Thursday, June 4, 2015

January: Kaizena to Movenote to Google Hangout Evolution

January: Kaizena to Movenote to Google Hangout Evolution

Early this year we, in the Inspired Writing cohort, were exposed to a variety of ways for students to collaborate with each other using a variety of tools.

We were early adopters of Kaizena (which is a free app that give students a way to provide audio feedback to each via their Google account access) and were happy with the initial result.  Students and teachers were using it with success.  One problem in my view was that the student had to create a Kaizena account, then open documents up using the Kaizena app.  If a student (or teacher for that matter) wanted to share the audio recording with a person who did not have an account with Kaizena, then the listener would not be able to connect to the recording.  We therefore searched for other alternatives.

Dana L. introduced us to Movenote (a free app that connects to Google accounts where the owner can bring up their document, highlight certain parts and record webcam video with audio).  What made a difference for us is the fact that the account owner has access to a copyable url address when their recording is completed as well as a repository of their recordings that is saved online.  Students were able to share links with each other in real time, paste recording urls into shared Google Sheets for group projects and send links to their parents/other teachers within e-mail.  The only problem that we’ve faced is an echo-ridden/garbled small band of time during recordings that we think is related to either the connection speed of the internet or the recording machine itself.  Despite these problems most students chose Movenote over Kaizena and the teachers at our grade level followed suit; we “resorted” to recording a few of our Professional Learning Community and Grade Level meetings so that everyone could participate, then review the recordings later for clarification.

As professionals, we now are moving towards using Google Hangouts as a way to collaborate further online.  While Movenote seems to work best when the recordings are limited to 30-second to one-minute blocks of time, Google Hangouts do not degrade in quality for 30-45 minutes, maybe even longer.  

We’ve experimented with pre-recording standardized content, full lessons (for constructive/lesson study feedback), and explanations for parents regarding student-created strong command examples of state standards.

This summer I am presenting our best thinking around Google Hangouts at our state technology in education conference.

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