Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Week in Review - Leaves Everywhere!

Good evening from Maine where the leaves that are still on the tree are beautiful. The leaves on the ground, however, are just a nuisance that I had to spend all morning moving into piles for removal. As I shared earlier on Facebook, my record with small engines is not good as evidenced by my leaf blower spontaneously stopping a few times. It's a good thing that I don't rely on lawn equipment to make my living. Tomorrow, it's going to rain so I'll take a break from the chores to enjoy another fall tradition, watching the Patriots play.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. How to Prevent Plagiarism in Online Learning: Unicheck and Google Classroom
2. Hyperdocs: Create Interactive Google Docs
3. Padlet Now Has Voting and Grading Tools
4. History of Hashtags and How Teachers Can Use Them
5. Updates to Google Calendar
6. Resources for Family and Consumer Science Teachers
7. Using Classcraft for Gamified Motivation and Formative Assessment

On Monday afternoon I am hosting a webinar about formative assessment. And on Wednesday Teaching History With Technology will start.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
SeeSaw is my favorite digital portfolio tool.
Metaverse enables anyone to create amazing things.
Kids Discover provides fantastic tools for helping kids discover new information. 
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.

Slack for Improved Communication

Slack is a digital workspace that helps improve how teams communicate and collaborate. It gives teams a unified location to share messages and files which can cut down on email clutter. Slack works on all devices so you have access no matter where you are.

The purpose of Slack is to help teams create a workflow to help increase productivity. While Slack has been popular in the business world for some time now, it is just starting to gain traction in education. Slack is free for small teams, with upgraded plans available. Education accounts are eligible for an 85% discount.

With a free account you can participate in different conversations, send and receive direct messages, share files, create to do lists, and install up to ten different apps to further customize how you use Slack.

Applications for Education
Slack cannot be used by students who are 13 or younger, but it could be an option for older students who are collaborating on projects. Slack is a good option for small teams of teachers or administrators who are looking for a fast and easy way to communicate.

Google Street View App

The Google Street View app is available for both Android and iOS devices. This free app allows you to do some pretty amazing things that were not possible just a few years ago.

Street View allows you to create 360 degree photos directly from your phone with no special equipment. You can choose to keep your images private or publish them to Google Maps. If they are approved by a team at Google, your images will be viewable to others to enjoy and explore.

Street View has collections of places from around the world to explore. Photospheres are best viewed using Google Cardboard. Cardboard resembles the View-Master that some of us had when we were kids. To use Street View with Cardboard, you will need to click on the mask icon then place your phone in your Cardboard or other VR viewer. If you don't have a VR viewer, you can click on the compass icon to open what many of us call the magic window. No matter how you view the photospheres, you will get to experience places around the world through the eyes of people who have been there. The beauty of our magnificent planet has been captured and it's ready to be discovered by our students!

Applications for Education
Street View can be used to teach in ways that were not possible until recently. Are your students learning about volcanoes? Send students to different ones around the world and have them compare and contrast what they see. Are they studying different countries? Have them explore those countries using this app.

Screenshots of Google Street View.


Chrome Extensions to Help You Stay Focused

Some people have no problems staying focused while they work on the web while others find themselves drowning in a sea of distraction. These Chrome extensions might help you remain on task if you spend long hours working online or if you tend to get easily distracted.

Visor- Dims your screen which helps reduce eye strain. There are also some assistive features including overlays and a horizontal point of focus feature which helps reduce the tendency to skip lines of text.

Read Mode- Turns off ads and flash animations temporarily to make it easier to focus on the content that you are reading. This extension turns your page into black text on a white background.

StayFocusd- If you find that certain websites are distracting and cutting into your productivity, then this extension is for you. You set time limits for how long you can spend on different sites. Once you have used up the allotted time, you will be blocked from that particular site for the remainder of the day.

Strict Workflow- Allows you to create a customized blacklist of pages you find distracting. You will have to work an amount of time that you specify before being allowed to browse any of the blacklisted websites.

WasteNoTime- Provides reports on where you spend time on the internet. This extension allows you to block some sites all of the time and set time quotas for others. There is also a feature that allows you to lockdown everything so you can focus for a set period of time with little internet access. You can also customize when these settings will be in place.

Momentum Is your personal dashboard where you can create a to do list, see a reminder of your top priority, and view the weather. This page will appear each time you open a new tab. 

Applications for Education
Students can benefit from these extensions as much, or maybe even more, than adults. It might be useful for students to see where they spend time when they are online.