Tuesday, May 9, 2017

How the Popsicle Was Invented - A Tasty TED-Ed Lesson

How the Popsicle Was Invented is the title of a recently released TED-Ed video. The short video explains the origin of the tasty treat itself as well as the name "Popsicle." This TED-Ed lesson doesn't include any multiple choice or discussion questions. It's just a fun little lesson for students to think about as the weather warms and ice cream trucks start to appear in neighborhoods (side note, ice cream trucks is one of the few things I miss about living in a suburb).

Applications for Education
You could extend this lesson by doing a little kitchen science lesson with elementary school students. They could experiment with sugar content and flavoring. And they could compare the time it takes for a Popsicle to freeze to the time it takes for an equal amount of water without sugar or flavoring to freeze.

Try Box for Sharing Collections of Files With Password Protection

Last week I started teaching three online courses. I'll be teaching four in June and July. All of the courses feature live webinars accompanied by some handouts. Of course, not everyone can make it to all of the live webinars so I record them and upload them to private folders on Box.com.

You might wonder why I use Box.com and not Google Drive. It's simple, Google Drive doesn't give me the access controls and usage statistics that I need for an online course. Box lets me password protect folders and make folders available only by email invitation. Those who I invite can use any email address that they like, they don't have to use Gmail as they would if I tried to share the files through a Gmail-based Google Classroom. Box also lets me see how many times a file has been accessed by those I've invited.

When I publish handouts like this one about making videos on Chromebooks, I use Box to host and display the PDF in my blog. I do that because the Box.com document viewer looks and functions much better than Google Drive does when it comes to large PDFs. In fact, A Complete Guide to Using Blogger In School is a such a large file that Google Drive won't display a preview of it, it just displays a download link.

Don't get me wrong, I still love Google Drive. But I can also recognize when it's not the right tool for the job.

Padlet's "Focus Mode" Cuts Down on Confusion

On Monday I published a video about Padlet's new flowchart option. Today, I want to focus your attention on Padlet's new "focus" mode. Focus mode cuts down on distractions and confusion when a bunch of people are trying to add notes to the same Padlet wall at the same time. Now when you add a note to a wall that others are using, you will only see a small notification that someone else has added a note instead of that note instantly appearing on the screen. When you're done writing your own note hit refresh to see all of the notes that were added while you were writing your own note.

Applications for Education
For a long time one of the biggest sources of confusion for students using Padlet with a group has been seeing notes move while they're still trying to write. This new Focus mode should remove much of that confusion.