Digital Tools for Teaching

Mar 15 2016 Published by under Uncategorized

In the past I've written about some of the analog tools I enjoy using in my work. However I also keep a toolkit of digital tools I use in various ways both for my research and teaching work. I want to talk about some of the tools I use to aid in my teaching, mainly in terms of preparing digital materials that can be used online or during presentations. All the tools listed here run on iOS and I use them on my iPad, and sometimes pass on the files to Illustrator, iMovie or Keynote.

Are there any tools you use regularly that would recommend?

1. Options for iPad diagramming, sketching and drawing apps. My top two are these:


Concepts – This is really good. It’s basically a vector drawing app, with lots of tools, easy interface, layers, etc. It can export directly to Adobe CC or to whatever as an SVG file which can be used in Illustrator


SketchBook - From Autodesk, really powerful for drawing and tracing, with lots of brush effects. Export, as far as I can figure out is only as PNG, but working with layers you can copy and move objects around in the app. So good for creating backgrounds, freestanding illustrations for slides, etc. A bit of a learning curve, but not really.


For creating other cool drawings to enhance sides etc I use either Paper by 53 and Procreate, which are the apps that feel the most like using actual drawing tools, especially with a decent stylus. I really like the watercolor effects on Paper.


Aside from those two, I’ve tried:


InkPad - Vector-based simple shapes, etc. Very straightforward and can export as SVG, but not as streamlined and polished as concepts.


Brushes - Very paired down but effective drawing/painting app. Has layers, is easy to use and the interface is totally non-obtrusive. Fun to use. Export only as PNG (or JPG?).


2. I also found good apps for creating animations (but for hand-drawn, stop motion animation, not necessarily moving objects):


Animation HD – really easy to make animated doodles. Basically a layered drawing program that allows you to create animations. E.g. create a face, copy it across frames, then alter the expression, etc. I really like the user interface and the smoothness and simplicity of the app.


Animate it! — Stop motion animation on the cheap. Very rudimentary editing capabilities, could probably be exported onto something else.


I'm still looking for something that let's you draw simple objects and move them around the screen, like to animate a pathway or a mechanism. I use Powerpoint or Keynote for this, but it is really bulky and cumbersome.


3. Digital whiteboards allow you to record video while draw on your screen with different colors and narrate, so you can create little mini lessons you can upload for your class if you want to clarify a concept, or provide some pre-class material:


Educreations – Great digital whiteboard with audio recording. Limitation is that animations reside in their website, so can’t easily be exported.


Doodlecast Pro – Not as good UI as the other one, but allows you to export as a movie file to use as you wish. This is the one I use the most.


Another tool I found that has a lot of potential is called Explain Everything. I'll be trying it out and report back once I've used it. You can incorporate pictures, etc. to your whiteboard presentation


A final note of caution. Don't use Prezi. Ever. It makes everyone nauseous and pisses everyone off.


Hope these are useful!


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