Pocket App (& Capti Update)

Pocket Logo



Although I am the world worst for looking into new things there are those occasions when bookmarking is a pain (particularly between devices) when I am on the go and the worst aspect is that I simply do not have the time! Enter ‘Pocket’, a simple browser plugin and associated app that I am using with Chrome and my iOS devices that allows me to bookmark and recall wherever I am. The real sweet spot for me when using Pocket is the ability in most cases to Listen (TTS) Text-To-Speech  to the majority of pages I bookmark, meaning that I can listen to those relvant items on the go from my iPhone or iPad.

It doesn’t like PDF’s, but you can always pass them to Capti! [See previous blog post http://wp.me/pspi8-k9 ]

Capti Logo

Capti has seen a recent number of overhauls, not limited to the expansion of other systems it can interact with, originally…

  1. a browser
  2. clipboard
  3. GoogleDrive
  4. Dropbox.
  5. Instapaper
  6. Pocket
  7. Bookshare
  8. A existing document that is sent within your device

it can now interact as well with Gutenberg & OneDrive. More importantly Capti now has a system for bookmarking within a browser( not as nice as a Pocket icon it is a bookmark itself that you drag to your favourites, clikcin on the link will add the current page to your reading list. You can also elect or install Capti’s own software on your desktop or utilise the online system. See https://www.captivoice.com/capti-site/public/entry/download#

OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) Studio

OBS Logo

Recommended to me by Students OBS Studio is a free program that allows primarily for streaming of gaming content. However it much more powerful due to the ability to overlay images (such as logos), text (such as web addresses or twitter ID’s ) and your webcam(s). However where the software really comes into its own is as desktop capture, even allowing you to move elements such as the webcam whilst you are recording but “transitioning” your layout update when you are happy so that your viewer does not need to see you visually tinkering with your setup. No cost, no time limit, no watermark!

The software is not the easiest to initally use, but YouTube comes in handy as the software is extrememly popular (I would stick to video that are recent due to large changes with the software and confusions with OBS Classic). Admittedly this does not work too well on a single monitor as you would have to restrict the capture area to at least half your screen so that you can use the other half of your monitor for the actual OBS software to manipulate your elements, but I cannot see any reasons why you cannot create reasonably short captures without being overwhelmed.

Find it at https://obsproject.com/

Active Presenter


I have used this software for awhile now and it has recently gone through a major upgrade, developed by atomi systems, Active Presenter allows for automated annotation of desktop activities. However the software is so much more than first glance, costing relatively little, it is a low cost solution alternative to adobe captivate. It allows for the following of any presentation captured in a range of formats inclufing video, PDF, word, PowerPoint and HTML 5:

  • Editing
  • demonstration (watch)
  • tutorial (interact, with guiodance)
  • practice (interact, without guidance, numerous times with metrics)
  • test (interact, without guidance,  once with metrics)
  • SCORM compliant – pass metrics onto Virtual Learning Platform or other SCORM compliant systems

What really impresses me about active presenter is that with it’s recent 5.0 it allows for a range of interactions:

  1. mouse clicks
  2. key strokes
  3. text area
  4. mouse over
  5. drop area
  6. question sets…
    • true/false
    • multiple choice
    • multiple respinse
    • essay
    • fill in blank
    • fill in multiple blanks
    • sequence
    • drag ‘n’ drop

You can download the software for free, paying the minimal licensing costs removes the watermark from the top right corner (video’s lacking interaction do not have a watermark). An educational license is approximately £65

Review the versatility the software allows for at their Demo section.




blendspace by TES


Now I do love innovation, especially when it shows such promise early on, and blendspace by TES (yes TES!) is just one of those innovations. Its sets up a challange by claiming that you can create a session in five minutes – mighty claims by anyone’s standards. But one that is reasonably well justified (apart from reviewing any YouTube videos you want to include!). My first go wasnt far off the mark (considering I was trialing as much as I could) and I have no doubts my next effort could be a lot less! https://www.blendspace.com/lessons/hH1RrdYxz37gIA/blendspace

So things I love…

  1. Quick to create and edit
  2. Resources easily gathered
  3. Allows for assessment
  4. Attach files
  5. Backed TES
  6. Autosave
  7. ​websites are interactive through the blendspace slide!

Thing I would love to see..

  1. It would be nice to be able to duplicate a slide
  2. What happens when the original location of your images disappears off the web?
  3. What happens if you lose web connectivity? there are other offering that allow for exporting so you can have it on a USB, or local drive such as MS MIX for PowerPoint
  4. When adding an image the text you would want to add as a subtitle is shown in the top right… a little obscure
  5. Tracking needs a class set up and sharing of the class ID (even if this generic), does not allow for anonymous tracking
  6. ​Textual slides are a little uninspiring – font, size, colour, alignment

But I expect great things, follow the blog at http://blog.blendspace.com/




Looking for a Prezi-but-not-Prezi alternative then check out TotSplash, a thought (tot) mindmapping (splash) presentation tool that does not seem the sick inducing powers of Prezi but at the expense of funtionaility? Not sure I like the name but check it out at http://www.totsplash.com/  .



Post Capture Green Screen Editing

Capturing directly into an app has its advantages, as soon as you get it right you are good to go, but it does bring its problems:

  • It can be time consuming getting it right
  • Artifacts can creep in that you dont find out until later
  • Or you actually find a better background
  • You just may not like using an App
  • or don’t want to limit your options and may have a second camera available

Capturing the ‘real’ footage, green screen an all still allows you fake your scene through post capture editing. There are a range of great software options such as iMovie or Adobe Premiere but you need the hardware or software at a cost. A budget option is VSDC, it’s free (be careful when installing as it pays for itself through bundled software that you can choose to not install).

It’s not the most intuitive of software but their are plenty of Youtube video tutorials to guide you through, with two of the best covering basic chroma-keying and layering:



Making the Case for Online Learning

The FELTAG report recommends that we move to a 50% online model and I am sure a large number of educators ask “what’s the rush?” and “What are the benefits greater than what we already do?”. I could offer a number of answers, that are rather obvious, such as…

  • “What do we need to push us forward to catchup with our US cousins? another government mandate?” – It’s actually refreshing to have something worthwhile but with us ‘trailblazing’
  • “We can offer what we have to a diverse range of learners” – not to mention re-invigorate our own materials (your thinking of that colleague that has that photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopied resource!

But a recent TED talk by Daphne Koller says it all and much more whilst enticing top universities to put their most intriguing courses online for free with Coursera (cofounded by Andrew Ng). The lessons learnt make for interested observations. Daphne’s TED talk is certainly worth a watch- https://youtu.be/U6FvJ6jMGHU

What I did take way from the TED talk (given the complexity of requirements for Cousera) is that more than ever we will need Domain Experts (Educators) to organise, deliver and help develop the course materials with their strong understanding of teaching & learning but with a firm understanding of technology with the support of Technologists that can put in place the infrastructures and guide  others to what is possible whilst having a firm understanding of teaching & learning! The lines are becoming, and rightly so, blurred (no humming a certain tune please!) and we are going to be working in tandem for the good of our learners and not see technologists as a service.



Strong Memorable Passwords

I don’t get it! How many time do you come across somebody with the same password, or an obvious one, or they make a list? far too many. Normally this does not bother me but I think the last month I must have come across this issue close to double figures and I think its becoming or likely to become an epidemic…

Multiple passwords used to be the domain of the nerd, but with the range of devices, systems, apps and websites we are all likely to be swamped so please spread the word once you watch the video clip – https://youtu.be/L8AgezVfPlo 



Office Mix for Teachers

I’m not fully convinced of Mix, it does have its flaws, but I acknowledge it is in Beta and Microsoft are listening to user voices and opinions  – Customer Feedback for Office Mix

A great resource regarding Microsoft Mix for PowerPoint… http://www.mixforteachers.com where this PDF guide can be found and a wealth of resources to highlight its abilities and to promote among colleagues. Such as how staff development might utilise it with “PC/VDU users” or “E&D training” or college wide development for the student body (and staff) such as can be demonstrated here!



Microsoft Showcase Classroom


(c) @GlennWoolaghan [Twitter]

Yesterday I spent the day with Microsoft looking at their Showcase Classroom. I really did not have a clear perception of what to expect other than looking at different mobile devices. So what did the day entail (and was it worth it!)?

Firstly it was free other than the cost of getting to London, Victoria and back for 10:00am – 3:30pm. A cup of coffee and a pain-au-chocolate later and we was shown a brief “Sway” presentation before the big reveal, doors slid open in our relatively small room, showing a much larger room with bright colours, comfy stool and giant bean bags. We grab a mobile device… this is going to be interactive! I pick a rugged grey “Stone” tablet with keyboard and a carry handle, colleagues pick HP tablets or Surface Pro’s – they all do the job they need to do.

We are asked to rate out the following out of four possible options: Don’t know what it it, aware, used a bit, used a lot using coloured post-it’s.

  • Windows 8.1 – its search capabilities and seamlessness
  • Yammer – social networking in a safe environment
  • Office 365 – buckloads, I even learnt about “Delve” (did you know a 365 account gives you 5 downloadable office’s?)
  • OneNote – the collaborative side utilising OneNote Classroom
  • OneDrive – limitless
  • Lync (Skype for Business) – connect to others and record sessions!

Now I was able to answer “used a lot” for all but that’s more a comment upon the organisation I work for and the projects I am involved in. I found the delivery that followed upon these technologies well thought-out and verging on seamless. a worthy day for the less tech proficient for sure. We had an outline of Mix and Sway (yes I felt an over whelming smugness) and then a hard-sell pitch for taking back-end services and pushing to our learners – progress, options, etc. (way off but lord-able goals). Finally we had highlighted windows 10 and  HoloLens.

I certainly found the day worthwhile but I took a number of key things with me…

  1. The organisation I work for are certainly embracing the tech discussed
  2. Although the room looked funky the backless “stools” were not nearly as comfortable as the “sit-in” bean bags
  3. Despite discussing how being untethered from the front of the classroom is ideal, it wasn’t applied (beyond a demonstration)
  4. A number of technologies will not work fully until we are in a 1-2-1 device position (such as OneNote)
  5. I cannot see myself bringing everything together under one platform, I am all for diversity in technology (Our D.A.V.E. intranet covers the likes of Delve and Yammer)
  6. Finally, there was a lot of discussion around learners subverting the technologies. More of this on a future post.