viewpure – a video tutorial

 

Earlier this week I wrote about viewpure.com and I am genuinely pretty impressed with what this service does. Above is a quick video showing it in action and how you can customize YouTube videos of your own choice to safely show to your students.

 

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Episode 149 1/2 – Where’s Omar?

Hello IT Babblers! I know that this is supposed to be episode 150 but Omar had another commitment and couldn’t make so rather than record 150 without him we decided to record 149 1/2 and save 150 for later when Omar can join us.

Check out the talking points below and be sure to subscribe to us on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.

  1. Where’s Omar?
  2. The real reason we ban cell phones by Scott Mcleod of Dangerously Irrelevant

    1. http://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2018/02/the-real-reason-we-ban-cell-phones.html
    2. Check out the comments
  3. New Raspberry Pi B

    1. Dual band WiFi
    2. Faster processor
    3. $35 – https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-3-model-bplus-sale-now-35/
    4. Tony’s issues with Arduino boards and MacBooks

You can download the episode here.

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viewpure and YouTube

Let me lay out a scenario and see if you can relate to it. You have found a great YouTube video (like the one below :)). You want to show it to your class. It has a great explanation, it simplifies it and since it is on YouTube you can reference it over and over again so you can link to it in your LMS of choice or share it out another way.

The big day comes and man you are stoked. You bring up the link and … OMG! There are rude and inappropriate comments in the link below.

Note – these comments are not rude in anyway. I am just making a point.

Your students are snickering. You’re freaking out because you are afraid that these students will go home and tell their parents. Then you’re afraid those parents will tell your principal and before you know it you’ll be unemployed.

Well there is a solution out there friendly visitor. There is viewpure. This very simple website (no sign up needed or even AVAILABLE) will take the YouTube video you want and “Purify” it.

Just copy the URL (or web address) of the YouTube video.

Then paste it into viewpure’s box for the YouTube video like shown below.

Finally click the Purify button and whamo! The video with no salty or inappropriate comments.

Now that the video has been Purified you can actually take that link and share it out and that is the version of the video that students or parents will see.

There’s more!

Now this is pretty useful but there is much more you can do. If you click on the little gear at the bottom of the video you will see a number of other options.

You can give it a custom URL add a password to it and even trim it down. Let’s say you find an interview that is an hour long and you only need 5 minutes. viewpure will can do this as well! Very handy.

There is still one more trick that viewpure has to offer. You can actually search for other videos that have been Purified. Instead of putting in a YouTube URL just type the topic in the box instead and hit the Purify button.

You will get a bunch of results but please watch them before showing them to your class.

That’s viewpure.

viewpure – http://viewpure.com/

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Edublogs, Blogger, WordPress.com and KidBlog – Which should you use?

As you know I read Free Tech for Teachers and I saw this post that Richard wrote about recommending two blogging platforms for teachers. I got to thinking that there are other options out there and in my opinion better options!

In his post he recommends EduBlogs and Blogger. So let’s get Blogger out of the way. If you use G Suite then yes, Blogger is a good choice. It is easy to use and pretty powerful to boot. I think this is a good choice. If your school uses Office 365 or no services like this then I suggest looking elsewhere. I believe you can get more with the same amount of work.

Another thing to understand is that Google considers Blogging a form of social interactions. If you have students under the age of 13 setting up a blog on Blogger will ask them if they want to create a Google Plus account. If they say yes and they are not of age or if Google Plus has been disabled for their class, Google may suspend their account. Yes – this is true and there isn’t a whole lot your Google admin can do about it either so be careful.

I’ve written about Blogger plenty of times and I’ve used it plenty of times myself. I have used it with students and I have used it with staff. It is fine, but if you’re not Google I encourage you to look elsewhere.

Now onto Edublogs.

Now Edublogs is free … ish. You don’t get everything for free so let’s take a look at when you do get for free.

Now the list continues though these features (most of them) are a little more on the technical side so you may not need them.

I was able to add a YouTube video which is good but if I want to add a Google Slides presentation?

That’s a hard no. How about Soundlcoud? Nope. Just about anything else you want to embed. So you have YouTube and that’s all. Blogger will let you embed whatever you want and WordPress.com let’s you embed many things (though not everything and more on that later). Also, you only get 1GB of storage which is plenty since you can really only upload images. So what’s the appeal? Why would anyone want to hamstring their students?

Here’s its ace in the hole. You can create a class on your blog. That means that you can invite students to your blog, moderate what they write, what they comment and how comments work in general.

You can create each student blog right from your own dashboard which is very, very nice.

With this – the student doesn’t need to sign up. You create their account, password and level of access. This is pretty sweet and for younger students (say elementary) who may not have an email this is a good solution though the Edublogs dashboard (which is the WordPress dashboard because Edublogs is built on WordPress) may not be the easiest interface for younger students to navigate. Clear instructions, a little prep and some patience will remedy this of course.

I still cannot get past the fact that you can embed nearly nothing and that your storage is pretty small. I know to upgrade isn’t too bad only $39.95 per year (as of this post) which is cheaper than Kidblog, but it is just too limiting for the free version.

The idea seems directly targeted to elementary but the actual use seems more akin for middle school students and beyond. Use it if you need a free option and want to easily create blogs for your students.

Next up is kidblog.org.

This is a paid service so check out the cost below.

They do have special pricing for entire schools or districts but they don’t publish that information. So what does it do that it feels it can charge? It basically does the same thing as Edublogs. A teacher creates a class and then adds her/his students to the class. You even have the option of bulk uploading users which is very nice.

You also have an option of creating a Join-Code for the class, so you don’t even have to add them just give them a code and they can add themselves a-la Edmodo, Schoology and a ton of other services.

So what else? Simplicity. It is simple for students to use. Simple to log in, simple to leave comments (if that is available), simple to post and so on.

Very little hand holding here. It is simple for the teacher to manage the blog. Heck you could even add moderators or guests to the blog.

Would I use this with middle or high school students? No.

But if you, your school or district have the money and you want blogging to be done in the elementary then this is the path to go.

Finally to WordPress.com.

This is what I recommend for middle, high school and college students. It’s not all rainbows and cupcakes though. First, you cannot create their accounts. You can invite people to your blog, but it takes a little digging and an invitation does not create an account. They have to do that themselves. This takes time and is a pain! In the past this process took a good 3 days to complete. That was before G Suite or Office 365 so maybe it will go a little quicker now.

Once they are in and added to your blog as authors you can set limitations about moderation before publishing and so on like Edublogs. There are also a wide variety of media you can embed: Vimeo, YouTube, Google Slides/Docs, audio files and more. Now not everything can be embedded in the free account but a lot can.

Oh yeah this is all free too with a healthy 3GB of storage. There are ads on WordPress but only on the articles themselves and only at the bottom of the article making it pretty much unnoticeable. Let us knot forget that Edublogs is also built on WordPress so the experience is quite similar but Edublogs does let a teacher create student access but they withhold almost all embedding features.

Breakdown

Here you go.

If you use G Suite at your school then use Blogger. It’s simple, powerful and easy to add (just be careful of the Google Plus and avoid it).

If you are in elementary use Kidblog if you can afford it. If not, then use Edublogs for free. Kidblog is easier to use and set up the Edublogs and gives a wide variety of embedding options.

If you are in middle/high school use WordPress.com. Its free and powerful. It is a pain to set up with your classes but if you use Office 365 it could make it a little easier.

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Mobile devices for 1:1 programs

Mobile devices for 1:1 programs

I saw this on the Eduro blog. This isn’t an article though, it is a YouTube conversation. I just realized that their YouTube link doesn’t work so here is the correct link. So they discuss whether or not 1:1 programs should be built with mobile (iPads, tablets, Chromebooks) since students use mobile devices much more than laptops or desktops?

Spoiler: Laptops aren’t going anywhere.

The argument made is that laptops can run certain programs and do certain tasks that mobile devices. For example, but not limited to, Photoshop, professional video editing apps, professional website building apps, database creation apps, professional (or robust) publishing software, serious spreadsheet programs and so on.

Does this mean that schools that opt for iPads, Chromebooks or other tablets in schools? No, not at all. These devices have their own merits: cost, durability, integration with your current systems (Google Drive, Office 365). Also, you can have an IT lab or laptop cart that contains those devices with those special programs.

The bottom line is this. When students leave school and start a profession more often than not they will be handed a laptop or have a desktop. It’s pretty simple. I wrote a post about The future of smartphones and teachers where I dream about having my smartphone be my primary and only computing device. The sad truth is we are not there yet. One day.

What do you think?

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Chrome music lab

Yes – this is fun. You may not be aware but Google Chrome has a team that makes something called Chrome Experiments. This thing is just thinking outside the box of what Chrome can do. Most of it is interactive fun artsy stuff which isn’t all that bad.

Their latest experiment is the Chrome Music Lab. Here you can chose between 13 interactive musical experiences. They are pretty awesome and certainly a bit of fun.

The one I like the most is the Song-Maker. Here you can draw out your own song like a MIDI and then play it. You can chose between differnt sounds, different types of beats and it is just a lot of fun.

One tip – if you’re going to use this with some kids – make sure they have headphones.

🙂

https://musiclab.chromeexperiments.com/

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A 360 app for your smartphone is handy

This is a quick post and I hope you find a helpful one. Our school, like many I suspect, do deep cleaning in classrooms throughout the year – especially during long breaks such as winter, spring break and of course the summer break.

Whether you have carpet or not in the classroom these deep cleaning sessions usually require all the classroom furniture to be removed and then put back. The carpets or floors would then be cleaned. Then after that is done the furniture needs to be moved back.

You either know the problem or can foresee the problem. When everything is moved back into the classroom you could get the wrong number of desks or desks arranged incorrecrtly. Either way, as a teacher it is always a “thrill” to return after a long break to find that instead of planning for the first hour before students arrive you have to rearrange and go searching for missing desks, chairs, shelves or supplies.

Why not use your smartphone to take a pciture of the classroom many might be saying. True this is a huge help, but sometimes it doesn’t encompass everything needed. Enter a 360 camera app for the smartphone. This app will let a person stand in the middle of the room and capture, in more detail, what and how a room should look.

You can find plenty of these apps on the Google Play and Apple’s app stores. The one I tried out is called Panorma 360 by Occipital. This app is fast and quick and does a fantastic job – period. It does cost money ($1.99). Check out a quick Gif below of one of the classrooms.

You can check out the actual 360 online here (sorry it will not embed).

I think this little app can help make the facilities staff (in fact this idea came from one of our own) get it right (or as close as possible) and to help alleviate fears from the staff that their rooms may look like this after a winter break.

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The future of smartphones and teachers

I normally don’t talk about phones and which one is better than the others on IT Babble. I’ve certainly got my opinions but I am intrigued with the Galaxy S9. No, not its camera or Bixby or it display. I’m interested in the Samsung DeX. This device connects your Samsung phone (yes it must be a specific Samsung phone) to a monitor and it then turns your smartphone into a desktop computing “experience”.

OK, OK, OK I understand that this desktop “experience” is just a blown up version of Android with some navigation buttons at the bottom and support for a mouse and external keyboard. It doesn’t make Word more powerful or better in this environment. It just gives you more real estate and better interactive tools. The Samsung DeX is not the only product like this out there.

Enter Remix OS for Mobile. This does pretty much the same thing as the DeX. jide is the company that makes Remix and they have some other neat products out there as well – check them out.

This gets me thinking. Will the smartphone be your only computing experience. Maybe you dock it with your desk to give yourself more features, more real estate and a better working experience than tapping at your screen.

This isn’t such a crazy notion. A number of technology blogs suspect this such as The Verge and I’ve certainly heard this rumor more than once in TWiT and in other tech circles. Let’s not forget Windows has a Universal Windows Platform. This means no matter the screen size – the app will run and resize accordingly. So what does this all mean?

I have no idea except if all I had to carry was my smartphone to work that would be awesome. The problem with that is I cannot work on my smartphone alone. Systems I need to interact with are too complex and large for simple tapping on a 4“–6” screen. It just doesn’t work. Photoshop is a good litmus test. Can a phone run a full version of Photoshop? No – then you are probably making sacrifices and compromises and some jobs just can’t make those sacrifices.

However, if (this is a big if) they can get a smartphone to do run these applications. If they can easily, seamlessly and reliably dock to a work station and give you a true laptop or desktop experience then yes – I would do this. As for docking a wireless option would obviously be better. Simply place your smartphone in particular part of your desk or on a monitor base. I like this Microsoft video of how the future will be. It gives a crazy example of how this might work

Of course there are down sides here too. Already smartphones are viewed by many educators as a major distraction, a source of extra anxiety and a possible source of addiction. Making the smartphone even more powerful and even more important than it already is would only amplify these arguments even more.

Despite that – this does look like the path we are going down. What do you think? Am I way off base here?

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Episode 149 – Useless Tech

Patrick and Tony talk about a bunch of great stuff not just useless tech. As always subscribe to us on iTunes or on your favorite podcasting app!

  1. Wikispaces is going away
    1. https://blog.wikispaces.com/
    2. Did you ever use Wikispace
  2. Anchor – A review by Patrick
    1. https://itbabble.com/2018/02/23/anchor-a-review/
    2. Podcasting service
  3. Useless technology
    1. https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2018/2/21/17036762/tap-wearable-keyboard-mouse-price-availability
    2. What useless technology does your school have?
  4. Network monitoring
    1. Jennifer Abrams – http://jenniferabrams.com/

 

You can download the MP3 file here.

You can always listen to it below.

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Anchor – A Review

Anchor says it is “The easiest way to make a podcast. Ever.” Well we will just see about that and also see if it is a good fit for you in the classroom. There are three things that make Anchor a bit different than its competition. One, there is no limit to what is hosted. That means no bandwidth limit, no storage limit and no time limit. Go crazy creators. The second thing is that you can “move” your podcast from one site to Anchor. The third thing is that it is completely free. As an educator who has relied on services before, I am a little skeptical about this one but we can discuss that later.

There are mobile apps for iOS and Android but for this post I am going to focus on the online webservice.

Getting started

Super duper easy. To create an account you can log in with your Facebook or Twitter account or sign up using an email. Before you give any info it asks if this is a new podcast or if you already have a podcast. I’ve chosen to make a new one.

Then you have to give it a name, cover art, description and add its select its category.

Then it wants your details such as email, password etc.

It is pretty standard but I like that the importance is all about the content right up front. Most places ask for your details and then start asking about what you want to create or do. Nice one Anchor.

Creating a podcast

Now that you have an account and are in Anchor wants you to start creating immediately and this is nice and simple. Check out your choices below.

  • Upload – Upload your own podcast, segment or jingle
  • Record – Record right in the app
  • Messages – People can “call in” using the Anchor app and leave voice mails that you can integrate into your podcast
  • History – A list of all your previous audio files that you create or upload to Anchor
  • Transitions – Royalty free (I’m guessing) jingles and transition sounds you can use to help make the podcast that much more professional sounding

When I first heard about Anchor I thought it was going to be one of those services where the recording has to be done inside of it. In that respect it nice to see that the teacher, students or whoever completely produce their own episodes outside of Anchor and then upload it later.

Very nice.

The record button is expected but I’m just not super excited about it. I’ve long stated that mics on laptops, tablets and smartphones tend to stink. I understand though that recording in the app is fast and easy, but that speed usually comes with a tradeoff of quality. Of course you can use a USB microphone to get some pretty great sound (check out my post Podcast crash course to get a quick overview. You could also get a USB mixer but then you’d probably be better just mixing everything in Audacity, Garageband or another DAW and then uploading the file directly to Anchor.

The history is another interesting aspect. I don’t know how many times I would love to pull in a clip of a past IT Babble podcast right into the show and there simply isn’t an easy way. This fixes this issue and it also gives you a nice overview. I wonder though if you end up with hundreds of uploads how will you find anything?

Then there are transitions. There are a surprising amount of these transition pieces. You cannot mix two or more of these jingles together but hey for a quick transition it is very easy, they sound excellent to boot.

Recording is also pretty simple, when get ready you look at this screen. You can easily select if you want to use your internal mic (please don’t) or an external connected one.

Now when you want to make a show, you don’t have to do it all in one go. You can break it up into segments. This is a good idea. It helps you and your guests distill the information you want and as for planning goes it makes a show a lot less daunting.

Let me say just say bravo Anchor.

So when you make your recordings, add your files and transitions. To do this simply click the + button and then they audio files show up on the far right hand side. You can also preview your show with the preview button. Another nice thing is that it does show you the duration. When you’re done and ready to start publishing click the Save button at the top.

Publish

Now that it is saved it is time to publish your show. This page is also nice. It lets you preview your show, add the episode name and a description. They also give you a chance to add custom artwork, so if you’re like the IT Babble podcast, you have custom artwork for each show.

If you have it saved but maybe you’re not ready to publish it no worries. Anchor offers you a way to save it as a draft or to schedule it which is very, very nice.

Once it is published you get this screen.

The statistics below are a bit misleading. I don’t think anyone can really do podcasting statistics accurately and that includes Apple. It may give you an idea of the popularity but don’t take too much stock in these statistics. You can listen to it, you get the social media buttons, the embed code and you have the option to edit the audio. Very nice.

Here is what it looks like on the web if you bring up the page – very attractive.

And if you want to listen to this ridiculous podcast you may do so below. Here is what the embed code will look like.

WordPress.com strips out most iframes which is why I couldn’t embed the Anchor player.

https://anchor.fm/it-babbles-podcast-2/embed/episodes/Test-Episode-e13dqk

Messages

If other people have the Anchor mobile app they can leave an audio message via the app and it uploads so I decided to try it out. I downloaded the app, listened to my “awesome” podcast and left a message. It must take some time to process on their end because the messages I left haven’t shown up. I am sure they will though it is just a matter of time

Should you use it

Yes! Without a question you should use it. Anchor is one of those rare platforms that lets you make it as simple or as complicated as you like. The interface is very simple and easy to navigate. There is nothing that is intimidating here at all and their support page is quite helpful.

If you want to explore podcasting this is definitely the place to start – hands down! I believe with mobile devices, Chromebooks or laptops you and a class could make podcasts with very little training (if you use USB mics or just the built in mics) and allow students to focus on the content. Don’t focus so much on the process focus more on the content – that’s where it is at.

Final thoughts

The IT Babble podcast is hosted on Podomatic. We pay to have it hosted and it’s not too expensive and not as easy to navigate as Anchor but I am not switching the IT Babble podcast to Anchor and here is why.

It’s completely free. How can this be sustained? In the most recent article on TechCrunch the CEO Mike Mignano had this to say:

What tools and at what cost? Most likely what you see on Anchor will probably be the same, but they may charge for promoting the podcast, more transition and jingle sounds and eventually they may charge for storage. Until then this is a company that is not making any money.

I’ve relied on plenty of online resources in my time only to see them close up shop for one reason or another. Anchor is great and if they stick around I’ll probably change but I need to know how long they will be around. Even if they are profitable there is nothing to say that a company like Google may buy them out and then shut them down later. It happens quite often.

On another note, I really wish I could go and download the actual MP3 file that Anchor creates for each episode. That is a nice thing about Podomatic in that regard. It gives you some options for archiving and embedding that otherwise you may not have.

I really like Anchor and if you’re a teacher it is certainly worth your time if you’re interested in doing some podcasting with your students, but don’t think it will always be there. Usually things this good don’t last so I would enjoy it while you can. Hopefully Anchor lives on far longer than I expect. At least I hope.

Anchor – https://anchor.fm/

Posted in Patrick Cauley, Podcast, Review | Tagged , | 1 Comment