You know that I have been a big fan of whiteboard applications for the iPad since I first used ShowMe. And until recently (last week to be precise) ShowMe was my favorite tool to create small video lessons for my audience on Deutsch Happen.
Kay and I also gave ScreenChomp from TechSmith a spin and though the writing seemed to be easier and clearer, the video the app came up with was not as good as compared to ShowMe.
But I am afraid that ShowMe lost me to the latest application on the market namely Educreations. Educreations comes out of the first class of imagine K12 and I have been in contact with Wade Roberts, one of the two founders, for a while now. About two weeks ago I got a beta version of Educreations to give it a try and I have to say that it literally blows the other two apps out of the water.
In a talk Wade explained how much time they spent on getting the writing part of the app right. As this is obviously the main feature of a whiteboard app even small improvements show immediately. Like I said above, the writing on ScreenChomp feels definitely more precise than it does on ShowMe but then Educreations is again a whole different league.
Aside from the various adjustments you can make to the drawing tools the whiteboard is so snappy that it almost feels like writing or drawing on a “real” whiteboard. The digital ink renders basically like real ink on paper. If you draw quicker, the line thins out, if you draw or write more slowly, the ink will render thicker. As handwriting is not a daily habit anymore I think it is incredibly important that this part of a whiteboard app works really well. For me it is the main reason to switch.
But there is more. Another big plus for Educreations is that you can switch between different whiteboards. When I explain grammar topics this is very useful as I don’t need to clean the whiteboard and I can also go back and forth during the recording and explain the topic in more detail. The audio recording of Educreations is also top-notch.
Like ShowMe and ScreenChomp teachers can add photos to the whiteboard from the library on the iPad or by taking a picture. Educreations also connects to Dropbox.
Similar to ShowMe the recordings are hosted on the website of the startup, in this case educreations.com. Teachers can choose to share them privately with their students or publicly with anyone plus they can create student rosters and Q&A for each lesson. The lessons can also be shared via email, Twitter and Facebook or embedded into a blog or website.
But what if you don’t have an iPad? Well, Educreations also offers a web-based version that is compatible with interactive whiteboards or drawing tablets like those from Wacom we covered a couple of weeks ago.
One feature I am going to miss from my experiences with ShowMe is the option to download my recording. As I publish my lessons on YouTube for reach and monetization I currently need to make a screen recording of my Educreations video and then upload it to the Deutsch Happen channel. This might not be a big deal for traditional teachers who are the main target of Educreations, but for the edupreneurs among us it’s a little inconvenient.
Which brings us to the business model. Like ShowMe and ScreenChomp Educreations is free to use. There are no ads or other strings attached. Tim Brady, founding partner at imagine K12 and I talked about the freemium model during our EDUKWEST (you can watch this part of our talk here) so I am sure that as soon as Educreations will have reached a critical number of users we will see some premium features like download of videos etc.
Bottom line: Educreations is currently the best whiteboard app on the iPad and probably on the web. You can download Educreations on iTunes or if you don’t want to join the cult of iPad owners, go ahead and get one of those Wacom digital tablets and use the app in the browers, I am sure you will love it.
And of course I am looking forward to the answers ShowMe and TechSmith will give now that there is a new cat in the iTunes App Store.