doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

100 year old inspiration

I get a kick from people who have discovered technology in the form of ExplainEverything.  People are creating videos for their students on all kinds of topics.  “This is new and a game changer”.  

Well, perhaps, if you just got into the game!

Before this application, there was ScreenChomp from Techsmith.  It was a personal favourite of mine but sadly was retired.  There are good alternatives but ExplainEverything appears to be the best replacement.

What a concept.  But new?  Game Changer?

Before you get on that bandwagon, you need to check out this archive just added to the New York Public Library Digital collections.

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library. “How to draw an ellipse with string.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 28, 2017.

This is a fabulous collection.  It’s interesting how it was actually sponsored by a company.  

I couldn’t help but go through the collection.  It truly was enjoyable.

So, creating media to explain a concept isn’t necessarily new.  Sad to say.

That doesn’t mean that it’s not a worthwhile activity for the classroom though.

Certainly, there is value in teachers creating visuals like this for student use/consumption.  It works to add to a lesson presented online to explain a concept when words just don’t cut it.

Consider going further though.  What if the students created the activity and explained it for those who happen upon it?  Then, it becomes a consolidation piece.  I know that this isn’t new for many; they’ve been doing it for years.  But, if you’re looking to get into the explaining business, it doesn’t have to start with you.  It’s much more powerful in the hands of the student.

What to explain?

Well, just about anything.  Any lesson or concept or topic or …

If you’re looking for inspiration, why not take a wander through this wonderful digital archive.  Maybe “How to use up coal dust” might be a stretch in your classroom, but I’ll bet there are others that are just so spot on.  

Wouldn’t a student generated collection make for great looking bulletin boards or an explain page on your class wiki?

Don’t be held back – remember the mantra about using technology.

  • Use technology to do things differently
  • Use technology to do different things

6 responses to “100 year old inspiration”

  1. What I see as a game changer is all of these different templates that Jared Bennett (@mrjarbenne) and others made using Explain Everything: At #bit16, it was explained to me that you could almost purchase and use Explain Everything to create other apps (e.g., like the magnetic tiles one). I’m not sure if you could have used the other screencasting apps in this way, or did nobody consider this option before?



  2. P.S. I love the collection you shared. I’ve never seen this one before, and just took a quick look. I need to take a better one later today. I like your extension activity too, with something like Explain Everything in mind. Thanks for giving us another possible classroom application.



  3. The game changer for me isn’t screen casting. We’ve been able to do screen casting for years with a variety of different tools. Creating templates in explain everything isn’t necessarily revolutionary either (on the surface); we were creating interactives on interactive white boards 10 years ago and the technology was there for the kids to record what they were doing on that board so that a teacher could revisit it later.

    It’s the ability to create that in the hands of every student that makes it a game changer. Instead of spending $.99 on a math manipulative app (or even worse downloading one for free and subjecting the students to a barrage of advertising in the corners or along the bottom), I can now create a similar experience within explain everything; and because of its power to allow students to respond — through text, through video, through audio, or by drawing — I can capture far more about what my students now than I did before.

    For years in edtech we have been nibbling at the edges, with a number of different tools, for what explain everything puts in each students’ hands. It’s not necessarily revolutionary as much as it is the culmination of the revolution in which students are able to differentiate how they respond, and teachers are able to capture much more easily, the responses (in differentiated ways) of all of their students. It doesn’t look knew because you’ve been able to do things like this for a while. You’ve just never been able to do them this easily.


  4. Thanks to both of you for sharing your thoughts. I like how Jared fleshed out his thoughts on the HWDSB project. Maybe not revolutionary but certainly evolutionary. The level of sophistication that is in these applications make for a more polished and professional product.

    I just took a wander around around your repository. For me, that’s a big takeaway from our discussion today. The site looks to be very comprehensive and it’s so impressive that you’re making these resources available to anyone who cares to download and use them. Kudos.

    It begs the question – what standards have to be adhered to for inclusion, can anyone create and share to the repository? And, why didn’t I know about this a long time ago! This is really impressive. Again, kudos.


  5. Great questions, Doug! Jared could probably share more. There is a way for people to submit templates that I think are then “flushed out” at Jared’s level and then added here. There are other people in the Board like Andrew Kelly (@therealmrkelly) that have added a lot. I actually found out about it at #bit16. It was just coming out at that point. More people in our Board have heard of it since then. I tweeted out the link then, but there were so many shares at #bit16, I think it kind of got lost. 🙂



  6. […] the Explain Everything app was based around screencasting. As Doug Peterson rightly points out in a post he wrote this week, that functionality isn’t new. For this roll out, Tim Kivell ran a breakout session on […]


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