Making Reading Accessible With the Immersive Reader

Man sitting cross legged reading a book. Text reads, the power of the immersive reader.

In August 2015, Microsoft held an internal hackathon where employees competed with other Microsoft staff from around the world to solve a problem with technology. Many of these pet projects never saw the light of day again, but the winning entry quickly grew to become an indispensable tool for a huge number of students and their teachers. It launched in January 2016 under the guise of Learning Tools for OneNote, but today you may know it better as the Immersive Reader.

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Learn Chrome OS: The Chromebook Simulator

If you’ve ever looked for a quick, easy way for teachers, students, and even parents, to learn how to use a Chromebook, then you should take a look at Google’s free Chromebook Simulator. It’s an online learning site with step-by-step interactive tutorials that will teach you everything you need to know to get started using a Chromebook. Here’s how it works.

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How to do Green Screen Photos Without the Green Screen

How to create green screen photos the easy way

Earlier this week I saw a tool going around Twitter called Remove Image Background. It’s a clever, web-based tool that uses artificial intelligence to identify a person in a photo and remove the background behind them. It’s free, it works on all devices, it doesn’t require a login, and it removes backgrounds surprisingly well. I am sure that it could be used for all kinds of graphic design projects, but like many things, it made me think about green screen.

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Green Screen Tips from Teachers on Twitter

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Over the years, I have had the pleasure of helping many different teachers use green screen effects in their classrooms. This summer I get the opportunity to do it again at ISTE 2018 in Chicago with my colleague Gina Rogers (@grogers1010). Although my presentations and workshops have evolved over the years, they typically include three elements:

  • Why green screen is so popular in schools
  • How to create successful green screen projects
  • What other teachers are doing with green screens in their classrooms

Often, I find that I get a lot of inspiration from teachers on Twitter. So, in this post I wanted to share some of my favorite examples from tweets I have seen that illustrate great educational uses of green screens. As you scroll through, click on any of the images below to see the original tweet and play any associated media.

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Adobe Launches Spark for Education

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Adobe Spark has long been one of my favorite creative tools for educators to use in the classroom. It’s free, works on mobile or the web, and it has a suite of tools that can be used across multiple curricular areas. This week, Adobe unveiled Spark for Education, a service that is aimed specifically at schools and as you may imagine, it has a variety of useful advantages for teachers. Here’s what you need to know.

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Easy Podcasting With Anchor

Anchor: A Free and Easy Podcast Platform

Anchor, a popular mobile podcasting platform, has been around for a couple of years now, but today’s update may be the breakthrough moment it needs to establish itself as the go-to podcasting platform for would-be podcasters who want powerful features without the complexity that usually comes with producing a professional podcast. Here’s what you need to know.

Introducing Anchor 3.0

Up until today, Anchor was an app you could use on iOS or Android to record short podcasts that you upload to the web and share with others. So, what’s new in version 3? Quite a lot actually. Here are some highlights:

  • A redesigned mobile app
  • A new web dashboard with audio creation tools and analytics
  • The ability to upload audio to the web that was recorded or edited elsewhere
  • Seamless sync between mobile and web dashboards
  • Unlimited recording and free podcast hosting
  • Easy distribution to Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Spotify
  • You can add draft recordings for publishing at a later date
  • New web profiles with custom URLs
  • Podcast transfer support to bring podcasts hosted elsewhere to Anchor

These features are added to existing functionality that includes the ability to record with up to 10 other people, the ability to play call-in voice messages, automatic audio to text transcription, and the option to add a variety of musical transition effects.

Anchor for Schools?

Anchor is an iPhone app on iOS, but it works on iPads too. It is supported on Android, and now has a web platform that works on Mac, PC and Chromebooks. Anchor is also 100% free right now. There is nothing you can pay for, even if you wanted to. This makes it an appealing option for educators, but is there a catch?

At some point, Anchor will need to start paying back its investors. My guess is that this will come in the form of ads that are placed before, during or after your podcast, with the addition of an ad-free tier that you can pay for if you want to. This is just speculation on my part, but something to think about if you are considering Anchor for podcasting with your students or colleagues.

Until then, it’s still a compelling option for teachers. Opinion Podcasts was a favorite of mine right up until they decided they could no longer afford to host your podcasts for free. But, there’s nothing to say that you can’t enjoy Anchor while you can because who knows what the future will hold.

Do You Wanna Build a Podcast?

If you’re reading this post because you are thinking of creating a podcast yourself, then I would encourage you to listen to episode 39 of The Edtech Take Out, a podcast that I co-host with Mindy Cairney. In this episode, we talk about how to plan and produce your first podcast. We don’t mention Anchor specifically, but there are lots of ideas and options here that would be transferable if you did decide to make a leap into podcasting. You can find The Edtech Take Out in the Apple Podcasts app or on Google Play Music. You can also find it in Overcast, Pocket Casts, and other good podcast players.

Book Creator for Chrome is Here!

As you may have heard on the latest episode of The Edtech Take Out podcast, a public beta of Book Creator for Chrome was officially launched this summer at the ISTE 2017 conference in San Antonio, Texas. Book Creator already has apps for iOS, Android and Windows devices, but this new update means your students can have full access to Red Jumper’s creative storytelling platform on the web with a Mac, PC or Chromebook. Sounds interesting, right? Well, here’s what you need to know.

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