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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Picture Yourself in Front of Any Landmark With Remove.BG and Google Slides

Last weekend I published a video about Remove.bg and it has certainly been a hit with many readers. I've received a lot of comments and questions about it in my email, Facebook pages, and on Twitter. This morning a reader named Marni sent me a question that was typical of what I've been seeing this week.

I love the remove.bg site. I can see my teachers using this for creative projects with students. My question is, do you have any suggestions regarding how to add new backgrounds to the modified pics? Is there a program I can share with teachers that allows students to, in essence, “relocate” themselves?

What I suggested to Marni and have suggested to others is to use Google Slides or PowerPoint to create a slide in which you layer the Remove.bg file over a background on the slide. Then export the slide as a PNG or JPEG. In the following video I demonstrate how to use Remove.bg, Google Slides, and Pixabay to put yourself in front of any world landmark.


Thanks again to Tony Vincent for sharing Remove.bg on Twitter last week.

Recap is Shutting Down in June

Back in October Swivl, the parent company of Recap, announced that they would be discontinuing the Recap service at the end of January. In response to feedback from teachers Swivl has now extended the deadline for the Recap shutdown. According to this announcement from Swivl, Recap will continue to operate as normal until June 30th of this year.

This is good news for teachers who had started the year with plans to use Recap throughout the school year. Kudos to Swivl for listening to teachers' feedback and continuing support of Recap until the completion of the 2018-19 school year.

New Features Added to Synth - Simple Podcasting for Students

Synth is one of my favorite new ed tech tools of the 2018-19 school year. If you're familiar with what Synth does, it provides a simple way to create short podcasts that people can reply to with their own audio comments. Think of it kind of like Flipgrid for audio. You can experience a Synth podcast by listening to this overview of the service. This week Synth announced a few updates to their service that teachers and students will like.

You can now include sound effects at the beginning of a recording and or between recordings that have been connected. There are default effects that you can use and you can upload your own sounds for further customization of recordings (check out Sound Bible for free sound effects to upload to Synth).

Some of the other updates to Synth include automatic titling of recordings, improved transcription services, and students can now create podcasts independent of a teacher's account (previously, students had to make the podcasts as a part of a teacher account).



Listen to my first recording as embedded below or click here to listen and reply to it.

The WWII Museum Announces D-Day Electronic Field Trip

This year is the 75th anniversary of D-Day. This spring the WWII Museum (a must-see for anyone visiting New Orleans) is hosting a virtual field trip all about D-Day. The field trip will take students to the coast of southern England and the invasion sites in Normandy, France. Live Q&A is a part of this virtual field trip experience. It is free to participate, but advanced registration is required. Learn more and register here. Accompanying lesson plan materials are available to download from the registration page.

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.