Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Using Google Docs and Explain Everything to do Video Writing Feedback on an iPad

I like doing video feedback for my students so they can not only see the suggestions I make, but also hear my suggestions. A goal of mine this year is to find a more efficient way to do this so I can give more feedback to each student.

Since our school is a GAfE school, I wanted to find a way to incorporate Google Docs into the process. I knew of some apps on the iPad others were using to make quick videos and so the following is the process I came up with.

Using Chrome (although it is possible with other iOs browsers) on the iPad, I open the students' Google Doc and take a screen shot of it. If you don't know how to do a screen shot with an iPad, it's simple. Just click the home button and the sleep/wake button on the top at the same time. You'll hear a click sound like a camera taking a picture and you're done.
It will look like this:

Next, I open Explain Everything. An app that costs $2.99. You could also use ScreenChomp or Educreations, which are free apps. The biggest decider for me was that Explain Everything allows direct uploads to YouTube where the others do not.

In Explain Everything, I select the icon for new project and get the options below:

I choose "Import from photo" and select the screenshot I took of the student's work. Once in Explain Everything, I size it to fit the way I want and then record my critiques as I also write them using a stylus pen.

You can also pause the recording and re-start in order to prevent dead air and wasted time. After the recording is finished, I select upload to YouTube. I could also email the file and it send it as an mp4 file. I chose YouTube instead so as to not have to worry about if students had a computer able to view mp4 files.

That whole process takes me 4-7 minutes per students. I think that is reasonable to give students feedback on one page of their writing. You also have the option to import from Dropbox and use a full pdf of the document.

Now, this is where the process slows down significantly. Once I hit upload to YouTube, Explain Everything must first compress the files, then goes to another screen to "finish compressing", then goes to another screen to upload to YouTube. This process can take 15 minutes or more. Fortunately, I don't have to sit at the iPad while this is happening. It would nice to have a batch upload option. As it is now, I set it to upload and check on it every 15 minutes. I then hit the next one to upload.

After it is uploaded, you have the option to send via Email which I do and then the students have a link to a private video critique of their work.

And the process is over. Like I said, the critique process doesn't take long. It is the uploading process that is time consuming. If I find a better way, I'll let you know. If you know a better way, please share.

UPDATE: I found a quick way to compress and upload video.  Under the the export menu, select "preference" and change the video settings.  When I changed the resolution to 640x480 and the quality to medium, it still had enough resolution to be read fine, but significantly lowered the video size.  The upload time for these are less than 5 minutes.  Now we're getting somewhere!


  1. Thanks for explaining this Troy! This is a great for descriptive feedback and a process I hadn't thought of. I'm going to try it as well and I'll let you know if I find a quicker way to upload the file.

  2. This sounds really interesting! I've always wished I could sit beside each student and discuss their writing with them individually like this, but that isn't always practical during class (especially with middle school students who get off task so easily). This would give detailed feedback without taking class time. Great idea! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hi,

    You can use PDF Expert or any PDF app with similar functionality: Annotate the page first with your corrections and then add sound by recording what you just did. Save the file with annotations and it can be opened by any PDF reader and the final version can be emailed easily since the file size doesn't increase much.