Using the iPad application Explain Everything
It doesn’t take more than a cursory exploration of the application Explain Everything for the iPad, to find out that it is an incredibly useful and versatile app. So what is Explain Everything, exactly and what does it do? Well the answer to that question is in the name of the application itself. You can use the app to explain and share tutorial videos, collaborate with others and develop ideas and you can also use it to do live interactive presentations, using an iPad in the classroom.
Making tutorial videos with Explain Everything and sharing those videos
The first thing to do is to select your source material for your video. These can be PDF documents, presentations and photos that you can bring in from various sources. These sources can be from your e-mail client, dropbox, Evernote or from your camera photo roll. Once you have these visual source materials included on one or more slides, you can then start to explain and comment, recording your explanations as you go. When you have finished you can export your movie, which you can then share out to your viewers through e-mail, Dropbox, Evernote and also to YouTube. The finished item is a top quality movie that sort of like a slide show on steroids.
What you may want to do instead of sharing out a final completed video is to export the project as an Explain Everything project file. All of the descriptions and explanations that you have already captured within the file, you can rework yourself later or pass on to somebody else to have them collaborate and modify what you have started.
If you’re going to do live interactive presentations with an application like Explain Everything, then you’ll want to be completely comfortable in the way that the application works. You should be familiar with all off the tools and what you can do with them. In order to get a smooth presentation and look like the expert that you are. You will be able to do a live interactive presentation that looks totally professional. With this Explain Everything app you will have put all your source materials in there first of all and then you will use the manipulation tools and presentation tools to bring it to life.
Tools available to you in Explain Everything
When you have the application open in front of you, the thing to do is to start with a new project. On the left side of the screen are your main tools for dealing with your presentation. Starting from the top the first tool is to add new slides and the second tool is your slide sorter. With these you can rearrange the order of the slides, duplicate slides and delete a slide as well as adding new slides.
The drawing options with Explain Everything
Tap and hold down on the next tool which is the drawing options tool and you have 11 preset colours to choose from. Then there is also an option to choose absolutely any colour you like from an easy-to-use colour chooser. There are five pen thickness options to choose from and you can also set the transparency of the pen, the opacity. While there is no specific highlighter tool, by using the opacity setting you can create your own. The only other choice for the pen tool is whether you have a soft or a hard drawing line.
When using the drawing tool you get a nice flowing line which is of sufficient quality, that you could use it to write a signature for instance. In my initial tests of Explain Everything, I’m finding that you have an unlimited size of slide. This would be extremely handy if you want have a pre-drawn explanation that could be hidden away from view until you are ready to show it. I was able to grab a group of objects I had placed on screen, resize and rotate and set just the way that I wanted them, when I wanted them.
The pointer tools in Explain Everything
There is a set of nine pointers that you can use. Two of them are like laser pointer spots and then you have a set of six arrows, four which point to the right and two that point to the left. And finally you have a pointer shaped like a hand. These pointer tools do not create any permanent objects on your presentation, but will be recorded in your movie.
The shapes and lines for your presentation
Tool number five on the left side of Explain Everything is where you will find your shapes such as circles, squares, stars, arrows and lines. You have the same colour choice facilities as you get with the freehand drawing tool, except you get two sets, one for the fill and one for the border. You can also choose the width of the border. You can get an unfilled shape by setting the opacity of the fill to zero.
Use text as part of your explanation
There is a very wide range of fonts available that you can use within your presentation. You can change the size of the font, the colour of the font and choose a type of text box border. I find the font size chooser is fiddly to use, for example the font is set at size 36 point and you want 18 point, then you have to tap the down arrow 18 times to get the size that you want.
When you have drawn your text box on the screen you can change the size of it as you see fit. There is a small icon in the top right-hand corner of this text box which is for changing the size. As the top centre of the text box you can specify whether you want to go for left justified, centre justified or right justified text. After you have put your text in there, tap on the tick icon top left to say you are done.
It is possible to make changes to the text at a later stage if you wish. You might decide that you would like a different font or different size of text. Double tap on the text box and then tap on the tool icon in the tool chooser bar on the left side of the screen. Then you can do all the changes that you need to make and finish off by tapping the green tick icon once again. All very easy to do and very configurable to help you in your quest for creating a good explanation movie / slide show.
Adding images or even a web browser
There are a number of possibilities for adding images. You can bring images in from your Photo Roll, Dropbox, Evernote and Box.net. Where it gets interesting is that you can insert a webpage that you can scroll through in your interactive presentation. Not only that, but you can also use the drawing tools to highlight any sections, drawings or text on the webpage. I can see that this would be extremely useful if you wanted to explain how to use a web-based service.
When you have chosen an image you have the option to free select, which allows you to draw a totally freehand shape and select just a part of a full image. You can also do a rectangular crop or rotate the image before you bring it in. Not much point rotating as you can do that easily when you have it in the presentation.
Organising objects on slides in Explain Everything
The next couple of tools on the left side of your working area are for deleting objects and for rearranging objects towards the front or to the back. Finally you can also undo something if necessary, you have enough levels of undo as you are likely to need. The application will also autosave your work as you go.
Creating your Explain Everything presentation and recording it
The last tool in the list on the left side takes you into the slide view. Within this you can still add slides and reorganise your slides. You also have the drawing tool and the point tool. I’m not quite sure the best way to use this view of your Explain Everything presentation, although it could be useful for practising a presentation before you record it.
The real work with the iPad application Explain Everything is in the recording of the movie. Just press the record button and use all of the tools that are available, move between slides and you can pause recording where you need to. Your audio will be recorded at the same time. To get the best quality you might want to use an external microphone like the iRig iPad microphone.
Exporting out your Explain Everything movie
You do get quite a few options for exporting your move out from Explain Everything and the first one I tried was the export to Dropbox. It does take a while to do the job, depending upon the length of your movie as it has to compress the movie before sending it to Dropbox. The movie I recorded was approximately a minute and a half long and it took around about 10 min for the file to be compressed. I was then given the option to select where in dropbox I wanted it to go. There is a screen with icons of all the folders, which is good but it would have been nice to have the option to create a new folder. So really before I started exporting to Dropbox it would have been better to create a folder specifically for Explain Everything movies. And then I have another nine or 10 min for the file to be uploaded to Dropbox. It was all fairly easy process and quite painless, you just have to be patient and wait while it does its thing.
Here is an example of an Explain Everything movie
The verdict on Explain Everything
Very useful, polished application that has loads of options and tools to use. it can only get better as the developer adds more features and further enhances Explain Everything. Well worth the small sum of money to buy and it gets a big thumbs up from Mac20Q. I think we will certainly be seeing more iPad use in the classroom with iPad teacher apps like this. There is more technology for teachers so we are seeing teachers with iPads and teachers with apps. This Explain Everything app, I think will be invaluable for good teachers and technology proficient educators. There you go – That explains everything.