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Friday, December 7, 2018

An Easy Way to Convert PDFs Into Word Documents

From time to time we all need to convert a document from one format to another. There are lots of online tools that will do that for you. Perhaps the simplest one that I've tried is a service called Easy PDF. To use Easy PDF you do not need to register on the site, there is not any advertising on the site, and Easy PDF does not watermark your converted documents. Watch my video to see how easy it is to convert a PDF into a Word document with Easy PDF.


Applications for Education
If you work in a school or school district in capacity that has you filling out lots of forms from various agencies, you've probably found yourself dealing with files in multiple formats. A tool like Easy PDF can be a good one to keep bookmarked and handy for those times when you need to quickly convert something into Word format.

Nominate Your Favorite Ed Tech Tools for a Readers' Choice Award

As the end of 2018 approaches I thought it would be fun to see what you think are the best educational technology apps, sites, and services. For the next week I'll leave this Google Form open for you to nominate your favorite educational technology app, site, or service. You can make nominations in one category or all of the categories. Please make only one nomination per category. At this time next week I'll tally all of the nominations and open up voting on the finalists (the top five in each category).

If you are a representative of a company (including compensated brand ambassadors) please do not nominate your company. I would like for this nomination process to be as genuine as possible.

Four Podcasting Tutorials - From Basic to Robust

Earlier this morning I shared news about NPR's Student Podcast Challenge that starts in January. While NPR does provide some good guides for students and teachers to use to plan podcasts, those guides don't include tutorials on specific podcast recording and editing tools. If you're thinking about having students create podcasts either for NPR's contest or for any other purpose, take a look at the podcasting tools tutorial videos that I have embedded below.

Two Simple Podcasting Tools
If you're new to podcasting and want to get started as quickly as possible, I recommend trying either Anchor.fm or GoSynth. Both are very easy to use and you could be recording in less than five minutes from the time that you register on their respective sites.

GoSynth Tutorial



Anchor.fm Tutorial



Two Robust Podcasting Tools
If you use Anchor or GoSynth for a while, you'll eventually want more editing features to make your podcasts sound a bit more polished. Or perhaps you're not afraid a little steeper learning curve at the start. In either case you can't go wrong with GarageBand or Audacity.

Audacity Tutorial


GarageBand Tips


Microphones for Podcasting
You could use the internal microphone on your computer, tablet, or phone. You'll get a better sound quality if you record with an external microphone. There are two microphones that I use and recommend. The first is the Snowball ICE Microphone from Blue Designs. For a much cheaper option I use and recommend this three pack of lapel microphones for $7.

NPR is Hosting a Student Podcast Challenge

Thanks to Ms. Meade on Twitter, last night I learned about NPR's Student Podcast Challenge. The challenge is open to students in fifth through twelfth grade. To enter the challenge students have to create a podcast that is three to twelve minutes long. Their podcasts can't include music so it really is a contest about spoken words and conversations. NPR does have a short list of prompts to get students started, but students aren't limited to the list of prompts.

NPR's Student Podcast Challenge will open for submissions in January and stay open until March 31st. The winning submissions will be played on the popular NPR broadcasts All Things Considered and Morning Edition.  Submissions to the contest have to be made by teachers on behalf of students. Submissions have to be uploaded to SoundCloud. Submissions have to be original work created specifically for the contest. All of the contest rules are available here.

Applications for Education
For this contest NPR has published two extensive podcasting guides. The guide for students walks them through the planning and recording processes. Although they don't provide tutorials on specific tools, they do offer this video about training your voice to sound more natural on a microphone.


NPR's guide for teachers includes detailed lesson plans on what makes a good podcast, how to plan an interview, how to brainstorm podcast topics, and how to practice recording a podcast.