons Zero video clips sourced from www.pixabay.com.

ScreenChomp, Snagit for Chrome, and Knowmia Retire

ScreenChomp, Snagit for Chrome, and Knowmia Retire

TechSmith announced today that they are ending all support and services for ScreenChomp, Snagit for Chrome, and Knowmia in order to focus efforts on their Mac & PC desktop products, Snagit and Camtasia. This will come as a blow to many educators, especially those using Chromebooks & iPads, but their rationale does make sense. In a statement on their website, TechSmith said:

“Over the last several months, TechSmith has been reassessing how we can best serve the millions of amazing customers that use our tools to create remarkable images and videos everyday for their customers, colleagues, and classrooms…By retiring these products, TechSmith will be in a stronger position to develop tools that serve the needs of our customers. We remain dedicated to teachers, students, and instructional designers all over the world who use Snagit and Camtasia to create learning materials for the classroom, from K-12 to higher education.”

A full FAQ that outlined their decision making process is included on the same website. However, to soften the blow, TechSmith say you can use the code DESKTOPDISCOUNT in their web store through June 10, 2016 to receive 50% off a single EDU license of Snagit or Camtasia. Both are excellent products and I use them regularly.

So, are there free alternatives that can be used in place of these popular products? For the most part yes, although many now come as “freemium” products. For a browser based screencasting solution, Screencastify is a very decent alternative and it works on Chromebooks. If you have a Mac or a PC then screencastomatic.com is another free option that is well worth looking at. Microsoft fans with PowerPoint 2013 or later should check out the Office Mix add-in for Windows for some excellent screencasting options.

iPad users have a lot of decent alternatives to Screenchomp and Knowmia. Things like Educreations, ShowMe, IPEVO Whiteboard and Doceri are all free, or have free versions, you can use for screencasting in the classroom. There is also the extremely versatile ExplainEverything that can be bought for $5.99 (or $2.99 VPP).

Will you miss ScreenChomp, Snagit for Chrome, and Knowmia? Have you found some good alternatives to take their place? If so, feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts.