Friday, March 21, 2014

Use Talkboard for realtime whiteboard collaboration

Whiteboard apps are a dime a dozen. For instance, I started to review one called Stage, but was unimpressed because it did nothing new and had a lot of in-app purchases to get basic features. At this point, many teachers are familiar with basic whiteboards like Doodlebuddy and more advanced ones like Educreations and ShowMe. However, Talkboard is an app that few people are, well, talking about. But I think it's one that you should check out. 

Create multiple boards. Swipe back and forth to access them
At a basic level, Talkboard is just a whiteboard. There really aren't a ton of features: you can draw in different colors and with a few different styles. You can erase. You can clear the screen. And that's about it. You can't insert any pictures or shapes. There is no recording feature. So with that being said, you are wondering why I'm wasting my time writing about it.

Well, the answer is with the collaboration piece. Talkboard lets you share your board with other users. Then more than one user can collaborate on a board at the same time. Sharing is easy. Simply press the "+" on your board and choose between sending invitations by AirDrop, Messages, or Mail. If the user doesn't have the app, they will be sent to the App Store to download it. If Talkboard is already installed, the board will simply open in the app. You create a profile with just a name. You don't have to enter an email, so it's easier for younger students to use.

Once the board is shared, it's open for all the users. Write your own ideas, draw pictures, whatever. Any user can add or erase, so keep that in mind. I only tried sharing it with two people, but I imagine it would support more. But I think it would get pretty distracting if you had more than two or three students (or teachers) on there at the same time.

So there you go. Another free, simple tool that I feel has real practical applications in the classroom. Give it a try and be sure to let everyone know how it works for you. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

You gotta get Geddit

So I came across Geddit through Twitter the other day and I'm glad I did. Everyone is looking for reliable apps that gathers student feedback during class. It's easy to see the benefit of anonymous comprehension check-ins. Geddit will do that for you. Easily. And free. 

Visit Geddit to get started. The first thing you'll do is create a teacher account. Enter your school email and set up a password (one you won't forget, or write it down). Now you can begin to create your classes. Students will need to have their own Geddit accounts. If you work with students over 13, they can create their own accounts. If you work with younger students, or just want to manage your student accounts to avoid headaches, you can create student accounts for them. Elementary teachers can simply hand enter student usernames. Or if you have a large number of students, you can upload a class list. Students who create their own accounts can easily join your class with an enrollment code that Geddit generates for you. 

Once you have your students enrolled, start creating your lessons. Each lesson can include "topics" and "questions". Topics are general areas that you'll move through during the lesson. It's a nice idea to use topics because students will be able to check-in during the topics to assess their understanding. So a student can be identified as having trouble in one topic, but be fully up to speed with another. As you move through the topics in each lesson, the topic name is displayed on the students' devices. Teachers can also create specific questions ahead of time to ask during the lesson. Just pop them on the student devices at the appropriate time. Or if your lesson is going in an unforeseen direction, you can add questions on the fly. 

Lesson view with topic and prepared questions

Student check-in with free comments

Here's what students see on their devices. They'll be able to see the topic that you are currently discussing. At any time, they can check in with their level of understanding. A nice feature of Geddit is that students can check in multiple times. So at the beginning of the topic, the student may not get it. But once you do some more work, he or she could check-in again to say they are all caught up. And they can add comments or questions with each check in. Again, all anonymous. 

As you are teaching, you'll see an updated, color-coded view of the class check-ins. That gives you the ability to decide in the moment whether you need to spend more time on a topic or move on to something else. At the end of the lesson, teachers can see a detailed report of the check-ins and answers to the questions. It even shows you a list of students who you might want to touch base with. I tested it by changing my check-in from "unsure" to "I get it". Even though I changed my comfort level, I was still marked as someone to follow up with. Nice feature. 

Lesson summary with responses and "challenged students"

Lessons can be copied and run again in the same class or moved to other classes. Another cool feature is that you can email your lessons to colleagues. It will automatically remove all student information and data when it's sent. Pretty slick.
Sharing your lesson with another teacher

Now, that description is just enough to get you going. There's a lot more the app can do. But at the simplest level, it's a super easy way to guide your way through lessons more efficiently. Who doesn't like instantaneous feedback? 

Finally, Geddit support is great. There are a number of video tutorials and printable posters to use in your room for getting students started. Team Geddit is quick to respond to requests as is Justin Mann, the app's developer. That's always a plus. Give Geddit a shot and let me know how it works for you. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Teachers are always looking for easy ways for students to share their learning. Audioboo is a great option for creating and publishing audio projects like podcasts. It's a free app that can be used on your iProduct or Android device. 

First, let's talk accounts. In order to publish your work, you'll need to create an account. So if you are working with students under 13, you'll most likely create a class account where you can publish all your work. Creating the account only took a few minutes and it's well worth the ability to publish and share your students' work. Because that's what it's all about: sharing. 

The app itself is very easy to use. Creating "boos" will be simple even for the youngest students. Simply press the red record button, the 3 second countdown starts, and then you are recording. The app also allows you to pause the recording and create the project in segments. If you have tried recording something and don't possess the gift of gab, you'll love this feature. Students can easily chunk their broadcast into smaller, more manageable segments. 

All your recordings can be saved as drafts. However, you can't name the drafts right away. I figured I could just tap on the file in order to change the name. Wrong. I found that I had to press "publish" in order to get an option to add a name to a recording. A minor inconvenience, or maybe I couldn't figure it out (entirely possible). Saving the drafts is great because you can always open them up again and add more content. 

When you are ready to publish, you can name the project, add a description, tags, photos, or category. Then visit and sign into your account. You'll have access to all your published boos. And the best part, you'll have the ability to share them in a number of different ways. You can set up your Audioboo account to automatically tweet your boos, publish to Facebook, Tumblr, or Wordpress when they are published. Or you can grab a link or embed code to copy and paste in your class website or blog. It will also create a QR code that you can print out and post. If you are really looking to create a platform for audio posts, you can set up your boos to publish to iTunes or via RSS. 

Audioboo is incredibly simple. Very easy to create and share. Try it out and be sure share your projects for others to enjoy.