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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Anyone Can Learn to Type Thanks to Typing Club's Accessibility Settings

Typing Club is a free typing instruction site that offers some unique features for students and teachers. One of those features that I covered in depth last year is the story-based typing practice activities. In those activities, demonstrated here, students unlock stories as they type. Unlocking the next part of the story provides and incentive for students to type accurately and quickly. That's not the only way to develop and practice typing skills in Typing Club, but it is the most engaging way to practice.

Recently, I had time to try some of Typing Club's other features. Specifically, I spent a lot of time learning about the accessibility features that are built into Typing Club. Typing Club's accessibility features include easily implemented modifications for students who have vision impairments, hearing impairments, dyslexia, and those who have limited use of their hands.

Here's an overview of the accessibility settings available in Typing Club:

  • All activity directions and lesson items can be read aloud to students through Typing Club's built-in voiceover tool. Voiceover is available in 34 languages and 47 voices. You or your students can pick the language for the voiceover and also specify the corresponding keyboard format.
  • When the blind setting is enabled students will be blocked from forward progress until the correct key is used. Students are given an audible alert when they make mistakes.
  • The dyslexic setting in Typing Club changes the default font to one that has been proven to improve comprehension. That setting also includes voiceover.
  • The hearing impaired accessibility setting provides automatic subtitling of videos in the Typing Club lessons.
  • There is a setting for students who have use of only one hand. When that setting is enabled, the lessons are modified to teach students efficient one-handed typing techniques. 
All of the accessibility settings can be enabled by students or be enabled by their teachers. Teachers who have Typing Club classroom accounts can lock the settings for students. 

Disclosure: Typing Club is an advertiser on this blog. 

DuckDuckGo + Apple Maps = Private Map Searches

DuckDuckGo, the search engine that claims to not track your searches, has announced an integration with Apple Maps. According to the announcement this integration will let you search for places without DuckDuckGo or Apple Maps keeping a record of those searches. But in order to get directions from point A to point B you will default to Apple Maps on iOS and to Bing Maps in non-iOS and non-Mac environments. Likewise to access street-level imagery you will have to use Bing Maps or Google Maps.

Searching for locations through DuckDuckGo is done through the main search page. Enter a place name or address into the search box and then choose "maps" on the search results page.

Applications for Education
If you want your students to search for landmarks to view in online maps that include satellite imagery without being tracked by Google, then this new integration of DuckDuckGo and Apple Maps could be the tool for you.

H/T to TechCrunch.

Now Booking Summer Workshops

Good morning from cold and snowy Paris Hill, Maine. I know that right now June feels a long way away, but I'm already planning my summer professional development schedule. As you know, I offer professional development workshops throughout the year, but the summer months are my busiest months for professional development requests. I would love to include your school in my summer calendar.

Booking a professional development day with me is a quick and easy process. Simply take a look at my speaking page, choose a topic or topics and then send me an email. I will reply within 24 hours with my availability and information about costs. Speaking of costs, I will always work with you to stay within your budget.

Here are some of my most popular workshop topics:

  • Getting Going With G Suite for Education
  • Using Chromebooks in Your Classroom
  • Teaching History With Technology
  • Discovery, Discussion, and Demonstration
  • Introduction to AR & VR in Education
  • Video Projects for Every Classroom
  • Going Outside With Educational Technology

Every school is different and therefore all of my workshops are tailored to the unique needs of your staff. That's why when you email me to book a professional development day I'll ask you a few questions about your school. I'll use that information to develop the best PD day possible for your staff.

I'd love to help you reach your professional development goals this summer. Take a look at my speaking page then let's talk!

A New Look is Coming to Google Slides, Sheets, Docs, and Sites

The next time that you open Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, or Sites you might notice some changes to the look of the editing and design tools. The new look is being rolled-out to users over the next few weeks. As announced by Google, the new look doesn't have any impact on how Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Sites function. The new look is a part of Google's effort to standardize "material design" across all G Suite tools. Material design is what you currently see in Google Calendar and the latest version of Gmail.

Again, this update doesn't change anything about how the editing and design tools work. That said, whenever there is a design change to familiar products it does cause some confusion for some users. Pass along the information about the update to your students or colleagues about the coming change if they're the type of people who would be thrown off by a change to the look of the user interface in Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, or Sites.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

How to Use Canva to Create a Timeline

Canva is one of those great tools that the more time you spend with it the more cool features you discover in it. One of those features is the ability to create timelines to save as images and PDFs. Canva has about a dozen timeline templates that you can modify by altering the text size and style, inserting images, and dragging-and-dropping other design elements. Watch the following short video to learn how to create a timeline in Canva.