Metaverse AR Platform

The Metaverse is only a screen away… well with the Metaverse app anyway. So download the app, scan the code below and experience what Metaverse can do.

QR Code
If you are reading this on your phone, click the link below.

First, I tried to design an experience that could be done anywhere and highlight a few options that are available for the app. By no means does this experience cover all that is possible. So, enjoy the experience than come back to the rest of this post… I’ll wait for you…

Welcome back, I bet you have a ton of ideas running through your mind. Me too. So, let’s talk about Metaverse (here is the Metaverse YouTube Channel to learn how to build an experience).

In my position I am often challenged with the question, “Why should I use this?”

And it is a valid question. To be honest, you don’t have to use this app. I think you should only use a tool to enhance your curriculum and professional goals, but Metaverse has created something that will enhance your lessons and engage the students.

The important aspect of the Metaverse studio is how easy it is to build an experience. Here is what the experience looks like in the studio.

Icons of the Storyboard

The interface is a storyboard. Side note: Like many things, I suggest drafting out your idea before you create an experience. Yes, it is easy to build, but if you don’t have an idea of what you want to do you will waste time. The tutorials above are informative and will get you up and running in minutes.

Many teachers are using the app to create virtual breakout experiences for math, English, and science. You can restrict an experience to a geographical area, or have it accessible from anywhere.  There are a number of quick experiences on the app to research different ideas.

The exciting part is that the depth of the options in the studio means that, with a little learning and time,  you can build complex experiences. Or your students can…


No Metaverse will not connect to Power School or Moodle. But there are a number ways to handle grades with an experience.

First, you can award a badge for completion of the experience. Then the student can show you the badge from their profile and you grade accordingly.

Profile page

Profile Page with Badges








Second, in the studio you can see the block results in an experience.

Showinf the resluts from the block

How you design your experience will affect how you handle the grade issue. Or maybe you don’t grade an experience.

I think Metaverse is a cool tool for engaging students. I am excited to build some new experiences soon. If you are using Metaverse or create an experience, please share with me in the comment section. You can follow me on Metaverse, user name is jboelhower.

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Are you studying animals? Maybe even dinosaurs? Want to see them up close? Even learn some facts about the species? Then you need the ZooKazam app! (.99 cents and free.)


This app still uses a target image. There are a few target images to download from the ZooKazam site to use, but you can activate the animals on any high contrast image. The Stegosaurus above is standing on a picture from a magazine, I even tested the app on the carpet in my office and it worked fine.

The app has 40+ different animals, separated by categories. The free version has one animal available in each category

Options in App

Once you activate the virtual animal, you can turn the animal on the screen with your finger. You can add options like rain as seen in the picture below. My children and me really enjoy watching the animal move and the presentation about the animal. (There is a difference between the “Teacher” and “Child” info.)

Deer in Rain

One word of caution, the app has not been update since May of 2016. The social media sharing did not work for me. On the home page it states you need to register with them for that option to be active, but I could not find an area to register on the site or the app. With that being said, this is a fun app. It is worth the .99 cents.

If you use this app in your lessons share your story with me in the comment section.

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Spacecraft 3D

Another A/R app that uses a target sheet is NASA’s Spacecraft 3D.  (Scroll down the website to find this app. You can download the target image from the site, too.) There is a main image (as seen below) and a few other target images to use with the app.

3D Target

In the app you choose which type spacecraft you would like to see.


You will have the option to download different spacecrafts in each category.

Download Spacecraft

Then use the main target to see the spacecrafts. Some have animation, there will be an option for that at the bottom of the screen. To view the spacecraft better, I suggest turning the target image instead of moving the camera. View the slideshow to see a few examples.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This is a great introductory option for classes like astronomy, or robotics. Or even if you are reading a novel like The Martian (English teacher moment). If you use this app in class share your story in the comment section with me.


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Anatomy 4D

Want to see a human heart, or even the blood vessels in a body? Then you need to checkout the Anatomy 4D app today. It is free.

Like many AR tools, Anatomy 4D uses target printouts that you will need to download and print off to use the app. You can find these inside the app or on their website. They do not need to be printed in color to work.

When you open the app make sure the heart or human body target is in the brackets in the viewer to trigger the target.

Human Heart Human Body

You can customize the experience by tapping the bottom right menu. The menu allows you to hide / show different components for each target. You can rotate your device around the target to see the different components. On the body trigger you use the side arrows to remove the skin layer.

Anatomy 4D is a great app to learn more about the heart and human body.

If you use Anatomy 4D share your story in the comment section.

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Edorble’s New Web Virtual World

Welcome back!

To start the school year I thought I would do a series on Virtual Reality (VR) / Augmented Reality (AR) applications. This field of technology is growing, and in fact, just as I was starting this post I got an email from Edorble about their new web based virtual world. Here is my post about their virtual world option, Edorble: Virtual Classroom.

Edorble’s Web VR is in Alpha. It is very limited, but the world is cross platform. Meaning all you need is access to the internet through a web browser.  I tested it out on my phone, and it worked awesome. You can experience the world straight from your web browser or activate your VR viewer for your phone.

There are a few cool options built in to highlight what is possible for a world like this. There is a music player that has one song. There is a news corner, pictured below, that will show the headlines from a few news sources.

News headlins in boxes

There is a platform you can access to experience a 360 degree photo. The picture below is from the ocean option.


Again, this site is in Alpha, not even Beta, but I think this kind of option where a VR world is accessible from almost any device is important for using this tool for educational purposes. The only hurdle for students is access to the internet. I am excited to see where Edorble takes this option in the future. Here is their blog post announcing the release of this tool, Edorble WebVR: Announcing the Alpha, to learn even more.

Join me over the next couple of weeks as I share other VR / AR tools that can be used in your lessons. This is going to be cool.

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Fill in the Blank

For this post I will share the idea of using the technique of filling in the blank while presenting. This is a great way to build discussion into a presentation, or help students interact with their notes.

For this example I am going to leave out one of the things an introduction is suppose to do in an essay. I am starting with a blank slide and adding a textbox but will create a blank for one of the answers.


Next, I will add another textbox with the answer.

Words set the tone

Changing the font, color, or style is up to you. I do suggest that you keep it consistent for the whole presentation. Animation is the next step. For this example I am keeping it simple, but if you have a number of fill-in-the-blanks on a slide I suggest using the “Animation Pane” to help with organizing the timing and effects.

Animation Tab

For the textbox “set the tone”, I am going to have it appear after a click, with a 2 second delay… to add suspense when I am presenting.

Animation Options

And that is it. The blank in the statement gives me a moment in the presentation to engage the students in different ways.

You can use this option for more than statements, options like Venn diagrams or labels for a picture. Fill-in-the-blanks work well with PowerPoint Mix and online courses. Share how you are using this technique in the comment section.

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PowerPoint Mix

One of the great ways to share PowerPoint is the free cloud-based add on, Office Mix. You will create an account online, but also download a “Mix Tab” add-on to your PowerPoint application.

Sign in Options

New Mix Tab

The Mix Tab houses some of the same options PowerPoint has in other tabs, but gathers all the options that you need to create an online presentation, like the Slide Recording option, in one area.

Slide Record Window

Even though you can record your whole presentation at one time, I suggest recording each slide individually. This will help with errors in speaking or writing on a slide. Also, it allows you take a break. And once you have uploaded the presentation to your online account (will share that in a minute), you can update your presentation easily. Even if you change one slide.

Another option the Mix Tab brings is the ability to add check for understanding questions right into the presentation. Side note: Unless your school buys into this option, the student’s answers will not be recorded. They can see their answers, but it does not affect their grade.

Here is an example from one of my presentations on commas (with feedback):

Comma Questions

The link to your online account is found by clicking the world icon with “Upload to Office Mix”.

A new window will open on the right side of your work area (you may need to sign in again to your Office Mix account).

Upload Options

If this is a new presentation, just click Next. Office Mix will use the name you have saved this presentation as for the title. You can edit this once it is loaded into your Office Mix site.  If you are updating a mix, you will then see a list of your presentations to choose from.

List of presentations

In most cases, it only takes a few minutes for your presentation to be ready in your Office Mix account.

Offcie Mix Window

You will need to change the Permission & Sharing option to Unlisted or Public.

Permission Setting

This will also allow you to use the embed code for your LMS or to send a link to students to view the presentation.

Embed Code

I would not worry about the size option because the students can click the full screen arrows to get a better viewing experience.

Using the Office Mix add-on is a great way to flip your classroom, embed presentations, or create an interactive lesson for your online courses. I did not cover all the options in this post, but feel free to drop me a question or comment in the comment section or with Twitter.




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PowerPoint Image Design

I am going to continue with the image ideas for this post. We are going to use shapes to create a different look for any images you might use in your PowerPoint.

I am starting with a blank slide.

Blank PowerPoint Slide

Next I will choose a shape.

List of shape icons


For this post I am going to keep it simple and use the rounded rectangle option. Once you have done this, you can get pretty creative with shapes and layouts.

Rounded Rectangles

I suggest copying and pasting the shape, saves time. When you build a more creative layout this step will take more time.

Next step is to “group” all the shapes.

Highlighted area of rectangles

Once you release the mouse the “Drawing Tools” tab should become active.

By grouping the shapes, the layout becomes one shape.

Next step is to click on the “shape fill” option in the menu bar. We are then going to fill the shape with a picture.

List of options for shape edits

You will go through the steps of choosing the image that you want and it will automatically fill the shape.

Chess pieces in rectangles

Now you have a unique design for images in your PowerPoint.

You can create an Alt Text for the image by Right Clicking on the shape to get these options:

When you click “Format Shape” you will see a new window on the right side of PowerPoint.

Formatting Window

Click on the resize icon to find the Alt Text option. You can also save your creative layout as an image to use in other applications. When you Right Click on the image there is a “Save as Picture” option.

You can experiment with different shapes, or with the line options, to create unique images to enhance your PowerPoints.


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PowerPoint Theme

For the next couple of weeks I am going to share some options with PowerPoint that are fun and creative. I hope these ideas help you create some unique presentations for your lessons.

For the first post I will share how to make your own “theme” for PowerPoint using a background image. (There are lots of ways to customize themes, this post will at least get you started.)

First start with a blank presentation.


Next click on the “Design” tab.



You will see your Presentation and a “Save Current Theme”. I recommend saving the new theme now, instead of at the end because you never know when you might get interrupted.

The save option defaults to the template folder, this will allow your theme to show up under the custom tab when you create a new PowerPoint.

Next, we are going to format the background (still in the “Design” tab).

Choose “Picture or texture fill”.

Click the “file” box.

(Don’t worry if the background fills with a texture, it will be replaced with the image).

Your image should fill the background. The image is anchored at the top right. You can manipulate the image with the following options.

Once it is positioned well, you can change the transparency with the slider option.

Then click “Apply to All”.

In my example I had to offset my image to the left 76%. When it looks right, make sure to go back and save the theme again. (Open the window for all the designs. At the bottom is the save current theme option and overwrite the file.)

You now have a custom theme you can use for your lessons. There are other options for creating your own theme, but this will get you started. Next post will look at creating some custom looks for images in your PowerPoint.

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Update to Symbaloo’s Lesson Plan Site

Symbaloo has been hard at work making some great updates to their Lesson Plan site. I will cover some of the basics in this post. You are going to like this.

First update is the starting window. There is a search option to find content with a keyword, but if you are like me, you already know what you want to build so you will need to drop down to the bottom of the window where you will see three other options to get started on building your lesson.

Add an Activity

The window for adding your own resource is now compact.

Tile Activity Box

Tile Activity Box

As you can see the title, description, resources, and quiz options are blank waiting for you to complete. Just click on the description part to get the option box for each section to get started.

Resource Options

Resource Options

Quiz Question

Quiz Question

The coolest part to the whole update is the way to build paths for students. For example, you can direct a student on a certain path depending if they get the answer wrong or right. By clicking on the X and Check mark you can toggle through the options.

Quiz Path

Quiz Path

Student View of Quiz Option

Student View of Quiz Option

As you can see the student will not know which path they will be taking until they answer the question.

Also, if you will notice at the bottom of the layout there are new options for working with the whole lesson. You can choose to set a path with a “space” to the next step by clicking on the path icon (second icon). You can go back and add content to that blank space later.

Path Options

I think you will find that Symbaloo has done a great job designing a way to personalize lessons for your classroom. Share your story with me in the comment section.

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