TogetherTube: Watch videos or listen to audio together with others online

togethertube1One of the amazing things that webtools can do is to bring students together no matter where they are. TogetherTube is another great free tool that doesn’t require registration. It allows groups of people to watch videos or listen to audio files together in realtime, even if they are in other parts of the world. The files are synchronized so they all see it as if they were in the same room together.

This could be a really great tool for the language classroom where students could be assigned a video or audio file to watch or listen to with their classmates or in a group. Instead of doing it as a class, they could use their own devices or even be in different places and watch or listen to together and comment in the chat box.

Here how to use it:

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  • You now will be taken to the viewing room.

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  • Now to add your audio or video files. You can either search for a YouTube, Vimeo, or Dailymotion video or SoundCloud audio file, or you can paste in a web address (URL) from any of those sites. Click on ‘Search Videos’, type in your search description, and choose the site you would like to search.

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  • You will now see the video or audio files found using your search criteria, or the file using the URL.

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  • Once you have located the audio or video file you would like to watch or listen to with others, click on the green ‘thumbs-up’ button. The video will now appear in the player window area.

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  • The video will start playing immediately. You can pause it if you are planning on watching or listening with others. You can also adjust the video quality by clicking on the arrow in the bottom-right corner.

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  • To invite others to watch or listen with you, click on the ‘Invite Friends’ button along the top bar.

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  • A dialogue box will appear with a link you can copy and share with others. Be careful, this is a room anyone can enter without a password, so don’t share it on a public site such as Twitter or Facebook.

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  • To avoid others from finding your room on TogetherTube, click on the ‘Room Settings’ button along the top and a new page will open.

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  •  Uncheck the ‘Public Room’ option and click on ‘Save’. You can also change the room name if you would like and even add a description. There are a number of other options on the left side menu, but most of those are for registered users. Close this window to return to your room.
  • In you room, you also have a text chat option on the right-hand side. Just type your message and hit enter to send it to all users in the room.

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  • Any user that enters the room will see the video or hear the audio being played at the same time as all other participants in the room. Anyone can pause the file and even add other videos or audio files to the playlist  by searching or pasting in a URL and clicking on the ‘thumbs up’ button. Files with the most votes get bumped up the playlist.

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 Here is a printable guide for teachers and students

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Notepad: A collaborative text editor with text and audio chat

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 4.11.08 PMOne tool I use in my language classroom quite a bit is a collaborative text editor / word processor. For years, I have even using TitanPad as my main text editor since students don’t have to register and yet I can password protect it. One thing that is missing from TitanPad and other collaborative writing platforms is the ability to audio chat as well as text chat. Also, with the advent of mobile devices, Adobe Flash sites have become an issue for me, so I am always on the lookout for sites that use HTML5 so mobile users can us it.

One such site is Notepad. It doesn’t require any registration and doesn’t have any ads. Users can invite others to join in and collaborate on a document using a unique URL. Users on a browser such as FireFox, Chrome, or Opera can also give permission to use the microphone to audio chat. It is super simple to use and could be an effective tool in the language classroom. Here is how it works:

  • Go to Notepad and a new note will appear on the screen.

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  • At this point, users can start typing a message on the notepad. It doesn’t allow for any formatting, but that can also be an advantage as students won’t be tempted to fiddle with the settings.
  • On the right hand side is a set of blue buttons:

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  • Clicking on the top button allows users to change their name (‘Update your name’), add a profile picture (‘Change avatar’), and pick a colour to use so others viewing will know who is where on the screen (‘Pick a profile color’). You can also get help, give feedback to the website owner, or end the notepad (creator only).

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  • Clicking on the second button will give you a unique URL that you can share with others. Remember, anyone with the link can see and edit the document. Be careful where you share it.

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  • Clicking on the third button from the top will prompt the browser to ask you for access to your microphone. This starts the audio chat. Make sure to click on the appropriate button on your browser to give it access.

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  • Clicking on the bottom button will open the text chat window.

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  • When others are online, you will see where their mouse cursor is with a small hand and their profile name and colour. If you click anywhere, a circle will appear in your profile colour that everyone can see.

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I have added it to my ‘Webtools: No Registration Needed for Students‘ page under the ‘Documents‘ section.

 

Tlk.io: Create a simple online chat that is embeddable

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Yesterday, I was looking for a simple, registration-free chat tool that I could embed in a website and I stumbled upon tlk.io. This is a really simple way to create an online chat room without registration and it can be embedded into a website. Here is how to create an embeddable chat:

Steps:
  1. Go to tlk.io and scroll down to where it says ’embed wizard’.
  2. Give it a complex name in the ‘Channel name’ box. It doesn’t matter what you call it since it will be embedded in your site, so people don’t need to remember the name. The reason for the complex name is that the room is open to anyone without registering, so a simple name may be accessed by someone who guesses your channel name. I gave mine a series of random letters, numbers, and symbols.
  3. If you know the width and height in pixels you would like to use for your site, change the numbers, otherwise leave it alone. If you want to make the width or height the size of the browser window, click on the 100% boxes. Check off border if you want a border around the embedded chat.
  4. Copy the text in the box on the right and paste that in your website. Note, this is a script enabled code, so it won’t work on some sites such as Edmodo.
Anyone who visits your page can now use the chat function by either typing in a name and sending a message. The layout is simple, but nice. I think this would be a a great tool for backchannel discussions or group chats in the classroom.
Feel free to add your comments below, send me a tweet at @nathanghall, or email me using the contact page on this website. Thank you! 

 

4 Registration-Free Video Conferencing Sites

There are a large number of place online that you can chat with someone without needing to register. Many of these sites are not safe for use in the classroom. There are very few sites that allow for a simple, safe video chat without registering first. Here are four that don’t need registration and provide a private place to host a video conference:


Chatride

ChatRide: Video chat with one other person and use text chat as well. When the person goes to the site, you are automatically connected. You can turn off the video or audio as well. It can also be used in fullscreen mode (video and text chat).

Boostcam

BoostCam: Video chat with one other person. Text chat is available outside of fullscreen mode. You can move the inset picture to any corner by simply clicking and dragging. The quality is lower, but that could also mean lower bandwidth as well.

Ubiqq

Ubiqq: This is a very simple one-to-one video chat that has two small screens on the page. There does not appear to be any place to make it fullscreen or to use text chat. You can turn off the video or the audio simply by clicking on your screen to toggle through the options.

MeBeam: DO NOT USE THIS SITE! There are problems with this site. I apologize for any problems I may have caused. 

These sites could be used by students to do group work as homework, to consult with parents or other teachers, or to give a simple lesson online. I’m sure there are plenty of other reasons as well. Share your comments and thoughts by using the comment section below, by Tweeting me at @nathanghall, or by emailing me using the contact page on this website. Thanks! 

 

Today’s Meet: Create a free private discussion room without registration

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There are a number of ways to set up a private chat online without having to give away any personal details, but one of the simplest and best ways of creating a backchannel discussion room is through TodaysMeet. This is a great tool for the classroom or for giving seminars where participants can join in on the discussion by asking questions, providing links, giving comments, and so on. Here is how it works:

Steps:
  1. Go to TodaysMeet and give your room a name by typing in the box labelled ‘Name your room’. This will give you a link starting with http://todaysmeet.com/ and ending with your room name. If the room is unavailable, a red ‘X’ will appear next to the URL.
  2. Set a limit to how long the room will be available by clicking on the dropdown menu labelled ‘Delete your room in’. You can choose anything from 2 hours to 1 year. Click on ‘Create your room’ to start the discussion.
  3. On the left side of the screen is the chat message box and on the right is the a box asking for your name. Type in your name and click on ‘Join’.
  4. Type in your message. All messages are limited to 140 characters. Click on ‘Say’ to send it.
  5. At the bottom of the ‘Listen’ box, there is a short link to send via Twitter, a link labelled ‘transcript’ and one labelled ‘projector’. Clicking on transcript will give you a URL that you can share the entire conversation with someone else. Clicking on ‘projector’ will give you a centred column view that you can display the ongoing conversation onscreen. Click on ‘Full view’ to go back to the conversation view.
This is a simple, yet effective, way of having a class discussion. Simply display the projector view on a screen at the front of class and students can add their voice to the conversation.
Have you used Today’s Meet before? How did it work for you? Where else have you used it? You can give your comments below, send me a Tweet at @nathanghall, or you can email me using the contact form on this website. Thanks!