Creating GIFs in Camtasia 2

You may have noticed: I create lots of GIFs.
You may have wondered: how does Jake make his GIFs?

I ❤️ the functionality of creating them in Camtasia 2 for Mac.  Under Advanced Export is an option for “Animated GIF.”  It’s pretty much that simple….

However, if you choose to do this, you want to put some thought into how & where you plan to use your GIF.  Certain platforms have time & file size limits for GIFs.  Others do not.  Twitter, for example, limits GIFs to 5 MB.  To obtain the perfect balance between high quality image and low enough file size, I leave the settings all of the way up and then nudge them down until I hit something just a hair under 5 MB.  I prefer the frame rate at 30 and won’t go below 20.  If a frame rate of 20 doesn’t get me low enough, I decrease the dimensions.  If needed, I even use custom dimensions to hit that sweet spot of quality-file size. (More content after GIF)

Make GIFs in Camtasia Animation

Twitter doesn’t appear to have a limit for the time length of the GIF.  However, the longer the GIF, the higher the file size.  So, I cut my GIF’s at 20 seconds.  That was always the limit for GIFs in the SnagIt extension, and it seems like a good number, so I go with it.  To hit this limit, I increase the speed of my videos to get them right to 20 seconds.

Increase Speed for GIFs in Camtasia Animation

(When I last checked, Google Apps for Education Certified Trainers received Camtasia for free.  If you’re not eligible for that I believe it’s well worth the actual education price.)

Password Protected Google Forms

First off – I can’t take credit for this idea – just the GIF below.  I’ve heard it mentioned most recently on the Google Teacher Tribe podcast who credited the idea to Jeremy Badiner.

There are a lot of uses, but here are the 4 main ones that I can see:

  1. Post a Google Form (i.e., an assessment) to your LMS early, but students won’t be able to access the questions until you give them the password.
  2. Set this form as part of a BreakOutEDU style activity – participants can only access the form once they’ve found the password in the previous stage.
  3. Make it so only your intended audience can fill out a form.
  4. Keep sensitive information within the form, just like a password-protected website.

One important note: setting “error text” is essential – otherwise it will tell the user the password.

Password Protected Forms Animation

TwitListManager

If you’ve been on Twitter for a long time, you probably follow more people than you can possibly keep up with.  And, if you’re like me, it probably bums you out when you’re missing some good posts from some of the people that you really want to see everything from.

The solution is lists.  Create lists in Twitter that contain the “important” people or that relate to a certain thing (i.e., the school you work for).  Don’t worry: your lists can be private.

Well, if you’ve ever created lists in Twitter, you know that it’s clunky. TwitListManager is the best solution for that that I’ve found.  Go to the site, log into Twitter and assign all of the accounts you follow to certain lists.  Easy-peasy.

 

TwitListManager Animation

My strategy:

  • First, I have lists for my school district and my friends (I read every tweet in those lists).
  • Second, I separate everyone into Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3.  Level 1 are the people who I really want to see posts from.  I try to read all of them.  Level 2 are people who I’d like to read the posts from, but they’re not a priority.  Maybe if I have to wait an hour in the doctor’s office waiting room…  Level 3?  Well, I’m just following them to be polite.😬 Sorry, if you’re in Level 3! 😬
  • Finally, I have some other lists that I use at certain times.  That includes things like the NFL Draft–I use that list for a few days every April–and Fantasy Football–I look at that lists on Sunday’s in the fall and when I’m setting my lineup.

 

The Draftback Extension

One of the earliest edtech tools that I recommended to the teachers involved in the Writing Ourselves project, which I am the Technology Director for, was the DraftBack Extension.  Once enabled, the extension allows you to playback your writing process for any doc that you are an editor on.  Obviously, the best use case for this would be to have students do this.

What a powerful way for students to reflect on their writing process and for educators to assess (and offer feedback on) the way that they go about the writing craft.  Awesome sauce.

Draftback animation

Creating a Restricted Access Group in the Google Admin Console

Let me start with this . . . I think the best thing that we can do for children in regards to the dangerous, disruptive and distorted content on the internet is to teach them to identify and avoid it.  However, some students have difficulties with this and during intermediary times while helping them to develop better/safer online habits, an alternative support may be necessary.

One option is to use a separate Google Admin Organizational Unit (OU) that is has restricted internet access.  In it, you can block all online content except for content that that you and your educators have identified as being a part of students’ learning experience.  (The last thing that you would want to do is limit or prohibit their learning)

To do this:

  1. Login to the Google Admin Console
  2. Go to Device Management > Chrome Management > User Settings
  3. Select the appropriate OU (Organizational Unit)
  4. Scroll down to the URL Blocking Section
  5. In the URL Blacklist section enter only a *.  This blocks ALL internet content.
  6. In the URL Blacklist Exception section, list every site that you do want your students to have access to.  Keep in mind that an address like khanacademy.org will unblock anything starting with khanacademy.org, including things like khanacademy.org/math.

A few tips:

  • When placing students into this group, you may need to move them in Active Directory in order for them to stay in the Google Admin Organizational Unit.  It all depends on your setup.
  • Maintain a Google Doc that teachers can access to see what sites are unblocked.  That way, they can double-check their sites that they intend to use . . . and send you additions.
  • Consider using an instructional piece about appropriate internet use to help students learn to make better choices so that they can be moved out of this group after an appropriate amount of time.

Again, this is not a perfect solution, but different students need different supports and scaffolds as we prepare them for their futures in our technology-obsessed society.

Note: These limitations will only be apply 1) in Chrome, 2) with the student logged into Chrome.

Stop Motion Slides

There are multiple options for creating animations (GoAnimate, Scratch, etc.) but my favorite way to do it is creating Stop Motion Slides.  I like that I can make it exactly how I want it in this format.  I think this has tons of potential in all subject areas (Please comment or share on Twitter with the hashtag #StopMotionSlides if you come up with any cool uses for it).

There are two main steps:

  1. Create a Google Slideshow where each slide is an incremental change from the previous one (like a flipbook).
  2. Open the slideshow up in Presenter view and use a screencasting tool (i.e., Camtasia, Screencastify, Screencast-o-matic) to record it as a video.

Here are a few of my tips for making it quick:

  • Ctrl+D or ⌘+D to Duplicate Slides
  • Use Arrows to Move Smoothly & Incrementally
  • Move in groups when appropriate
  • Rotate things incrementally
  • Change Colors gradually
  • Use Transparency
  • Use Ordering

I was a Coward

I knew it as it was happening, too.  A little voice in my head was yelling, “Don’t be a wimp!  You’re missing an opportunity!”  But I didn’t listen.

I had been frustrated with a quality educator whose mindset was blocking her from buying into a new initiative that was good for our learners.  I knew that the right conversations and experiences could ease her out of this mindset and help her move forward.

I had been thinking about it as I walked to the staff lounge to get my lunch. I was looking forward to grabbing my lunch and heading back to my desk to watch a few videos from my YouTube “Watch Later” list.  And then . . . there she was.  In the lounge.  Eating alone.  It was like fate.  A perfect opportunity to have a friendly trust-building conversation and ease into working on that mindset.

But that didn’t sound enjoyable.  So, I walked away.  I knew it was the wrong thing to do, but sitting there sounded uncomfortable.  Awkward.  I was a coward.

If your goal is to be a leader or a coach, a catalyst or a bus mover, you’ve got to have the uncomfortable, unenjoyable conversations.  You’ve got to take the first awkward steps at building rapport and trust.  Those awkward steps are uncomfortable.

The steps you take when walking away?  Comfortable.  Not awkward at all.  But they’re missed opportunities.

I missed an opportunity that day.  It won’t happen again.

Add Customizable Columns to Google Docs

One of the complaints from Day 1 with Google Docs was the inability to add columns.  Not too long ago, Google added this functionality, but it’s still sorely lacking in customizability.  So, here’s a workaround:

  1. Insert a Table
  2. Enter your text and images
  3. Make the table’s border 0 point (a.k.a., invisible)
  4. Find a microphone
  5. Drop it