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In this new series, author and educator Aaron Quigley shows you how to stay up to date with the latest educational technology and classroom management techniques. Each week, he'll introduce you to a new tip you can use to be more efficient, and increase student achievement. Aaron covers concepts like the flipped classroom, Common Core Standards, and the role of social media in education. The series also covers a variety of productivity apps, learning management systems, and other technologies, using a project-based approach that simulates the real K–12 or university classroom environment. Check back often for new tutorials, every Monday with Teacher Tips.
Before we create our own videos, let's go ahead and become comfortable with the bContext application. You can download bContext simply by searching for it on the Apple App Store. Once it's downloaded, you'll have to go through and build in some basic information, including your email address, in order to create an account. Again, the basic account is free, and will allow you 100 megabytes of video storage on the bContext servers. Once you've created your account, you'll always come to this screen, which is the main bContext screen. Here you can view tutorials created by the bContext team to help you get up and running with the application.
You also have access to other videos created by other users of bContext. If we click on the menu icon in the upper left hand corner, you can see a variety of categories which you can search for other pre-created video content. For example, if I click on Education, here I can see a variety of educational videos that were made using bContext. This is a great way to see what other educators are doing in their classroom to help inspire an idea for your classroom. Once you're ready to create your own slides, let's go and click on the My Voice Slides button in the upper right hand corner.
From this screen, you can manage your account as well as create your own videos. Let's go and explore a few of the features, just so you're ready to share your video once you create it. In the upper left hand corner, there's a gear icon. If we click on that icon, it brings up some basic information about our account. Including our name and our email address. You can also see here how much of your 100 megabytes of free storage you've used. One thing that is real important is to make sure that you've linked additional accounts to your bContext. If I click on Accounts in the upper navigation, here I can see the other accounts that I've linked to bContext.
I've linked Dropbox and Google Drive, which is important, because I can actually use files stored on Google Drive or in Dropbox to start my presentations. I've also linked my Twitter profile. That way, once I've created a video, I can easily send the link to that video out through my Twitter feed. I'm going to go ahead and click the Done button to go back to the main screen. On the right-hand side we have four icons. The Go Pro icon gives you the options for upgrading to a Pro account. This will give you additional storage space, as well as some additional editing and video creating features.
I'm going to go ahead and click the Cancel button. Next to that, we have a grid icon that'll take me back to the tutorial page that I was at when I first opened the application. The next icon over with the square and the pencil is the place where I can send feedback to the bContext team about their application. And the third icon is a place for me to view anything that I have saved inside of bContext. Because we have not created any videos yet, this is showing empty. To get started creating our first video, let's go and click on the orange New Video icon on the left hand side of the screen. At this point, it's asking us for what should be the background of our video.
Do I want to open up a file from Dropbox such as a PowerPoint presentation, or the same thing from Google Drive? Or I can even just start with a predefined background. I'm going to go and click Start from a Background. Now, even if you select this option and then later on decide you want to start with a PDF for example that's on your Google Drive. I can always navigate between my Dropbox, backgrounds, and Google Drive, and even save files directly from this menu. I'm going to go and click back on Backgrounds, and then select the Blueprint background in the bottom right-hand corner. So here we have the main presentation screen. From this screen, I can choose a variety of ways to interact with my background, and I can record those interactions.
When I'm ready to start the recording, I'll press the red record button in the top middle of the screen. Before we do that, let's go ahead and walk through the tools that I can use during a presentation. Starting with the bottom left hand icon is our pencil icon. Here we have the opportunity to choose a variety of colors and widths for our pencil. Now one thing I'd like to point out, is the width that's shown here is not actually the width that'll show up in your presentation. For example, I'm going to grab this green circle on the far left hand side. Now I'm going to go ahead and draw with that green circle, just a squiggly line.
You'll notice if I bring that menu back up, the width of the line that I drew and the diameter of the circle that's selected, are very different. So I recommend taking some time to play with the application to figure out what widths and which colors are going to work best for your presentation. The next icon over is our highlighter, as the pen will completely cover up whatever it's drawn on. I'm going to select the yellow highlighter, once again the largest size. And I'm going to come back out here, and I'm going to draw another line directly above the green line that I drew before. You'll notice that my green line, using the pencil tool, covers up the actual lines of the grid, where my highlighter just creates an opaque color that you can actually see through.
In this way, if you're working on a student paper and you want to highlight a certain section of text, to draw to their attention, you can use the highlighter and be able to see through what you're actually drawing. The next icon over is our eraser. And you want to erase just a certain portion of it, you can come in here, use the eraser icon, and remove part of a line. The next icon over, one of my favorites for presentations, is the laser pointer. The laser pointer gives us the ability to put our finger on the canvas, move it around, and actually have a laser pointer appear directly beneath our finger that we can record in our presentation.
In addition to having the laser pointer, I can also highlight various areas simply by tapping. When I tap, a red dot appears. When I'm ready to remove that red dot, all I have to do is move my finger on the canvas and it automatically disappears. The next three icons are ways for us to add objects on this particular slide. I can add picture, text or shapes. I can choose to add these either before my recording or even during my presentation. The fourth one, which looks like small computer screen with a WWW in it, is the ability to bring up a webpage.
We'll take a look at that in a second when we actually decide to add a webpage as a background for one of our slides. Now as I'm recording a presentation, I can simply have one page. I can press the record button and I can draw a variety of things in this particular page. But let's say during your presentation you realize you need a blank canvas. You want to start over from absolute scratch, but continue with your presentation. Well, you can do that by creating another slide. Next to the red record button, we have a backwards and a forwards arrow. Simply by clicking the forward arrow, it'll create a new slide for us.
At the bottom of the screen, in the very center, you can see 2 of 2 now. That means that I've created a brand new blank slide. On this slide, I can go ahead and select a new color, draw a new image and now I can move between these slides as I'm doing my presentation. If you upload a PowerPoint presentation to start with, it will automatically create these slides for you. These slides can be created during a presentation, or before a presentation when you're laying it out. At any time, if you've made notations on the slide, and you want to undo those notations, we also have an Undo and a Redo button in the bottom navigation.
I'm going to go and hit the Undo button to undo that yellow line that I'd drawn there. I'm going to go back to my slide number one, and I'm going to go and keep hitting the Undo button until I come to two completely blank slides. Now before I record this presentation, I'm going to start slide number one as my grid. Slide number two, however, I'd like to have a website, particularly the lynda.com website. In order to create the background as a website, I'm going to go and hit the Web button in the bottom of the screen. Once I've hit the Web button, it'll simply open up a web browser. Inside the web browser, I can navigate to any website that I want, I can position the website exactly where I'd like it.
When I have the web page positioned to where I want it, I can go ahead and hit the scissor button in the upper right-hand corner. This'll take a screen shot of that web image, and set it as the background for my particular slide. So notice that I'm still in slide two of two, and if I hit the back button, slide one is still my grid paper. Let's go ahead and record a short presentation. I'll get started by clicking on the red record button. Here in bContext, we have the ability to go ahead and draw anything that we'd like to draw using a variety of shapes and colors. Here I can use the green pencil, and I can go ahead and add some squiggly lines to a presentation.
When I'm ready, I can simply hit the arrow button in the upper navigation and move on to my next slide. For example, if I was having students learn how to search for topics on the lynda.com website, I could go ahead and grab the highlighter, choose a color for the highlighter, and I can highlight the search bar so that students can quickly see where it is they need to search. I can also grab a laser pointer, and then highlight various areas of the page with the laser pointer during my presentation. When you're finished presenting, all you have to do is go ahead and hit the Stop button, which is the same as the Record button.
You'll notice at the very top of the screen I have a blue bar. This'll be an orangish red color when you're recording, and blue when you're done recording. Once you're happy with your recording, we can go and click the save button in the bottom right hand corner. When you're ready to save your file, the first step is to go ahead and preview it. I can do that simply by clicking the Preview button. Once you've previewed it and you think it's satisfactory, you can go ahead and give it a title, and then click the Share button. I'm just going to call this one Teacher Tips, and then click Share. Now when it comes to sharing, there are several options that are available to us. The first option, which is free with all accounts, is that I can simply send this to my social media.
I can create a link that people can click on through Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. I also have the ability to download this video as an .mp4 or to upload this video to YouTube. These features do cost 99 cents each time you choose to do it. If you have a learning management system, and you're uploading a variety of videos to be played on the learning management system, with a variety of classes, then it might be worth paying the $0.99 to download an MP4. Also you can choose to show this by email or in a group. This is what's known as private sharing, meaning only people with this link from your email or that are in the group will have access to this particular video.
However, in order to use private sharing, you do have to have a pro subscription. Once you've selected your method, it's going to go ahead and create the automatic text for you, create the automatic link for you, and all you have to do is click Post. I hope you've enjoyed exploring the bContext platform, and that this can be a great tool for both you and your students, as you create videos to share and present information.
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