Tuesday, December 02, 2014

HP EliteDesk 800 G1 Mini PC in the Classroom Contest

The Hewlett Packard EliteDesk 800 G1 Mini PC is a tiny desktop computer with lots of big features!

Its footprint is 6.9 x 1.3 x 7.0 inches and it weighs only 2.92 pounds, less than a lot of laptops! The HP EliteDesk 800 G1 Mini PC  has a 4th generation Intel processor and runs the newest Windows operating systems. The front of the computer includes two USB 3.0 ports (one of which is a USB fast charge port) and an audio-out and microphone jack.

Shown with optional stand, monitor, keyboard and mouse

On the back, it has an additional four USB 3.0 ports, a VGA connection, an Ethernet port, 2 Display Ports, and an audio-out jack. The bottom of the HP EliteDesk 800 G1 Mini PC has a VESA mount.

A wireless card is an option as is an external DVD/RW drive. With a 500GB standard hard drive or up to a 1TB solid state drive, the HP EliteDesk 800 G1 Mini PC packs a great computer into a "mini" package. Also, due to its small size, it has more than 3 times the energy-efficiency of a tower desktop.

The unit I received has a 2.9gHz i5 processor and is running Windows 7 Professional, but the upgrade disk to Windows 8.1 was also included in the package. It has 4GB RAM, a 128GB solid state hard drive, and the WiFi card.

Here is more detailed specs and information about the HP EliteDesk 800 G1 Mini PC.


In the education arena, the HP EliteDesk 800 G1 Mini PC can solve any number of problems as well as help schools think “out of the box”.

Teacher’s desks are notoriously cluttered with the tools of the trade…their teaching materials, stationery supplies for student use, and much more. The diminutive footprint of the HP EliteDesk 800 G1 Mini PC can free up a ton of usable space on a teacher’s desk and also eliminate the “big box” on the dusty floor! Teachers can easily get access to the USB ports and audio jacks on the front of the EliteDesk G1 Mini PC when they need to, too.

Another plus for teachers is the WiFi capabilities of the device. In the past, teachers were tied to classroom area of the Ethernet jack and VGA connection. Now, with wireless projectors and wireless network access, the HP EliteDesk 800 G1 Mini can sit anywhere in the room. In addition, with the plethora of collaborative apps that can have students share over WiFi, the teacher and students can share documents, collaborate in real-time on virtual whiteboards, and students can mirror their mobile devices to the teacher’s desktop.

In schools where security of computers in a lab setting or classroom is a concern, this tiny HP EliteDesk Mini 800 G1 Mini PC can be easily locked up at night in a drawer or closet. It does have the traditional cable lock port, but locking them up at night might be a better option.

The low cost and energy-efficiency also make this mini computer a perfect replacement for the bigger CPUs in a computer lab setting. The SSD drive makes them fast to boot up and, again, space is saved on the computer lab tables for other student project-based or reference work.

One creative idea, if students have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse at home, is to have the HP EliteDesk 800 G1 Mini PC become a school’s 1:1 device of choice. The light 2.92 lb. weight, the SSD drive which would not be subject to problems when carried in a backpack, and the built-in WiFi could allow students to bring it back and forth from school to home. In school, there would be labs of monitors, keyboards, and mice and extra sets of these in the classroom, library, science labs, and even the cafeteria!  A student would just hook-up his or her HP EliteDesk 800 G1 Mini wherever there was a “workstation” spot. 


HP graciously provided me with the opportunity to give away a new HP EliteDesk 800 G1 Mini PC to a lucky US or Canadian PreK-16 educator or pre-service or graduate education student! In order to have a chance to win the Mini PC, educators were asked to make a mini-- a mini-infographic that is!

As you know, an infographic is a visual representation of data. Having students create them as a formative or summative assessment can help them practice their information literacy, visual literacy, data literacy, and technology literacy skills.

When starting off with this type of lesson or unit, it is best to start small. Have students research to find one piece of interesting data, decide who the audience for the infographic is going to be, consider the type of data visualization that would work best to showcase the information, and then create a mini-infographic showcasing just that single piece of interesting data.

USA Today, since beginning publication, has offered a mini-infographic they call a “snapshot” on the front page of each issue of the newspaper. Researchers, reporters, and editors in each of the primary departments of News, Money, Sports, and Life account for most of the ideas and research for these snapshots. Once the research is complete, the information goes to a graphic artist who creates the infographic. This process usually take between three and four hours.

Here are some links to sample USA Today snapshots in the area of news.


In order to participate in the contest to win an HP EliteDesk 800 G1 Mini PC desktop computer, the educator had to create a mini-infographic or “snapshot” and submit it to me. The winner of the HP EliteDesk 800 G1 Mini PC was randomly chosen from those educators who submit the mini-infographic.

The topic of the infographic had to be in their content area, an education or educational technology-related topic, or anything else of interest to K-12 educators or students. The infographic could have been intended to inform or persuade.  I provided the entrants with the background image to use for the infographic.

To find out more about infographics, visit my infographics page here: http://www.schrockguide.net/infographics-as-an-assessment.html


The easiest way to create a mini-infographic is to create a single slide in PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Slides.  For this contest, I had created a PowerPoint, Keynote, and JPEG version of the background entrants were required to use. The background illustrated the "clean" desk teachers would have by using an HP EliteDesk 800 G1 Mini PC!

On that single slide/image, entrants had to add the text and data information, and include the citation to the sources used for their infographic information. All of that information had to be that single slide. Here is a sample I created:

When entrants were finished with the slide, in PowerPoint they picked FILE- SAVE AS PICTURES, in Keynote picked FILE-EXPORT TO- IMAGES, and in Google Slides picked FILE- DOWNLOAD AS- JPEG IMAGE. They saved the image to their desktop or Google Drive (or their Camera Roll or Gallery if they were using a tablet).

Entrants emailed the single JPEG image to me at kathy@kathyschrock.net. They also put "Mini" in the subject line of the email and their name, email address, and Twitter handle (if they had one) in the body of the email.

Here were the links to the background image in the three different formats


Educators had to locate some small bit of data they wanted to share with other educators or students. Using the background on the single slide, they added --

  • a title for the infographic
  • a labeled chart or graph
  • text to explain what the viewer is seeing
  • URL to the page(s) where they obtained the data
  • Saved the slide as JPEG to their computing device
  • Sent the JPEG as an attachment to kathy@kathyschrock.net with the subject of "Mini"
  • Included their name, email address, and Twitter handle, if they had one, in the body of the email
The contest was open to PreK-16 educators and pre-service and graduate education students in the United States and Canada.

By submitting the mini-infographic entry, entrants had a random chance to win the HP EliteDesk 800 G1 Mini PC and they were giving me permission to possibly post your infographic on my blog site whether they won or not. Their name would not appear on the Web page, just the mini-infographic itself.

By submitting the entry, if they were chosen as the winner, they were are also allowing me to share their name, email address, and mailing address with HP (or an HP associate) so they could send the winner  the HP EliteDesk 800 G1 Mini PC.

The winner’s name would be announced on the blog (but not tied to their submission) and on Twitter.

The email address of all who submit entries will remain private except for the winner, whose email address will be shared with HP (or an HP associate).

The submissions were due on: December 7, 2014 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time and the contest is now closed.



Here are some of the great mini-infographics that were submitted! Thank you to all who re-tweeted about the contest and for those that submitted an entry!


The randomly-chosen winner of the giveway of the HP EliteDesk 800 G1 Mini PC was Mark Case! I used the DecideNow app on the iPad to pick the winner-- congrats to Mark!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bloomin Windows

I recently received an HP ElitePad 1000 G2 for review, and decided to put it through its paces as I created a new set of Bloom's-related applications -- Bloomin' Windows.


I had not spent a lot of time with a Windows 8.1 Professional slate tablet. I had fooled around with the Microsoft Surface RT a bit, but I was unhappy with the fact RT did not allow the installation of "regular" programs. In addition, the RT tablets could not authenticate on a school network, and I felt their use in schools would be limited.

The HP ElitePad 1000 is a beautiful tablet! It can run the 64-bit Pro version of Windows 8.1 so it will work well on school networks. Its 10.1" diagonal screen will allow it to be used for the Common Core tests and there is also a bundle available that includes Office Home and Student 2013. (The screen is also more readable outside than any laptop or tablet I have used.) There are a full range of accessories available to meet specific needs. 

I received the HP Expansion Jacket with Battery with the ElitePad 1000. It adds 2 USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, its own SD card reader, access to the microphone/headphone jack and a battery that is rated to allow you to use the tablet's and the case's battery for a total 20 hours! It does add .86 pounds (450g) to the tablet, but, if battery life is something you care about, it is a must-have accessory. The tablet and the Expansion Jacket re-charge at the same time.

There is also a Productivity Jacket available which might be more suited for schools. It includes a keyboard, 2 USB 3.0 ports, and an SD card slot. It, too, charges as the device charges. The battery life of the tablet is rated for up to 10 hours, so the HP ElitePad 1000 should get through the school day on its own battery.

There are adapters available for hooking up to projectors if you do not have a WiFi projector in your classroom-- both an HDMI and a dual HDMI/VGA adapter. There is also an Ethernet adapter,, a serial adapter, a Smart AC power adapter, and an external USB port adapter. (As with most other tablets, the adapters take up the charging port on the tablet, so you cannot charge the device and use an adapter at the same time.)

HP ElitePad 1000, Expansion Jacket with battery, and USB adapter
 The specs of the Elite Pad 1000 G2 include:
  • Intel Atom Processor (quad-core Intel Bay Trail Atom)
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 64 or 128 GB solid state drive
  • Bright and beautiful 10.1" (1900x1200) Gorilla Glass display
  • Dual cameras: 2.1MP HD (front) and 8 MP with flash (rear)
  • HD audio with 2 stereo speakers
  • SDXC card reader
  • USB port (with optional adapter)
  • Microphone/headphone jack 
  • Up to 10 hours of battery life
  • WiFi (a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth (4G is an option)
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 7.01 x 10.28 x 0.36 in. (178 x 261 x 9.2 mm)


After getting comfortable with using Windows on a slate tablet, I began to think about the creation of another entry for my Bloomin' Apps page. A few weeks ago, I received a note from David Lopez, a Microsoft Innovative Educator Fellow. He had created his own version of a Bloomin' Windows graphic. He prompted me to think about the need for one in the many schools that are using Microsoft Windows. I decided to start my own from scratch so I could spend some time investigating the applications in the Windows store.

My goal was to use applications that come with every Windows machine (or are freely downloadable as extras), including the use of the Office Suite applications, and then adding applications from the Windows Store. 

I spent a lot of time combing the Windows store for apps that were available through that venue. I could not find apps to meet all the spots on the grid, so did resort to a couple of Web 2.0 online tools. I understand I could have populated the entire grid with online tools, like the ones I have on this page, since the ElitePad 1000 can use all of those tools. But that would not have helped me learn about the many applications and apps that are available from both Microsoft and other publishers that are downloadable from the Windows Store and usable on the ElitePad 1000 even when it is not online.

I also decided to become more proficient with ThingLink while I was creating this Bloomin' Windows grid. I identified the apps and applications for each level of Bloom's, created the background image for my ThingLink creation, and then used "hot spots" to link out to the applications, apps, and tools. I embedded the Bloomin' Windows graphic on the Bloomin' Apps page, but you can also view and use it below.

Let me know your thoughts via email. Are you already using the HP ElitePad 1000 in your school? What are some cool ways you use it to support teaching and learning? Do you have other favorite Windows apps that are popular with your students or teachers?



Monday, September 08, 2014

H&R Block Budget Challenge: Financial literacy and personal finance


As I recently wrote about in a Discovery Educator Network blog post, financial literacy is one of the important literacies for our students to acquire. Financial literacy, sometimes referred to as economic literacy, according to Atomic Learning, “targets the importance of making appropriate economic choices on a personal level, and understanding the connection personal, business, and governmental decisions have on individuals, society, and the economy”.

Students are often taught, in a social studies class or a economics class, about the impact the decisions made by businesses and government have (and have had) on society and the economic climate. Students study capitalism, the Great Depression, government bail-outs of corporations, manufacturing, and so on.

However, the area that is often overlooked is the personal finance component of financial literacy. Sometimes how to develop a budget is taught in a math class when learning about spreadsheets. And I remember working in pairs in my high school health class while we developed a budget for a wedding. (Really!)

There are many online materials and sets of state standards to help teachers develop lessons and units dealing with personal finance into and across the curriculum. I have included resources in the DEN blog post, but I especially like the Council for Economic Education's set of standards for financial literacy that start in grade three, and include:
  • Earning income
  • Buying goods and services
  • Using credit
  • Saving
  • Financial investing
  • Protecting and insuring

To provide a more engaging and "real-world" practice with these personal finance skills, H&R Block is sponsoring an online contest, The H&R Block Budget Challenge, that provides students with a chance to compete for prizes while learning how to manage their money through a simulation environment. (Students in grades 9-12 and at least age 14 are eligible.) 

The contest involves students, over a period of two months, immersing themselves "into the financial life of a recent college graduate who has been working for about six months. Each student gets a regular paycheck, a checking account, a 401(k) savings account and bills to pay throughout the simulation. By maximizing 401(k) savings, paying bills on time and responding correctly to quiz questions while avoiding fees like late fees, overdraft fees and finance charges, students increase their individual score."

There are six different start dates to pick from. (The first one is October 3, and registration for your class is due at least a week before the start dates.)  At the mid-point and conclusion of each period, the highest scoring classroom will win a Classroom Grant with up to $5000. And, at the end of each two-month period, twenty-two students will be awarded a $20,000 scholarship each! The grand prize of a $100,000 scholarship will go to the student who had the highest score of any student during the contest period.

What better way to give students real-world practice as they learn how to manage their money and finances? The added bonus of classroom grants and college scholarships will keep students engaged in the process. And, if they win, they will be well-versed in how to manage their winnings!

So get your students involved today! The H&R Block Budget Challenge site has much more information and details!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Activators and Summarizers with Mobile Devices

This post first appeared in my "Kathy's Katch" blog for the Discovery Education Network and is re-posted here with permission.

Activators and summarizers have been used in classrooms for a long time. We all have our favorites and students know what to expect when we begin to use them. Since many classrooms now have at least part time access to 1:1 mobile devices, whether on a cart, a BYOD environment, or a true 1:1 program, I thought I would showcase how some of these can easily be used with mobile devices. This article will introduce you to activators and summarizers, convince you to use them, provide some help with how to introduce them, and find out how students can use them.

What are activators and summarizers?

There are many definitions of activators and summarizers. I like this overview of them from the US Digital Literacy site

My two favorite activity books are oldies but goodies by Research for Better Teaching. Written in 1993, the structures are sound and can easily be adapted for use with mobile devices. (Activators book / Summarizers book

And, here is a newer one that just includes activators and is full of both process and content strategies for middle and high school students.

Coral Martin has a great Powerpoint presentation that includes many useful things about activators and summarizers in the classroom. She talks about a side effect of the use of activators and summarizers which is that they can be instruments to minimize the tension of the students.  Here is what that minimized tension can lead to in the learning process.

Why should you use activators and summarizers in the classroom?

Martin and Frazier/Mehle provides the following thoughts as to why it is educationally-sound  to use these structures.
  • Use deepens student understanding
  • Use enables students to begin to construct their knowledge and the personal meaning the material has for them
  • These structures support retention of knowledge as students begin to develop an organized pattern of thought and move from knowledge to experience.
  • They help the students place new information in a larger framework
  • Students feel more confident after using activators because they feel they already know something about the new material
  • Teachers can use them to find out about students’ confusions or misconceptions
  • Teachers can use them to gather formative assessment data
  • Teachers can adapt the lesson plan to match what the students know/don’t know

How can you introduce these structures  to students?

The Frazier and Mehle activators book provides some sound advice for teachers when they are planning to use activators or summarizers. These activities may require students to move around and/or meet in small groups. Is your room set-up for this? Is your furniture conducive to this? Do you want to have students moving furniture around each time you do one of these activities, or can you plan a more permanent set-up for your room that will work?

Students are very social, but that does not necessarily make them expert collaborators or a good small group member. It is helpful to use a teamwork rubric about these assets or develop one with students.

There are also process (rather than content) activators that can help students feel more comfortable with practicing these skills. In the business world, activators are usually called “ice breakers” and you can find many different types online to use with your students. After the activity, make sure to have students reflect on the process and suggest things that might make the activities run more smoothly.

How can students use mobile devices for these activities?

The object here is for you to move from traditional activators and summarizers to those that can be implemented via mobile devices. Here is sample to get you started thinking about how you might achieve that goal.

In the Saphier and Haley activator book, they introduce an brainstorming activator entitled “Brainstorm and Categorize” which is used before you present new information to students. The teacher introduces the topic and has students brainstorm everything they think about the topic and then sort the list into categories. This is done either individually or in small groups and label the categories.

To move this structure to the mobile device, first introduce the topic.
  1. Have each group of students create a single Padlet for their group using the freeform layout.
  2. The members of the group will brainstorm their ideas about a topic and put them on a note titled with their name and adding the broad topic.
  3. Students then go out and gather Discovery Education Streaming and Creative Commons licensed images on those topics and either save them to their Photos or Gallery app on their device (and put the URL to the image in their notepad) or simply add the URL of the image to the Padlet note. If they have saved the image to their device, they will need to add the URL to the note after the topic title. If they are just adding a link to the URL, clicking on the image will bring viewers right to the source of the image. (To edit a note for adding an image, the student simply taps twice on the already-created note.)
  4. Students will then make a Padlet note for the category headings they decide on, and move their notes under the appropriate heading.
  5. Once their Padlet is done, the group will post the link to their Padlet to a class Padlet, so items can be shared and you can assess their work and determine what they do/don’t know.
This activity can also be done on a whole class Padlet, and can be projected as you and the students decide on the categories and where each note should be put. Doing the activity whole-class will take longer, since there will be a lot of whole-class discussion on why items were added and which category they should be put beneath. However, working as a whole class will help you clear up misconceptions.

Below is a screenshot of  Padlet using Discovery Education Streaming and one CC-licensed image about the jungle. The direct link may be found here.

There are many other tools that can be used to adapt activators and summarizers to use on mobile devices. Drawing tools and screencasting tools, audio recording tools, concept-mapping tools, collaboration tools, and writing tools can help you move these activities to the digital realm. What is most beneficial about the digital results of these structures is that students can easily share work, you can assess everyone in the class since you have a copy of their work and sometimes an audio recording of their thinking processes, and you can see what information you may need to adapt or enhance the content of the unit of study.

Links to activators and summarizers you can adapt may be found on my Activators and Summarizer page on the Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything site. Please email me and share any ways you use mobile devices for icebreakers, activators, or summarizers in your classroom!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Road Warrior Router

This Asus WL-330NUL Multi-Mode Pocket Router is cool and is a great addition to your traveling toolkit. For $34.55, it can serve a number of purposes and help you out in a pinch!

First, if you need a USB Ethernet dongle for a Windows, Mac, or Linux laptop/ultrabook that does not have an Ethernet port, it can be used to become "wired". Since I already carry an Apple USB Ethernet dongle, this now replaces it in my travel bag.

This tiny device (2.5" L x .75" W x .5" H) is well-made and the USB portion folds into the back for protection while not in use.

The device needs power, which can be gotten from a USB port on a computer, from a wall socket via a 5 V, 1A power adapter, and even by plugging it in to a portable power bank!

What it can do...

If you plug an Ethernet cable into the Asus WL-330NUL Multi-Mode Pocket Router and plug it into a power source, it acts as a wireless access point and you can simply pick the device's SSID and type in the provided password to connect with your computer or mobile device.

If you plug the device into a computer's USB port and plug an Ethernet cable into the end, it can act as a wired network connector for your computer. If you use Windows, there is a utility included to configure the router. The Mac seamlessly allows the use of the Asus WL-330NUL Multi-Mode Pocket Router as an Ethernet dongle.

To connect the Asus WL-330NUL Multi-Mode Pocket Router to an existing wireless network and use it as a wireless router, simply plug it into a power source or computer USB port and then use the utility app (Windows) or visit a special ASUS Web page, enter the admin password which is etched into the side of the Asus WL-330NUL Multi-Mode Pocket Router and enter the SSID and PW of the existing wireless network to connect the router to that wireless network (Mac, tablets, and smartphones).

When using the utility or the special Asus Web page to configure the Asus WL-330NUL Multi-Mode Pocket Router, you can even set up an open or passworded guest network that others can access with their computers or mobile devices.

The Asus WL-330NUL Multi-Mode Pocket Router works with Windows XP through Windows 8, Mac OS X 10.5-10.8, and Linux. It supports 802.11b/g/b networking protocols and 64/128-bit WEP, WPA TKIP/AES, WPA2 TKIP/AES encryptions.

You can even assign the Asus WL-330NUL Multi-Mode Pocket Router a static IP address via the configuration utility or special Asus online config page if needed for security purposes.

So, this router can be used for many purposes and has found a permanent place in my travel bag!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

2 Cool for School


I am a long-time Microsoft PowerPoint user. I have been using it to #WorkWonders since PowerPoint 2.0 for Windows 3.1 came out in 1992! Over the past few years, in addition to using PowerPoint to create presentations, I have both used and discovered some neat ways it can be used to solve a a few animation problems! You can read about those below.

Want to share how Microsoft Office helps you #WorkWonders in your classroom? What creative ways have you used Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access, Lync, or OneNote to help you teach, administer, or help your students learn? Read about the contest and send in your entries!

#WorkWonders and win a Microsoft Surface 2!

Between now and 11:59 midnight US ET on June 2, 2014, follow me on Twitter, submit a public Tweet to me (@kathyschrock), that includes my Twitter handle, a photo, the hashtags #WorkWonders and #contest, the rules and regulations link (http://bit.ly/1od3jSs) and a short overview of your creative project which you used an Office program or programs to plan  make, or create. (The tweet or comment does not have to include the name of the Office program you used.) The winner will receive a Microsoft Surface 2 tablet!

Sample tweets:

@yourtwitterhandle @kathyschrock Used MS PowerPoint for video storyboards to create HS graduation video. #WorkWonders #contest  http://bit.ly/1od3jSs (attached image)

@yourtwitterhandle @kathyschrock Developed an interactive bulletin board to celebrate the "100th Day of School" #WorkWonders #contest http://bit.ly/1od3jSs (attached image)

Hint: if you need to show a series of steps or pictures for your #WorkWonders entry image, consider creating a collage in Publisher or a single slide in PowerPoint and saving it out as a JPEG or picture to attach to the Tweet.

I will be judging the entries, re-tweeting some of them, and will be announcing the winner of the Microsoft Surface 2 tablet on June 9, 2014. The entries will be judged on creativity/originality (25%), quality of submission (25%), and the “fit” to the #WorkWonders theme and use of Office (50%). You can find out more about the #WorkWonders theme on this site: http://office.com/workwonders

Contest rules and regulations:
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.), 13 years or older. Enter Promotion by: 6/2/14. To enter and for Official Rules, including prize description, visit http://bit.ly/1od3jSs Void where prohibited.



"Poor Man's Flash" or "Animation on a Shoestring" 

I attended a conference in Australia a few years ago in which a presenter showcased three animations created by students in grades 4, 7, and 9. While watching the short animations, I assumed they were created in Flash. I was very impressed that such young students had become proficient with that software.

Then the presenter surprised us! He hit the escape key, and we saw this on the screen...

PowerPoint slides for a 7th grade student's animation

There was an audible gasp as the audience realized the animation was created using the drawing tools in Microsoft's PowerPoint, with each slide containing a single cell of the animation. The slides were set to advance with an automatic transition after 0 seconds to give the appearance of full-motion animation.

Here is a screencast of the animation as it runs in PowerPoint. I have also shared the PowerPoint presentation in Microsoft's SkyDrive, which will allow you to view and download it to study how it was created.

Below is is a great 3-minute video created by a student who showcases the steps in creating an animation using the tools in Microsoft PowerPoint. He makes it look so easy!


Using Microsoft PowerPoint either locally on a computer or online with Office 365 can be a great way to introduce the art of animation to your students!

Motion Paths are Your Friend

Last year, I was creating a stop-motion animation movie using a camera and stop-motion animation software. The purpose was to showcase how apps were available to replace many of the items in a student backpack with the addition of a mobile device.

I created the first part of the movie by taking photographs as items came out of the backpack. I then wanted the mobile device to pause as it entered the backpack and apps to "fall" into it, each one replacing the physical item that had come out of the backpack.

I tried any number of ways to drop items into the mobile device, but had no luck until I remembered the motion paths that were available in Microsoft PowerPoint. I first took a screenshot from the movie just as the mobile device started to enter the backpack and used this image as the background of a single PowerPoint slide.

I then imported that same image into an image editing program and cropped it so just the lower third of the image was left. I placed that in the foreground on that same PowerPoint slide. My idea was to have each app image "fall" between the background and the foreground images. You can see the highlighted area of the foreground image below.

Cropped foreground image sitting on top of the background image.

I next took all the app images and put them in the area outside of the slide itself, what I call the work area, so I had them handy. You can see what that looked like below. If you zoom out while in PowerPoint, this handy work area become available for use.

Adding all the images in the work area outside of the slide itself in PowerPoint

I created a motion path that started in that same work area, entered the slide from the top, paused, and then slid down between the foreground and background images. I found out a neat thing at that point. 

Once I had one image attached to the top of a motion path, I simply copy-and-pasted that same image and motion path combination. When right-clicking on the copied motion path, I was given the option to "change picture" and replace the image with another app picture. It made things move along very quickly! You can see what that menu looks like below.

Right-click on a image and "change picture" to create a motion path with a new image.

I piled all of the motion paths on top of one another and had them enter the slide area with 0 seconds of time between each one.

Motion paths ready to fall into the mobile device

Here is the finished movie which includes the animation and the motion path segments. Pretty cool, eh?

It's easy to #WorkWonders with Microsoft PowerPoint!

Friday, May 23, 2014

PixiClip for Teaching and Learning

I had a PixiClip account for a while but had not yet put it through its paces. Last week, I was asked to pen a sponsored post and provide ways it might be used to support teaching and learning.

PixiClip describes itself as an "interactive whiteboard" but it is so much more!

PixiClip is a browser-based, screen recording tool. It is simple to use and has the added advantage of allowing the creators of the recordings to include their voice or video of themselves as part of the recording. 

I have been using screen recording tools on mobile devices and stand-alone computer programs for creating screen recordings. Having a browser-based tool like PixiClip, that works right inside of Firefox, Safari, Chrome (even on the Chromebook), and IE, means that once I have created an account, I can use any computer to make a screen-recording.

PixiClip hosts the screen recordings you make, and registered users can keep them private or share them with the public, and they can also delete any older screen recordings as they become out of date.

How it works

I recorded my screen as I created a Pixiclip screen recording. Watch the movie below to see the process. Some of the aspects I point out in the recording are:
  • Start by picking "Start Doodling"
  • Consider using a stylus for writing and drawing; it is more natural
  • Start your Webcam and make sure you are in the picture
  • Gather your image assets to the PixiClip image drawer before you begin
  • As soon as you move an image to the board or start writing, the recording starts, so be ready to begin your lesson or overview
  • When complete, publish the item, give it a name and a description, have the cursor show or not, and make the item public, private, hidden or passworded
  • Share the link via various social networks or email, or grab the embed code to put into a blog entry

Using PixiClip in the Classroom: Students

Having access to a screen recording tool like PixiClip on every computer via the Web browser, both at school and at home, allows students to use screen recording in various ways. In addition, have the ability to post it online with or without a password allows students to share with their teachers and their peers.
  • Each student can create a how-to for a certain mobile app to allow others to access their explanation when needed
  • Students can create a screen recording as a Ticket-to-Leave, summarizing what they learned and allowing them to go over what they were unsure about during that day's lesson
  • Students can create a introduction or "trailer" to a project that they are creating
  • Students can outline the process or storyboard they are going to use to create a project

Using PixiClip in the Classroom: Teachers
  • Teachers can create an introduction to a daily lesson for days when they are attending a workshop and not in the classroom
  • Teachers can use a screen recording as feedback to a student while marking up their paper on the whiteboard in PixiClip
  • Teachers can create their own "Khan-like" screen recordings to provide students with both remediation and instructional videos
  • Create a screen recording exemplar representing what you want the students to create with PixiClip
I have an entire page dedicated to screen recording in the classroom. It includes additional ideas, tips and tricks that you can employ when making your PixiClip screen recordings.

Have you created any PixiClip recordings you would like to share? Can you think of other ways that PixiClip can help support you in teaching and your students in learning? Send me a note with your samples and ideas!