Friday, August 23, 2019

A Good Source of Free Music for Multimedia Projects

Last fall the Free Music Archive, one of my go-to sources of free music for multimedia projects, nearly closed. Fortunately, it was taken over by KitSplit who has kept it running. The Free Music Archive provides free, high-quality, music in a wide range of genres. The content on Free Music Archive is used under various creative commons licenses.

Anyone can download music from FMA for use in podcasts, videos, and other digital presentation formats. Downloading music from FMA does not require any kind of registration. In the following video I demonstrate how to find and download free music from the Free Music Archive.


Applications for Education
FMA can be a good resource for high school students looking for music tracks to use in podcasts and videos.

I am hesitant to use FMA in middle school or elementary school settings because there isn't a way to filter out tracks that might have inappropriate lyrics in them.

The Free Music Archive does offer an FAQ for educators that addresses many questions about use and re-use of audio tracks from the FMA.

5 Google Drive Tips You Might Have Overlooked or Forgotten

Google Drive is the core of many aspects of G Suite for Education. There are lots of little features of Google Drive that are often overlooked or simply forgotten about. Many of those little features can improve your Google Drive experience. So as we head into the new school year, take a look at these five Google Drive settings that you might have overlooked or just forgotten about.

Change the Layout of Your Google Drive Dashboard
There are two layouts that you can apply to your Google Drive dashboard. You can use either the material view (the layout that has files arranged in tiles) or the linear view. I prefer the linear view that puts all of my files and folders in a list. Watch this video to see how to change the layout in your Google Drive dashboard.



Disable Email Notifications
If you end up sharing files and folders with a lot of people, you could end up getting an overwhelming volume of notification emails. You can disable those notifications rather easily. Here's how to disable email notifications in Google Drive.



Create Shared Google Drive Folders
Do you have a bunch of documents and slideshows that you want to share with a colleague? Put those files in one folder and share it. Here's how you can create and share a Google Drive folder.



Share Videos Through Google Drive
You can store just about anything in your Google Drive including videos. In fact, Google Drive offers a great way to share videos without having to upload them to a video sharing site. Here's how to share videos through Google Drive.



Automatic File Conversion
If you're transitioning to G Suite for Education there is a good chance that you have a lot of older Word and PowerPoint files that you'll still want to use. You can have those files automatically converted to Google Docs and Slides format when you upload them to Google Drive. Watch the following video to learn how to have files automatically converted to Google Docs format when you upload them to Google Drive. It's important to note, as Deborah Alexander pointed out to me, that converting a file from PPT or Word to Google Docs or Slides can impact on the formatting of that file.



Learn more about Google Drive and G Suite for Education in my upcoming on-demand course, Getting Going With G Suite

Ten Workshops Ideas for Your Next PD Day

Over the last ten years I've had the good fortune to run workshops and give presentations at hundreds of schools and conferences. I'm frequently asked what I cover in my workshops and keynotes. Some of the outlines and slides from those presentations have appeared in blog posts in the past. But my list of workshops and keynote topics is always evolving with the times and technologies available to schools. That said, here are the ten workshops that I'm currently offering to schools for your next professional development day.

  • Teaching History With Technology
  • Getting Going With G Suite
  • AR, VR, and Mixed Reality in Education 
  • DIY App Creation  
  • Teaching Search Strategies Students Need to Know 
  • Fast & Fun Formative Assessments  
  • Making & Teaching With Video 
  • To Geography and Beyond With Google Earth & Maps 
  • Blending Technology Into Outdoor Learning 
  • Keeping Track With Google Keep, Calendar, and Classroom
  • A combination of these topics? I can do that for you. Just fill out the form below.
All of these workshops can be modified according to grade level (elementary, middle, high), the technology available to teachers and students, and to time allotted for professional development. 

If you're interested in having me run a professional development workshop at your school, please get in touch with me at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com or complete the short form below. 




Finally, if you're looking for an online option for professional development, I am offering an on-demand course starting in September. And throughout the year I host live professional development webinars over on PracticalEdTech.com. Join the Practical Ed Tech newsletter to be notified when those webinars are scheduled.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Fill-in PDF Forms in the Google Drive Mobile Apps

Earlier today Google released a convenient update to the Google Drive iOS and Android apps. The update enables users to fill out PDF forms on their phones and tablets. The update will be rolling out over the next couple of weeks although some users may already see the new feature.

Being able to fill out a PDF form on a phone could be convenient for parents who need to fill out a lunch order form for their children at the beginning of the school week. They can now do that without having to print the form.

It's important to note that Google has stated that the new feature is not for digitally signing documents. If you want to do that, I recommend using a service like HelloSign.

Bad News - Interactive Simulation Shows Students How Misinformation is Spread

Bad News is a website that offers simulations that show visitors how misinformation is spread through social media. Bad News is available in two versions. The regular version is intended for those who are high school age or older. Bad News Junior is appropriate for middle school and older elementary school students. The difference between the two versions is found in the news topics that are used in the simulations.

In both versions of Bad News players work through a simulation in which they attempt to build a Twitter following by spreading misleading news stories. (I must emphasis that there are no real Tweets sent and you don't have to even have a Twitter account to play Bad News). Through the simulation players learn how headlines, memes, and Tweets are designed to manipulate people and prompt reactions from them. The simulation also shows players how Twitter bots are used.

There are six distinct sections of Bad News. At the end of each section players are awarded a badge signifying that they have learned about the manipulation techniques associated with trolling, impersonation, discrediting, polarizing, emotional manipulation, and conspiracy theories.

Bad News does offer a short guide, in the form of this PDF, to using Bad News Junior in your classroom.

As I played the game and then researched the developers I couldn't help but think, "am I fall for a fake?" Despite learning about the game from a trusted source, Larry Ferlazzo, I still did my own research to make sure that Bad News wasn't an elaborate ploy to get people to participate in the spread of a game that was bad news. It all seems to be on the up and up.