Office Lens

iOS App Store link

Office Lens is a utility made by Microsoft that works on any platform to capture business cards, documents, images and whiteboards. Lens then processes the images to improve clarity before providing various export locations. If you are an Office365 subscriber you also have the benefit of exporting to any of the Office365 apps including directly into a page of a OneNote Notebook.

Below are a couple of scenarios that would work well in an education environment:

Scanning Documents

Document Scanning
Ideas:
– Backup students work
– Store documents from a PD
– Capture pages from books to use in lessons
– Use OCR on a document

Scanning Notes/Work

Scanning Notes
I often find that teachers feel pressure to stop using pen and paper once iPads and Laptops are introduced to the classroom. To me it is perfectly fine to continue working with paper, do your math lesson on paper, brainstorm, think, draw – you can still use paper and then capture the image after the fact.

Scanning the Whiteboard

Scanning whiteboard
The obvious one here is to use this to scan the teachers whiteboard work at the end of the lesson but another love of mine is encouraging students to use the whiteboard to think out their ideas. My mechatronics/engineering class will often have groups of students sharing their ideas on the whiteboards scattered around the room. I also like the idea of the whiteboard desk. Once the thinking is done – take a photo.

Saving to OneNote

OneNote Options
I will point out specifically how Office Lens interacts with OneNote as this fits perfectly into the brainstorm and think on paper or whiteboards and then capturing to digital. Most of my thinking and group work in classes is stored inside OneNote so using Lens certainly makes moving files directly where I need them to go quick and easy.

Podcasting Microphones Extras

So since my last post where I discussed my recommendations for a good podcasting microphone I have received a couple of orders from Amazon.

First is a shock mount which is designed to remove some of the vibrations that may occur from moving the microphone to bumping the desk.

This is the one I grabbed:

Shock mount

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C86FA0E/ref=od_aui_detailpages00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

The only problem was that I didn’t check the sizes so I needed to 3D print a part so that the microphone sat comfortably.

Mic Enlarger

I also purchased a foam microphone wind protector to help soften the noise of the microphone.

This is the one I grabbed:

Foam Cover

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01EMUQ08O/ref=od_aui_detailpages00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Together they all look pretty cool:

Mic with Foam Cover and Shock Mount

Podcasting Microphones

For all intensive purposes do not record audio through the microphone of your laptop, these microphones pick up far to much background noise and never provide any kind of reasonable quality.

A starting point is to just use the microphone attached to Apple AirPods – which will provide a clearer recording just by the fact that it will sit closer to your mouth. It also works well while on the move.

In my experience the “feel” of a podcast changes dramatically based upon the quality of the recorded audio. Some of the clear “low quality” sounding podcast generally arise when the presenters are located in the same location sharing one microphone.

So how do you choose a good microphone that has a reasonable price? Well you could head to this blog post by Marco Arment of Tumblr, Instapaper and Overcast fame.

Podcasting Microphones Mega-Review

tl;dr – get yourself an Audio Technica ATR2100-USB.

An amazing value for the money: it sounds great for the price, and pretty decent at any price, as long as you speak up very closely to it. With USB and XLR outputs and a built-in headphone jack for USB mode, I don’t know of a cheaper or simpler all-in-one solution to recommend. Compared to other inexpensive USB mics aimed at beginners, which are usually large-diaphragm condensers, the dynamic ATR-2100 picks up far less room echo and background noise. But you have to speak up closely to it — get more than about two inches from it, and it gets very bad, very quickly.

AT2100-USB

This microphone is fantastic and provides great value for money. Tracking one of these down in Australia is its biggest down sides. I managed to grab one from my local PLE computers for $99.

So why this microphone – other than price?

Inputs and Outputs

USB

Connecting to a laptop or even iPad could not be easier.

XLR outputs

Flexible enough to connect to any professional audio equipment and cabling.

2.5mm Headphone Jack

Plugging your headphones directly into the microphone enables the ability to listen to exactly what the microphone is picking up. This actually makes a huge difference while recording.

A small stand

Easy table top setup.

Example Recordings

Like what Marco did in his review, below I have included some example recordings I made using the internal microphones from an iPad Pro 12.9 and a MacBook Pro with also recordings made on both devices with the AT2100-USB Microphone.

MacBook Pro Internal Microphone

MacBook Pro with AT2100-USB Microphone

iPad Internal Microphone

iPad with AT2100-USB Microphone

iPad Setup

iPad Connection

Podcasting Series

One of the many ways I like to pass time while running or driving is by listening to Podcasts. They cover so many topics, themes and styles that really there is an endless amount of content available. I like to listen to podcasts covering technology, education, science and tv shows. At the end of this post I’ll link to some of my favourites that I could not live without.

Over some of the next few posts I will go through the setup that I have been putting together to record, edit and publish a podcast so that people can subscribe and listen. I will try to cover my experiences and choices that I have made – like keeping costs to a minimum.

I would like to point out a couple of resources that I recommend – and that I have used to help in my decisions.

Six Colors – Podcast Posts
Casey Liss – How I Make Podcasts

Podcast Recommendations

Accidental Tech Podcast
Connected
Hello Internet
Future Tense

Podcasting Activity

This week I am beginning a new task with my Year 10 class. So far this year we have looked at photography, movie creation and coding. I wanted to finish the year with something that I am very interested in and will be fun for the students. I had come up with a couple of ideas; one was to create a TED Talk style presentation and the other was for creating a Podcast. I gave my class the choice and they (quite rightly) voted for Podcasting.

Below is what I will be providing the students with as our starting point.

Continue reading “Podcasting Activity”