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Thursday, January 10, 2019

In Case You Forgot That Someone Is Always Watching...

From the pages of "Google knows when you are sleeping" comes Google's latest search feature. Google has launched new activity cards for mobile search users. These new activity cards will appear at the top of your search page. The cards will suggest pages to you based on the last searches that you conducted. Google says the idea behind this new feature is to help people resume a previous search or retrace the steps of a previous search. You will be able to save and add links to your activity cards.

The new search cards in the Google mobile app and in the mobile version of Chrome should start appearing today for users in the United States. According to Google's announcement, you will be able to remove items from the activity cards and or completely turn-off the activity cards feature.

Applications for Education
I have mixed feelings about this new feature. On one hand, it could help students continue the momentum of a good search session. On the other hand, it has the potential to skew students' search results or serve them results that are influenced by past searches when what they really need is to start from scratch. Of course, it can be argued that Google already does that.

Ten Awesome Updates to Microsoft's Learning Tools

Microsoft's free Learning Tools keep getting better. This week Microsoft announced ten updates that are either available now or will be available soon to Word and OneNote users. And if you're not currently using Word or OneNote some of these updates just might make you give Word and OneNote a try. Here are some of the highlights of the updates announced this week.

More Implementations and Options for Immersive Reader
Immersive Reader is a fantastic tool that greatly improves the accessibility of documents and notes. You can watch my short introductions to it here and here. For 2019 Immersive Reader will have the following new options:
  • Microsoft Translator features are being added to Immersive Reader. This means that you will not only be able to hear pages read aloud while words are highlighted, you'll also be able to hear and read those pages in multiple languages.
  • Immersive Reader + Math Assistant = reading aloud the steps to completing a mathematics problem. This feature will be available in OneNote for Windows and OneNote online.
  • Immersive Reader + Math + Word = Immersive Reader reading aloud math problems that appear in Word documents.
  • IT administrators will now be able to push out the Immersive Reader app from the Microsoft Store. This applies to the OneNote 2016 Learning Tools add-in. 
Dictation and Dictionaries
In addition to Immersive Reader, Microsoft's Learning Tools include some excellent dictation and dictionary functions for students. Here are the highlights of what's available in 2019:
  • The dictation function is now available to all OneNote Online users.
  • Dictation in the online version of Word will be completely rolled-out by February.
  • Parts of speech and image picture dictionaries will be available in Korean, Arabic, and Hebrew. These options will be available in Word Online, OneNote Online, Windows 10 app, iPad and Mac, Outlook Online, Teams and Flipgrid. 
Read the complete list of ten updates with illustrations of the new features right here

Randomly Remind Me - An App for Building Better Habits

Randomly Remind Me is an Android app for scheduling reminders to appear on your phone or tablet at intervals you set or at randomly intervals throughout the day. Reminders that you create on the app can contain text and or pictures. If you snooze a reminder or ignore it, Randomly Remind Me will log that for you so that you can adjust your reminder schedule. If you grant the app access to location services, you can get location-based reminders.

To get started with Randomly Remind Me simply open the app and tap the green "+" icon to create your first reminder. After giving your reminder a title you can add a description and add a picture. You have the choice of having your reminders appear at random times during the day (you choose how to define your daytime hours) or you can specify when you want to be reminded. For example, I set a reminder to randomly remind me to drink water eight times during the day.

When a reminder appears on your phone you can snooze it or check it as completed. At the end of the day you can view a log of your reminders to see how many you snoozed and how many you completed.

Applications for Education
Randomly Remind Me was created to help people form new habits that they eventually work into their lives without needing a reminder. In the example that I gave above, Randomly Remind Me is sending me reminders to drink more water during the day. If you're trying to do the same as a New Year's resolution, you might want to try the app too. As I wrote on Ed Tech Fitness, when we feel better, we teach better.

A Fun Literature Game

A couple of years ago Terri Eichholz wrote a short blog post about an activity that she had found on the New Times Learning Network. I was recently scrolling through some old bookmarks and found Terri's post again. So I went to see if it's still available and it is. The activity is called Literature Quote Bingo.

In the version of Literature Quote Bingo that Terri shared (available here as a PDF) students have a grid that contains nine quotes from famous pieces of literature. Students have to pick three consecutive quotes in the grid and connect them to examples of current news stories.

Literature Quote Bingo could easily be modified. You could create a bigger grid with more quotes. You could have quotes that don't have authors' names attached and then ask students to identify the author and work. You could put authors' names in the grid then have students find quotes to match to the authors.