How I Use It
As an art educator, I find myself utilizing this app constantly with my students to help them explore concepts, explain what they understand, and in the higher elementary/middle school grades, create short tutorials to share what they are learning and exploring.
In grades k-4 my students use it in small groups as a digital whiteboard. I supply the artwork images, or they take photos, and students label the types of brushstrokes they see in grade 1, or label the parts of a Grandma Moses landscapes to learn the difference between foreground, middle ground, and background in grade 3. In grade two, I use it in connection to an architecture unit, where students draw on top of photographs of buildings to find the basic shapes. It is also used in grade 4 to help my students understand how to draw from observation. They photograph a series of still life objects, draw on top of them, and delete the photo, to help them understand how a cylinder, when drawn should have a slightly curved line for the top and bottom, and to understand the concept of showing depth via the technique of overlapping. Most of these activities could be done in an unplugged manner with a laminated photograph and dry erase marker, or with an interactive whiteboard, but by using the app I have more options. I am able to review students work after the fact, come back to their work when we are unable to finish exploring the concept I am teaching in one class period, and pinpoint each students understanding due to the small group work, as opposed to a class activity on the interactive whiteboard.
In the upper elementary grades, 4-6, I utilize the app in similar ways, as well as a creation tool, which can be a very engaging way to explore a concept. With little practice, my students create tutorials or informational presentations, by creating a series of slides, and recording a voiceover. I do this type of activity with my students in grades three and four, in connection to a color theory unit in grade three, and a watercolor unit in grade four. In grade three students quickly create a color wheel, and share information about their chosen color, and what a tint and shade is. The app allows me to quickly go through the activity of creating a color wheel, without the time it takes to make a color wheel traditionally, and it allows them to create a short video that explains what they know about color theory. In grade four, I ask students to create a tutorial video that teaches one of the watercolor techniques they have learned and will use in their nonobjective painting.
The benefit to this type of presentation, is that the child does not have to put themselves in the final video, and instead can use images they draw directly in the app, or pull photos/videos they have taken of their work, or of a technique they are practicing. The final step is a voiceover that can include a pointer to highlight information on the slide(s).
They only times I had problems with this app, was when I tried to use it without watching a short tutorial video. I didn't understand all of the capabilities of the app, and I didn't understand how to access additional features with a tap, for example to change the thickness of the drawing tool. I know I'm not utilizing all of the capabilities of the app, but for my students, k-6, when I know how to do works well. I'm excited to learn more about additional capabilities, to use it to develop educational content.
Compared to other digital whiteboard apps available, Explain Everything allows for more options overall, making it the only digital whiteboard app a student or classroom would need. The Explain Everything developers consider the app an 'interactive screencasting whiteboard app', which highlights the additional capabilities it has over other digital whiteboard apps. I highly recommended for the k-12 classroom, for use with students and for teachers creation of educational content. It is my go to app in my k-6 art room.