Animate Your Audio with Adobe Express

If you’ve ever used tools like Chatterpix or Blabberize…

…or some of the crazier filters in TikTok and other video tools, you know how fun it can be to see a cartoon character animated to look like you’re the voice of it.

And, if you’re a teacher, which I assume you are, you probably also see potential for using this in the classroom with your students.

Well, Adobe Express is making this idea super easy with their new AniMAte from Audio tool.

It just takes four steps:

1. Select 1 of the available characters. There are 38 available. I’m partial to Steve. I’m not sure what he is, but I like his mustache.

2. Once you have your character, you can choose from a variety of backgrounds. You can even select a green background so that you can cut the background out in a video editing app. You can also choose a variety of dimensions organized by different platforms like, for example, Instagram.

3. Once you’re all setup, you’ll need some audio. You can either upload an audio file or record it right there.  Your limit is 2 minutes. Once you’re done, you can trim that audio at the beginning or end.

4. Then, you’re ready to export it.  By the way, you can also go back into the editor to change the character, background, or dimensions without losing your audio!

[Image Source: https://www.adobe.com/express/feature/video/animate/audio ]

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Stop Motion Animations with Match & Move in Canva Presentations

My favorite of Canva’s new presentation transitions is Match and Move.

This one recognizes images or text across two different slides no matter the size, location, or color and animates any identical elements smoothly between pages.  Let’s say I place my bitmoji on the left side of the screen and then I duplicate the slide and put it on the right side of this new slide. Now, if I add a match & move transition between those two slides, Bitmoji Jake will move smoothly across the slide! And I can modify how quickly that movement takes place, going from a one-tenth of a second super fast movement to a 2.5 second, slower movement!

And this doesn’t just work with Bitmoji…

I can do it with other images and text as well! I can even make the images bigger, smaller, rotated, or even a different color and it’ll animate it smoothly for me!!

🎥 This is huge for stop-motion animations. And if I want a nonlinear movement, I can just make multiple slides that each are a part of that movement! This is so exciting. Very cool for presentations, but also ridiculously cool for stop-motion animations.

🎤 Plus, we can then record our slides with a voiceover by clicking Present > and then selecting present and record. So now we can create narrated stop-motion animations!!

Speaking of Videos, Match & Move also works in Canva Videos, so you can do it there, too!

And, check this out, we’ll soon be able to edit our presentations as videos! This will let us modify the timing of individual slides and add and sync audio tracks to our slides.

[News Source: https://www.canva.com/newsroom/news/unveiling-the-canva-visual-worksuite/ ]

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New Transitions and Remote Control in Canva Presentations

Canva Presentations came out about a year ago, and they continue to make improvements to it. 

They’ve added a bunch of new transitions between slides, including Match and Move, which I’ll cover in detail in a moment.

At this time, Canva Presentations have 8 different transitions: dissolve, slide, circle wipe, color wipe, line wipe, match & move, stack, and chop. Each of them can be customized so that you can choose how quickly you’d like the transition to happen or what direction you’d like it to happen in. For a color wipe, you can also choose what colors you’d like to use for the transition.

“Next Slide! Oh, sorry. lol” Canva has also added Remote Control, letting multiple presenters connect to a virtual clicker from any device to navigate and manage slides, remotely or in person. So, if you’re in a room together, both presenters can click forward a slide. Or, if you want to use multiple devices, maybe one at the front of your classroom to project, and then one at the back of the classroom to control the pace, you can do that too. And, better yet, if you’re co-presenting remotely, it no longer matters who is sharing their screen. So, if you’re not the screen sharer, you can still click the next slide button. And, you even have access to triggering their special slide effects, like the drumroll and the stage curtain.

This feature works on phones as well – so you can present from your computer but control from your phone while you’re moving around a room or a stage!

This feature is available in all Canva accounts.

[Image Source: https://www.canva.com/newsroom/news/unveiling-the-canva-visual-worksuite/ ]

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Synth Shutting Down

The audio tool Synth was shut down earlier this fall.

The team behind Synth has turned their attention to their new project: Focusable. If you had recordings in there that you want, the site states “if you need help getting access to your content please reach out at support@gosynth.com.” Hopefully, you’ll be able to recover what you need.

So, what if you were counting on Synth?

If you’re looking to facilitate audio discussions, you can use Flip, which is well-known for video discussions, but can also be used in mic-only mode, or Padlet, which has an audio option as well. You could also use Mote in a number of ways: doing it in Google Slides jumps out to me as a good way to facilitate discussions. 

There certainly are other simple audio tools–Vocaroo, AudioVoiceRecorder.com, Cloud Audio Recorder, and more… but I think Flip, Padlet, and Mote might be the best for discussions.  I could probably list 5 other potential options though!

[Image Source: https://getfocusable.com/m/synth-shutting-down/ ]

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Google Workspace Updates

Gmail has been the most widely used email client for some time, but it’s been missing some features…

One thing that I’ve long wished it had was the ability to create newsletter-like emails. Another is the ability to send 1 email to many people, but to have it appear to each one as an individual email. Of course, there are workarounds for both of these things: formatting the email elsewhere and bringing it into gmail… using mail merges to send 1 email to many people… using BCC… but now, you can do some of that stuff natively in gmail. 

They’ve added new marketing tools. 

First off, you can now access a variety of templates that include buttons, images, and text elements. Then, you can customize and personalize those layouts with new colors, images, and more. So, that covers that first issue I was talking about.  Fancy formatted emails built right in gmail. 

The other update is the ability to multi-send emails.

Now, no need to send a BCC to all recipients! By using Multi-Send mode, each recipient gets a separate copy of the email AND it includes an unsubscribe link. These are both great news.  The not-so-great news is the availability. Google Workspace for Education Standard and Plus users HAVE these features, while Education Fundamentals and Teaching & Learning Upgrade users do NOT have these features.

Once again though, I’m puzzled by this availability. Education Fundamentals is the free version, so I get why those accounts don’t have it.

Education Standard and Plus accounts are pretty pricy – $3 per student per year for Standard, and $5 per student per year for Plus. So I get why they DO get this feature. What I don’t like though: why don’t Education Teaching & Learning accounts get these features? They are per-staff member accounts that cost $4 per staff member per month. At $48 a year, why would they not get this feature? I know that’s less money than paying $3 of $5 per student per year… but it sure would be nice to give that feature to those Teaching and Learning Upgrade teachers.

A few months after rolling out the Multi-Send feature, Google then kicked it up a notch with personalization Merge tags.

In big email service providers like MailChimp, Constant Contact, BirdSend, and others you can add merge tags to fill in peoples’ first names in your greetings and such.  Now you can do that in the Gmail multi-send option IF you are on Google Workspace for Education Plus. So, Education Fundamentals and Education Teaching and Learning Upgrade teachers, you can’t send multi-send emails, so this is no surprise. Education Standard users, though, you can send multi-send emails, but you cannot add this personalization is.

Those of you on Plus, you can now add @firstname, @lastname, @fullname, and @email into your multi-send emails so they look a little less like they were part of a multi-send campaign. You’ll also be able to have a preview email sent to you to make sure the tags are functioning correctly. To fill in those it’ll use the information from in your Google contacts to determine what to fill in there, so you may want to double-check what you’ve got in there.

Here’s a weird part – if you don’t have the recipients in your contacts or if you just don’t have their first name and last name filled in, Gmail will try to guess what to put in there! For the most part, this should work, because gmail will know the info for other gmail addresses. But can you imagine emailing JakeMillerTech@gmail.com and having it guess my last name was Tech or my first name was Jack? Embarrassing.

So, make sure you have accurate contacts for any multi-send recipients if you plan to use this new feature. Just head to contacts.google.com to do that. 

And, a reminder, while Plus and Standard users can send multi-send emails, only Plus emails can use these merge tags.

[Image(s) Source: https://workspaceupdates.googleblog.com/2022/07/new-integrated-marketing-tools-for-gmail.html ]

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Background Removal and more, in Canva Video!

Wait, more Canva stuff? That’s right – they’ve upgraded their Video tool too!

It already lets you upload video clips, but you can now drag and drop them on a timeline and perform basic editing tasks with them as well. These basic tasks include trimming clips, splitting clips, and resizing them! It also already lets you access a ton of templates, add text elements, add slick transitions, insert some of Canva’s familiar graphic elements, kick your videos up a notch with music, audio tracks, and sound effects. You can add your own voiceovers or narration, and, there’s more.

This first one is a big one….They’re now letting us remove backgrounds from videos!!!

This is a Pro feature but, once again, it is free on education accounts. In my testing, there doesn’t seem to be a limit to how long of a video it can remove backgrounds from either. I did it on videos that are 18 seconds long and 54 seconds long. Obviously, the longer the video, the longer it’ll take. The only downside with this tool is you can’t modify how it removes the background. And, since it’s done by AI, the removal isn’t always perfect. Did it take out something it shouldn’t have? Did it leave in something it should’ve taken out? Nothing you can do about it. But, seriously, that’s like complaining about free pizza because it doesn’t have banana peppers on it.

This is an awesome, awesome feature and I’m excited to play with it more, even if I’d like to add some banana peppers along with the sausage and pepperoni.

And, another new feature: they’ve added new animation tools that let us adjust the type, speed, style, or direction of video animations! 

Again, all of these features are available on the free education accounts!

And guess what – I’ve got at least 2 more Canva updates that I’m going to save for the next blog post! Make sure you’re subscribed, following, getting notified, and all of that so that you don’t miss it.

[Image Source: https://chromeunboxed.com/canva-outpaces-google-microsoft-visual-worksuite#:~:text=Launch%20Canva%20Whiteboard-,More%20tools,-Canva%20Video%20has ]

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The Canva PDF Editor

I recently shared a boatload of Canva updates, but it was too much to fit into one post, so I’ve got a few more to share today! 

When I saw this first one, I said wait, there’s a PDF Editor in Canva too!? I stumbled upon this one and I’m super excited about it. You can import your PDFs into Canva and edit them for free! It even breaks the uploaded PDF into editable elements! Want to customize some things or delete elements? You can! Wow.

Just go to the upload option in the top right and upload a PDF.  Then, head to your projects and click on the PDF to open it and mess around with it!

You can easily change, add, or delete text. You can add images, lines, shapes, and other content. You can even use the built-in Draw app–which is in beta–to add a signature! It was tough with my trackpad, but on a touchscreen, it’d be much easier. What a great idea. You can use add, remove and reorder pages, so that means you can merge or split PDFs.  They listed some other features that I haven’t found yet, like the ability to rotate pages. I’m sure it’s there somewhere.

And don’t forget: you can collaborate on these too!

When you’re all done, you can share these right on the Canva site, turn them into presentations or websites, or download them as images or PDFs. And, if you share them on Canva, you can even check the viewing statistics!

Like all of these Canva features, they’re free with some limitations.

However, for us educators, there are very few limitations because education accounts are FREE!  With PDFs, the maximum file size is 15 MB, and the maximum number of pages in an import is 15 pages.  There are some other things that they don’t have support for yet including ”soft masks, shading, tiled patterns, JPEG 2000 or JBIG images, and color filters.”  I don’t really know what those things are – lol – so I guess it’s no big deal for me!

I will say, though, it’s not a perfect tool. As you can see, we still get those weird OCR-text things that we see in other apps, like text that rotates between capital and lowercase letters… and sometimes it can’t even read a font at all. So, it’s got a ways to go, but remember: it’s all editable, so if the errors are minimal, you can fix them right inside Canva.

[Image Source: https://www.canva.com/pdf-editor ]

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Multimedia Comments in Book Creator!

📚 Recently, Book Creator announced that we can now leave comments and feedback on every page of a book…

But, not just text comments, no, we can leave Audio, Video, GIFs, Stickers, and Emoji comments too!  Just a note – you may have to install an app for some of these, like the Giphy app, for example.

Each comment has the option for an emoji reaction so that you can communicate that you’ve acted on the comment. And if you don’t want students to comment, just click on the Comment Settings cog to turn off commenting.

Finally, you’ll get notified when someone leaves a comment in one of your books or when a student leaves a comment in an assigned book. 📚

[Image Source: https://bookcreator.com/2022/09/new-feature-commenting-and-feedback-in-book-creator/ ]

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One-page Canva websites

The Canva Visual Worksuite has added the ability to build one-page websites, no coding required.

Unlike Docs, this is not in beta – it’s ready to go now!!

As we’re used to with Canva, they have a ton of responsive templates all ready for us to customize. Also as expected, it uses their familiar drag-and-drop setup, and gives you access to tons of content. Like most contemporary site-builders, Canva Sites are automatically optimized for desktop, mobile, or tablets.

Once you’re ready to put your site out there, you can make a custom URL that ends with my.canva.site.

Another option is to use Canva to purchase a domain or, finally, connect it to your own existing domain.  You can also set them up to have password protection, which is nice for educators and students!  Once the site is out there, you can also track traffic and engagement like how many visitors the site has had. This is part of the Pro version, but it’s free on Canva Edu.

And, again, collaboration, commenting, and possibility of using it within Canva Teams. You can also take any document, presentation, PDF, etc. and turn it into a responsive website through this.

Canva Websites is free to all, though some features are not free.

However, Canva Edu accounts have access to just about all of it – aside from things like buying domains – for free. I should point out, it appears that users on free accounts are limited to 5 sites published on their Canva domain. Again, though, this won’t affect you on an edu account.

So, believe it or not there’s actually MORE news from Canva, but I’m going to hold onto it until future blog posts. Be sure to check back in for more Canva updates and additions. Up next, some news from Book Creator….

[Image Source: https://www.canva.com/website-builder/]

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Auto-Generated Summaries in Google Docs!

Auto-generated summaries in Google Docs!? Let’s talk about it…

Several blog posts ago, I shared about adding summaries to your Google Docs—you do that in the left-side menu where the document outline is. Those summaries also show up in other locations, like in Google Drive.

What I did not share (or realize) at that point, was for some of you those summaries will be auto-generated, at least if the document is long enough. Yup, you did all of the work on the doc itself, why should you have to do all of the work on the summary as well?  You’ll find what Google calls a “suggested summary” in that same location and you can then edit them if you’d like!

Here’s an example of what that looks like in your Google Docs workspace:

The announcement says that these are available to Education Plus users but not Education Fundamentals users.

Now, you might be thinking, “Jake, aren’t there 4 education account types!? What about Education Standard and Education Teaching & Learning users?”  Well, dear reader, I have no stinking idea. Because does Google make their communication about their accounts clear? NOPE. There are now more than a dozen account types, when you count non-eduation ones, and some updates clearly list whether they apply to all of them or not, while this one only lists some of the account types.

So, help me out, if you know what kind of Google Workspace for Education account you have – Plus, Fundamentals, Standard, or Teaching & Learning Upgrade – I’d love to hear if you get summary suggestions. And if you work for Google, I’d love for you to tell someone to make your account level and feature availability messaging clearer.

Seriously, just add a chart, the same chart every time, with checkmarks or X’s to each announcement.  This account type has it, this one does not.  Sheesh. Is it really that difficult?

[Image Source: https://workspaceupdates.googleblog.com/2022/02/new-smart-canvas-features-in-google-docs.html ]

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