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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Create an online resource library with students using Send Ape

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One of the workshop sessions I have given over the past few years in on the creation of a resource library with students, a place for them to find reading or listening material that they can use outside of the classroom. Getting students engaged in extensive reading and listening is critical in their language learning process. The more they are exposed to the language in use, the more they are able to comprehend and make important connections.

I am also an advocate of students taking control of their own learning. They are only with me for a short time each week in comparison to time outside of the classroom. They need to learn how to learn on their own, a skill that many students have not yet been exposed to in a more traditional learning environment. Allowing students to choose their own reading and listening material is important since they will become more engaged in the process and also will learn the vocabulary necessary within the environment they plan on using English (ex. their major in university, their work environment, travel).

A large part of them taking control of their learning is in finding and creating content that appeals to them and then sharing that with others who may also find it helpful. This is simplified through the use of social sharing online, a cloud-based approach to the traditional library. This allows students to create audio or video content for listening, and also the creation of text-based material for reading. Even photos can used to share signs, newspaper articles, and anything else students find throughout their day that can be useful in learning language in context.

There are a number of ways of doing this, but there are certain obstacles that need to be overcome. One such hurdle is the use of online sites that require registration. If it at all possible, I try to use online tools that don’t require that students give up their personal information. Also, the site needs to be accessible from multiple devices, not just laptops or desktops.

One such site that works very well for this purpose is Send Ape. Send Ape is a file sharing site that allows for video and audio playback, document and image viewing, and multiple users without having to sign up or deal with advertisements. Here is how it works and how it may be used as a resource library:

  • Go to Send Ape and click on ‘Create new page’.

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  • Send Ape will give you a page with a unique name. From what I can see, there is no way to change this. In the middle of the page, you will see a dotted box that says, “Drop your files here”. You can either drag and drop your files into the box, or you can click on the box and you will be prompted with a file manager where you can choose your file.

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  • Once your file is loaded, depending on the file type, you will see it appear in a box on the righthand side.
  • Video files can be played in a window or fullscreen by clicking on the ‘Preview’ button. You can also click on the ‘Share’ button to get a direct link to the video in a new window. This is a great way for students to upload video they have taken on their mobile devices without having to sign up for YouTube. Lastly, students can also archive the video by clicking on the ‘Download’ button and adding it to their own device for offline viewing.

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Video pop-up window

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Direct link shared video file window

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  • You can listen to the audio files by clicking on the ‘Play’ button. You can also click on the ‘Share’ button to get a direct link to the audio file in a new window. This is a great way for students to upload audio they have recorded on their mobile devices without having to sign up for any site. Lastly, students can also archive the audio file by clicking on the ‘Download’ button and adding it to their own device for offline listening.

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  • Most documents, including PDFs and Microsoft Office documents, can be viewed directly in File Ape. Click on the ‘Preview’ button and a pop-up window will appear with the document.
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Document pop-up viewer

  • Click on the box icon with an arrow in it in the pop-up window and File Ape will open the document in a Google Document viewer that you can share with others.
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Google document viewer

  • All items are shared in a “page” that can be shared with others. You can create as many pages as you would like, although there is a 4GB limit if you use the unregistered option. Sign up and you will be given 10GB of storage and a login ID. Unfortunately, you will need to use a Google or Facebook account to register. There is not email option available.
  • To create a new page, click on the ‘+Add page’ button on the left side of the screen.

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  • There are a number of options available for each page.

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  • The far left button pops out the share options. The best choice is the link available at the bottom of the box. You can share this page with anyone using this link. It is also useful for when users switch computers without an account. More on that in a minute.

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  • The second button changes the view from ‘Blog’ view to ‘Thumb’ or ‘List’.
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Thumb view

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List view

  • The third button along the top is the sort button. Click to change it from most recent to alphabetical.

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  • The fourth button is the security button. Students can choose to add a password to the page before sharing.

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  • The fifth button along the top is the availability option. Users can set a date when to make it available and when to stop making it available.

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  • The last button is an important one. You can choose if visitors can add files to the page (great for students to have others give their input), can allow others to view their page (ie. make it private), or if visitors can delete items from the page (probably best kept off). Students can also delete pages here.

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So how would this work as a resource library with students? Have students create their own pages and then share them with the rest of the class with the option available for others to add content. Maybe one student is interested in computers. That student could make a list of reading and listening material that they have found or created and then share it with their classmates. Other students can then add files they find related to that topic to the page. This can be collected on a class website or a shared document. This becomes the reading and listening resource library for the class.

There are a lot of other great uses for Send Ape such as sharing videos with students, having students share their presentations on a page so the teacher can get them all lined up and ready when students are ready to present to the class. Teachers can share listening files with the class for those who missed class. Teachers and students could give feedback on writing assignments.

Here is a printable guide to creating a page as a resource library.

Here is a sample page you can add to. Please keep it clean! 🙂

Let me know what you think about Send Ape!

Record and host audio online with SpeakPipe Voice Recorder

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 7.09.30 PMOne tool I use quote often in my English language classroom is a voice recorder. For years, I used Vocaroo as my online recorder, but I have stopped that completely due to the awful ads that are shared with the listener of the shared audio file. Instead, I am using SpeakPipe Voice Recorder. It is a simple, online voice recorder that doesn’t need registration. Files are downloaded or shared online using a unique URL. Listeners can also download the file or listen online. Best of all, there are no ads anywhere on the site. It evens works with mobile devices. Here is how it works:

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  • For laptop and desktop users, you will be asked to give permission to Adobe Flash to have access to the microphone. Click on ‘Allow’.

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  • SpeakPipe will immediately start recording. If you would like to restart, simply click on ‘Reset’. When you are done, click on ‘Stop’.

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  • If you audio is quiet, you may get this message. You can click on ‘Replay’ to listen to the audio. If you are then happy with it, click on ‘Save on server’, otherwise click on ‘Reset’ to start again.

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  • You may give your recording a title or simply leave it blank. Click on ‘Save’ to upload to the server. Notice, the file will be saved there for three months from the last playback.

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  • You will then be given a playback window with an embed code shown along the bottom. You can embed this file in your website using the code. Click on ‘Link to this recording’ to get the unique URL that you can share with others.

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  • This is the final step. Simply copy the URL from the top of the page and share it with the person or people you would like. You can also click on the ‘download’ text to download the file to your computer.

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Annotate and share a document online with Crocodoc Personal

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 9.06.24 PMHaving a place to share and annotate documents online with students can be very handy. Instead of swapping documents, such as Word documents and PDFs, anyone can upload these files to Crocodoc Personal for free without registering and without having to deal with ads. Once uploaded, people can highlight, comment, add texts, and draw on the document and others can add their thoughts as well. Here is how it works:

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  • Once uploaded, you can add three different types of comments: point, area, or text.

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  • Point comments add a red mark on the document where you would like to add your comment and links to a comment area on the side where you can add text.

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  • Area comments allow users to drag a box around an area which links to a comment area on the side where you can add text.

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  • Text comments allow users to highlight text which links to a comment area on the side where you can add text.

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  • Users can also draw on the text in four different colours.

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  • Users can also add text comments directly onto the document using the ‘Text’ tool.

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  • Choose the highlight tool to highlight sections of the text without adding comments.

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  • Use the ‘Strikeout’ tool to draw a line through whatever you select and it also gives you a box to add text comments directly above the deleted text.

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  • To share the document with others, click on the ‘Share’ button and copy the ‘Link’ URL. If you want others to comment, make sure the ‘Allow others to add comments to this document’ button is checked, otherwise, uncheck to allow for reading only. Click on the ‘Embed’ tab to copy the embed code to add to your website.

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  • You can also download the original document or the marked-up PDF by clicking on the ‘Download’ button.

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  • An easy way of getting through all of the comments and highlights is to open up the comments pane. Click on the double-arrow button right beside the ‘Download’ button. You can then click on a comment to go directly to that section. You can also use this as a bookmark functions to make it easier to manage a larger document.

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I’ve also created a printable guide on commenting that can be given to students or teachers. Feel free to print, distribute, or edit as long as you keep the credit along the bottom.

 

Convert an image to editable text without registration using OnlineOCR

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While Google Drive can do a decent job of converting an image to text using OCR, there are some situations, such as with students, where using a registered account won’t work. That is where OnlineOCR.net does the job quite nicely. All you need is a good screenshot or scanned image of some text (preferably typed). Here is how it works.

  • Go to OnlineOCR.net and click on ‘Select File’ and choose a file from your computer.

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  • Select your language and file type. I have found that ‘Text Plain (txt)’ option works very well for copying and pasting into other text. The ‘Microsoft Word (docx)’ option works best with things that have a lot of fancy formatting, such as tables, that you would like to keep.

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  • Enter in the code in the ‘Enter Captcha Code’ box.

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  • Click on the ‘Convert’ button to start the process.

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  • Once the conversion is complete, you will be shown your text in a box below along with a link to the appropriate file type chosen. Copy the text or download the file.

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The site doesn’t appear to have any ads and it works very well without an account. I have used it for adapting texts in my class and for converting scanned files into editable text for file size reduction (scanned images are notoriously large compared to a document). It shouldn’t be used for illegal copyright uses, but can be used in bits and pieces for situations where a text needs altering or for quoting in a paper.

A guide to Reel App: Host and embed PPT and PDF files without registration

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Sharing images, PPT, and PDF files with students is simple enough, but to view the files online or embed them in a website, you would normally need to complete some sort of registration. That is where Reel App comes along. It is an elegant and simple place to upload images, PDF, and PPT files without registration and then you can share a link where recipients can view the slides or pages online. It even gives you an embed code to put into a blog or website. Here is how it works.

  • Go to Reel App and click on ‘Click to upload images, PPT files or PDFs’. A file manager box will appear and you can choose a file from your computer to upload.

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  • Once you have chosen a file, it will begin to upload. A box will come up ‘Creating your Preso’ and thumbnails will slowly appear below. Depending on the size of the file, it may take a while for images to begin appearing.

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  • Once your file is uploaded, you will be taken to a new page saying, “Your preso is ready to go!’ Give your file a name and description in the boxes provided.
  • You can also give a name and description to each page/slide by clicking on each page/slide and then typing in the information.

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  • At this point, you can also add more images or files by clicking on the ‘Upload more images’ link on the righthand side. After choosing a file, it will say ‘Uploading’ and will spin until it has finished adding the new pages/slides to the thumbnails.

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  • You can also rearrange the pages/slides by simply clicking and dragging the thumbnails around. You can also delete a page/slide by clicking on the grey X in the top-right corner of each page/slide.
  • Once you have finished with the names and descriptions, click on ‘Save Preso’ and a box will appear asking you to confirm locking your presentation. Click on ‘Lock Preso & View Report Page’.

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  • You are now at the report page. If you would like to check out what pages people liked or didn’t like, this is where you will be given up-to-date results. Bookmark this page to return here at any time.

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  • To share the presentation with others, simply copy the URL found just above the ‘Start Preso’ button. A box will appear with a shareable link and the embed code.

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Tozzl – A simple, registration-free pinboard

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 5.34.10 PMI am giving a presentation at REALIZE 2015 on the use of collaborative bookmarking and I stumbled upon this neat little online pinboard that is free and registration-free as well! I think it could be a really great curation tool for the classroom. The teacher or the students could create boards that they share with others and invite others to add to as well. The content can be files, texts, links, videos, and even Twitter hashtags. Here is how it works:

  • Go to tozzl.com and click on ‘Create a new tozzl’.

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  • Type in a name for your board, a short description, a password to edit and add content to the board, a different password to allow you delete the board, the ‘captcha’, and then click on ‘Create a new tozzl’.

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  • You will be presented with two main boxes: one that shows the title and description, and another with a chat box. You can hide the title/description box by clicking on ‘hide’ link in the bottom-left corner of the box.

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  • To add content to your board, click on the little pencil icon in the top right of the blue bar running along the top of the screen. Enter your password and click on the ‘Enable’ button.

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  • You now have a series of icons appear on the left side of the blue bar along the top of the screen. These allow you add all sorts of content:

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Text: You can enter rich text along with lists, images, and links within a box.

Tasks: You can create a task list with check boxes.

Picture: You can upload an image from your computer or phone.

File: You can upload any file up to 10MB in size.

Links: You can post web links (you can add more than one by clicking on the plus button in the bottom left) with a description and short text.

YouTube: You can paste in a YouTube link and it will be embedded in a box on your board.

Twitter: You can add a Twitter hashtag and it will show you a live feed of the last 15 tweets with that hashtag.

Information: If you have hidden the title/description box, you can bring it back by clicking on the last icon.

  • To share your tozzl with others, simply copy the URL from the top of your browser. Remember, anyone with the link can view it, but to edit it, they will need the edit password as well.

Notes:

  • You can edit and delete most of the boxes you have added, but you can’t delete or add or new chat box. You can hide the chat box by click on the down arrow at the top left of the chat box and choosing ‘hide’.
  • You can move the boxes around by clicking and dragging the title of each box. The exception to this is the chat and information boxes.
  • You can make the boxes different sizes by resize button in the bottom left of the screen. It will toggle through the different sizes as you click on it.
  • There is no way to password protect the viewing of the board, so be careful when sharing the link.

Application:

  • Group projects
  • Listening and reading labs (the subject of my session coming up)
  • Presentations
  • E-portfolios
  • Blogging
  • Brainstorming
  • Sharing content with students (flipped classes)

Let me know what you think of tozzl! You can post a comment below or share with me on Twitter (@nathanghall). Thank you!