Connect then Engage with @Flipgrid Video #msftedu

Technologies that connect us, engage. One example of this is Flipgrid, a free video discussion board service. With Flipgrid, you can create grids with topics on them and have workshop participants or students respond to the topics with recorded videos. Several workshops ago, I decided to begin using Flipgrid as a regular part of the learning. Some of the applications of the tool included:

  • Ask participants to introduce themselves and/or each other.
  • Watch videos about a topic and then share a summary or take-away.
  • Summarize an article they have read.

Free Online Flipgrid Course

The Microsoft Education Community offers a free course, Amplifying Student Voice, that features FlipGrid uses. In that course, the developers imagine Flipgrid as being more than just a communication tool in your classroom:
For students, Flipgrid provides a safe space to connect with their peers, share their voice on relevant course topics, and add to the collective knowledge of the classroom. For teachers, you can see firsthand as your students develop confidence, reasoning skills, respect of diverse opinions, and understanding through reflection. Moreover, as Flipgrid videos are asynchronous, you can conveniently connect your students with classrooms around the world by sharing your grids with other educators. Their students add their voices to the grid building an active community of shared knowledge.
You can watch videos embedded in the course, as well as view content, without completing the course (but then you wouldn’t earn the badge!):

Introducing FlipGrid for Professional Development

Introducing Flipgrid to others has been easy. I point out how to access the Flipgrid topic I’ve set up for the process, either on a laptop and mobile device (e.g. tablet or smartphone). I start with a quick demonstration, often recording the video prompt in front of the class. Then I invite participants to work in groups of two to three to record their responses. Some even go out into the hall. After they have completed their video responses, we share a few to the whole group. Who would not be engaged by their own face and voice as they connect with others?

FlipGrid in the Classroom

“Seeing and hearing students’ video responses can make discourse fun; the site allows personalities and ideas to shine in 90-second clips,” says Polly Conway, Commonsense Media reviewer. “Design is colorful, clean, and intuitive.” Curious about how participants in my workshops would describe Flipgrid in their classroom, I asked them to share some reflections. “How would Flipgrid be helpful?”
  • In computer programming, students could use it to demonstrate how the code works and the output.
  • Formative assessment tool.
  • Quick check for understanding.
  • Have students work on a collaborative group project and then share their collective or individual video reflection on each task.
  • It is a great resource to use with the teachers we coach so they can reflect on their practices.
  • English Language Learners (ELL) students can experience opportunities to develop their language and practice language mastery.
  • Flipgrid in elementary would be a strong resource for reading responses.
Listen to this Voxercast (audio recorded using the free Voxer app). It features two TCEA Microsoft Innovative Educators (MIE), Jocelyn Crew (Lyford CISD) and Jodi-Beth Moreno (Education Service Center, Region 1) sharing about Flipgrid.

Flipgrid Resources

Others have been exploring Flipgrid for classroom use. Consider these examples:
If you’re interested in exploring FlipGrid or other video annotation solutions? Check out this blog entry on Video-based Active Learning.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Tools for Making Quick Videos

Looking for some quick ways to craft videos? These tools are all wonderful and can help you put together a video quickly:

  • Mobile Apps
    Combine your mobile device (e.g. iOS/Android phone/tablet) with an inexpensive tripod (duct tape works, too!) and use one of the following apps:
    • YouTube Capture (iOS only): This phenomenal app allows you to quickly record video, save it straight to YouTube. You can do simple annotations/edits with the app.
    • Shadow Puppet EDU (iOS only): Combine pictures, video and sound in this app to create a great video you can save to YouTube.
  • Screencasting
    Screencasting often involves recording your screen. Most screencasting tools will allow you to capture you in a small preview window, enabling you to record your screen while picturing you.
    • Screencastify: This easy to use Chrome browser Add-On allows you record Chrome browser tab with sound, your Desktop with sound, and include you in a preview window. You will have to pay more money ($20 onetime fee, well worth it) if you want to record longer than 10 minutes.  Watch tutorial.
    • Nimbus Screenshot and Screencast:  Similar to Screencastify but free.

Bonus Tips: Take advantage of Green Screen tools to kick your video up a notch!  
  • iOS Device handy? Take advantage of the Do Ink Green Screen app ($2.99) and a $1.00 Family Dollar green table cloth to put yourself into the screen.
  • Windows 10 device? Use The Simple Green Screen app.

And, finally, Chrome browser with webcam laptop? Use a Google Hangouts background! You can combine Screencastify and Google Hangouts Chrome Add-On to get all Googly (terrible example). After recording the video, crop it to cut out all the unnecessary screen noise. Example shown right.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Cool Chrome Apps – Chess, Video and Audio #wevideo #google #chromebook #gct

Awash in great information shared daily, I have to call attention to some neat shares by Google-Certified-Teachers (GCTs) made earlier this week:

Share #1 – Saving Your Chess Match to GoogleDrive

Who knew you could play chess and save the game in Google Drive? Apparently Steve Philip did! He writes:

I came across this today: Chess on Drive. I know there are lots of Chess apps out there, but I thought this is a really cool idea – storing the game in Drive – might revolutionise Chess Clubs in Google Apps schools.

Share #2 – Video Editing on Google Chromebooks

WeVideo in Chrome Store

Colleen Murray writes:

I’d like to use movie making in my hs history class. We use chromebooks often but have access to pc’s. The kids use sites for eportfolios. Do you have suggestions as to what tool will work best with sites and ideally chromebooks, too?

Lucie delaBruere responds by sharing these links about WeVideo, which is well-worth clicking through:

Share #3 – Audio Editing on Chromebook
Two main contenders I ran across in the Chrome Store for this, including TwistedWave. Imagine recording some audio via your browser or importing it from GoogleDrive. Aviary would have been my favorite pick but they are no longer around (sigh).

Here’s what TwistedWave Audio Editor looks like:

Create a free account in the beta TwistedWave

What editing audio imported from GoogleDrive looks like
Your list of files in TwistedWave…you can export to a wide variety of file formats, including MP3, OGG, WAV, etc.

Another editor is TuneKitten. I wasn’t as enamored of this one as much as TwistedWave, but it does allow you some simple highlighting of audio and editing (cut-copy-paste), as shown below:

Again,  a very simple audio editor that may work well for folks new to audio editing. i also tried Audiotool but it didn’t work on my Chrome browser running Linux. 😦

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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VideoMinis – Dealing with #iPad AppCreations

Adapted from

As I shared in my previous blog entry, 7 Ways to Collect Student Work in an iPad Classroom, I’m preparing for a 1-hour workshop I’m facilitating next week. Of course, I’m also developing short video tutorials on a variety of topics since there’s no way to show all the trouble one can get into in such a short period of time.

Disclaimer: Now, I’ve been told by video-savvy colleagues that my rough-hewn videos are terrible. So, there you go. . .I can’t set the bar any lower for these quick tutorials I’ve created with ExplainEverything (watch this YouTube video tutorial on EE) on the iPad.

Please be aware that these videos reference a WebDav server known as “ECCLOUD.” The ECCLOUD WebDAV server–using the free, open source software running on an UbuntuLinux server–has been setup to facilitate document sharing, creating a local “Dropbox” style account for staff and students participating in the EC3 iPad Program. Still, I hope that sharing these videos will be helpful to others embarking on the journey.

Some of the apps mentioned include the following:
  1. WebDav Navigator ($0.00) – A no-cost app that allows you to open WebDav servers (e.g. ECCLOUD) and put/get files.
  2. Apple’s Keynote ($9.99) – This is a presentation tool that has built-in support for WebDav and is my favorite presentation tool because of how easy it is to embed video in slides.
  3. Office2HD ($7.99) – An easy to use, versatile iPad-based Office suite that features word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation tools that are compatible with MS Office formats (e.g. doc, xls, ppt). It’s versatile because it opens both WebDav and GoogleDocs/Drive, as well as other cloud storage providers.
Video Tutorials
Here are a few, rough-hewn video tutorials that model how to get started opening/saving files to WebDav (e.g.ECCLOUD) from different programs.

On a Computer:

On an iPad:

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Rough and Ready – #iPad Created Narrated Slideshow

Note the annotation tools down the left-side, as well as the record buttons across the bottom.
Tool: Explain Everything ($2.99)

As I have shared in the past, I’ve been exploring how to best accomplish tasks that  I would usually use a laptop or desktop computer with an iPad. One of those tasks includes creating narrated slideshows that can be used to illustrate a concept and/or share information. BTW, allow me to acknowledge Dr. Tim Tyson’s term, rough and ready quickcasts, which I stole from this blog entry. Thanks, Dr. Tyson!

Classroom teachers might find the creation of narrated slideshows–whether those are created with Powerpoint or a series of images arranged to effect–useful as a result of the recent reflection about the Flipped Classroom:

The flipped classroom model encompasses any use of using Internet technology to leverage the learning in your classroom, so you can spend more time interacting with students instead of lecturing. This is most commonly being done using teacher created videos (aka vodcasting) that students view outside of class time.

It is called the flipped class because the whole classroom/homework paradigm is “flipped”. What used to be classwork (the “lecture”) is done at home via teacher-created videos and what used to be homework (assigned problems) is now done in class.
Read more

Teacher-created videos could easily be the creation of content done with an iPad with Internet access.

In developing a narrated slideshow–imagine a Powerpoint slideshow with audio narration–I asked friend and education colleague, Wes Fryer ( to share what HIS favorite slideshow narration tool is.

His response included an iPad app called Explain Everything ($2.99)note the screenshot at the top of the screen–which enables you to import your slideshow–that you create in Powerpoint, Keynote, or a series of images and then place in some kind of cloud storage (e.g. Dropbox)–then take several actions with it, such as the following:

  1. Annotate – allows you to draw arrows, squares, circle content as you are recording.
  2. Record audio – This allows you to add audio narration per slide in the slideshow, treating each slide as different.
  3. Export the MOV movie that is created from your slideshow, audio, and annotations to various places, including the iPad itself (which is neat because then you can import that video into the Keynote ($9.99) iPad app).
As you can see, with Explain Everything you can re-order slides, which can be handy on the fly!
You can also insert images from various locations, which is invaluable given that the iPad often makes it difficult to share data from one app to another (it’s called sandboxing).
You can export individual slides as images–especially useful after you’ve “written” or annotated them–out to various locations.
And, of course, you can export the entire narrated slideshow to various places, including your own PhotoRoll on the iPad which means you can insert it into Keynote iPad app! What would make this export feature a real winner is export to WebDav, a feature that EC3 teachers and students will have access to!

 The instructional applications of a tool like Explain Everything are many. In the classroom, each student could create an image or representation of a concept, process, and then explain what’s happening. Each slide could represent a particular perspective or step in the process. I’m sure a lot more connections and possibilities are enabled by interactive whiteboards on iPads!

For those of you who are curious as to what the output looks like, here’s the MP4 version (converted with MPEG StreamClip)

Two other iPad apps that are available at no-cost and could be used in lieu ofExplain Everything include 1) Educreations Interactive Whiteboard and 2)ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard

Although I didn’t spend much time with ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard since I found out about it last (and, of course, it’s the no-cost option), I did create a product with Educreations Interactive Whiteboard. 

You can see the “rough and ready quickcast”–to borrow Dr. Tim Tyson’s term–result below provided you have an up to date Adobe Flash Player:

Although one of the co-founders (Wade) said EduCreations can’t yet export your narrated slideshow as a video you can save on your iPad, it will allow you to upload it to their web site. Be sure to check out their showcase of lessons!

As to video export, Wade shares the following, “We don’t yet offer video file downloads of your lessons, but this is something we plan to offer in a future release.”

By the way, if you’re interested in The Flipped Classroom, you’ll want to read my previous post on how to Flip Your Classroom with iPads!

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Video that Feedback!

Image Source:
“Uh, thanks.” shared one principal when I turned in my weekly lesson plans when I served as a middle school English/Language Arts teacher.  In those days, you turned in your lesson plans in print format to a black, plastic box mounted on wheels. Yes, the wheels were there to facilitate the principal’s movement of the lesson plan collection to her office, where she would promptly drop a “checkmark” on the front page, yielding the same kind of response she’d given when I turned them in. “Uh…thanks?”

Kristen Swanson’s feedback via video:

Kristen Swanson (Teachers as Technology Trailblazers) offers feedback on unit/lesson plans that reminded me of TeachPaperless’ video feedback on student writing:

Since most of the work that I do with teachers spans across several weeks, it can seem disjointed and disconnected. I wanted a way to connect with teachers between visits. I knew that there would need to be specific feedback and nonverbal cues for this to be successful.
So, I tried using Educreations to narrate my ideas about teachers’ units in progress…After reviewing the feedback I’d provided (the second or third viewing for many), the units began to improve. The questions that arose were deeper and more pointed than before. Having specific feedback, delivered at an individualized pace, really moved the process forward.

In 5 Steps to Digitizing the Writing WorkshopI shared how Teach Paperless blog author uses video to offer feedback on student writing:

Shelly Blake-Pollock, the teacher and author of the TeachPaperless blog (, encourages his students to publish online. Beyond that step, though, he offers feedback on their writing online as well via screencasts, or video recording of his computer screen. Screencasts, or “JingCrits,” that he creates are short, less than 5-minute video clips where he highlights student work on screen and offers feedback (View an example – 

Blake-Pollock sends each student a link to their own feedback. The response, Shelly says, has been positive: 

 So far, the reaction to Jing comments has been overwhelmingly in favor. In fact, both students and parents have been pushing me to produce as many JingCrits as my time allows. 

This kind of feedback can connect with auditory learners who may prefer to get their feedback in another format besides cryptic comments on a post-it attached to their piece of writing. The teacher reviews student writing online, offering specific feedback, recording the feedback as a video recording. The teacher reports taking only 5-8 minutes to record feedback that would normally take 20 or more minutes to write out as feedback.
JingCrits get their name from The Jing Project, a free screen-recording tool available at that enables you to post videos online. Using screen-recording tools to offer feedback–whether from teacher to student, student to teacher, student to student–can offer tremendous benefits to students. This kind of video/audio feedback contribute to the demise of one writing myth–“it takes longer to grade writing.” As Shelly’s JingCrit demonstrates, writing workshop facilitators can grade for discrete skills. The focus on the lead of a paper is helpful. 

Writing Workshop facilitators may be familiar with the Carroll/Wilson Analystic Scale for Classroom Use. The scale enables teachers to assess quickly and effectively what they have taught their students. Developed collaboratively with students, the scale embodies intelligent writing assessment. Simply, you only get graded on what you were taught. Imagine having students and teacher develop a Carroll/Wilson Analytic Scale for Classroom Use–centered around what has recently been taught in class–then offering video feedback on a piece of writing using that scale. 

The video of the Analytic Scale, shared online with students, serves as a perpetual “model” of how to provide feedback. 

Shelly has found a quick way to offer feedback his student writers need using screencasting. Some free web-based services that do not require you to install anything on your computer include,, and/or Online tutorials are available for each, but you should be able to get going fairly quickly with 15 minutes of exploration.

That aside, providing feedback to K-12 and adult learners via video is due to increase in popularity given the availability of iPads and other free tools. Russell Stannard shares his experiences with young adult learners in this The Guardian article:

My own experiments at the University of Warwick show that video feedback goes beyond simple language correction. In fact, it works best when you want to elaborate and expand on your feedback and not simply correct grammar or spelling, for example when you want to offer comments on an essay’s structure, content or ideas. 

In the language classroom, it is also useful for work on vocabulary. A teacher can take notes on pronunciation mistakes that are made in the lesson, and after class write the list into a text document, turn on the screen capture and read through the words and highlight where the stress falls. The resulting video can then be sent to the whole class. Teachers could send a weekly video of pronunciation mistakes or vocabulary they want students to learn. 

We know from research that students value face-to-face feedback, but with large classes this is not always possible. So could screen capture offer an alternative? Students seem to think so. “It’s as if my tutor is sitting next to me,” is a common comment the OU are hearing. Students find it engaging and many point out they play the feedback several times.

Other tools are available as well, in case you need to offer feedback on a video created by students and/or teachers. Consider Dr. Z Reflect’s mention of VideoAnt:

Imagine that you have a video that you would like to have your students watch on their own, but you would like to include your own notes as they progress through the video.  This will enable you to do that.
Imagine that one of your students have just made a recording of a lesson that they taught in their student teaching.  She has posted it in her digital portfolio and then shared the link with you.  You have the opportunity to provide time-line based feedback.

More about VideoAnt–also from Dr. Z Reflect’s blogappears below:

VideoANT from theUniversity of Minnesota is an online tool that allows you to annotate videos. This system allows you to identify significant parts in the video and then make synchronized annotations…VideoAnt is limited to working with files that are online. The only way that you can specify a video is to provide the URL for it. These videos must be .mov, .flv and YouTube files.   

Another possibility is using Skype (free but not friendly to school networks from IT perspective) like Anne Mirtschin (@murcha) describes in her blog or Adobe Connect (costs money) to offer live feedback that is recorded and then saved for individual student viewing or class viewing. 

Have you thought about offering video feedback, whether on K-16 or adult learning projects? I’ve been thinking about using videocasts for offering feedback on administrative tasks, such as budget proposals, web site design, etc.

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Video Streaming High School Graduations

Source: DVBlast

Wondering what to do about video streaming high school graduations? Here are some responses from Technology Directors in Texas…how would you accomplish this service?

We used it last year for both of our graduations (8th and HS) and are doing the same this year. We had around 30 people watching live.  We have all of our students sign a video release at the beginning of the year that includes online streaming.  I talk with the 8th and Sr’s telling them that they will be recorded and streamed.  We only had one that didn’t sign the release at the beginning and they signed at the end of the year for graduation ceremonies.
This year with the new Ustream Producer, it should make it easier to do a multicam shot without getting too fancy
You can see our graduation from last year at the link below:


We use UStream. You can protect your channel if you want. Free 

UStream is our choice for streaming any video content out of the district. Works great. Can be embedded into a school blog or website. Can turn off the chat by embedding. It has other benefits. Anything we do adds to the burden of the network. I can say that we successfully streamed 15 separate UStream sessions last year all day long with no issues for the several hundred folks using the network at the same time during a conference. Every network is different, though. 

I would encourage you to take a look at VLC (  I’m looking at going that route for our elementary morning video announcements, basketball game streaming to the concessions area (barring any UIL rules against it), potentially any remote teacher presentations, etc.  One nice thing is that you would also be able publish the stream somewhere so that a student missing class might be able to still watch the presentation.

Or, Adobe Connect:

Problem is, you can only have about 100 viewers at a time depending on the room. Find out more.

What are some other solutions?
Another important question to consider if you’re going to stream is obtaining student/parent permission to stream video and post it online where it is publicly available:

We post a media release in each student handbook. Because we have video tech and Web master classes that produce DVDs, Podcasts, Blogs, andstreaming video, etc. it is really important for us to know who cannot be videotaped or whose likeness cannot be placed on the Website. We get that information at the first of each year and home room teachers, for elementary students, know who each student is that cannot be photographed or videotaped. During video projects we also remind teachers to put those students behind the cameras. We only have about 4 kids K-12 that have issues. Since the media release is in the student handbook that is handed out each year and on our website…we have had no problems in the last 12 years.

HEB ISD has a very similar policy. It also works beautifully. Our system is designed so we assume all students can be photographed and then parents must fill out the form and return it by a certain date at the beginning of school to omit their student. The form is in the student handbook.

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Recording Video/Audio on Desktop on Linux

Earlier tonight, I had it in mind to record a test session between Moodle Mayhem Podcast Co-host Diana Benner, Jen Hegna (our guest in October) and I. With the demise of, I began pursuing other options.

Simultaneously, was kind enough to send an informational email sharing about their service. I proposed that they host the MoodleMayhem Podcast…they suggested I go get an account and give it a shot!

What do I think of It’s almost ready for prime time provided it handles somethings better, such as desktop sharing, faster refresh rate on its Java-based app. Aside from that, it has some nice features that are a boon for online learning facilitators that the crowd will certainly be missing in January. At this point, I recommend it for slideshow presentations, chat, a simple whiteboard, but no desktop sharing. 

I tried to record on my Mac using TechSmith’s Camtasia, but no cigar. I was using Soundflower–which allows you to record the audio output from your computer–but Camtasia was unable to accept the Soundflower as an input source, even though their Jing product can do so. Hmm.

So, what to do? How was I going to record my desktop, simultaneously capturing the audio, of Jen’s presentation? In desperation, I remembered that I’d played around successfully with gtk-recordmydesktop on UbuntuLinux.

Since I was running Peppermint Two linux, I decided to give it another shot:

Record Your Desktop – This is an UbuntuLinux friendly recorder (a few more here). To get it going, follow these steps:

    • sudo apt-get install gtk-recordmydesktop pavucontrol (creates OGV video format)
    • sudo aptitude install mencoder (this allows you to convert OGG to AVI video format)
    • Once installed, you can control it via a GUI interface or at the command line, type recordmydesktop then press Ctrl-C to stop it from recording.

The PAVUCONTROL program–Pulse Audio Volume Control–actually works like Soundflower in re-directing the audio flow to a virtual sound driver. You can do this on Mac with Soundflower (and HyperStudio has a proprietary virtual sound driver that works great) and on Windows.

While I was able to record my desktop, any part of it, the audio from was not coming in. So, I setup PAVUCONTROL to be open and then clicked on ADVANCED button in recordMyDesktop (shown above).

In the DEVICE box, recordMyDesktop said DEFAULT. I changed that to pulse, as shown above, and audio started being included in the video stream.

This worked great! The file was saved as OGV, which can easily be converted using one of these sets of instructions (or just use WinFF but be sure to do this first):
  • Script to convert OGV to AVI
  • Use this command:
    mencoder -idx out.ogv -ovc lavc -oac mp3lame -o output.avi -srate 8000
  • Another bash script
  • Another command but using FFMPEG instead of mencoder:
    ffmpeg -i Your_Video.ogv -s qcif Your_new_Video.avi

Another neat feature of the Pulse Audio Volume Control tool is that while I was recording the desktop (video+audio), I am also to record directly to Audacity to get an “audio only” stream. Pretty nifty!

Nice tutorial online via YouTube on this whole process (not mine) that’s worth checking out!
On a related note, I played around with OpenShot Video Editor for Linux and was pleasantly surprised! Check out the screenshot:
I’ll have to spend some time playing with OpenShot in the future, but I’m hoping this solves video editing struggles folks have had on linux distros!

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Two New Fun Web Apps

Today, I ran across two fun web apps– and

With Photos505, you’re able to drop your photo into a zillion different backgrounds, such as the example shown above.

With, you can record video on your desktop via your browser and save it to MP4, as well as tweet the result. This pretty much eliminates the need for Jing Pro ($14.95), although Jing has some other nice features (screen capture…but plenty of other apps are available for free that do that).

I recorded a quick one on how to save a YouTube video using This is something that teachers in districts where is blocked can use–provided they know the YouTube address, which you can usually get from a Google search–to download the video.

You can view my video online below or click the link. Note, it’s a rough video recording so don’t expect perfect audio. But just in time videos seem the wave of the future…rather than the more lengthy, perfection oriented stuff videographers prepare. And that is fine with me!! ;->

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