My first session is “Explain Everything: Demonstrating Understanding with Screencasting” by Reshan Richards. It highlights one of my favorite iPad Apps, Explain Everything. You can see the slides for Reshan’s presentation here. Here’s a great, quick tutorial to familiarize yourself with the app:
Reshan is an Ed Tech Director at the Montclair Kimberley Academy. With the advent of iPad 1, Reshan saw the iPad as a potential to replace the Smart Board for interactive creation – an extension as it would allow multiple students to work on a single device. He teamed up with some app developers in Europe to design an educational app – Explain Everything ($2.99).
Reshan highlights that his experiences with Explain Everything and in the Ed Tech world has led him to write a book, “Leading Online” ($9.99).
Reshan’s demonstration is hands on – he invites up a volunteer and then opens up the Explain Everything app. He takes a photo of the participant and then proceeds to demonstrate how he can manipulate that image using the application – annotate it with writing, change the colors of the background (he quickly changes Pete into a super hero with a red cape and a Zorro mask). He then invites the audience to do the same, using Explain Everything, or another app – turn to your neighbor, take their photo, and “transform” them!
Design Spaces/Care for Spaces
While many people call the app an interactive whiteboard, Reshan says that it’s really more of a design space – it’s a space in which you can create, but that you must also consider organization and space. Ed Tech Leaders, and leaders in general, are skilled in two things: saving time and helping us to share our talent. Ideally, this app and harnessing it effectively, can help us in both arenas.
The iPad connects us to the internet, has a high resolution screen, as well as a high resolution camera. This enables us to do amazing things on the go. For example, using the site Unsplash, you can incorporate free, high resolution, professional images. You can then incorporate these into bigger projects. Explain Everything allows you to scale and move images effectively (you can lock the scale or the tilt by clicking on an image and then the “eye” button on the left). You can then add clip art (check out OpenClipArt.org), drawings, writing, arrows, typing, sound, video, and more! To learn some great tricks with the app, check out their short and informative video tutorials. By using this application, students learn how to organize spaces with flexible design choices. A visual vocabulary is important for 21st century learners – humans are drawn to beautiful things (typed papers get higher grades than hand-written, beautiful clothes draw the eye, etc), it is important to understand the value of presentation! The next thing that Reshan does is Directs the Audience to play with Explain Everything in a collaborative exercise, “Ask for Help, Accept Help.”
Challenge Meeting Structures/Change Meeting Structures
So how does the classroom look now that a student is creating content? Reshan states that this is highlighted in his own research around the concepts of: Teachers’ Beliefs & Practices, Design-Based Research, Formative Assessment, and Mobile Multimedia Devices. iPads allow students and teachers to change the physical and philosophical world of education, it’s portable and often reverse-engineered. Screencasting isn’t about the tool, but rather the person and what they believe. How does technology capture informal conversations that aren’t necessarily measured in traditional assessments?
Reshan’s research highlights how screencasting tools, especially on mobile devices like the iPad, can change the way we view learning and measure students’ understanding and creative exploration. Additionally, it allows for flexibility in the classroom for individual teachers, various grade-levels, and differentiated classes. Sometimes this means letting it go and allowing the learning to become “messy.” The messiness reflects the purity of their thought process and learning experience.
Reshan’s qualitative research using Screencasting apps on the iPad (soon to be published) highlighted the following:
The key experience that Reshan highlighted is that students (of all ages and abilities) need time to play. You need to “get the sillies out” and in the act, familiarize yourself with the tool. Another key element is that it’s necessary to share learning, reject “squirreling” your talents and knowledge.
Keep the Offramp Open/Use it Frequently
Reshan reminds us that the tool is one thing, but that they come and go. It’s about the people and the experiences. Use technology to strengthen a human relationship, not solely to make it more efficient. The way that people use the app (Explain Everything) can help teachers to understand what their students know and understand.