7 BEST Websites and Apps for Distance Learning | My Hobby Courses

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7 BEST Websites and Apps for Distance Learning

July 06 , 2020
15:16 pm
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All right let's jump right into it and my first website that I'm recommending is Google classroom. Now I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this because I do have several other videos dedicated to using Google classroom and tips and tricks and how to create digital assignments for Google classroom, so I'm Going to link those for you down in the description box but I did want to reiterate it in this video because Google classroom is my favorite tool as like a foundation for providing online learning.

Through Google classroom you can communicate with your students, you can post text or videos or images or PDFs or links to other things. So, it's a great tool to use as your baseline to be able to provide some of the other tools that I'm going to mention in this video to your student.

Number two is Screencastify. Screencastify allows you to record your browser, your desktop or even your webcam in order to create videos that you can then share with your students on Google Classroom or through email.

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The great thing is Screencastify can be added as an extension to your Chrome browser if you're not using the Chrome browser, I highly recommend it, it is my favorite browser to use because I love all things Google.

Once you add that extension it's super easy to use, you just click on the extension whenever you want to start recording and then you will be given three different options. First you can record just your browser, that will record only the tab that you are currently accessing so if you switch tabs it's not going to record the other tabs, only the tab that you currently have opened when you start the recording.

If you record your desktop, you can choose between recording your entire screen or recording just a specific application window that you have open. Now for both of these options you can choose whether you want to use your microphone so if you're going to provide narration you would want your microphone to be ON and you can even embed your webcam which will allow you to be on the screen while you're recording either your browser or your desktop and that just creates a little bit more of a personal touch.

The third option is to record only your webcam so your computer screen will not be recorded at all; it will just do a talking head similar to what you're seeing right now. Now the free version Screencastify we'll limit you to five minutes of recording at a time and it will not let you use their editor once the video is complete.

However, at the time I'm recording this video Screencastify is offering some of their premium features such as unlimited recording length and their editor for free but you do have to like apply for it or your administrator has to apply for it so I will link that information for you down in the description box.

Now once you end your recording you do have a few different options, you can get shareable link which you could post to Google classroom or if you have a class website you could post it there, you can actually share it directly to Google Classroom or you can publish it to YouTube, you can get an embedded code which would allow you to embed it into a website or you can just download the mp4 file. This is a great option if you want to use PowerPoint slides to be able to teach your students or if you just want to talk directly to them or maybe you want to give them a tutorial on how to access certain technology, this is a great application for that 

Number three is Jamboard. Jamboard is a free whiteboard tool provided through Google that does allow you to create multiple frames or multiple boards all on the same screen.

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Now there are two different ways to access it you can go to jamboard.google.com or you can actually access it through your applications on Google Drive. The great thing about Jamboard is that you can create as many boards as you want and they're all free, there's no cap on the number of boards you can create.

Also, once you create a board it will save it directly to your Google Drive. Now on the board you can draw, you can obviously erase, you can add sticky notes and you can even add images. You can also change the background; it can be solid white or you can have dots or a grid or blue or black.

You can also invite others to collaborate on your boards such as team teachers or even students by sharing out the link or by inviting them personally through their email. Now once you've finished with your whiteboards you can actually export it as an image or a PDF. Now this works perfectly with Screencastify you can actually draw directly on the whiteboard just like you would in your classroom in order to provide instruction and then you can record it using Screencastify and you can even record your voice while you're doing it and then when you finish you have a video of you teaching just like you would be in the classroom. 

Number four is Ziteboard which is another virtual whiteboard but one thing I do love about this is that whiteboard can be as large as you want it to be. Now you do need to sign up for an account which is free but you're limited to only saving three boards at a time. Just like with JamBoard you can draw, you can erase, you can add sticky notes, you can add images, but something I do love about Ziteboard that JamBoard does not allow you to do is the ability to add PDFs.

This means you could add in a PDF of maybe a practice page you've given your students and you could review the answers on its Ziteboard. Just like with JamBoard you can collaborate with others by sharing out the link or inviting them through email. And just like Jamboard you can save it to your account as well as exporting it as an image or PDF. You could also use this with Screencastify in order to record your teaching lessons. Honestly, it's just personal preference if you would rather use JamBoard or Ziteboard.

Number five is Google Meet. Google Meet is a free audio and video meeting application through Google. You can access it one of two ways you can either go directly to meet.google.com or you can access it through the applications on your Google Drive. Now I do want to be clear that in order to create meetings you must have an AG suite account. 

The good news is if your school account is through Google then it probably already has an AG suite account and that will allow you to both create meetings and join meetings. If you have just a personal Gmail account, you're going to be able to join meetings but you're not going to be able to create them.

I love Google Meet because it is so easy to use, all you have to do is click join or start meeting. If you are starting a meeting you would just type in a nickname and then you're able to go ahead and join that meeting. Once you are in the meeting you have so many options, you can share it out with others through a link, you can invite them through email, you can turn off your camera or microphone at any time, which definitely comes in handy, but some of my favorite features are the caption option.

So, while you are talking it will actually produce captions as you're speaking on the screen which is super helpful for accessibility, you also have the ability to record the meeting. So, if you have students that could not attend you can record it and then send it to them afterwards or you can even join a meeting just by yourself and use it as a recording tool just like Screencastify.

You also have the ability to present or share your screen while in the middle of the meeting. So, you could use this with JamBoard or Ziteboard to be able to provide instruction to your students in real time. This is a great tool not only for just connecting with your students and being able to see them but also to provide instruction, the opportunities are truly endless.

Number six is Zoom. Zoom is another audio or meeting application but I will say it's a little bit more complicated than Google Meet but that means it also has more features that you can use. Typically, the free account does have a time limit, I believe it's 40 minutes, however at this time that I'm recording the video, Zoom is lifting that for educators to be able to use this with their students for free.

Now Zoom does basically everything that Google Meet does but here are some of the features that it has that Google does not have. First of all there is a green screen feature so that means you can change your background which could be a lot of fun for you to deliver instruction virtually, you also have a built-in whiteboard directly in Zoom, which means you would not have to use it with JamBoard or a Ziteboard.

Zoom also allows annotation of your screen while you're sharing it and multiple users can actually share their screen at one time. Another feature of Zoom that I do think comes in handy especially if you are going to be going on with your entire class is the “raise your hand” feature so you could actually have your students all staying muted so that it's not distracting with background noise and if they want to say something they can raise their hand, you can actually call on them and then they could unmute themselves and talk.

I will say however it seems like a lot of districts are not allowing Zoom to be used, I know personally my district is not so I did want to provide multiple options for these video conferencing applications in case one of them is not allowed by your district.

And finally, number seven is Flipgrid. Flipgrid is a really fun website that allows you to post either a question to your students or a video to them or an image and they have to respond through short video clips. Now this is a free website but you do have to create an account. Once you have that account you will create what's called a “grid”. Then on the grid you will create topics which are where you can ask questions or post images or you can post some videos or links, there's really so many different options and then your students will respond through video and they can also respond to their classmates through video as well.

This website is highly engaging for students and it's a great way for them to be able to connect while they're not able to see each other physically. You could post a different question to your students every day and have them respond or you could even have them do like a book review of something they've been reading at home and it's great because you're able to set the length of time but that their video clip can be up to 10 minutes.

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