Saturday, March 31, 2018 Is Being Shut Down - 5 Alternatives

Thanks to a Tweet from Tony Vincent I learned that Google announced the impending closure of the URL shortening service. It has been a good URL shortening tool for years, but not the most popular service because you couldn't customize your shortened URL. That's why I've always preferred to use to shorten URLs. If you find yourself looking for a new URL shortener, take a look at these options.

As mentioned above, is my preferred URL shortening tool. With a free Bitly account you can customize your shortened URLs into things that is easy to remember and type rather than just using the randomly-generated default URL. With a free account you can also track the number of clicks that your link receives.

TinyURL might be the most recognized name among URL shortening services. It has been around since 2002 and is used by millions of people. It's a simple and reliable service. Like Bitly, TinyURL lets you customize your shortened URL.

Many of my Tweets contain links shortened by That's because I use Hootsuite for a lot of my Twitter activity. used to be a stand-alone service. It is now included within free Hootsuite accounts. If you're primary use for shortened URLs is sharing on social media, then via Hootsuite is a good option. Otherwise, Bitly and TinyURL are quicker and easier to use.

Share bundles of links in one shortened URL.
LinkBunch is a free service that you can use to quickly send a group of links to your friends, colleagues, and students. To use the service just visit LinkBunch, enter the links that you want to share, and click "Bunch." When you click on "Bunch" you will be given a URL to share with anyone you want to see the links in your bunch. When someone clicks on the URL for your Bunch he or she will be able to open the links you bunched together.

FatURL is a handy little tool to use when you need to share a group of links to someone. To share a group of links through FatURL just copy and paste or type URLs into the bundle box. You can add comments to each link. After creating your bundle hit the share button to send it.

Quickly Summarize Long Articles With SummarizeThis

SummarizeThis is a free tool that will quickly create a summary of long passages of text. To use SummarizeThis you just copy and paste text into the summary box and click "summarize." A summary of the text then appears above the original text that you copied.

Applications for Education
I included SummarizeThis in my recent search strategies webinar. There are often times when students won't look at a PDF or Word document that pops-up in search results because they think that the article will take too long to read or because they don't see a particular keyword in the beginning of the article. By using SummarizeThis students can save time by getting a sense of what a long article is about before reading the whole thing in detail.

How to Generate Random Story Starters In Google Sheets

Flippity offers great Google Sheets templates that can be used for all kinds of things from random name selection to progress tracking to generating random story starters. Flippity's Mix & Match template can be used to create image-based and text-based random story starters. Watch my video that is embedded below to learn how to use Flippity's Mix & Match template.

Applications for Education
One of the things that I like about the Mix & Match template compared to other story starter templates is that you can give students as much or as little prompting as you like. For example, you can create a story starter that has an image prompt for just the introduction and conclusion thereby leaving students to come up with their own ideas for the body of the story. Or you could give them just a conclusion prompt in text form which would then make them responsible for generating their own ideas for the rest of the story. The story starter options are almost limitless when you use Flippity's Mix & Match template.

Learn more ways to use Google Sheets in my online course, G Suite for Teachers.

Food, Timers, and Search - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine from where the wind is howling and the sun has not yet risen. Why am I up so early on a weekend? Because I have two little kids and this is the quietest time of the day. It's perfect for drinking coffee and writing things like this week's week-in-review post.

This week I hosted a Practical Ed Tech webinar all about search strategies for students. 60 of you attended and a few more have watched the recording that is now available here. This week Apple hosted a big event in Chicago to reveal some of their updated and new products. All of those announcements are summarized here. Take a look at the following list to see what else was popular on Free Technology for Teachers this week.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 5 TED-Ed Lessons About How the Food We Eat Affects Our Bodies
2. Free Timer Templates for PowerPoint Presentations
3. Seven Good Resources to Help Students Learn the Periodic Table
4. Three Mistakes Students Make In Online Research
5. Everything That Apple Announced Yesterday - In Under Three Minutes
6. 5 Good Story Starters for Students
7. The Basics of Creating a Quiz in Google Forms

Book Me for Your Conference
I’ve given keynotes at conferences from Australia to Alaska for groups of all sizes from 50 to 2,000+. My keynotes focus on providing teachers and school administrators with practical ways to use technology to create better learning experiences for all students. I like to shine the light on others and so I often share examples of great work done by others as well as my own. Click here to book me today.

Online Professional Development
On I offer on-demand professional development webinars and courses. There are significant discounts for groups who enroll in G Suite for Teachers or Teaching History With Technology.

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.
MySimpleShow offers a great way to create animated videos for free.
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.
QuickKey provides an efficient way to conduct online and in-person formative assessments.

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