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In the techchef4u kitchen, ingredients and tools tend to be free… but I am making an exception…
I am typically quite skeptical when I come across paid apps that do the same thing as free ones. That being said… I have been looking for an advanced screencasting app for some time and was quite elated with the features, design, and potential Explain Everything promised. While I am still partial to Screenchomp (as it is free, simple to use, and offers the ability to download an mp4 video file without having to upload it to Youtube), it only offers simple color annotation with no shapes or arrows and will not allow you to annotate over documents, presentations, or multiple images. While this is perfect for elementary and Khan-esque videos, secondary students, teachers, and the tech world need the advanced functionality that Explain Everything offers.
In corresponding with the Explain Everything app developer, I discovered the reason I truly love this app. As you will see it is easy to use with profound functionality, but the real “you had me at slide to unlock” moment was the innate educational value and potential the app possessed. With this said, I wasn’t at all surprised that a Director of Educational Technology was behind such a polished gem.
So without further ado… let’s delve into the features of Explain Everything:
Explain Everything features:
- Multiple ways to access your documents: Begin with a blank project or import from photos (similar to Screenchomp) as well as import from Evernote and Dropbox. While there are a few files that were not compatible for import, I did like the fact that you could import a group of photos rather than one at a time.
- Slide Sorter: If you have imported multiple pages/images, you have the option to change the order of the slides (or images) and delete them (much like in PPT). Users also have the option to add a blank side in the beginning, middle, or end of a presentation.
- Annotation: You can write/highlight and add shapes, lines, arrows, and text. Within each of the annotation drop-downs, you have options to change color, size, transparency, font size, fill color, etc… (Note: the drop-down menu features accessed during your recording do not appear in the final recording).
- Insert images: You can insert and edit images (crop and rotate) from Dropbox, Evernote, Camera, or Photo Roll. (Note: The process of importing and editing the image will not appear in the video – recording automatically pauses during this process.)
- Layers: You can layer images as well as resize them on the canvas. (This is a slick feature!)
- Undo: You have the option to undo/remove a whole object rather than have to erase it in sections (Note: this is selected in the “preferences”: drawings become objects.)
- Save: You can save within the app.
- Export Images: Images can be exported to the photo roll, emailed, or saved to Dropbox or Evernote.
- Export Video: Videos can be saved to the photo roll, emailed, uploaded to youtube, or saved to Dropbox or Evernote. Projects can be emailed or saved to Dropbox or Evernote (they appear to save as an xpl file).
- Help menu: Though the app is extremely user-friendly and straight-forward, they do offer a wonderful help section with screenshots and further directions if needed. (If that wasn’t enough, they offer a video and print guide on their site.)
Problem-Solving Explained: While I created the first video to highlight all of the features available in the Explain Everything app, I wanted to model how the Explain Everything app could be used as a vehicle for instruction and learning in the video above. I had previously created this story problem with Prezi to model how the tool could be used as a problem-solving piece in mathematics. In hindsight, I truly believe Explain Everything is a far more useful tool for this purpose as teachers can create instructional videos and students can compose a rich problem-solving process in mere minutes.
- Students could create their own story problems with Doodle Buddy (free), Comic Touch Lite (free), or Cartoon Studio Free images saved to the photo roll. (Consider using 123 Charts (free) to produce more advanced data for word problems and critical-thinking projects.)
- Teachers could also create images in a Web 2.0 tool and save to Dropbox.
The idea of narrating, presenting, critical-thinking, problem-solving, story-telling, analyzing text, and creating screencasts/tutorials can be adjusted and modified in any content area or grade level to meet the diverse needs of teachers and students making the Explain Everything app a staple in any school setting. (Visit Explain Everything’s site to see the showcase of user examples and submit your own.)
Note: Stay tuned for an update in the next few weeks. I have been informed features to be released are:
- *PPT, PPTX, and Keynote files now auto-separate into slides (like multi-page PDFS)
- *Added a new Draw Tool pen tip option (a “hard” tip in addition to the default “soft” tip)
- *Option to export the MP4 file without the audio track
- *Option to save a copy of the movie to your iPad photo roll when you do an export to YouTube
While the app doesn’t currently allow for the ability to import and annotate over a video due to current iPad processing and memory specifications, the developer suggested using Explain Everything products in conjunction with the iMovie app, so you could get very creative and make a production using video clips, Explain Everything exports, and iTunes music.