Blog Archives

Assessing documents from students and providing feedback through technology

Deutsch: Logo des Adobe Portable Document Format

There are several posts (linked below) providing information on how to manage your assessments through technology. This post deals specifically with receiving a document from your students e.g. a lab report or an essay and providing feedback on that asssignment.

The YouTube video below shows you how to set up an assignment to receive documents from your students. It will take a bit of time to set up (roughly 5 minutes) but it will save you an incredible amount of administration time connected to the assignment and from a quality assurance point of view will provide a potentially better experience for both the student and teacher.

The challenge that you will face is being able to read the documents that they have submitted. Every student may not have MS office and even if they do, it might not be the same version as yours. This will result in potentially a lot of extra contact with your students asking for appropriate versions of their documents. one way around this is to ask them to submit PDF versions of their submission. There are numerous versions of “PDF creators” allowing anybody to convert a file into PDF format for free. The one I use is CutePDF.

From a lecturers point of view it is now possible to annotate  a pdf enabling you to provide individual feedback for your students by using adobe reader

Accessing Youtube videos as a teacher

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Several teachers have asked me numerous times how can I take advantage of Youtube. Here are some examples

As a teacher I would recommend having your safety search activated on your browser to reduce the chance of any objectionable videos appearing on your screen. Although not 100% guaranteed “ever little bit helps” as the saying goes. The video below illustrates how to activate this safety setting

If you are still a little nervous about using YouTube in the classroom (as you are never guaranteed what other videos will appear in the sidebar).  you can remove all other videos from your screen by cleaning up your screen using a third party service outside youtube

If you school has blocked YouTube in your classroom you can download videos in advance by using websites like just remember to be vigilant with regards to copyright – not everybody puts their videos up on YouTube under a creative commons licence.

Another site I found useful for youtube was Splicd. This site allows you to just show a certain segment of a Youtube video. For example the video may be 15 minutes long but you only want to show your students a video from 2 minutes until 4 minutes.

The best use that I got from youtube was when I asked the students to do the work – this post explain how I set surfing YouTube as an assignment for my students

This post just deals with videos that already exist on YouTube. If you want to post some videos of your on YouTube  – have a look at my post on screencasting

Cleaning up Youtube for your classroom

Youtube can be a fabulous classroom resource but can some schools are cautious about using it in the classroom because they are concerned about the videos and adverts that appear in the sidebars. “” offers a potential solution for teachers. This site cleans out all the clutter and gives you just a video.  Furthermore there is a quick button that you can add to your browser so that you can go to a video, click on “Purify” in your bookmark bar and instantly have a clean video

Samples of various screencasts using different screencasting tools

This post in use as part of the support materials for the screencasting workshop in EdTech 2012. The following videos are examples of screencasts created by a selection of different tools available

A second demo on Livescribe that also used Jing Pro and Camtasia

converting Powerpoint to youtube video


A brief guide to screencast-o-matic – a free screencasting tool

Another free screencast tool. Like its counterparts of ScreenR and Jing there are premium versions also available at a specific price, providing additional functionality.

Good points

  • Its free
  • it allows 15 minutes video as opposed to the 5 minutes on offer through Jing and ScreenR

Bad points

  • It is not as intuitive to use at first but once you get used to it, you will have no problems
  • There is a watermark in your video with the free account

There are a series of tutorials on the use of screen-o-matic on their YouTube channel

What is Screencasting?

This post contains support mateiral for the Screencasting workshop at the Edtech 2012 conference in NUI Maynooth. Thank you so much to my co-presenter of the workshop Damien Raftery from IT Carlow (@damienraftery)

A screencast is a digital movie in which the setting is partly or wholly a computer screen, and in which audionarration describes the on-screen action. It’s not a new idea. The screencaster’s tools—for video capture, editing, and production of compressed files—have long been used to market software products, and to train people in the use of those products. The term screencast compares with the related term screenshot; whereas screenshot is a picture of a computer screen, a screencast is essentially a movie of the changes over time that a user sees on a computer screen, enhanced with audio narration.

There is an excellent chart available on wikipedia comparing the various software tools available for screencasting

Relevant links

examples of screencasts

Useful weblinks on screencasting

Guide to screencasting tools

Screencasting and assessment

Academic papers on screencasting


A brief guide to Jing – the free screencasting tool


JIng (Photo credit: blogpocket)

The always-ready program that allows you to instantly capture images and record video on your computer—then share them with anyone through a variety of web 2 tools. The video below gives a nice introduction to Jing and how easy it is to use.

Good points

  • It’s easy to use
  • it’s free
  • It captures both picture and movie from your screen
  • it’s very easy to link with other web 2 tools i.e. twitter, facebook etc
  • You can download the movie onto your computer to edit if you have an editing program

Bad points

  • You are limited to five minutes recording
  • you have to install the program on your PC/Mac

If you like what you have just seen but don’t want to download it yet –  Try an interactive Jing Tutorial

A brief guide to – the web based screencasting tool

ScreenR is a web based screencasting tool that makes it very easy to create and share screencasts

You must have an account to record and publish a screencast but you can sign into an account through Facebook, Twitter, Google, Windows Live or LinkedIn. Alternatively you can just create a “ScreenR” account

This video gives you a very quick overview of screenR

with a more comprehensive walk through available in the video at the bottom of this post

The good points

  • It’s free
  • it’s easy to use
  • it’s web based so its accessible from everywhere with the internet
  • you can download your video or export it to youtube

The bad points

  • you are limited to five minutes
  • zooming in and out during recording is not possible
  • How to create a mathcast with a tablet, MS OneNote and Screenr (2mins) created using Screenr and a tablet

  • Compound Interest Example (3mins) created using Screenr, a tablet and Articulate Studio

Student generated content as an assessment

There are a variety of tools that can be used in moodle allowing students to generate reusable learning objects. Click on each of the each on the links below to find out more and how they can be used to get students to generate content to help themselves and their peers learn a particular topic :

Google for schools

Google image

Despite being less than twenty years old, the company Google has made a huge impact in the developed world today. There are 31 billion searches on Google every month. In 2006 there was only 2.7 billion. The growth of Google in short space of time has been phenomenal. Though very few people realize the other benefits of Google beyond an apparently simple search through the internet.

This post is the first in a series of posts collating of useful tips on using Google in the classroom.

Google Docs

Google Docs is a free, Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, form, and data storage service offered by Google. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users.

Documents can be saved to a user’s local computer in a variety of formats including: (ODF, HTML, PDF, RTF, Text, Microsoft Word). Documents are automatically saved to Google’s servers to prevent data loss, and a revision history is automatically kept. Documents can be tagged and archived for organizational purposes. The service is officially supported on recent versions of the Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Chrome browsers running on Microsoft Windows, Apple OS X, and Linux operating systems. Documents can be shared, opened, and edited by multiple users at the same time.

To find out more about Google docs have a look at the two links on YouTube: