Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Interactive Whiteboards and Student-made Videos: A Review

Today the CollabLab welcomes guest blogger Quinn Loch, a Science teacher at Elk Grove HS.  He can be reached @Mr_Loch_EGHS

Interactive whiteboards on the iPad provide a way for you to record your voice and writing so they can be watched later. This can be great for providing notes to your students both inside and outside of class. Conversely, students can also use interactive whiteboards to explain and share their understanding of a topic related to your content. This provides a unique way for students to retain information and concepts--we all know the best way to remember something is to teach/explain it to someone!

Lots of options are available, and there is no “perfect” option. Below is my list of pros and cons for the more popular interactive whiteboards available on the App Store. By no means is this a complete list. Your best bet is to try them out yourself.

Explain Everything ($2.99)


Pros:
- Very powerful – Lots of export and import features
- Lets you edit videos during and after being made – great for when you make mistakes!

Cons:
- Takes a long time to encode a video (Encoding is done on the iPad.  A 3 minute video may take 5 minutes to encode)
- Not free

ShowMe (Free)



Pros:
- Easy to share videos – Great for student made videos
- Very easy to use
- Mp4 versions of your videos can be downloaded from their website

Cons:
- Cannot zoom in while writing/recording
- Videos can’t be sent directly to YouTube


Educreations (Free + In App Purchases)


Pros:
- Lots of shared videos from other teachers
- Very easy to use

Cons:
- Lots of features require a “Pro” account. (Unlimited number of videos, video file exporting)
- Can’t record a multipage document
- Can’t zoom in while writing/recording


bContext (Free + In App Purchases)


Pros:
- Lets you move between multi-page documents without breaking up the recording

Cons:
- $0.99 per video to mp4 (however videos can be downloaded after being uploaded to YouTube for free)
- Posts to YouTube can take very long (videos are encoded on their end, not on the iPad)


In my opinion, Explain Everything is the best overall option and is worth the money. Otherwise, I think ShowMe is the best free option. The reason I point out the ability to convert to mp4 is that having the raw video file gives you freedom to post it in lots of places and is more “futureproof” in the sense that it’s not associated with an app/service that might not be around forever.

I have used Explain Everything for my video notes, ShowMe for student created videos, and bContext for making video keys for ACT benchmarks.

Ultimately it all comes down to personal preference and your end goal. I hope some of this information helps! Thanks for reading! 

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