Ever feel overwhelmed by all the Web 2.0 learning tools available? I’m crazy about technology; however, a PowerPoint presentation that covers 20 or 30 tools is just too much for my brain to assimilate. This blog focuses on the 3 most basic tech tools that I use for online instructional design. Plus, they’re free! I have 7 more to share in a follow-up blog.
I. Ever wish you could take a photo of your computer screen to explain something to a student? Well, it’s actually quite simple if you want to snap the entire screen. On a personal computer, the keys to use are Ctrl + Prnt Scrn. It copies the picture onto an invisible clipboard; then you can paste the image into an email or wiki for discussion. Is the image too large or not precise enough? Then you’ll have to use a drawing tool to edit the section of the screen that you want to capture with Paint or Gimp. Paint comes with the purchase of Microsoft software. Check your computer programs under the Start menu to see if you have it. Otherwise, download these for free. Once you teach this to your students, you’ll start getting lots of emails with images of what they’re getting stuck on. Here’s an example of my Ctrl + Prnt Scrn (and Ctrl C+ Ctrl V for cut-and-paste) of the TESOL website below. Don’t forget to add alternative text to images shared online for assistive technologies to read aloud for persons with impaired vision.
II. Would you like to record your lecture or create a virtual tour for your class? This could be used for student presentations, too! Screenr.com has to be one of the easiest screen capturing tools. You’ll need a headset with a mic to record clearly. Headsets costs around $20 at Walmart. A red recording button will appear along with the border for landscaping your video. The border is moveable; just click and drag it to the desired area. Screenr provides the option to save your file as an MP4 or upload to YouTube. Don’t worry, it’s easy to delete if you don’t like what you create! The basic free version doesn’t have editing features, and you only get 5 minutes talk time. In the following screencast, I introduce myself to a workshop session. Students can use it for presentations, too. Notice how I used some low tech ideas like typing on a blank MS Word document without speaking to add variety to my video.
III. How would you like to embed your PowerPoint into your website or learning management system (LMS)? Don’t let the tech skill of embedding hypertext markup language (HTML) code scare you off. Embedding is a simple cut-and-paste task. With Google Drive, you can upload your PowerPoint or Word document, convert it to Slides or Docs respectively, and then share the content on your website by embedding the HTML code. That way your students can simply review by clicking through the pages on your LMS instead of having to download it first.