- using new technologies
- delivering instruction remotely and over video
- helping students learn through virtual channels like never before
Many educators across the globe are undergoing school closures because of COVID-19, and more than half of the global student populations now cannot go to school. As a result, educators are facing the challenge of teaching remotely on an unprecedented scale and in most cases, for the very first time. For the foreseeable future, teachers will teach in front of a screen instead of in front of a classroom, and for most teachers, this can be very challenging. We, as educators, are going to work together now more than ever, and we will transform what education looks like across the world during these uncertain times.
Everything that we review today is free for educators, with paid versions as optional upgrades. The tools all have great online resources and help available, and were the most user-friendly applications we’ve found in our research.
Here are our Top 3 tools you can use in your digital classroom:
Tool #1: Kami
Kami is the leading PDF and document annotation app for schools. Kami becomes your digital ‘pen and paper’. It also integrates with Google Classroom, Schoology, and Canvas. Right now, Kami is offering a free option for teachers, where they can get the premium features. Kami has three main features:
- Learn – students can annotate a text or edit documents.
- Create – allows students to draw freely, with colors, shapes and free form models.
- Collaborate – teachers can discuss, mark-up and provide feedback to documents, including audio and video annotations.
Here’s an example of “Before and After” annotating a document in Kami:
Kami offers a series of helpful resources including a Kami Help Center, a YouTube Channel, Free 1:1 training sessions and a Kami Handbook.
Tool #2: Screencastify
Screencastify is an excellent tool that does screen recording with audio and webcam abilities. It is best used to create instructional videos, but there are also several other clever ways you could use it such as narrating a slide show, reading a story, getting verbal student feedback, and professional development training.
It is used with Google Chrome, which allows Google Classroom users an edge.
To get started:
- Go to google.com/chrome
- Click on Extensions.
- Select “Screencastify”.
- It will add a new icon to your Google browser window in the upper right corner to the right of the URL bar.
The free version has a 5 minute limit per video, but there is no limit on the # of 5-minute-or-less recordings that you make. There are multiple highlighting, drawing, spotlight and other annotation tools you can use as you are recording your video.
To share the video once it’s completed, you can upload it to Google Classroom, publish it to YouTube, etc.
This diagram depicts a student demonstration of a weather report recorded by Screencastify and sent to a teacher:
Tool #3: AWWapp
AWWapp stands for A Web Whiteboard App (www.awwapp.com). It is a touch-friendly online whiteboard app that makes drawing, collaboration and sharing easy. When you first arrive at the homepage www.awwapp.com, select “Start Drawing” and you can begin immediately using the tools at the left of the screen, just like you’d write on a white board in your classroom.
You can import PNG or other image files to annotate. This is especially helpful if students are taking pictures of their work and sending them to you, and you would like to mark-them up. You can export your final piece as an image file, once your edits are complete. (NOTE: with the free version, you can’t import a PDF or save your finished work as a PDF.)
Here’s a screenshot of a student’s work imported to AWWapp and ready for mark-ups:
To watch a full webinar on this topic, including visual demonstrations of all the tools reviewed, please visit: Tips & Advice for Teaching Remotely
We’ll close today’s post with a moment of levity from Bored Teachers: “All this virtual teaching is difficult to adjust to and I miss my kids…..but peeing whenever I want, drinking my coffee hot, and actually chewing my lunch is definitely something I could get used to!”