Saturday, April 27, 2013

Can You Explain This?

My favorite explainers, Lee and Sachi LeFever from Common Craft,* have this to say about explaining: "No matter what you do for work, you are an explainer. Part of your job is helping others understand ideas - it’s a fundamental part of being a professional. We explain ideas every day - we just never think about how we do it. Our explanations just... happen."

Or do they? Writing things down is one bit of advice LeFever offers. But, he agrees that sometimes writing things down isn't enough. That must be why he wrote this book.

I want to share one way you can visually explain something when the person isn't right there with you in the room.

Are you a Skitch user? If not, it's probably because you haven't heard of it, or you're a PC user and didn't know there is now a PC version, too! From the creators of Comic Life, Skitch will change the way you do business.

Skitch is available for Mac, Windows (XP, 7, and 8), iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Android. (For your information, Comic Life is also now available for Windows.)

Call me a geek, but I love, love, love Skitch! Skitch is a free (and very easy) tool that allows you to grab and annotate screenshots, documents, photos, and even PDFs now. You can draw attention to particular parts of your photo/document using the arrow, shape tool, or drawing tool. Take a look at my screenshot below.

Have you ever tried to grab a screenshot of a drop-down menu of a webpage for tutorial purposes? As soon as you click on another program, the drop-down usually disappears. With Skitch's Timed Screen Snap tool, you can maneuver around your desktop or webpage, or document before the screenshot is taken.

Once you have your snap, you can just drag the little tab at the bottom onto your desktop and send it via email or upload it to Evernote, Google Docs, Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook, and more. You can even choose the file format.

You can also upload or sync to your (also free) Evernote account and use the URL to share with others. Sometimes, I prefer to share the URL rather than the actual image, keeping email attachments to a minimum.
  • Giving tech support? Is the end-user not seeing what you're seeing? Grab a snap and draw attention to the item in question. 
  • Grading digital homework or assignments? Show the best parts of the work. Mark up the students' work with stamps or comments. 
  • Giving feedback on a PDF? Easy!When you share an annotated multi-page PDF, Skitch lets you add a new first page to that document. This page is made up of previews of each piece of feedback contained in the PDF. Click on one and you’re taken to the annotation.
  • Giving directions? Snap a map and add your own comments such as, "Park Here!"
  • Teaching geometry? Have students take photos of angles and lines and then let them label their photos.

It's nice to know, you can always go back to any Skitch document and edit your markups. 

Check out Shannon Miller, Teacher Librarian Extraordinaire, who penned this post about using Skitch and Evernote with her 2nd grade students.

What's your favorite way to use Skitch?

*Disclosure: Common Craft has provided me with a free membership to their premium service with the understanding of no obligation on my part. If, and when, I reference this service in my posts, it is my personal choice with no benefit to me other than providing a valuable service to my readers within the context of my posts.

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