Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Tips and tricks - VoiceThread

VoiceThread is a pretty cool tool. It allows users to facilitate conversation similar to a blog or an Edmodo type social networking application, but with the restriction to a series of slides. Here are a couple of tips to get the most out of VT for your presentation:

Export PowerPoints to PDF for upload:
For some reason or another when uploading .ppt files the VT application has the tendency to jumble text and images around. Simply saving your .ppt presentation as a PDF will eliminate this issue.
The create PDF function can in the File tab under Save & Send in MS PowerPoint 2010.
Less is more:
If students are uploading PowerPoints to their VT put a limit on how much text can go on each slide itself. There is no point in a student just reading what they have on the slide in their VT comments. To take this to another level you could get the students to only upload .jpg (picture) files, this could save a small amount of time as students wouldn't have to muck around with PowerPoint.

Mix it up:
To avoid your VTs becoming a bit dry or boring mix up the type of  comments you put up. Make a rule with your students that they should use an equal mix of the comment features e.g. text, audio, webcam and drawing.

4 things that make "Glogster" better than "GlogsterEDU"

We have been using GlogsterEDU for about the past 12 months now, while the initial reaction was great and many of our classes started using it right away, the use of it has died off significantly. Many teachers said that they grew frustrated with it over time, while some of these issues no doubt were to do with our network stability, it was not until I compared the "Glogster" and "GlogsterEDU" that I wondered are we really getting the most for of our education subscription.
I noticed 4 pretty obvious features that are in the standard platform which I would highly recommend being integrated into the education platform:
Portrait & landscape templates VS one size fits all:
Left: standard platform w/ portrait & landscape templates. Right: EDU platform w/ no templates.
Glogster's catch-cry "poster yourself" says it all here. Why wouldn't you  give the education subscribers the ability to create landscape posters?

Sleek interface VS cluttered & kiddish interface: 
Left: standard platform w/ sleek interface. Right: EDU platform w/ kiddish elements.
OK, so I get the EDU platform is aimed at children, however I think the teddy bear and the loading "donut" give the application a fairly immature feel. It is also interesting to compare the differences in the "dashboards" in each of platforms, the EDU one is considerable more cluttered, however this could be because the platform offers more features such as projects and classes that need to go here. The standard platform is sleek and stylish, and because of this the interface is more simplistic to use.

"Private Print" button VS no obvious print button:
Left: standard platform w/ private print button. Right: edu platform w/o print button (users must right click their Glog and select "Print Glog")
Once again the users of this application are creating a poster, it would be great if you could easily print it. A user should not have to figure out that they need to right click the Glog to be able to get the print option.

Embed option VS one size fits all (or does it?):
Left: standard platform w/ three embed options. Right: EDU platform with no options.
Have you ever tried embedding a EDU Glog into your blog? It doesn't quite work as the sizing is a bit too big. Of course you can always fiddle around with the HTML code, but should you really expect students to know or have to do this? In the standard platform you get three options when embedding; Full size (960x1300), blog size (560x768), feed (sidebar) size (360x488).