Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Google's Favorite Chrome Extensions of the Year

On The Keyword Google has announced their favorite Chrome extensions of the year. I have no idea what the criteria was to be included in the list. That said, I took a look at the list and noticed that some of Google's favorite Chrome extensions are also some of my favorite Chrome extensions. Those favorites are Mote, Loom, Kami, Wordtune, and Nimbus Screenshot. 

What these extensions do.

Wordtune is a Chrome extension that provides suggestions on ways to rewrite sentences in your Google Documents, in your email (Gmail and Outlook), and in some social media accounts. Once you have Wordtune installed in Chrome you can simply highlight any sentence that you have written and click the Wordtune extension to have a list of alternate wordings suggested to you. The suggested alternatives appear as a list directly below your original sentence. You can replace your original sentence with a suggested alternative by simply clicking on the suggestion that you like. Here's a demo of Wordtune.

Nimbus Screenshot
Nimbus Screenshot is a free Chrome extension that I've been using and recommending for the last half-decade. It offers tools for creating screencast videos and annotated screen capture images. Nimbus Screenshot includes a feature called Select & Scroll that proved to be very handy to me last week. Select & Scroll lets you capture not only what is currently visible on your screen but also what's visible when you scroll downward.

I use Nimbus Screenshot in Chrome, but it is also available for Firefox, and Edge. A desktop version is also available. In the following video I demonstrate how to use Nimbus Screenshot to create annotated screen capture images.

Kami is a service that enables users to annotate and comment on PDFs. You can do this directly on the Kami website or in Google Drive with Kami's Chrome extension. Kami also works with Word and Pages files.

Here's a couple of videos about how Kami works.

Loom is a Chrome extension that I find handy for quickly recording screencast videos right from my inbox. With Loom installed I can simply click the Loom icon in Gmail and start recording a video to include as part of my response to an email. I've also used Loom to create whiteboard-style videos. Both of those things are demonstrated in the videos that are embedded below (email readers, you'll have to click through to see the videos).

How to record a video in Gmail with Loom.

How to make whiteboard videos with Loom and Jamboard.

Mote is a Chrome extension that lets you add voice recordings to Google Forms, Gmail, Google Classroom, Google Slides, and Google Documents. You can also use it to record a voice note and share it via QR code.

In this video I demonstrate how to install Mote and how to activate it in your Google account. 

How to record audio in Google Docs.

How to record audio in Google Classroom.

How to use Mote in Google Forms

Watch this short video about using Mote in Gmail to learn how to record and send a voice note. The video also shows how recipients can play your voice notes even if they don't have Mote installed in their web browsers.

Vocabulary Video Challenge

The 9th annual vocabulary video challenge hosted by The New York Times Learning Network is underway. The challenge asks middle school and high school students to create fifteen second videos about any of the nearly 2400 words on The New York Times Learning Network's Word of the Day list (link opens a PDF). In their videos students need to properly pronounce their chosen words then provide definitions of their chosen words. 

The New York Times Learning Network provides this one page guide (link opens a PDF) for teachers to share with students who want to participate in the vocabulary challenge. 

Videos created for the vocabulary challenge have to be uploaded to YouTube and the link to the video has to be included in the submission form found on the Vocabulary Challenge website. This is a time to review the privacy and sharing options available in YouTube. Here's my overview of settings to know when uploading to YouTube. And here's a little tutorial on creating a custom thumbnail for YouTube videos. 

Take a look at this compilation of last year's challenge-winning videos to get some inspiration for this year's video contest.

Applications for Education
Even if your students don't enter their videos into the contest, creating vocabulary videos can be a great learning activity for students. The tools that I'd use for making videos for this contest include ChatterPix, Adobe Spark, and WeVideo. Here's my overview of how kids can use ChatterPix to create short videos.

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for posting the reminder about this contest on his blog last week. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Add Voice Recordings to Google Forms Questions, Answer Choices, and Feedback

Mote is a Chrome extension that became popular this year because it made it easy for teachers and students to add voice recordings to Google Slides, Google Classroom, and Google Forms. The latest update to Mote, released today, lets you add voice recordings not only to the questions in your Google Forms but also to the answer choices and feedback section in Google Forms. 

The previous version of Mote let you add voice recordings into the question line. The updated version lets you also add voice recordings into the answer choices (for multiple choice questions) and into the feedback section of the answer key that you create for quizzes in Google Forms. All of those things are demonstrated in this short video

Applications for Education
Adding voice recordings to Google Forms has a lot of potential classroom uses. Just having the option to listen to the question and answer choices improves the accessibility of your forms. You could also use the voice recording option to have students listen to question prompts in one language then identify the answer in another language. For example, you could record a prompt in Spanish then ask students to identify what you said by choosing an answer written or recorded in English. 

Webinar Recording - Two EdTech Guys Take Questions for the Last Time in 2021

Last Thursday evening Rushton Hurley and I hosted our last 2021 episode of Two EdTech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. We'll be back in January to answer more questions and share more cool stuff. In the meantime, you can watch last week's episode here and all previous episodes right here.

In last week's episode we answered questions about subtitling presentations, creating your own mobile apps, accessibility, dubbing videos, and the weather. Our cool shares included Classroomscreen and the Ving Project

Derek Lowe Has a Science Blog? - A Lesson in Using Context Clues

In The Joy of Search Daniel Russell reminds readers that sometimes you have to provide your own context for the information you find online. Additionally, he provides many reminders to question things that don't seem congruent with what you already know about a topic. I implemented both of these ideas this morning when I read that former Major League Baseball player Derek Lowe writes a blog on How I came across that tidbit is the result of going down a rabbit hole on Wikipedia. 

This morning I was reading a thread about the 2021 Baseball Hall of Fame selections on the Sons of Sam Horn message board (yes, there are some of us who still use message boards). Someone mentioned a retired pitcher, David Cone, which somehow reminded me of Derek Lowe who pitched for the Red Sox from 1997 through 2004. That prompted me to do a quick Google search to see what Derek Lowe is doing these days. As is often the case with retired professional athletes, a Wikipedia page was a top result. 

As I got to the bottom of the Wikipedia page about Derek Lowe, the retired baseball player, I found an interesting sentence that didn't seem like it could be accurate. It reads, Derek Lowe currently has a blog hosted under the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

My initial reaction to reading that was, "that can't be true!" There were a few context clues that triggered that response from me. First, in my memory Derek Lowe, the baseball player, had a bit of a  reputation in the media as a meathead when he played in Boston. Second, the beginning of the Wikipedia entry about him states that he skipped college to play baseball. Third, nothing in the Wikipedia entry mentions anything about science or Derek Lowe going back to school after retirement. 

To fact-check the Wikipedia entry I turned to Google and searched "Derek Lowe blog." Sure enough, I found the blog written by Derek Lowe. But it's not the same Derek Lowe. The picture and the bio of Derek Lowe, the scientist, don't match those of the baseball player at all. Oh, and the blog is not peer-reviewed, but it is interesting. 

Applications for Education
Over the years I've had many students who love professional sports and will spout off any little "fun fact" about a favorite athlete no matter how ridiculous it seems to be. This example with the case of two Derek Lowes could be a good way to reach those students to help them understand how to use their own knowledge and context clues together to fact-check their "fun facts" about their favorite athletes.

Take my online course, Search Strategies Students Need to Know to learn more about search strategies, teaching search strategies, and formulating search strategy lessons.