Why I like using Clarify to create documentation

A couple of years ago I stumbled onto an app that revolutionized how I used screenshots. At the time, I was running a 1-to-1 laptop program that had several hundred machines, over fifty faculty members, and numerous parents and community members coming to me for help. I was constantly repeating instructions, like how to log in to specific sites or perform simple steps over and over again. Rather than bang my head against the wall, I turned to Twitter.

I sent out a couple of questions to my PLN and someone recommended that I try ScreenSteps (@screensteps). It worked out pretty great. I was able to send out documentation to students, faculty and parents to explain things like checking grades, how to contact teachers, and navigating our LMS. Everyone was happy and my life was a lot easier.

Two years ago I returned to the classroom. I was still working in a 1-to-1 environment and I found myself in a similar predicament. When students were exploring new technology they would run into various roadblocks. If I was leading a demonstration it would be hard for students to keep up, or if they were advanced they’d get bored and try to move ahead. I needed a simple system for creating documents that could help guide my students when they got stuck.

Enter Clarify (@clarifyapp). Clarify is essentially a pared down version of ScreenSteps, but it has many of the same awesome features:

  • You can create easy-to-follow tutorials and post them directly to the web, your blog, etc.
  • It simplifies the screen capturing and editing process
  • You can edit uploaded “Clarify-cations” and keep the same link so

Most of all, it is a simple program that works on both PCs and Macs. Let’s say you want to show people some of the great features in Office 365. You can send your users directly to the tutorial hosted on Clarify’s servers, create a PDF, or even embed the content easily on your site:

 

Accessing Office 365 Tools

Once your are signed in to Office 365 you will see a toolbar across the top of you screen. If you need help signing in, click here.

Overview of the tools

  1. Outlook – This is where you view your email online
  2. Calendar – This is where you view your online calendar
  3. People – This is where you view your contacts
  4. Newsfeed – This is where you can view/start online conversations
  5. OneDrive – This is where you store and access your files
  6. Sites – This is where you can view/create Sharepoint Sites (you can make websites here!)
Overview of the tools

Outlook

The online version of Outlook has most of the features you are familiar with from the Outlook application on your computer. You can view this any device that is connected to the internet.

Outlook

Calendar

This calendar will also look familiar if you used Outlook in the past. To create a new appointment or meeting click on “New Event.”

Calendar

People

You can see all of your contacts under “People.” If you are looking for someone use the “search People” window.

People

Newsfeed

On the newsfeed you can start or view conversations that have been shared with you. If you have created a site for your course or followed a group, you can specify who has permission to view your conversation.

Newsfeed

OneDrive

This is one of the most useful features in Office 365. You can store/share your documents easily. Also, you have 1TB of storage!

OneDrive

Sites

This feature replaces Sharepoint. It lets you create sites for collaborating or organizing your files.

Sites

Overall, I really have enjoyed using this app. I think it’s great for many scenarios, especially when you want to hand out a hard-copy of instruction for students to refer back to. Some of the uses I’ve found for Clarify are:

  1. To create support documentation for faculty, students, and parents
  2. To create a reference sheet for a specific lesson. I once was teaching students how to use Microsoft MovieMaker for the first time. I found that students were having trouble navigating the ribbon at the top of the window so I made this cheat sheet for them. It made my life so much easier!
  3. To create an outline of a lesson. Last year I taught an intro lesson on Code.org for a seventh grade math class. I wasn’t sure what the student’s levels were so I wanted a document that would serve as a guide for all the numerous steps, sign ins, etc. that they’d need to complete in order to complete the lesson. I whipped this up the night before and the class was nothing but smooth sailing.

I also think that Clarify would be a great tool for leading flipped classes, but I haven’t had the chance to experiment with that yet.  At the end of the day, I’m very happy with Clarify. While it doesn’t fully replace the need for screen-casting software, I’ve found many times where it was far better for my needs.

How are you using Clarify? If not, what do you use instead?

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