Friday, November 9, 2012

App Review: Educreations

Looking for a way to create mini-lessons? Want students to demonstrate their knowledge in a fun and interactive way? Then Educreations might be the app for you. Essentially, Educreations is an app for creating and sharing video lessons. 

At first glance, Educreations looks like any other whiteboard that you can find in the App Store. But upon further study, you'll see there is so much more to it. Admittedly, I had this app on my iPad for over a year before I started to dive in. For me, I was a bit turned off initially because you need an account to export your work. But what I originally thought was an obstacle is really the most powerful piece of the app. 

I would start on your computer to access the Educreations website to make a free account. Sign up as a teacher. Once you get your teacher account created, you have access to your dashboard. From here, you can create courses to house your content. Now's the time to get out the iPad. Open the Educreations app and get signed in. Choose "new lesson" and get ready to start.

Creating lessons is really easy. On your blank screen, you can choose from 10 colors to use with the pen tool. Pick a color and start writing. Or you can add a picture to the whiteboard so you can annotate, diagram, demonstrate a process, whatever you want. You can also add content from Dropbox, the web, or take a picture with the embedded camera. And there's more: you can add additional pages to your lesson. So walk students through step-by-step processes, tell a story, or compare/contrast topics. 

But wait. There's more. This is where the fun starts. You can record narration in real time. So have students solve a math problem while they are explaining their thinking. Highlight components of a cell as you explain their function. Or map the route of explorers as you talk about hardships they faced along the way. You have complete control over the slides so you can go back and forth as you narrate. When you are finished, save your lesson and choose your level of sharing. You can save it as a private lesson, with your students, your school, or public on the web. 

So you are probably wondering how students can access your lessons. Get back on the computer and your Educreations account. From your dashboard, visit the course you created. You should see an option to add an existing lesson. Choose that option and you will see the lessons you've created. Select the lesson and then add it. Now you have your first lesson in your course. Next step: add students.

Once you select your course, you should see a box marked "students". When you select it, you'll see options for adding students. You can choose either the URL that is supplied or the course code. If you send students the URL, they visit the site and then can enroll in your course. Once enrolled, they have access to all the lessons that you've uploaded. 

Educreations is easy to use, but a bit complicated to explain in writing. Hopefully, this post will spark some interest in seeing what this app can do for your instruction. As an elementary teacher, I would have loved the ability to have students use this app to demonstrate their learning. Like anything, play around a bit and you'll see how you can use. Start small and best of luck. 

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