Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Having fun with MockoFun!

Designing graphics is a great way to enhance your slideshows, videos, newsletters, and more. I love to try new (to me) online graphic design tools and put them through their paces! I recently discovered MockoFun, a graphic design toolset which works right in the Web browser and includes a photo editor, a logo maker, and a text editor.


After registering for an account, and seeing how easy it was to create great-looking graphics, I sent a note to MockoFun  and asked if they would consider an education offering. They wrote back and told me the company was just releasing an educational version of the product which provides teachers with the Premium version of their offering for no-cost! You can sign up for that here: https://www.mockofun.com/free-for-teachers/

The MockoFun Online Graphic Design suite includes over 100 templates, 245,000 images and element assets to use and the ability to upload your own images for your design, too. Some items are for sale, but 80% of the assets are free.

COOL FEATURE 1: CURVED TEXT GENERATOR

One of the text editor features that I love is the curved text. I know how difficult is to curve text in some programs. In addition to making it as easy as just typing in the template, MockoFun includes many styles of curved text to pick from.

To better learn how to use the Curved Text Generator, take a look at this great tutorial the MockoFun staff have put together!


I was even able to find an asset in the elements and create my own cool stamp with the curved text tool!



COOL FEATURE 2: THE TEMPLATE GALLERY

The template gallery in MockoFun includes a template for anything you need to create. (And, of course, you can always start designing from scratch, too!)

Following are some of my favorite template categories and some screenshots, followed by the list of all the template types.

CARDS

POSTERS AND FLYERS

LOGOS

PHOTO EFFECTS











Template categories

  • Backgrounds
  • Cards
  • Facebook post
  • Flyers and posters
  • Infographics
  • Labels
  • Logos
  • Mockups
  • Photo collage
  • Photo effects
  • Quotes
  • Social media graphics


COOL FEATURE 3: THE ELEMENTS

The elements included in MockoFun include everything from photographs to dividers. Most of the element categories includes tons of sub-categories so you can easily find that perfect asset to use!










In addition to the easy to use features, MockoFun also includes advanced features such as layers, 50+ fonts to pick from and editable text features. Your classroom graphics will wow anyone that sees them!

If you are an educator, sign up for MockoFun for teachers to be upgraded to the Premium features. And, if you are not a teacher, sign up for MockoFun for free to give it a try!














Wednesday, February 24, 2021

IPEVO Whiteboard and VZ-X

Back in July 2020, I wrote a review of the IPEVO VZ-R HDMI/USB Dual Mode 8MP Document Camera ($219). That is a great document camera with excellent optics and many useful features. 



Since then, IPEVO has also released the IPEVO VZ-X Wireless/HDMI/USB 8MP Document Camera ($329) which has the same excellent optics but with the addition of built-in wireless! With this wireless capability, you can easily connect the document camera to your computer, AppleTV and your iOS or Android device!




IPEVO has released a new version of their IPEVO Whiteboard software for iPad to take advantage of this wireless connectivity. Simply connect your IPEVO wireless document camera via WiFi to an iPad or Android tablet using IPEVO Whiteboard. You can then display, adjust, draw, or annotate on the live image. You can also take snapshots or record videos, and add annotations and audio. In addition, you can start from a blank whiteboard and record yourself as you annotate and bring in assets.

I decided to give the new IPEVO Whiteboard for iPad a try. It is now optimized for the Apple Pencil, too, and includes an easy-to-use pallete for color, lines, highlighters, and shapes.








IPEVO Whiteboard also includes advanced tools such as a ruler and a protractor which would come in handy for math lessons. There is also a Spotlight tool which can help you draw the student’s attention to important sections of the screen. You can also use the Attach function to add an image, text, map, and more to the whiteboard. 




If you pick the video recording option, you can record your material with audio and annotations as you conduct live lessons or your introduction to a unit. This is great asset for students who need to review the material again or for a flipped classroom model. 

I created a blank whiteboard and picked the video option.
 


The IPEVO Whiteboard for iPad comes in two versions — the regular version and the Pro version. The Pro version adds the advanced features of disappearing ink, the ability to add a browser window or a map, some background templates, picture-in-picture capability, and more! 

The Pro version of IPEVO Whiteboard for iPad is $1.99 per month or $19.99 for a year and is available as an in-app purchase.





Sunday, January 03, 2021

Presenting with Apple's Keynote in Zoom

I am one that needs my notes in front of me when I present. Whether I look at them or not, it makes me feel more secure if they are there. 

I have been doing a lot of presentations on Zoom using Keynote. In order to see my notes, I have had to use two monitors. Of course, when I push Play in Keynote in real life, I see my notes and the audience sees the presentation on the "big screen". 

In Zoom, I share the window of the the external monitor, that has the presentation showing, with the audience and I see my notes in front of me. I do see my video and can open the chat if I need to. However, there are sometimes problems directing the audio so both the audience and I can hear me speaking and any video sound.


I finally have come up with a one-computer solution to the problem!

Here are the instructions followed by screenshots.

Monday, December 14, 2020

The flexible FlexClip video maker

FlexClip is an online video editor with lots of great features and tons of assets! You can use the included templates or create your video from scratch. You can also import a video you already have  made and edit and customize it in many ways. This video maker/creation site does it all!

TEMPLATES


FlexClip has over 40 video template categories including templates for birthday wishes, technology, holidays, marketing, education, Instagram, TikTok and everything in-between. Each category has multiple templates that are editable to meet your needs. There are even intro and outro templates which can provide you with a reusable beginning and ending for any video you create!


All of the tools have interfaces that are easy to understand, navigate, and do and un-do mistakes.


I picked the "Education and Training" templates to see what was available.






















I picked the one below to explore the customization features of the templates.





I could decide whether I wanted to pick media assets from the FlexClip collection, upload files from my computer, and record directly in the Flexiclip interface.





In addition to recording directly into FlexClip from the web cam, I could screencast, too!




There were tons of stock videos and photos that I could use as part of my video.





I could pick any number of type styles, locations, and backgrounds for the text on the title slide.




I was then presented with choices for overlays for text for decorative additions and had the ability to add a logo to the video.



Included was a library of elements and shapes to use to highlight items in a video.



I could add a professional-looking background using their stock backgrounds. These would probably be used for the title slide or the outro of the video.



FlexClip provided background music to use with the ability to change its volume and loop it.



And, to protect my original work, I could add a watermark and place it where I wanted on the video.



I loved how easy it was to pick a format for my video!




FlexClip included other cool features, too. There were choices to animate a photo and place it in the video.



























There was a library of filters to pick from.



I could even adjust saturation, brightness, tint, and more to enhance the photos or videos.


Here is the list of tools that are included with FlexClip  whether using the supplied templates and assets or your own.


- Add a logo to a video

- Add music to a video

- Add text to a video

- Add a watermark to a video

- Compress a video’s size

- Convert a video to another video file format

- Add a filter to your video

- Change the brightness of your video

- Merge videos together

- Rotate the direction of your video

- Change the speed of your video

- Split your video into separate sections

- Add transitions to your video

- Add a zoom-in or zoom-out transition to your video



STARTING FROM SCRATCH

If I did not want to use one of the templates in FlexClip  I could start with my own blank canvas to work on!



PRICING PLANS

FlexClip has four pricing plans, as shown below. They offer monthly and annual pricing.




FlexClip is an easy-to-use video creation and editing tool. Even though there are a ton of options available, the tool did not overwhelm me. The menu structure and navigation are consistent, which helps a lot. From the beginner video creator who just wants to customize templates and use the stock assets and music to the professional video creator, Flexiclip can work for anyone!

In exchange for this review, I received a subscription to FlexClip.


Monday, November 30, 2020

IPEVO's Uplift and iDocCam make a perfect pair!

Although having a dedicated document camera, like IPEVO's DO-CAM which I reviewed here, there is another great solution from IPEVO that takes advantage of using your own smartphone as the document camera feed.

The IPEVO Uplift is a multi-angle arm for smartphones. You simply insert your smartphone in the padded clip, and adjust the arm to any angle or orientation you want to! The sturdy base keeps the IPEVO Uplift from tipping over. 



You can use your phone attached to the Uplift as a Webcam to show your face and arms when you are demonstrating a science lab or a basketball move, showcase a page in a book or a text piece, use it for holding the phone still when you are creating a stop-motion animation, do a close-up on an object, and it allows you to use your hands to record a paper slide or Common Craft-type video for your students!




There are two secret sotware ingredients to this process. The first is the IPEVO Visualizer software (no cost) which is available for Mac, Windows, and Chrome. The IPEVO Visualizer allows you to display the video from any camera feed, record it, modify it, and more. You can use it to show what your camera sees, either on a big screen or in an online video conferencing app.

With Visualizer you can adjust the displayed image in various ways. You can zoom in, rotate, mirror, change the resolution, adjust exposure, apply a video filter, take a snapshot, and more! 

The second secret ingredient is IPEVO's iDocCam app (iOS/Android) which allows you, in conjunction with the Visualizer software on your computer, to select your smartphone as the camera source for the desktop if the two items are on the same network. 

You can then wirelessly view, control, or adjust the live images captured by your smartphone's camera, such as educational instructions, worksheets, training guides, presentation notes using the Visualizer software.

IPEVO's iDocCam is not free, but is priced as a monthly or yearly subscription or you can purchase it outright. If you purchase an IPEVO Uplift, you get six months of iDocCam use included right now!

______________________________________________________________________

I did not receive any monetary compensation from IPEVO for writing this article. I did receive a copy of the iDocCam app and the Uplift Multi-Angle Arm so I could try things out!





Monday, August 31, 2020

IPEVO's Mirror-Cam

IPEVO is always coming up with useful, low-cost ways to help teachers support teaching and learning. From the early days of the Point-to-View (P2V) small document camera to their current line of powerful document cameras, IPEVO's new Mirror-Cam is a game-changer! It utilizes your webcam and your keyboard area to project an object, books, or papers to your computer. The Mirror-Cam is the perfect addition to your videoconferencing toolbox.

The mirror inside of the Mirror-Cam reflects the keyboard area of your laptop and your webcam perfectly captures the reflected image.


The Mirror-Cam comes in a set of six. You simply assemble them, and set the Mirror-Cam on the top edge of your laptop screen, covering the webcam. It is easy to attach and take off, so your webcam is still accessible for presenting, too. And the Mirror-Cam folds down easily to keep it in your computer accessories bag.


Watch the video to learn more!


(Update 9/10/20) The Mirror-Cam is back in stock now! And, at least right now, there is no limit on the number that can be purchased!


While you visit IPEVO's store page, take a look at some of their other offerings. I have recently reviewed the portable DO-CAM and the upgraded VZ-R document camera. (BTW, I receive the devices from IPEVO to review, but I don't get any money if you purchase the items.)

TRYING IT OUT!

In the video below, I started from scratch, assembled and "installed" the Mirror-Cam, and showed a few projections from items sitting on my laptop keyboard!








Wednesday, August 19, 2020

IPEVO's cool new DO-CAM

Since many K-12 schools and universities may still be including some type of remote or blended teaching and learning in the education mix for this coming school year, having a document camera can help support both the students in the classroom and those watching online. In addition, when meeting with students for content support, a doc cam can allow you to show the doc cam video in a Zoom or Google Meet window for the students.

Since many lessons include both digital and analog assets, like math manipulatives, science lab materials, and textbooks, a document camera can support the times educators need to show the student something -- whether it be a demo of a art lesson, a certain passage in a book, or the process of assembling a robotic component.

IPEVO has a host of document cameras available, and I recently reviewed their newly updated IPEVO VZ-R HDMI/USB Dual Mode 8 MP Document Camera. This document camera has a ton of features including HDMI connections, easy focus, and many more. 

However, many teachers just need a simple document camera to showcase work, writing or book pages as part of a lesson. Or they may need to record the lesson for student review, too! The new IPEVO DO-CAM HD Ultraportable 8MP USB Document Camera /Webcam fits the bill, and it is also becomes an external Web camera by just flipping up the top!




At a $129 list price, this lightweight (12 oz.), USB-powered device is the perfect addition to your desk at school or at home. It is easy to carry the IPEVO DO-CAM back and forth from home if you need to -- it has a small footprint and and a handy cable storage system. It works with Windows, Mac, and Chromebook computers. (The DO-CAM does not have a microphone, so you will have to use the mic in your computer or an external mic.)




The DO-CAM can be used to project a full sheet of paper and any 3D object. And, as I stated before, it can be used as a Web cam for your face, or for showcasing a student in the classroom who is demonstrating something. The DO-CAM can be used for many creative purposes! 




The DO-CAM works with IPEVO's free Visualizer software which is available for Windows, Mac, and ChromeOS. This software includes tons of ways to take advantage of the DO-CAM.
  • Snapshot
  • Videorecording
  • Slow motion recording
  • Live broadcast
  • Time-lapse recording
  • Scanning a QR code or a document
  • Magnify
  • Stop-motion
  • Split-screen
IPEVO also offers a tool called IPEVO CamControl for your Mac or Windows computer which allows you to control and adjust some basic image settings of your IPEVO USB document camera’s live images when you use it with third-party video conferencing software.

Scholastic provided some great ideas for use of a document camera in their article titled Tech Primer: Document Cameras. And the TECHNOKids site provides some interesting ways to use an external Web cam in the classroom, too!


DO-CAM FEATURES 

Image quality: DO-CAM comes with an 8MP Sony CMOS image sensor for exceptional performance in noise reduction and color reproduction. Capture details of your materials in Ultra HD resolution up to 3264 x 2448

2-in-1 Document Camera and Webcam: Flip the camera head of DO-CAM to switch back and forth between document sharing and ‘face to face’ communication. The Flip Button allows you to pick the correct image orientation at all times.

Lightweight and compact: Being the lightest on the market at 0.74lbs (335g), and having the size of a handheld pencil case, DO-CAM is convenient to use, store, and carry around.

The utmost stability and flexibility: All of DO-CAM's interconnected sections are fully adjustable to capture your content at different heights, angles, and orientations. A cable holder has been incorporated to store the attached cable.

UVC Camera compatibility: DO-CAM is USB Plug & Play compatible with MAC, PC and Chromebook. Use it with IPEVO's Visualizer software and any other third-party software of your choice.

Take a look at the IPEVO DO-CAM here and find out more about it! And this page from IPEVO includes the set-up for use of the DO-CAM with Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams and more, as well as a list of compatible software it works with, such as Camtasia, Google Meet, Skype, and more.