If a thoughtful, poised answer counts for as much as elegant writing, then Swivl’s ReCap should catch on quickly. The app works directly in iOS systems and there’s a browser based version for PCs, Chrome and Android machines. It lets a teacher ask a typed, audio or video question of the class that then gets recorded replies and answers sent back to the teacher for analysis and grading. A daily review reel consolidates all the answers to the question as soon as three have been received, making viewing a snap. It’s a beta at the moment but the company will smooth off some of its rough edges over the coming months, but they plan for it to always be free.
The essence of digital signage is to use a video monitor to show teachers and students everything they need to know, from today’s lunch menu to escape directions during an emergency. Videotel’s VP71XD can feed it with HD video and sound. In addition to media-playing software, device has an HDMI and RCA outputs, comes with a remote control and scheduling software. It costs $382.
Often the difference between cheesy and professional-looking video is lighting, and Zylight’s Newz compact on-camera light can illuminate the situation. It’s based on LED technology so it doesn’t drain batteries quickly and the lighting element may never need to be changed. The $429 light can attach to a camera, has an articulated arm and barn doors for cropping the beam to just where it needs to be. The best part is that the light’s 60-degree beam is not only dimmable, but can be set to a color temperature of anything between 3,200K for indoor sequences or 5,600K for daylight shooting.
Turning a series of clips into cogent videos is a skill that all kids need to learn, but which platform is right for 21-st century story telling? I think that kids need to master the ability to edit video on all the major platforms in use at schools, from PCs and Macs to iPads, Androids and Chromebooks. That way they won’t be caught short on video skills.
Not only can you use any of these apps to create visual repots on science and English lessons but enhance each child’s story-telling skills. Next stop, Hollywood.
Windows Movie Maker
Once a part of every Windows computer’s software, Movie Maker is now relegated to a free download that anyone can add to their system. Version 12 still uses a timeline for creating a video and works with all recent versions of Windows. In addition to adding and rearranging clips, you can work with transitions and even get rid of camera shake. When you’re done you can share the movie online or add it to a Web site for the world to see.
Android tablets can now make full movies with KineMaster Pro. The center of attention is its multi-track timeline where you can slip in videos and edit them on a frame-by-frame basis as well as add audio tracks and transitions. Rather than having to use a mouse, everything can be manipulated by a finger or stylus for things like adding titles. The completed movie can be shared via YouTube, Facebook, Google+ and Dropbox.
The iMovie app that comes with Macs puts the emphasis on simple movie-making with a few frills, like Apple’s excellent online how-to section. One of the rare video editing programs that can handle 4K resolution, iMovie has templates that you just type in a name and drop in the clips. You can take that to a new level with the ability to use iPad vids as well as ones from a camcorder or phone.
Despite being basic and not exactly high-performance systems, Chromebooks are surprisingly good at editing videos. WeVideo lets you use a storyboard approach for a mini-movie or the more traditional timeline. Just drag a variety of files into position to be integrated and the app does the rest. If you don’t have what you need, the program includes 100 royalty-free effects and sound clips as well as the ability to use slow motion or time lapse effects. You can have kids team up to make movies and the free version allows up to 5-minutes of final movie time. The K-12 package costs $249 a year for a classroom of up to 50 students and allows each student to save an hour a month of videos and 5GB of online storage space.
Pinnacle Studio Pro
Video editing on iPads takes a big step forward with Pinnacle’s Studio and Studio Pro apps. The basic Studio software is free and lets users quickly create basic videos in a timeline format, while the $15 Pro version adds the ability to edit in up to 4K resolutions and save the results online.
Small groups of students and teachers can now video chat online or free with ReadyTalk’s FoxDen collaboration platform. The software is still in development, but you can use it to provide high-quality real-time interaction from within the Chrome browser as well as any Android device, iPhone or iPad. It can connect up to 10 users.
What are the two things that old schools have in common? They are often really awful places to deploy WiFi and they have a disused coaxial network that once distributed analog video and reaches every classroom. Actiontec’s latest products can help use the latter to conquer the former in schools by running data over the coaxial network and then distribute it via a WiFi extender. The WCB6200Q Wireless Network Extender uses the latest Multimedia Over Coax Alliance’s MOCA 2.0 spec to grab data off of a coaxial line and send it out as a pure 802.11ac WiFi signal. The key is that the WCB6200Q is not a router, but is like a powerline extender, except that instead of the facility’s power wires, the data rides on coaxial cables. While the WCB6200Q also has a pair of wired Ethernet ports, the WCB6240Q has four. It has 4X4 capabilities, uses the latest beamforming techniques and Mu-MIMO technology to boost its output. With the ability to give video the priority for delivery, it’ll be hard to overwhelm the equipment. You’ll also need to plug Actiontec’s ECB6200 Network Adapter into your router or a LAN switch to send the data out on the coaxial line.
Video conferences with parents, training sessions and even lessons for kids stuck at home sick can now be archived with Lifesize’s Cloud Amplify online service. Any participant in a conference can save the whole video chat with a single click and retain 15 hours of video. There’s a free trial to give it a test drive.
Replacing analog video lines with a school’s networking cabling can not only cut costs and improve quality, but nobody said that the transition to using a network to distribute video throughout the campus was going to be easy. The latest gear can help with ways to put video in every classroom.
StarTech’s latest HDMI over IP kit can not only distribute video over plain old network cabling, but with the company’s new apps, you can control it from a phone or tablet. The HDMI kit costs $430 and can be used with the company’s free StarTech.com Video Switching and Wall Control apps for iPhones, iPads and Android systems. At the touch of a finger, you can set up, control and choose among multimedia options as long as the tablet or phone is on the same network as the switching gear.
Distributing digital video often opens a can of worms because the signal needs to be periodically boosted. That’s where Tripp Lite’s family of HDBaseT extenders comes in. They support up to 4K resolutions and a variety of audio effects, like DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD. The devices can transmit uncompressed HDMI audio and video over roughly 2,000-feet of network cabling.
Most recorded classroom visits produce a view of what goes on in the class and not much more. Insight Advance Feedback takes the idea a step further with the ability to annotate the video and provide insight into a teacher’s personal and professional development. In addition to adding notes directly on the video stream about various techniques or student interactions, the software can identify goals. Insight Advance is delivered over the Web, works on a variety of platforms and doesn’t require any special software. After a $3,500 setup and training fee, the service costs $95 per user per year (unlimited observations/videos); there’s a free 30-day trial.
A great first step when trying to put together a multimedia lesson plan should be the iTunes For Educators page. It has thousands of lessons that range from a course in creating stop-action animation to algebra projects that can enhance learning. It’s all arranged by topic and you can search on things like cyberbullying. Most of the resources are free, but some require a small charge and require that you have the free iTunes U app running on your pad.