How do you keep your students engaged in the classroom? I have already discussed tools such as Nearpod and Storybird. However, effective teachers have more than just a couple of tools in their tool box. An effective teacher's tool box should be overflowing with creative and engaging presentation and learning tools that benefit teachers and students.
I love Touchcast, because it allows students to use technology to create amazing interactive videos they can present to the class. Students are the writers, directors, and actors in their own presentations. Not only that, Touchcast also allows teachers to provide engaging content to parents, "flip" their classroom, and even create videos to be shared while a substitute is filling in for you.
So, how does it work? Touchcast, which functions best on an iPad, uses the iPad's microphone and camera to record video and audio. This obviously is not new. However, it's what you can do with all the surrounding tools and vApps that make it amazing. First, Touchcast gives you the ability to use a green screen; giving you the opportunity to present from a news desk, or anywhere in the world (I just use green butcher paper from our media center to create green screens). You also have a teleprompter on the screen that allows you to stay on point, and deliver your content. Furthermore, the vApps, provided by Touchcast, allow you to load anything from the web into your video. This content is "clickable" to viewers, and opens up a whole new world of content delivery. Want to load a supplemental YouTube video, additional content from a website, a Google Doc, or even a Twitter feed? A few clicks, and it is there for your viewers.
There are countless ways to use Touchcast in the classroom. Below are a few ways that I enjoy using Touchcast:
1. Welcome Video- I teach Middle School, and at the end of the summer students and parents are nervous about the upcoming school year. They are unsure if they have all of their supplies, what to expect, and, most importantly, are worried who their teacher is this year. To help answer questions, and calm fears for the upcoming school year, I like to create a welcome video for my students. The video includes my syllabus, website, and information about me and my classroom. For me, it was a great way to build rapport with parents, and help students feel more comfortable coming to my classroom on day one.
2. Great Lesson for Substitutes- Substitute teachers have one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Students, for the most part, see a sub as a "free day," and are typically unwilling to do much work. Touchcast is a great lesson plan for when you have a substitute. I don't mean that you should have the substitute get iPads out and have the kids set up "recording studios" while the sub is there. That would be a horrible idea. Instead, I use Touchcast to create video that tie into Prezi presentations (Another tool for a later blog post). I simply leave a laptop logged in for my sub. When they open it, it s ready to go with the presentation. They simply have to follow along to the instructions I give in the video. Below are links to two examples of Touchcasts I made for a substitute to show in my class. These videos were made prior to Touchcast adjusting the length of recording. Now you have up to 1 hour of recording time you can store and share.
3. Content Created by Students- When it comes to technology, it is an amazing tool for educators to enhance student learning. However, this is not the best use of technology in the classroom. Instead, students should be using technology to create, and Touchcast provides an amazing opportunity for students to create videos to be shared in class. I love to use Touchcast, because it gives each student an opportunity to work on a separate element of the video. For example, some students like to be in front of the camera. On the other hand, other students may prefer to write the content; while others may prefer to help set up props or be the cameraman.
If you would like more information on how you can you Touchcast in your classroom, please check out their website, or check out the link to their free educators guide. This guide is also available for free for Kindle, iPads, and other devices. That information can be found here.
The opportunities with Touchcast are endless. How do you use Touchcast in your classroom? As always, please comment, share, and let me know.
Thank you for reading! Have a great day!