Sunday, May 18, 2014

What's So Great About Explain Everything?

A 4th grader annotates a map of Illinois imported from Britannica Images.  She adds cities and key geographic features using the draw and text tools in Explain Everything.

Explain Everything is an app that lends itself easily to almost any assignment at any grade-level.  It allows users to add images, text, and drawings to a single page (app-folks call this an "interactive whiteboard").  It also lets you create multiple pages or slides with those images, text, and drawings (just like an old-school PowerPoint).  To kick it up a notch, you can record your voice as you click through your slides, annotating (drawing or adding text and image) as you talk.  

There are plenty of other apps that allow for similar functionality, like Educreations and ShowMe, but what makes Explain Everything stand out are several really exceptional things:

  • Save your work in the middle of a recording.  Let's say a student is in the middle of recording his voice-over for an Explain Everything and, all of a sudden, Social Studies is over.  The student can just save his work and continue the audio recording for homework or during the next class period.
  • Work on more than one project at a time.  If a student has to make an Explain Everything for Social Studies and for Math, that's okay!  The student can save the Social Studies assignment in the middle of that recording and then start a Math assignment.  When Math class is over, the student can save the assignment and later work on either one.  

  • Re-record over any slide.  Unlike other interactive whiteboard apps, Explain Everything lets you keep your audio in some slides while re-recording audio in others.  The recent app update (not yet on OP97's student devices) even allows you to layer audio recordings!
  • Screencast: You can insert a webpage onto a slide and draw on it.  

  • Export in tons of different ways.  You can save a slide as a photo or save several slides as a PDF (like pages in a book).  You can save video to YouTube, Vimeo, or iTunes.  You can even export some slides, but not others.  You can easily export photo, PDF, video, or Explain Everything formats to your preferred cloud storage (Google Drive, Dropbox, and Evernote are all one-click exports once you've logged in).  
While the teachers (and technology coaches) were initially big fans of the interactive whiteboard apps with simple interfaces, like ShowMe and Educreations, many have found themselves preferring the multi-tasking, easy-to-share-and-save Explain Everything.  Many teachers call this app a "must-have" and it's pretty clear why it has risen above the pack.  

Have I missed anything in my list of reasons why Explain Everything is so special?

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