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How to be in two places at once

Ever have the feeling that you need to be in two places at once? Possibly even split into numerous places at any one time to ensure that your students can get the learning experience that they deserve?

Well…look no further! Sadly, I haven’t managed to create a time machine (or even acquire a time turner from the world of Harry Potter!) no, in actual fact it is a simple matter of technology. Ladies and gentlemen I give you… the ‘virtual teacher’

The method that I use regularly makes use of one particular app (available for free on both iOS and Android) called ‘explain everything’. The application provides a range of possibilities including visual and engaging verbal assessment feedback, delivery of practical demonstrations as well as routine reflection and plenary style delivery in a more engaging way.

The verbal feedback method

It’s a constant head-scratcher…what is the ‘best’ way to provide feedback to the learners after a major assessment point? Well, in my experience, even if you spend the time lovingly preparing typed feedback with text boxes that line up perfectly within your word document (I know, possibly not essential, but it makes me feel better if things line up) the students can often not fully engage with it.

Well, at least not until they have had any verbal input from you to fill in the gaps, squash any misunderstandings and generally translate any confusions caused by the wording of the exam board criteria. Assessment becomes a time consuming process. Almost as if you are doing the task twice.. and lets be honest, if you really set out to assess that pile of projects and thought you would actually need to spend twice the amount of time on them it would be just a tad soul destroying. But fear not, I have a fix for this issue. Well, to be more specific, I have an ‘App’ to fix the issue.

Setting it up…

Simply set ‘explain everything’ up with the criteria assessed on one of the slides. The app works in a very similar way to PowerPoint and will allow you to draw boxes, add shapes, text, pictures etc. You may find it easier to create a slide in good old Microsoft PowerPoint then import to ‘explain everything’ (either on your tablet or by saving the slide as ‘jpeg interchange format’ and popping into ‘explain everything’ as an image.)

Recording…

Then all you have to do is press record, and talk through the assessment feedback. You can even use a stylus (or your finger) with the pen tool selected and tick off the criteria or draw attention to certain points as you explain how they have met the criteria.

Then you just save the completed feedback as an MP4 and email to the student. The best way to use this is asking students to log into emails, plug headphones in and hey presto…you are providing effective verbal feedback in multiple places all at the same time! Even better is the fact that they can re-listen to the feedback as often as they need to.

The image below shows an example of the slide template for one of my student’s feedback. The link will send you to the MP4 version of the file: https://www.dropbox.com/s/mr2ral8ic4uw0mb/How%20your%20work%20is%20assessed.mp4?dl=0

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The ‘demo-mode’ method

Another method of putting the ‘virtual teacher’ to work is by using ‘explain everything’ to pre-record your demonstrations. This is particularly good if you have a practical demonstration that takes a long time to set up or maybe something that is quite small scale that is quite difficult to show to a large group.

Simply take a series of photographs showing the main stages through the method that you want to demonstrate, pop each image into explain everything onto separate slides in order and then talk over each slide to explain the process. You could also add typed text with each image to help explain each stage to add an extra engaging element to your recording.

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When completed, the file can again be saved as an MP4 for uploading to YouTube or even just to save onto your own cloud storage or USB. The app also gives you the ability to save the file as a PDF. This provides you the chance to create a printed handout to accompany the virtual video version of your demonstration (an easy extra ‘take away’ for students to refer to if you have included the simple typed instructions on each slide as well as your audio.) I have used the hand outs with QR codes to link to the audio recording in the past. This ensures that the students have all of the information needed to repeat the process in a safe manner in the future.

Impact

I started using this method a couple of years ago and now find it a lot easier when teaching the same techniques and practical processes. The video is used as a starter and then emailed to students for reference after the lesson. I am always amazed how well the students listen to a virtual version of me ..it often feels like I get more of their attention in this form compared to the times when I do demonstrations in the classroom in front of them. It seems to work far better to ensure that they absorb the details better. Questioning the students after the video version of the demonstrations it is often the case that they can recall the details far better.

The ‘virtual teacher’ method

Using a similar approach to the demonstration method.. the ‘explain everything’ app is also good to create positive routines and set expectations. Recording a range of different clips for use at different points throughout your teaching can make your planning a lot easier and also provide a consistent routine for students. For example; a recording created to guide students through a written evaluation or planning task. Maybe you often need students to peer/self assess but know that they would benefit from a video prompt to reaffirm expectations, share visual examples of WAGOLL’s and set the ground rules for the task.

Conclusion

..whatever the need, having a set of stock video recordings created with this app complete with supporting visual imagery can really help to get the students in the right frame of mind for the task set.

Support

This really is one of the most user friendly apps and has so many different applications. The 3 examples shared here are just a few that I use regularly myself. The team who created ‘explain everything’ are really friendly and supportive. They can be found over on twitter @explaineverything as well as a few other rather brilliantly supportive and inspiring users of the app who regularly share the different ways that they have used explain everything within their classrooms.

We would love to see how you use the app yourselves.. why not share your outcomes and join in the chat on workplace in the ‘learning community’ group?

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