Educreations is a free app that falls somewhere in between a 21st century classroom and John Madden’s dreams. It allows you to add and manipulate text, images, and drawings on a virtual whiteboard, all while capturing the whole thing on video.
The strength of Educreations lies in its simplicity. Virtually anyone, student or teacher, can create recordings, drawings and lessons. Moreover, the platform is extremely flexible. Hooked up to a projector or screen and your iPad turns into a virtual whiteboard. When recorded, your lesson turns into a video that can be shared with your class, school, or the entire Educreations community.
This post will offer a quick overview of the features of the app. The next will offer a few ideas for classroom application.
When you open the app, you will see a blank workspace with four main tools along the top of the screen. Beginning at the left, the colored pen tool allows you to annotate slides and drawings. There are 10 available colors to choose from; the workspace displays the four most recently used:
Likewise, you can add text to your workspace by tapping on the text tool (shown below). Note that the iPad’s virtual keyboard contains options for font size and color:
Once you add text to your workspace, it can be moved freely around the workspace as an object. Tapping the text will bring up options to delete, duplicate, edit and lock it to the background.
Next along the top is the landscape icon; this allows you to add images and diagrams to the workspace. Images can be added directly from the iPad camera, added via saved photos, Dropbox or the web.
Once added, photos can also be manipulated as objects (i.e. they can be enlarged, shrunk, rotated and moved). As with text, they can also be locked in place, which is a useful way to generate backgrounds:
Recording Your Lesson:
The last feature along the top of the screen is the record button. This will capture the actions on the screen while also capturing your voice from the iPad microphone. It allows you to annotate images and capture explanation. The result is a recorded video of your lesson as if it were live.
Here is an example that uses an actual paper assessment for the background image. The teacher is able to freely annotate and record as if she were in the room:
There are few tools to be aware of along the bottom of the screen as well. First, the left and right arrows move you forward and backward through your presentation like slides of a PowerPoint. Next, the folded paper icon allows you to change and add backgrounds. For example, you choose to use lined paper, graph paper or a coordinate grid as a background (shown below):
Lastly, the rectangle with a plus sign icon allows you to duplicate your current page; you have the choice to copy the page with or without annotations. This is helpful if you want to use the same background over the course of your presentation.
Sharing Your Presentation:
Once you finish your Educreation, you can save and share it with your chosen audience (school, course and other profile settings can be set on the Educreations site).
While all videos are stored on the Educreations site, the app supports one-click sharing via email, Facebook, Twitter or direct link. Moreover, you can also access the embed code to place your lesson on a website of your choice (shown below):
The Educreations Community:
One of the more unique features of the Educreations app is its community of users. By tapping on “Featured” lessons, you can access and use hundreds of lessons shared by others, many of whom are classroom teachers. These featured lessons can even be sorted by category, name or subject area.
All in all, the Educreations app provides a simple and effective platform for communicating ideas in any context. Used by a teacher, this represents a new way to demonstrate and annotate content. In the hands of a student, it offers a direct, flexible and interactive way to share ideas. Download it here.
iTunes Rating (out of 5 stars): 4 1/2