Today’s tech snack can be found at: https://www.mysimpleshow.com/ .
What is it?
Mysimpleshow is a web based tool that lets you create online explainer videos. There is no software you need to download or install. Mysimpleshow will work straight from the browser( Safari, Google, Edge, Firefox, etc) of any Internet enabled device including smart phones and tablets. Like most web 2.0 tools, mysimpleshow has free and paid components. For the purposes of this entry, I will concentrate more on the free features but will also discuss the differences between the plans.
How does it work?
To begin using mysimpleshow, you must first create a free account. Creating a free account requires you have an active email account and creating a password. Once you create an account, you can start creating your own videos. Video instructions are given for every step in the process. Basically, you pick a template or you can choose a blank template. You then type in the information you want for your show. If you use the blank template, your information will automatically be broken up into slides. You cannot add pages to your slides, but you can pick different templates to fit your needs. This can be annoying, but the point of explainer videos is to focus on the main points, which is why you can’t add slides.
After you add your text, you can then add your images. Slideshow highlights key words on each of your typed slides and underlines them. From those underlined words pre-generated images are added to your show. If you don’t like the pictures, you can move the lines to different words on your slides that will produce different images. If no image exists for the word(s) you choose, you can upload your own images from your computer.
After you select your images, you can then select your voice over. With the free version, you can only pick one voice. All the voice choices are mechanical and read your information aloud. Images are automatically synced and timed perfectly with the voice. With the paid version, you can add your own voice over as the mechanical voice can be a bit annoying. In the interest of fairness, however, the mechanical voice choices are very similar to the voices used by many text to speech software and screen readers, so people with disabilities are used to the way the voice sounds.
Once you select your voice over, you can preview your video and then publish it. Videos publish online and can be shared via a web url. You can publish videos to youtube and other online sources.
There is no VPAT(Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) available on the site, but the product does have strong components for accessibility. It can be used on tablets and smartphones so one could use their finger or stylus to create content. For desktop/laptops it relies heavily on clicking and dragging and cannot be navigated using only a keyboard. So on that issue, it scores poorly. Why is that important, you ask? Well, not everyone is able to use a mouse. People with dexterity problems or missing limbs may use keyboards and/or joysticks to navigate around websites and applications. If the interface is heavily a click and drag one, this makes it difficult for some disabled people to use the product to create their own videos.
Also, when you add pictures there is no way to add alt-text, which is text that describes what the picture is for someone who is blind. Screen readers, devices used by visually impaired people, read alt text to describe pictures. So on that issue it also scores poorly.
Transcripts are provided for every published video and the audio is useful for people to understand the content. Captions are not automatic with the free plan, but are automatic with the paid plan. However, since you can publish your videos to youtube, you can take advantage of the automatic captions that youtube offers for all videos. The mechanical voice is very similar to the voice used by screen readers. So in terms of accessibility, this product receives a B-. Some more improvements are needed to make it more universally accessible for all.
Challenge your students to create their own Simpleshow. Tell them that they are the teachers and they have to create a video to explain the concepts you discussed in class. You could also have your students create their own study guide videos that they can use to review for exams. You can flip your classroom by creating videos and having the students watch them at home and then discuss the videos in class. This is a tool that can be used in any subject for multiple grade levels.
Ah, a yummy snack! Tune in next time for another great snack at the Café.....