Category Archives: Tools

Recording/Projecting iOS screens with Quicktime Player

Quicktime on the Mac is one of those tools that many Mac users don’t fully utilize. I have met lots of instructors who are Mac users who are unaware that they can use Quicktime to create quick screencasts.

Recently I discovered another neat thing you can do with Quicktime is to use it to project/record the screen of your connected iOS device.

First you need to connect your device with the usb cable to your computer, then open up quicktime and select new movie recording


Quicktime will default to your facetime camera so you need to change it to your iOS device







Once you have selected your device you should see it appear on the screen











Once your device’s screen is being shown you can start recording your screen.

It’s a great way to either project your screen to demonstrate an app or a process on your device and it’s a convenient way to create a screencast of a process on your iOS device (see video above showing some aspects of the Figure 1 app).


A brief look at chardin.js

I recently came across a neat little tool called chardin.js which allows users to insert instructions on pages to provide direction to users. Chardin.js is used to overlay instructions over elements on a page using visual guides which can be modified depending on the required needs.


I decided to have some fun with it and used it to overlay information on a statue outside Arsenal’s Emirates stadium (image above). One limitation of this plugin is that unlike some other plugins like intro.js which take users on a clickable  tour through an interface ,chardin js offers a more static approach. However it does have some potential for displaying helpful hints/information for users or highlighting certain parts of an image and emphasizing important elements on a page. To be continued……….



Exploring Interactive Text

The writing tool telescopic text came up in one of our team conversations recently, this led to a longer conversation about text and various ways in which text is represented online. This conversation made me flash back to Bret Victor’s idea of “explorable explanations” In his 2011 article he asks the question:

what does it mean to be an active reader?

In his essay Bret Victor  suggests three possible ways to facilitate active reading:

  • reactive documents: these allow the reader to play with the author’s assumptions and analyses, and see the consequences.
  • explorable examples: these make the abstract concrete, and allows the reader to develop an intuition for how a system works.
  • contextual examples: these allow the reader to learn related material just-in-time, and cross-check the author’s claims.parable




Other similar interactive visualizations can be found on

While these examples point to interesting ways to engage learners, the problem is the skills required to create such resources. Tools such as telescopic text are relatively easier to use and don’t require any special skill or knowledge to use. On the other hand creating an interactive like the parable of polygons requires some coding skills. In order for faculty to embrace and adopt  the tools will have to become more user friendly. An example of a user friendly resource is keshif  a data browser which allows users to visualize and explore data. The only step needed is to upload data via a particular format via Google Docs.  Currently I’m interested in exploring user friendly tools that can be used to augment text  to encourage active learning. Crossfilter and dc.js are two tools I’m exploring right now.



Batch Geo is an online tool for batch geocoding addresses. It is also great tool for an icebreaker activity in an online class. It can be used to display location as well as other pertinent information on a map. The process is really simple, students information can be entered in a simple Google form or spreadsheet. After collecting the information, copy and paste it in BatchGeo. A map will be generated that shows the geographical location of participants.

View IceBreaker in a full screen map


Padlet is a tool that can be used for group brainstorming. In this example, we invited students to draw from their own perceptions and share what their greatest hopes and fears about online teaching are.