15 Educational Apps in 15 Days: Educanon: Activating Flipped Learning Through Real-Time Assessment

Everyone loves apps. I have written about some of my favorites many times in the past. For example, you can read about Evernote here and here, learn about apps that I discovered at ISTE here, and can view a Haiku Deck presentation on apps for the iPad here.

The goal of this series will be to spend the next two weeks showcasing apps of many types some old and some new, some personal apps for all devices and device specific or designed for the teacher or student, but all these applications that can make a genuine difference in the classroom. My first posting features Educanon, an app that can solve one of the biggest challenges in flipping the classroom.

The Challenge

There is a big challenge in utilizing Flipped Learning in the classroom and its not the videos. There are plenty of excellent videos available from sites like Khan Academy, Bozeman Science, APUSHReview, Aleph Beta, and Torah Live to name a few. And there are plenty of apps for teachers to create their own videos like Showme, Educreations, Explain Everything, Screencastify, and Screencastomatic.

The challenge is how to ensure that students are actually watching the videos and processing the information in more than a passive manner. A student who passively watches a video at home might come to school the following day with only a vague recollection if any of what was in the video. In order to learn, one must process information and immediately activate the learning in some fashion.

A Possible Solution

The obvious solution is to create assessments together with the video. But this comes with its own set of challenges. If the assessment is of the pen and paper variety than it will require time spent collecting, grading, and handing back the assignments. Teachers might then be more hesitant to assign these videos or even when assigned will only grade based on participation. Did they do the assignment? Rather, than provide timely feedback.

For this reason, many teachers create online assessments connected to the video either using platforms like Google Forms or a learning management system like Haiku Learning, Schoology, or Edmodo. The problem with these platforms is they can be hard to use, in the case of Google Forms they still do not provide real-time feedback, and students can easily get away with not watching the video either because they "know" the answers or got them from someone else. (The teacher might not care if they already know the answer but the video might have independent value even beyond the "right" answers.)

Enter Educanon

Educanon is a platform that allows the teacher to use any video from sites like YouTube, Vimeo, and the like and design various assessments embedded within the video. These assessments include immediate feedback types like multiple choice, check all that apply, and fill in the blank, free response questions, together with the ability to crop the video, skip to a moment, create a reflective pause, and even open a website. The text box for creating assessments includes rich text formatting, a fully featured LaTeX Math Equation Editor, and even the ability for the teacher (or student) to record questions or responses.

Most importantly these various assessments are embedded into the video timeline. The student does not know when a question will appear and cannot fast forward the video to the assessment. This assures that the student will watch the video, because it is the ONLY way to complete the assessment. Furthermore, the embedded activities create an entirely different learning experience as students watch the video in an active fashion ready to answer guided questions. The teacher will design the questions to guide the student to the most important skills and knowledge that she wishes her students to gain from the video. The following day she can utilize her student's responses to check for understanding and deepen the learning by saving the harder activities to do together in class.

Best of all, Educanon is free for teachers to use and offers very reasonable school packages which includes integration into the school's learning management system.

Educanon in Action

Click on the picture below for a link to an Educanon video that I created illustrating many of its various features. (Note this link is to the teacher version of a video so there is no need to create a login to view. In the student version, one cannot fast-forward or see the questions before they appear.) I assure you that it is well worth watching (and doing) not just to learn more about Educanon but for its entertainment value. (I used the viral Teacher Center video from Key and Peele on what if the US treated teaching like it treats professional sports.)

Below is an excellent Teaching with Tech tutorial on Educanon.

My teachers are already raving about Educanon. I cannot wait to utilize it this year to actively engage my students while flipping the learning.