5 Educational Uses for Periscope



Yesterday I wrote about Periscope–what it is and what you can do with it. It seems that the educational community is already embracing it and extolling its virtues, based upon the positive blog posts I’ve read. Teachers love its ease of use and ability to be able to instantly communicate with students and parents. Remember, Periscope is a tool that is meant for live broadcasts. If you just want to record something and share it later, there are better tools to use, such as your mobile phone’s camera. ūüôā

I’ve come up with a short list of ideas for¬†using Periscope in your¬†classroom:

  1. Enable Virtual Field Trips: There are numerous ways to host or attend virtual field trips, but Periscope allows an anyplace/anytime type of agenda. A teacher, for instance, can use her mobile device to interact with students unable to attend a field trip or to share the field trip with another classroom. Or, even better, she could connect with another teacher to share culture, language, current events, etc.
  2. Communicate with Experts: Periscope would be valuable when communicating with an expert who is in the field–such as an outdoor event, conference, or any place outside of the classroom. Students can ask questions through the chat feature and receive instant responses.
  3. Broadcast Scavenger Hunts: My colleague, Chris Haskell, came up with an idea several years ago about a learning strategy called a “CellQuest.” This was a type of scavenger hunt that used GPS and texting along with instructions to locate various items and/or places.¬†Instead of just using texting, students could participate in a CellQuest type of scavenger hunt using Periscope.
  4. Involve Parents: Get parents involved in school activities they can watch and comment on. This would provide opportunities to connect with and better understand what is going on in their children’s school.¬†Create your own classroom Twitter feed (which you will then connect to your own Periscope account) and invite parents to follow you. Broadcast¬†weekly updates on your classroom. Share live student presentations with parents.
  5. Share Live Events: If you find yourself in a situation where you feel students and/or parents would benefit from viewing your experience, then Scope it, It can be just about anything. How about broadcasting a live presentation at a conference you are attending and sharing it with your colleagues? The ideas and options are almost endless.

Downsides of Periscope

  • Streaming quality can be inferior.
  • Your school’s Internet filter may not allow it (since it is connected to one’s Twitter account).
  • Comments disappear.
  • Videos are only visible for 24 hours (although you can save them to your Camera Roll for archiving).
  • Students need to be informed of privacy issues and how to share Periscopes.
  • Requires the use of a mobile device with cellular service if not within range of WiFi.
  • May not always be the best method for broadcasting–for instance, in the classroom, Google Hangouts might provide better ways¬†to communicate and collaborate in an online, live environment.

More About Periscope



Software Tools I like for Multimedia Productions

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

I’m currently working on building an online course to teach instructors how to create effective multimedia to improve learning. One of the resources I created was a list of software tools that they might like using. I thought I’d share this with my readers as well. Let me know if you have any favorites that should be added to the list!

Tools are constantly changing. But one thing is almost for certain–they keep getting easier to use!

Just about all tools have a free trial download. Test out tools you think you might like to use. Post questions or comments about a particular tool to our Production Tools Discussion Forum.

Following is a list of tools that I have found to be very helpful to create effective and doable multimedia productions:

Image Editing Tools

You will most likely need to edit some images, especially ones you find online. Remember to search for re-usable images using Google Image Search http://images.google.com or other search engines/tools.

IMPORTANT: You should know how to determine the image file size. On an Apple, simply click the image file and select Apple Control + I. Right click on Windows and select Properties. For most web uses, jpg and gif images work best. File size should be no more than 200 KB per image. Try to get the size as small as possible without quality loss.

Preview (Included in Mac operating system) This is by far the easiest tool to resize images, if that is all you need to do. I use it constantly.

iPhoto (Included in Mac operating system) Excellent tool to edit and manipulate photos.

Microsoft Paint: I’m not sure if this program is still available in the new version of Windows, so if anyone can let me know–thanks! However, I know in the past it was a decent photo/image editor.

GimpShop: http://www.gimpshop.com/download.shtml Free, multi-platform, open-source image editing program. I have not used this version, but it is supposed to be very similar to PhotoShop, if you are accustomed to that interfact.

Adobe Fireworks: http://www.adobe.com/products/fireworks.html This is a better image editor for web design than PhotoShop.

PowerPoint¬†(available for Windows & Mac): Yes, Microsoft PowerPoint can be used as a very simple image creator. Slides can be saved as images, so don’t forget about using this for screencast entry screens or other applications.

Screencasting Tools

Camtasia http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.html (Windows & Mac)

JingProject http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html (Windows & Mac) Limited to 5 minutes.

Snag-It http://www.techsmith.com/snagit.html (Windows & Mac)

Captivate http://www.adobe.com/products/captivate.html (Windows) (Also includes simulation options and embedded quizzes)

Screencast-o-matic: http://www.screencast-o-matic.com (Windows & Mac)

Screenr http://www.screenr.com (browser-based)

QuickTime http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/ (included in Mac operating system/available for purchase for Windows)

Google Hangouts (Browser-based) Yes, you can actually use Google Hangouts (make sure you do a Hangout on Air) and then share your screen. Just hangout by yourself, share your screen and talk and then your video will be published to your YouTube account. From there, you can edit the video in the YouTube editor.

Video Recording/Editing Tools

Mobile Devices: iPhone, iPod, iPad, Android mobile OS: Mobile devices include recording apps to create, record, and publish multimedia. Get to know your mobile device and try out the various ways you can produce multimedia. I suggest getting a tripod and tripod adaptor to keep your device steady while recording.

YouTube: http://youtube.com Yes, you can record a video from your webcam directly in YouTube and even edit it. So, this provides a super-quick and easy way to get videos recorded and online. How to do this: http://support.google.com/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=57409

Windows Movie Maker (included in Windows operating system). You can upload a WMV file to YouTube, but please do not upload a WMV file to Moodle for viewing, as these files are only viewable (without additional software) on Windows operating systems. Try to only offer formats that are viewable on multiple platforms, such as mp4.

iMovie (included in Mac operating system) (Also available as an app for iOS, with great editing tools/features)

Photo Booth (included in Mac operating system)

QuickTime http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/ (included in Mac operating system/available for purchase for Windows)

>>Prompting Software

This enables you to more seamlessly follow a script. My colleague has used Promptster, recording on his iPad with incredible results.

Prompster Pro App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/prompster-pro/id378704861?mt=8

Presentation Tools

Authorstream: http://authorstream.com (web-based) I really like this tool because you can upload a narrated PowerPoint, and the tool includes the audio without doing any extra work. You sometimes have issues with PowerPoint for Mac, but I have had very good luck with this tool. It is free and allows anyone to view a narrated PowerPoint through a web browser. Again, you should almost NEVER upload a PowerPoint for viewing online. The files are too large and it requires the user to have this software on his/her computer in order to view it. Remember to always strive to create multimedia that can be viewed on ANY operating system. That means do not upload Windows-only media files!

Prezi http://prezi.com A different type of presentation tool that uses a zooming canvas format. You can now record narration in Prezi (you will need to create separate files and upload to each slide/path). Free tool that takes some time to learn.

VoiceThread:¬†http://voicethread.com¬†VoiceThread is great, but the free accounts only allow you to create up to five VoiceThreads–not very convenient. They offer licenses and also LTI integration with Moodle, so it’s a tool that maybe should be considered for CCIM courses.

Animoto: http://animoto.com This tool creates quick and professional-looking presentations from images. You can add music or narration. To produce longer videos, you need to purchase a license.

Adobe Presenter http://www.adobe.com/products/presenter.html (Windows) As with most Adobe products, the price is steep, but the quality is excellent. This tool allows you to create online presentations with many additional features, such as attaching files and embedding quizzes. If you also have an Adobe Connect account, then you can track the statistics on your presentations and quiz feedback.

SlideShare: http://slideshare.net (web-based) This is another excellent browser-based slideshow tool that is free and visible on any computer. However, if you have audio narration (which I highly recommend for almost ANY type of slideshow presentation) you need to upload the audio files separately and then sync them manually.

authorPOINT:¬†http://authorpoint.com¬†(Windows only)¬†It’s been a while since I’ve visited this site, but it appears they still offer a decent PowerPoint to flash converter. However, this is not a free tool.

iSpring PowerPoint to HTML5 converter http://www.ispringsolutions.com (Windows only) This looks like an excellent tool, but is a bit pricey.


Timeline JS: http://timeline.verite.co This is a timeline tool that works with Google Sheets and looks very promising. I have not used it, but timelines can be very useful, especially for the creator. Although you may not think a timeline would be useful, you might think of something, such as real estate trends, for instance.

Xtimeline: http://xtimeline.com

Concept Maps

Bubbl.us https://bubbl.us Collaborative online concept mapping tool. Perhaps students could collaborate in creating concept map for an assignment.

CMAP Tools http://cmap.ihmc.us/download/ Downloadable concept mapping tool. Can export as PDF or image and insert on course site to explain concepts or connections.

Comic/Animation Tools

Pixton: http://www.pixton.com

Toondo: http://www.toondoo.com

Xtranormal: http://xtranormal.com

Collage Tools

Glogster: http://glogster.com

Padlet: http://padlet.com

Wordle: http://www.wordle.net

Curation Tools

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com

Storify: https://storify.com

Delicious: https://delicious.com

Diigo: https://www.diigo.com

Paper.li: http://paper.li

Audio Recording/Editing Tools

Voice Memo (iPhone/iPod) Excellent quality audio recorder (can also trim recordings) that can be shared via messaging or email. File format is m4a.

Voice Recorders on Android devices: Again, excellent quality recordings which offer more options for uploading to cloud storage, such as Dropbox.

Audacity: http://audacity.sourceforge.net Free, multiplatform, open-source audio recording/editing program. Excellent and easy to use. Make sure you also install the LAME encoder to encode audio files to mp3.

GarageBand (Included in Mac operating system) Chris and I have used this tool for years in our Cool Teacher Podcast.

QuickTime http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/ (included in Mac operating system/available for purchase for Windows)

Static Tutorial Creation Tools

Remember, not all tutorials need to be narrated videos. You might want to create a very quick static tutorial with text and images. The one program I really love is Clarify-It, as it enables quick creation of tutorials, publishing them online and also offering HTML code and PDF creation.

Clarify-it: http://www.clarify-it.com

Using Gmail Chat in an online course

Image representing Gmail as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

I like to make my courses personal and myself easily accessible to my students. One really easy way to do this is to encourage or rather force your students to use Gmail Chat to contact you. If you are an online instructor, then you spend a lot of time online. Also with the availability of mobile devices, you can be accessible almost anywhere, anytime for your students.

This does not mean that you should have no time of your own! You can decide when to answer Gmail chat inquiries from your students. And most students will understand you are not available 24 hours 7 days a week.

However using Gmail chat can be of great benefit to your students and yourself in answering quick questions and moving forward. The last thing I want to see is a pile of emails in my inbox that I need to read and then answer. I’d rather have a student contact me instantly, ask the question, and get on with our lives.

It is essential that you have your students add your email to their Gmail contact list. You will receive a notification that someone has invited you and all you have to do is accept.

From here on out that student will be able to contact you synchronously using Gmail chat.

Provide tutorial links to your students so that they know how to add you to their contact list and also how to access gmail chat. You might also tell them about the various mobile apps that will enable them to chat with you when they are on the move with their mobile devices.

Here are Google links that will provide this information:

How to add a contact in Gmail: http://support.google.com/mail/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=8933

How to use Gmail chat: http://support.google.com/chat/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=161934

How to install the Google Voice video plugin: http://support.google.com/chat/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=161993

Gmail chat also offers you the ability to send text messages, so your students could send a text message to your mobile number without incurring any additional charges on their own mobile device. Plus if they don’t have a mobile device they can still send you text messages this way. I highly recommend setting up a Google Voice account and using this number as your cell phone number. That way you won’t have to give out your personal cell phone number to your students.

Also tell your students if they have an android mobile device they can use the Google Talk app, which will allow them to communicate with you via gmail chat. If they are using an iPhone, they can use very if third party apps. IMO is a nice iPhone app.

So stay current with your students, create a personal atmosphere– a dynamic community of learners that will appreciate your immediate support and the free flow of communication.

A Google Chat App for Your iPhone: Monal IM

I use Gmail chat on my computer extensively to talk with students, answering quick questions, and troubleshooting issues they might have. I’ve convinced them that using this method is far faster and easier than writing, sending, reading, and responding to multiple emails. However, I’m not always on my computer and want to be able to remain connected as much as possible when I’m mobile. Thus, the need to use my iPhone to connect to Gmail Chat.

It should be easy, right? Well, if you are an iPhone user, you probably already know that Google does not offer a decent mobile app for their Gmail Chat service. I’ve tried going to http://google.com/talk on my iPhone using Safari browser and am redirected to a help page for Google Chat. Hm . . .

How about using the Google+ app on the iPhone? Problem with this is you can only chat using their Messenger feature, which means you can only chat with your Google+ circles Again, not very useful. ūüė¶

Up until this point, I’ve been using Meebo on my iPhone and iPad, which has worked ok, but I really dislike their interface and colors. Guess I’ve been using Apple products to long! Then, I read that Google purchased Meebo (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2405581,00.asp), which is shutting down on July 11, so it’s time to delete yet another app.

Today, I read a great blog post “Getting Google Talk on the iPhone” http://www.felocity.com/article/getting_google_talk_on_the_iphone and experimented with some of the tools suggested.

I’ve decided to try using Monal IM (http://monal.im/) for several reasons:

  1. It works.
  2. It’s free.
  3. Interface is clean and simple to use.
  4. NO ADS! This is a huge plus for me–I just cannot stand those ads that hide part of my screen.
  5. Connects directly using XMPP, a protocol that is supposed to offer better security, real-time push notification, and was designed for online chatting. For more about XMPP, read this: http://onesocialweb.org/developers-xmpp.html
  6. And probably the best reason of all with the new iPhone’s voice to text feature: YOU CAN SEND YOUR MESSAGES BY TALKING. I’m probably going to be using my iPhone even when I’m on the computer, since voice to text is so much faster than typing.

I can see only one drawback–since it uses no third-party service to connect, you need to have the app open on your mobile device for it to work. I’ll keep experimenting with various mobile apps to use IM to communicate, but so far, this looks like an app I won’t be deleting soon.

What are you using for an IM client on your iPhone? I’d love to hear some of your experiences and recommendations.

Tutorial: Using Diigo to Annotate Web Content

Diigo, an awesome social bookmarking, annotation, and networking tool, can often be a bit overpowering and intimidating to learn. I introduce this tool in my EDTECH 501: Introduction to Educational Technology course, but I find some students have difficulties even understanding what Diigo is and how it works.

I encourage students to begin with baby steps, first joining a Diigo class group, exploring the tools available for educators, and bookmarking/sharing websites related to educational technology. From here, I introduce them to annotating websites, by commenting directly on their learning logs they begin to create in WordPress. But I find some still need additional support and tutorials to help them use these tools.

Thus, the creation of a new Diigo tutorial (I use Clarify-It for most of my static tutorials now–it’s super quick and easy to use) to show how to annotate web pages and make comments on various content. I’d like to share it not only with my students, but with all of my readers. If you or your students are not using Diigo, I encourage you to set up an educator account (there is a basic free account) and get started. You will be amazed at what you can share and organize, and will most certainly change the way you conduct a lot of research and design group work in your classes.

Using Diigo to Annotate Web Content

Access Diigo Tools

Click the Tools link on Diigo and install any of the tools that look interesting to you.

You should at least install one of the bookmarks, annotation tools, such as Diigolet, Web Highlighter on Chrome, and/or the Diigo Toolbar.

(In this example, I am using the Diigo Toolbar in Firefox on an Apple computer.)

Access Diigo Tools

Adjust Your Diigo Settings

Decide which annotations you want to view by clicking the drop-down box in the Diigo toolbar. In this example, I choose to view my private and group annotations. Private annotations are a great way to keep track of notes about web content and of course group annotations share your comments with the group.

Adjust Your Diigo Settings

Customize Your Diigo Toolbar and Menus

Click Options at the far right of your toolbar.

Click the drop-down box Apply Suggested Settings.

Customize Your Diigo Toolbar and Menus

Select For Advanced Users.


To help you identify the Diigo toolbar icons, I suggest also selecting Show icons and text.

Click OK.


Your new toolbar will now be visible!


Add a Floating Sticky Note to a Page

Click the drop-down arrove to the right of Comment on your Diigo toolbar.

Select Add a floating sticky note to this page.

Add a Floating Sticky Note to a Page

Enter your comments, which will show up as a sticky note on the webpage.


Select how you want your post to be seen. In this example, I will keep it Private.

Click Post.


After posting, you will see your comments, where you posted your note, and also the little sticky note icon on the page, with the number (which is the number of notes you posted to the page.)


When you navigate to a page with notes you have set to seen in Diigo, you will see a sticky note icon with a number on it Hold you cursor over the note to new the contents.


Highlight Content and Add Comments

You can also select specific content on a page, highlight in in Diigo, and then add comments.

In this example, I’ve highlighted new content I’ve added to a Moodle resource page.

When you highlight, Diigo will recognize this and a dialog box will pop up next to your highlighting.

Highlight your text and then select Highlight.

Highlight Content and Add Comments

A little icon with a pencil will appear at the upper-left.

Click the drop-box box to the lower-right of this small icon and select Add sticky note


Enter your comments in the box and decide where you want your comments to be visible, in the drop-down box below your comments.

Click Post.


Your highlighted text will now be visible, with a little icon at the upper-left, indicating there are comments about this highlighted content.


Comment Directly to a Page

You can also comment directly to a page.

Click the drop-down box to the right of the Comment icon and select Comment on the whole page.

A sidebar will open on your browser window to allow you to add annotations to the page.

Comment Directly to a Page

Add your comments in the textbox and click OK.


Your comments are automatically saved as Private. If you want them to be saved to a group, you will need to click drop-down box above the Page Comments and select that group.


View on Diigo Group Library

Of course, anything shared with your Diigo group will also be visible on your Diigo group page.

Experiment with the various tools in Diigo and know how to annotate a page, highlight text and add comments, and how to comment on an entire page. It’s easy and very useful.

View on Diigo Group Library