Show what you are thinking with ShowMe App

I guess it is a bit late for the entry since most of us have already returned the iPads we were issued but it is still useful for those of you who may be considering buying one of your own or getting from some other source.

Being academics, probably the most common thing we do is explaining concepts to students. Especially in big classes, we often need to explain the same fundamental concept over and over again.

Close to exams, a student comes asking explanation or solution to a particular problem. Just as we finish explaining him, comes another student with the exact same doubt! We are all too familiar with the scenario and wish we didn’t have to repeat the whole thing over again. Thankfully, there is an app for doing just that.

ShowMe app allows you to use the iPad as scratch paper and record the entire explanation as you draw figures etc to support your explanation as video and the accompanying audio together. While there are many apps that allow you to make a small voice annotation to a pdf file or a note, there are only a couple which allow you to make an actual screencast of the explanation. (Yet another app for doing this is ReplayNote. However, it is currently selling for US$4.99 while ShowMe is available for free.) The entire video can be uploaded on the ShowMe site and the link can be shared with anyone (e.g. the class). It is also possible to download the entire video as a file for uploading to IVLE. We provide a short guide here to use the app and highlight some of its features.

After you have installed the application, you will need to make an account so that you can easily upload the videos online and share the links etc with everyone. When you log in for the first time on the iPad the interface will look something like below. The application presents you with a list of videos available on various topics. However, in this blog we are going to see how to make our own video not see an existing one (although the app does a great job at that too.)

  1. Click the ‘Create’ button on the bottom left corner of the application as shown above.
  2. This opens a blank screen for you to write with some controls as shown below. The controls allow you to choose from a few predefined colours, add an image and use an eraser to erase parts or clear the entire screen. There is also a ‘Start/Pause’ recording control in the middle.
  3. Making a movie with video and audio is actually really easy. You can click on the ‘Start Recording’ button on top and just start drawing with your finger or a stylus. Below is a screen-shot taken after some basic drawing. You can just talk while you are drawing and the audio is synced automatically.
  4. You can also add an image to your drawing. This is especially useful if you want to start from an existing drawing. You can see an example at one of my other ShowMe videos at http://www.showme.com/sh/?h=mLUOSCe. (Btw, if you want to use a pdf file, it is not directly possible to import it here. The trick I used to achieve this was to open the pdf file in ‘Dropbox’ (actually any app will do, including iAnnotate PDF) and make a screenshot by clicking the ‘Home’ and ‘Unlock’ button at the same time. The image then gets saved on to the photo stream. It can be easily edited to crop to the required section and then imported in ShowMe.)

 

  1. When you are done, just click on ‘Done’ on the top left corner and you will be taken to an interface similar to below. Clicking on ‘Manage’ button on the right side changes the interface to below and allows you to delete the existing videos, upload the new ones or share the uploaded ones via a link.
  2. For new videos, you can just click on ‘Share or Send’ icon in the middle of the video and you will be presented with the interface as below. Choose the option you like best (I usually just make it visible to the ‘World’). The views that follow allow you to add a short description and some tags and starts uploading when you are done. For uploading large videos it is advisable to use WiFi else you may have to wait long.

  1. Once you are done, you may want to see the video online. Just clicking on the link will take you to a page in Safari where you can see the video as shown below.
  2. You can also login on the website to see all the videos that you have posted and even download them as an mp4 file as shown below. Do note, however, that when you download the video using this, there will be a small watermark ‘ShowMe’ at right bottom. If it annoys you, you can download the actual video file without the watermark by looking at the ‘Source’ of the webpage and copying the ‘mp4’ video link. Pasting this link in another tab will allow you to save the raw video file without the Watermark.

Two other examples of ShowMes made using iPad are given below (using the embedded html option from ShowMe).

That is all. We hope it helps you to make videos as you explain concepts to students and save time. Enjoy!

Akash and Rajesh

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