Monthly Archives: May 2013

How to Use the New Slow Motion Feature in YouTube

A staggering 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and more and more of it is being tweaked, trimmed and remixed with the free YouTube video editor. Yesterday, Google announced a new feature that it added to YouTube – slow motion effects.

So, where do you find the new slow motion effects in YouTube, and how do you use them with your videos? Well, start by visiting http://youtube.com/editor and choosing one of your videos to apply the effect to. Once it is in the editor timeline, hover over the thumbnail of the video with your mouse until you see the magic wand icon. Click on it to access the various effects that can be applied to your video.

YouTube Slow Motion Editor

In the window that opens, you will see an option that lets you apply a slow motion effect to your video. In essence, this just adjusts the playback speed to be slower than you originally recorded it. You can set speeds to 50%, 25%, or 12.5% of the original speed. It would be very effective for a slow motion replay, or adding a touch of additional drama to your video. Once you have added all the effects you want, click Done, and then Publish to create a new version of your video that uses the slow motion effect.

Applying Slow Motion Effects in YouTube

Of course, you don’t have to use the YouTube editor to apply the effect if you don’t want to. You can go to your Video Manager, click the dropdown Edit menu next to the video you want to apply slow motion to, and select Enhancements. This takes you to an editing screen that looks a lot like the YouTube editor, but with a slightly different user interface. From here, you click on the turtle icon to choose your speed and apply the slow motion effect.

Slow Motion from the Enhancements menu

What’s the difference between the two? The editor will keep your original video intact and publish your edited video as a new video. If you apply slow motion effects through the enhancements menu, you are changing the original video, and not creating a copy, UNLESS you click the dropdown arrow next to the Save button and choose Save as.

Overall, the effect works pretty well. This is not a professional movie quality effect, but considering that you probably didn’t use a high speed camera to shoot your footage, this simulated effect is good enough. Just be aware that any audio you have will also be slowed down. This can be nice at times for comic effect, but you may want to choose to mute the audio of slow motion clips and your own background music for more serious or dramatic moments! 🙂

I could easily see teachers using this in Science to slow down a video of a fast moving chemical reaction, or in PE where coaches want to do a slow motion analysis of a golf swing, springboard dive, or a high jump. An example video from YouTube of Times Square (slowed to 12.5%) can be seen below.

 

Is Google Play for Education a Superior Version of Apple’s VPP Store?

android-edu-2

At the Google I/O developers conference today, Google announced plans for the new Google Play for Education. In many ways, it sounds a lot like what Apple do with their Volume Purchasing Program for iPads, but Google are looking to take it to a whole new level with some very interesting features for educators looking to manage Android tablets in a school environment. Here’s what they have to say:

Schools will enjoy the ease and portability of tablets together with highly engaging educational resources. And whether it’s one classroom or one thousand, schools can easily manage tablets, and discover, purchase, and distribute content and apps with ease.

Now, I appreciate all that Apple have done with the VPP Store and their efforts to provide management software for iPads with Apple Configurator, but how many school districts can say that this is a process that they manage “with ease”. Critics may well point to the fact that this has yet to be proven, but if you have had any experience with managing Chromebooks in a school setting, you already know that Google has already shown that it has the knowledge and expertize to break down the barriers of device management and make it a seamless, user-friendly experience.

In their information for Android developers looking to add their apps to the new Google Play for Education, Google offers some insight into what else we can expect from the new education storefront.

Google Play for Education provides a simple and secure environment in which educators can buy apps in a way that’s easy for schools — through purchase orders. Your apps must support this environment by ensuring that they:

  • Sell all content and services through Google Play for Education
  • Permit Google Play to offer teachers limited free trials before purchase (through business terms only, no development work is needed)

In addition, it’s highly recommended that your apps:

  • Disable in-app purchase in any UI accessible to students.

More information is included in their “safety first” section:

To participate, your apps must be designed to be usable and appropriate for the K-12 market. The basic requirements that your apps must meet are:

  1. Apps and the ads they contain must not collect personally identifiable information other than user credentials or data required to operate and improve the app.
  2. Apps must not use student data for purposes unrelated to its educational function.
  3. Apps must have a content rating of “Everyone” or “Low Maturity” (apps with a “Medium Maturity” rating are allowed, if they have that rating solely because they allow communication between students).
  4. App content, including ads displayed by the app, must be consistent with the app’s maturity rating. The app must not display any “offensive” content, as described in the Google Play Developer Program Policies and content-rating guidelines.

Apple undoubtedly has some of the same kind of requirements for iOS developers, but one or two of the recommendations above stand out as being somewhat unique to Google. For instance, the chance for teachers to get a free trial before they buy, or the recommendation to disable in-app purchases. I am sure there are many iPad schools that would love to have those options.

I’m a fan of the iPad. I love its potential for the classroom and I know first hand that it is one of the most versatile devices a school could buy. However, managing these devices is in no way as easy as it could be. Without a dedicated IT dept, it can be very frustrating for schools who are looking to push out apps and update devices.

So, the new Google Play for Education might be the best thing that happens to the Apple Education program, because for the first time in a long time, Apple has some competition, and may just be forced to raise the stakes further in order to compete. Let the games begin!

30 Hands: A Versatile, Free Storytelling App for the iPad

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 10.00.30 PM

Have you tried 30 Hands yet? This free iOS app is a great storytelling or presentation app that has lots of potential for the classroom. I first learned about it from the TCEA iPad site, and my head has been spinning with classroom applications ever since.

Presentations can be made with or without audio, but using audio will be more effective in most situations. Once you create your presentation, you can add images from your Camera Roll, from Dropbox, or you can take a picture with the camera on your device. Multiple images may be selected at once, and can be rearranged in the same way you rearrange apps on your iPad homescreen – press and hold until they wiggle, then drag and drop them to the order you need.

30 Hands App Slides

Tap on the slide you want to record your audio for, and hit the red record button to begin and end the recording. Playback your audio when you are done, and re-record if necessary. After all your slides are recorded and you have them in the order that you want them, hit the arrow to publish your video and save it to your Camera Roll for sharing to YouTube or uploading to Drive, Dropbox, etc.

With a little imagination, you could create some very creative video projects with the 30 Hands app, but it’s the simplicity and ease of use that makes it a winner for me. This app could be just at home in an elementary classroom as it could in a middle school classroom, and that versatility, for free, is hard to match.

It would be a great digital storytelling app, but it is an equally capable presentation app – not in the same way that Keynote is – but in terms of having students present their content and share their ideas, this is a useful option to have and could make a nice change from screencasting apps once in a while. You can get some more ideas and see real student projects by visiting the 30 Hands community site.

A video tutorial is embedded below, but if you are already using the 30 Hands app, and want to share some ways that you have used it with your students, feel free to leave a comment below.

8 Ways for Students and Teachers to Create an Event in Google Calendar

Google Calendar is a mainstay app of many teachers because of its scheduling abilities, reminders, and easy access across all devices. It is used for sharing assignments with students, scheduling district events, planning lessons, and even scheduling parent teacher conferences. However, it all starts with creating an event. Here are eight ways to create an event in Google Calendar.

1. Create button

For beginners, this is where to start. The big red Create button in the top left hand corner of the page is the default way for many who are wanting to create new events. Clicking it opens up a calendar dialog menu where you can add as much detail as you like, as well as invite others to your event.

Create button

2. Quick Add

If you know the lingo, the quick add can be a great way to quickly add an event to your calendar. If you click the white drop down arrow next to the red Create button you can type a short sentence that includes what your event is, when it will happen and even where it will happen and with who. Google does the rest, and translates your sentence into a calendar event. Once you get the hang of it, this is actually a very efficient way of creating Google calendar events.

Quick Add a Calendar Event

3. Click and Drag

If I am honest, this is the one I use most. For me it is the most intuitive and its a habit I would probably find hard to break! All you do is move your mouse over the main calendar page and click and drag on a day to mark the time slot you want to schedule. In the pop-up window, add the name of the event in the What box. Need to add more information, click the Edit event button for the full event page details.

Click and drag a calendar event

4. Right Click a Calendar

On the left hand side of your Google Calendar is a list of all the calendars you created and subscribe too. If you hover over a calendar you created, and click the arrow next to it, you will see a pop-up box that will allow you the option to “Create event on this calendar”. You can also choose a color for your calendar in this window to help you better tell the difference between multiple calendars at a glance.

Create event in Google Calendar

5. Create in Gmail

Ever wished you could save the contents of an email straight to your calendar? Well, you can if you use Gmail. Simply open the email, then click the More button and select Create event. This will take the content of the email and add it to an event window in a new tab. Simply customize the date and time accordingly and your email is now a calendar event!

Create an event from Gmail

6. Create in Gmail II

Last week, Google announced a new feature in Gmail that will let you add calendar events straight from an email simply by hovering your mouse over a date and time that Gmail recognizes as a possible event for your calendar. It has not rolled out to everyone yet, but will be coming soon if you don’t already have it. There is no word as to whether or not this will eventually replace the method above, but if you are used to doing this kind of thing on your iPad using the native Mail app, you will be right at home with this method.

Adding Google calendar events

7.The Keyboard Shortcut

Not everybody is a fan of keyboard shortcuts. They can be hard to remember, but the keyboard shortcut for adding an event to a Google calendar is very simple. When you have your Google Calendar open, simply type the letter ‘C’ on your keyboard to add a new event. ‘C’ is for create, so this one is easy to remember! For more keyboard shortcuts, see Google’s Calendar basics page.

8. Chrome Calendar Extension

You can download the Chrome Calendar extension from the Chrome Web Store for free. Once installed, you simply click the calendar icon in your menu bar and then click the plus sign to add an event. This is useful when you don’t have Calendar open among the tabs you are working with, and can also be used to quickly check on upcoming events.

Google Calendar Extension

Do you have a favorite way to add a calendar event that is not listed above? Feel free to add it to the comments below.

The Top 10 Gmail Apps and Extensions

Gmail is great. It comes with lots of unique features that put other email clients to shame, and has even more under the hood if you look through the experimental Gmail labs. However, if you spend some time in the Chrome Web Store, you can quickly find a plethora of other apps and extensions for Gmail. What follows are ten of the best.

1. Gmail Offline – If you don’t install any others on this list, try this one. It lets you access your Gmail offline. You can read your Gmail offline, and reply to emails too. Once you get back online, everything will sync up and and emails you wrote when offline will send to your recipients. For the most part it works very well, although the interface is different from the standard Gmail site. So, the next time you get stranded without Wi-Fi or access to the internet, fire up Gmail offline and get productive.

2. Send from Gmail – I use my iPad a lot. One of the things I love about it, is the ability to quickly share a link with others right from inside the browser. On my laptop, I could do that in Safari, but as a Chrome user, I used to have to copy the link, go back to Gmail, compose a new email, and paste the link in. You can avoid all that with Send from Gmail. Simply click the extension button and a new Gmail email will open with the subject line filled in, and the link of the site added to the body of the email. It works great. My only small criticism of it is that for some reason it does not add my default signature to the email. If anyone has found a way to fix that, please let me know!

3. Checker Plus – I love this extension, because it does a multitude of things. Ever clicked on an email link and had it open Outlook or some other desktop email client? This fixes that. It also notifies you of incoming mail with a chime of your choice, and a desktop notification if you want it. You can even have a voice notification read your incoming mail to you! Clicking the extension’s button in your toolbar lets you quickly preview your mail without changing tabs, and allows you to delete or archive mail too. So, it is very handy, and something I could not soon live without.

4. Add to Wunderlist – I am a big Wunderlist user, and I have written about that in the past. The Add to Wunderlist extension is great for me because it integrates seamlessly with Gmail. I used to use my inbox as a secondary to do list, but no more. This extension allows you to turn emails into tasks so that you can have all your important things to do on one master list. Simply click the Add to Winderlist button and you can choose which list you want to add that important email to. Next, delete, or archive the email as you work your way towards inbox zero.

5. Rapportive – This is a relatively recent addition to my Gmail, but one that grew on me quickly. When you use the rapportive Gmail extension, you get a customized bio of the sender of every email you get right next to the email when you open it. Ever wondered who this person is that emailed you, and how they know you? This can help. It pulls from LinkedIn and other social networks to give you a social profile of senders, so it is great for reminding you about who is sending you those important emails. It also has a notes section that lets you add your own private comments about each person in case you need to add some additional information about previous contact you have had with them.

6. Screenleap – Need a quick and easy way to share your screen with others? Well you could start a Google Hangout, and share your screen, but this is arguably quicker and gives you the ability to share with others who dont even have a Google account. Simply click the Screenleap icon in your Gmail, and it will generate a link for your sender to click on. Once they click it, you can instantly share your screen. This could be great for demonstrating how to do something on a computer or for troubleshooting someone else.

7. Cloudy – Gmail has a great attachment tool. It even  lets you browse through your Drive to find the files you want. However, Cloudy takes this one step further. It links with Dropbox, Box, and Skydrive. You can browse your Picasa and Flickr accounts, or take a picture or video with your webcam and add that straight to your email. You can search the web for an image or look through your Facebook and Evernote accounts for the file you need. You can even search through your Gmail to grab an attachment from another email. I love the flexibility it gives me for attachments.

8. Smartr – If Cloudy is the ultimate attachment tool, then Smartr might be the ultimate contacts app. It does all kinds of clever things like keeping a track of all the email conversations you have had with the person you are emailing. They sit there in a sidebar as you type the email so you can have them for reference. You can view your contacts Facebook and Twitter activity, even if you don’t follow them. The common contacts tab is a useful way to find people you have in common with others, and the search tool will quickly search through all your contacts from a number of services.

9. KeyRocket – Ok. Time to get your geek on. Gmail has a ton of keyboard shortcuts, but remembering what they are, is another matter altogether. That’s where KeyRocket comes in. It helps you learn what they are. Everytime you perform an action in Gmail that has a keyboard shortcut, (say composing a new email), a popup tells you what the keyboard shortcut is for that action. For some, this may get annoying pretty quickly, but for me there is no better way to train your brain for the multitude of keyboard shortcuts that there are. Just remember to turn on keyboard shortcuts in Gmail’s settings if you want to try some our for yourself.

10. Gmelius – If the stock Gmail user interface is not to your liking, Gmelius may be just what you have been looking for. It lets you tweak a number of different things to make your Gmail experience more aesthetically pleasing. For instance, it will block ads from public Gmail accounts. You can also replace the paperclip attachment icon in your inbox with Google or Microsoft equivalents so that you know at a glance what type of attachment is in that email. You can auto-hide or toggle the header (including the search bar) to get more room, and lose the footer too. You can even lose scroll bars if your mouse and trackpad is all you need. So, check it out if this sounds like the kind of tweaking you like to do. It is a popular app with those who like to tinker.

Do you have a favorite Gmail app or extension? Feel free to share it in the comments below.