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Educreations: Flip or Flop?

I decided to play around with a video recording tool called Educreations.  I had never even heard of this tool before so I was excited to try it out and see what potentials it had in store for me.  I am currently looking for a solid video recording tool to use for my own modules in this course and for my flipped lessons in my AP Calc course.  This tool was not it.  So, without further ado, here is my official review of Educreations!

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Overview

The tool is a screen recording tool, much like Screencastify but more focused to a small area of the screen.  You essentially have a white board which you can pull up pictures on and draw all over the screen and them.  You can record your voice while you draw or type as well, which I thought was pretty cool.  It also allowed me to connect to my google account which is very slick!  I love when apps and websites do that!  There are different coloured markers, and an eraser as well.  You can even switch screens and load more pictures and diagrams while the recorder just pauses, waiting for you to continue with your lesson.  In theory, I think this is a great tool for quick little lessons, for student projects, or for digital storytelling.  I managed to find very few examples of quick lessons from students on Youtube.

Here is one example a student created:

Most of what I found were tutorials on how to use the website but I figured it would be better to make my own shorter one to give you an idea!

Strengths

It is very easy to use!  Within a matter of minutes of creating an account, I had access to the whiteboard and tools needed to create some simple videos.  You can also share the videos with students and upload items to the elusive “Cloud.”  There is the option to share videos on Facebook and Twitter but you cannot export them, which is probably why there are almost none on Youtube.  This would be a very easy tool for students to use and show their understanding of information in a creative way.  It works with iPads as well, giving more control and diversity to the writing technique.  I loved how easy it was to record, pause, and continue with your lesson, but there are also some things that just wouldn’t really work for me.

Weaknesses

I found there were more weaknesses in this tool than strengths.  For example, there is a fee for more tools.  In order to upload documents (which I need for my lessons), there is a monthly fee for a classroom, and then a higher fee for a school subscription.  I was limited to drawing on pictures that I had uploaded instead of writing or even scrolling through documents on the whiteboard.  Price is of course, another downfall, as not many of us would be able to access the full potential of this tool without paying for it, and not many of us would have the funding to access this tool.

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Screenshot of the Pricing for Educreations

There is also a limited storage space of 50 MB which would be small if you wanted to create a lot of videos.  As I was playing with it, some of the pictures I uploaded were too large for the whiteboard and wouldn’t allow an upload.  There was also not a plethora of examples to look at online, as I only found tutorials on youtube as I mentioned before.  There wasn’t a dashboard on the website and you cannot share videos with other teachers on the website or app.  I thought this was a mistake, and I think the app would be a lot more successful with this application added.  It would be awesome to view other teachers videos and lessons, and have some examples to look at and share with others.  I’m curious what it would be like to record longer videos, say 15 minutes on it.  Would I run out of space before I get to the end of my lesson?

Potential

Overall, I think this is a very neat tool.  I’m just not sure it would work for my needs with a needing more academic writing and explaining, and more time for videos.  I think this tool has a lot of potential to be very useful for teachers of younger aged students.  It would be especially useful for me to explain quick examples to students that are having difficulty, but again I need pictures of everything in order to actually use it.  I would love to try and use it with my English classes and see if they can use it to showcase some of their learning on it but some of them may feel it is more elementary.  I think my math students would find tremendous benefits of using this to help each other with problems and questions they have, I’m just not sure how it would work with daily creations and lessons.  If some of the features for the “Pro Classroom” were available, I would be all for using this program.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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I’m DONE Sewing!!

there-done-yay-2016-the-aukuard-yeti-doesnt-it-feel-10405833I finally finished!  Sewing that is…with the machine!  My quilt is all put together and I am so so happy with the results.  I ran into a few problems finishing it up, but nothing new.  Mostly, my needle kept unthreading and my lines weren’t lining up as I had to sew my rows back to back.  It was frustrating to see it not be perfect lines when I finished a row, and I need to remind myself that this is my first project, it’s a huge project, and I have room for error since my seams will be hidden by the extra material.

IMG_2209All said and done, I’m incredibly happy with the results and now I only have to complete it by hand stitching all the corners!  Because there is so much material in the corners of my t-shirts, I cannot sew over top so I have holes in the corners.  Not a bad thing, as I made sure to reverse stitch on either sides but if I accidentally put my toe or finger through the quilt, it could tear and I don’t want that!  I will need to hand stitch and knot the corners to make it stronger.  Then wash it three or four times and I will have a completely finished t-shirt rag quilt!!

 

I’ve learned so much throughout this project, especially about myself and what I need in order to learn.  I need time (chucks of it), and I need to do whatever it is in a way that makes sense logically to me, but I also need reassurance and quick feedback to make sure I’m actually on the right track.  I learn well on my own, and I learn by example.  It’s very interesting to me that I learn this way because I have always thought of myself as a “drill and practice” type of learner, so to find out that I actually am also a “visual” learner adds a cool dynamic to my learning style.  Did you guys learn anything interesting about yourselves during this process?  I find I learn completely differently/more dynamically now, but more to come about that next post!

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Tackling the Sewing Machine – Literally

IMG_2034After my confidence boosting experience involving hand-stitching last week, this week I decided to tackle the basics of the sewing machine.  After perusing the web for some starting points, I decided it would be best to find the actual manual, which I did.  I also found an ancient step-by-step for threading the machine.  Although it probably would have been helpful for someone who understood the terminology of the sewing world, I found it much less helpful.  I’m sure if I had had enough patience, I could have figured out how to do it with this diagram but as I am one of those millennials that have zero patience, I moved on to Youtube where I found an incredibly helpful video with what I deem “normal” language, a step-by-step demonstration and instructions, as well as it was in colour!

I watched the video twice, taking care to check out the similarities and differences of the machines.  I watched it a third time and paused often to complete the steps myself.  Step one was this foreign thing called “winding a bobbin.”  I confess I did not know what a bobbin was before this week.  Continuing to watch the video, I wound the bobbin successfully and here is the evidence.  I thought the process was cool so I decided to take a video of it.

After being mesmerized by the winding, I moved on to step two: threading the machine.  I continued to watch this video and pause when it got to far ahead, backtracking to re-watch certain steps.  I successfully did it!  As it was Thanksgiving, I had the assistance of my mother again.  I was quite proud of getting this far without her aid, and upon inspection she told me that I forgot to thread the actual needle in the machine.  Bummer.  So I sheepishly did that with only a little foul language and then with all her great knowledge, she said I was ready to practice some stitching.  As I began under her instructions of what to do, we found to her dismay the “tension” of the machine was off.  So I got to learn something new again!  This time, with my mother’s assistance.

I checked out some videos and a wikihow on adjusting tension and found out that it is essentially making sure the the thread is being pulled through the material evenly on both sides (meaning the needle and the bobbin).  If this doesn’t happen it looks uneven or like this:

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Image Via Wikihow

Together, I practiced stitching while we simultaneously adjusted several setting on the machine until the stitching looked the same on both sides.  This process involved rewinding the bobbin, re-threading the machine and then trying again.  I now understand why some people really don’t care for this tedious task.  This was a much more difficult process than I anticipated as there is no video or help online to find the “perfect tension.”  It is trial and error for your specific machine and material of choice because every machine is different, and each type of material needs a different tension.

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However, once we did re-thread the machine with some newer thread, the product was much better!  I also got more practice at the dreaded threading of the machine so all was not lost.  The next steps are going to be selecting my t-shirts for my blanket, the material, sizing and layout.  I’m a perfectionist at heart so I am anticipating this will be more difficult than I think!