Thursday, June 6, 2013

Explain Everything X 4 Ways

When it comes to flexible iPad apps, nothing quite fits the bill like Explain Everything. Developed as a screencasting app (in my opinion, the best in the app store), I have recently found that I am using the app for anything but screencasting.

1. Image / Poster / Graphic / Diagram Creator:
The way I find myself using Explain Everything these days is as a platform to create images or posters.  With the built in free hand cutout feature, the ability to import pictures from the iPad camera roll as well as any cloud platform that you have connected to the app, any image can be imported into a blank slide as part of a creation.  With the small i tool in the left hand menu, images can be layered, locked in place, duplicated and sent to the backgroun, allowing the creator to layer images to create a polished product.  Once complete, there is an option to export the final product as either an image file or PDF via email, to the camera roll or to any cloud based platform. (example diagram created with explain everything below)

2. Brainstorming Platform:
One of the most underutilized features in Explain Everything is the magnifying glass tool in the left hand menu.  Use this tool with a two finger pinching gesture to zoom out of your Explain Everything canvas.  With a combination zooming, free hand drawing, typing and inserting images, users can easiliy create huge mind maps within the app.  Often when I attend conference sessions or presentations, I like to take my notes in a non-linear fashion and Explain Everything provides a nearly endless canvas on one slide to create mindmaps.  For exporting, users can again choose from image or PDF options.  Keep in mind that the farther out one zooms when creating, the harder it will be to view the final product when it is exported. Below are two screenshots of some quick brainstorming and how the zooming feature can provide a larger canvas to continue developing ideas in the app.

*Bonus Idea: Students can use the zooming feature when screencasting in Explain Everything as well.  When recording, zoom into an idea on one part of the canvas to explain a concept.  Then, with the screen recording still in progress, zoom out of the initial concept and into the next idea.  

3. Explain Everything as an IWB when used with Reflector:
With a combination of Explain Everything and Reflector that is running on a MacBook or PC Laptop, Explain Everything becomes a blank canvas that can be manipulated anywhere in the classroom.  Math and science teachers can use the blank screen to solve equations and demonstration problem solving. By using the magnifying glass zooming feature in the app, teachers can begin solving equations on the app & zoom out to create more space and continue the process in another section of the blank canvas. Also, teachers can use the “open in” feature on the iPad to import PDF documents from the web, Box, Dropbox or Google Drive to annotate readings, documents or slides.

4. Presentation Platform:
Explain Everything has the ability to open a number of file types using the iPad “open in” feature.  With existing PPT or PDF files, teachers or students can open their presentations in Explain Everything.  While presenting to the class (either wired into a projector or with Reflector) teachers can mark up the presentation slides with the pen or point out specific ideas with one of the pointer tools. See the screenshots below that demonstrate how a PPT file can be manipulated and presented from Explain Everything

Use the Zoom tool (small magnifying glass) to zoom out of a slide and annotate in blank space.

Another approach to presenting with Explain Everything is to create an image, slide or diagram within the app where certain objects can be manipulated and certain objects are locked in place.  A great examples of this approach is one that was taken by one of Jason Heim’s students at Blake Middle School in Medfield, MA.  His student created an interactive slide in Explain Everything to conduct a live presentation in her science class about moon phases.  In the screenshot below, the yellow object can be moved, allowing the student to not only explain, but manipulate the slide to demonstrate and provide a moving visual for the class during the live presentation.  


  1. Thanks for sharing your ideas on this. I think we often limit ourselves to what right in front of our nose and don't go deeper like the zoom feature! I also love to use EE as a way to give writing feedback and a virtual writing conference where I mark up student text while talking! Love this app!!!!

  2. How will Explain Everything interact with eBackpack. Will they be able to use the "open in" feature?

  3. I did one a year ago on lyme disease and use it to show my sports medicine class and health class. I forgot about it as an app. I hope to learn more to use in my classroom.

  4. Thanks for these great ideas about how to get the most out of Explain Everything. I am always amazed at how out of the box thinking gives us new ways to use tools that we think we have explored thoroughly. It would be fun to challenge a bunch of students to find even more ways to use this app.