Monday, January 20, 2020

How to Create an Online Sorting Activity Using Google Sheets

Flippity is a great source of templates for making online games, flashcards, and quizzes. Recently, Flippity added a new template that makes it easy to create an online sorting activity based on information you provide in a Google Sheet.

Flippity's newest template is called Manipulatives. The template lets you create an online activity in which students sort items into categories. You can have students sort items into columns, grids, Venn diagrams, and even into regions of a map. In the following video I demonstrate how to use Flippity Manipulatives to create an online sorting activity.



Applications for Education
As is demonstrated in the video above, you can use just about any image as the background in your sorting activities. To that end, I can see the template being useful for creating activities in which students have to match terms to parts of a diagram. For example, you might use a plant cell as the background then have students drag the names of the corresponding parts into their correct places on the diagram.

Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom - Deep Dive

The single most popular Practical Ed Tech webinar that I hosted last year was 5 Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom. More than 150 participated in it in live or recorded form. The most common piece of feedback that I received about it was, "I wish there was time spent on each project." That's why I've designed a new five part course titled Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom - A Deep Dive.

In Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom you'll learn how to make animated videos, green screen videos, documentary videos, instructional whiteboard videos, and video journals. I'll show you how you can do these projects on Chromebooks, Windows, Mac, iPad, and Android devices.

In addition to the how-to elements of the webinar we’ll cover planning, assessment, and privacy concerns. You’ll learn how to use aspects of YouTube that most people overlook. But YouTube isn’t the only way to share videos so we’ll look at other great options for sharing videos.

Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom begins at 4pm ET on January 30th. Watch this short video to learn more and get a discount code. Or just head to here to sign-up now.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where it's a balmy -7F outside. My dogs went outside for about thirty seconds before coming right back to the house this morning. Most mornings I have to call them back in. Needless to say, we'll be waiting for it warm up a little bit before going to ski this morning.

This week I had the privilege to speak at Amarillo College. It was a fun event. One of the highlights for me was seeing a great presentation by La'Tonya Rease Miles about the hidden curriculum that first generation college students have to navigate. It was a fascinating talk and much of it was relevant to high school teachers as well as college instructors.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Signing Into Chrome vs. Signing Into Your Google Account
2. A Mostly Complete Guide to Classroom Blogging
3. A Great Update to Screencastify
4. A Student Podcast Contest
5. How to Use the New Creative Commons Chrome Extension
6. How to Upload a Podcast to SoundCloud
7. Keeping Track of Students' Websites

I'll come to your school in 2020! 
2020 will be my tenth year of speaking at schools and conferences. Send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to learn more about how we can work together.

Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom
Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom is an online course that I'm hosting on Practical Ed Tech starting on January 30th. You can get more information and a discount code right here.

Thank You for Your Support!
Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides FreeTech4Teachers.com and the daily email digest, there are other ways to keep up with what I'm publishing. 
  • Practical Ed Tech Newsletter - This comes out once per week (Sunday night/ Monday morning) and includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from FreeTech4Teachers.com.
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 16,000 are subscribed to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 300 Google tools tutorials. 
  • The Practical Ed Tech Podcast is where I answer questions from readers, share news and notes, and occasionally talk to interesting people in education. 
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has nearly 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last twelve years at twitter.com/rmbyrne
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing.

A Tip for Your Colleagues Who Unneccesarily Use "Reply All"

In a presentation that I occasionally give about the evolution of educational technology I have a slide that lists classic online discussion tools. On that slide I have a bullet point that reads, Group Email (which everyone hates). That slide always gets a chuckle from the audience because everyone has a colleague that uses "reply all" far more often than is necessary. If you use G Suite for Education, you avoid being that colleague by making a small change in your Gmail settings.

In Gmail settings you can set the default reply behavior to be "reply" instead of "reply all." Making that change means that you never have to worry about accidentally sending a reply a group unless it is absolutely necessary for everyone in the group to see your reply. See my screenshot below for directions.

Friday, January 17, 2020

The Practical Ed Tech Podcast - Episode 29 - Video & Standardized Chargers

There were a bunch of neat things related to ed tech that were released this week. And a bunch more will be out next week in conjunction with the BETT Show in London. In this week's episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast I shared a new video tool, an awesome update to a popular video tool, and a new video contest for students and teachers. In the episode I also shared an interesting idea coming out of Europe regarding the standardization of chargers.

As I always do, in the episode I answered some interesting questions from readers and listeners. You'll also want to listen for my personal professional learning highlight of the week that came courtesy of Amarillo College.

Listen to episode 29 of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast right here or on your favorite podcast platform.



Listen to all episodes of the podcast here or find them on the following podcast networks:

The Origins of the English Language

This morning I had a student ask me "what does 'the' mean?" It's was one of those classic teenager moments of trying to distract me/ waste time at the start of class. I indulged him for a minute then got on with the plan for the day. The interaction did remind me that there was a TED-Ed lesson years released years ago about the origins of the English language. A little search through my archives and I found that lesson along with another lesson from The Open University on the same topic.

Where Did English Come From? The TED-Ed lesson focuses on the evolution of language and similarities to other languages. The TED-Ed video is embedded below.



The History of English from Open University is embedded below. As with many Open University lessons you should screen them to judge their suitability for your high school students.

How to Publish a Google Calendar Without Showing All Event Details

Yesterday, I received a question on an old YouTube video of mine in which I demonstrated how to embed a Google Calendar into Blogger. The video is seven years old and Google Calendar has changed a bit since then, but the question was still a good one. The question was, "instead of showing all the details how do you set so that the public only sees an event as busy?"

When you make one of your Google Calendars public you have the option to either "show all event details" or "see only free/busy." You'll find this option by opening your calendar's "settings and sharing" menu then scrolling down to "Access permissions." See my screenshots below for details.

Step 1:

Step 2:


On a related note, here's how you can display the same event on multiple calendars.

Chrome Media Hub - Manage Background Video and Audio

Like a lot of people, I have a habit of leaving a bunch of Chrome tabs open even if I'm not actively using them. It's not the best habit because it does unnecessarily use resources. It can also contribute to the annoyance of having a video or audio file start playing in the background. Google has released a solution for the annoyance of music or videos playing in background tabs.

Media Hub is a new feature of the Chrome web browser. It lets you manage playback of audio and video on websites that you have open on background tabs that you're not actively using. You'll find the Media Hub in the upper, right corner of Chrome between the end of the address bar and before any extensions that you have installed. To use the Media Hub just click on it to open a simple control menu that will let you stop, pause, or play any media that is loaded on any of your open tabs.

Applications for Education
Media Hub has been available on Chromebooks for a while. It's now available on Windows and Mac too. Where I see this being useful in a classroom is to quickly stop or start background audio like that from a countdown timer like those found at online-stopwatch.com or the simply "set timer X minutes" function that is built into Chrome.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Keeping Track of Students' Websites

A couple of months ago I wrote about how my students are using Google Sites as digital portfolios this year. Fortunately for me, this year I only have twenty-five students' sites to keep track of. Years ago I had more than one hundred to keep track of. If you find yourself trying to keep track of one hundred or more student websites, try the method that I described in the following blog post from 2015.

This morning I answered an email from a reader who was looking for a little advice on keeping track of more than 150 Google Sites maintained by students as their digital portfolios. Here's the scenario that was described to me,
I have more than 150 students using e.Portfolios and I struggle with finding different students' work. I ask students to name their GoogleSites specifically so I can sort them. I have created a form for student to complete to keep a record of the links. Maybe you have a better way?
This was my suggestion for attempting to keep track of all the sites. (I used this method myself with about 100 students a few years ago).
To make it easier to sort submissions I create student groups (not for collaboration, just for sorting) and make a different form for each group. Students have to submit their updates to the form that is assigned to their group. That way instead of having 150 students making submissions to one form I have 25 students making submissions to each of six forms. It's a little easier to sort through 25 students making submissions than 150 students making submissions to one form. I make it the responsibility of the students to enter their submissions on the correct form.

Google Classroom Originality Reports Expand Next Week

Back in August Google unveiled Originality Reports as a beta product in Google Classroom. According to an email that landed in my domain administrator account this afternoon, Originality Reports will be available in all G Suite for Education domains beginning on January 21st.

Originality Reports in Google Classroom will let you check documents for elements of plagiarism originality against the millions of webpages and books that are indexed by Google. Students are able to run Originality Reports on their own work before submitting it as an assignment in Google Classroom.

Teachers who are in G Suite for Education domains can activate Originality Reports on up to three assignments within a Google Classroom. Teachers who are in a G Suite for Education Enterprise domain (the paid, upgraded version of G Suite for Education) can use Originality Reports on as many assignments as they like.

Using Originality Reports as a Teacher
If you're like me and most teachers who use G Suite for Education, you're probably using the free version of G Suite for Education and therefore will only be able to use Originality Reports on three assignments. That's why I foresee it only being used on long and infrequent assignments like research papers and not on short and frequent assignments. For shorter assignments I'll just use the good old standard of, "that doesn't sound like something student X would write" and then copy and paste a phrase or two into Google search to check for plagiarism.

Do You Know What's On Your Phone?

When was the last time you looked at your phone? According to my site analytics there's at least a 30% chance that the answer to that question is "right now." But when was the last time you looked at all the stuff that's on your phone? How many files do have you that downloaded (knowingly or unknowingly) that you needed to look at just once? What about that app you thought you'd use all the time that you haven't used in months or years? The point is, we all have things cluttering up our phones that we don't need.

Three Benefits of Cleaning Up Your Phone
  • It could run better without all of those little files that don't need to be on it. Cumulatively, they could be hogging up a bunch of space on your phone.
  • Removes security risks. If you have some apps on your phone that you haven't used in a long time, there's good chance that you've forgotten what kinds of permissions you've granted it. And if it's an app from a small developer, it might not even be supported anymore which means they're not paying attention to permissions and security either.
  • Preserve your battery by removing apps that you don't use that might be running in the background and eating away at your battery.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A Great Update to Screencastify

Screencastify is a tremendously popular screencast recording tool. A large part of its popularity comes from being easy to use on Chromebooks. In fact, last fall I helped eighth grade students use Screencastify in conjunction with Brush Ninja on their Chromebooks to make simple animated videos. As great as it was Screencastify wasn't without limitations. Those included a monthly limit on the number of videos you could make and placing a watermark on all videos. As of last week those limitations are gone!

Last week Screencastify announced that the limitation on the number of videos you can make in month has been removed from the free plan. Furthermore, the requirement of having a watermark on the videos you make with the free plan has been removed. The only limitation now is individual videos must be under five minutes long.

In addition to removing limitations from the free plan Screencastify added new features to the free plan. Those new features include trimming videos, exporting videos in three formats (MP4, MP3, GIF), and additional sharing features. The new sharing features are one-click QR code generation, embed codes for placement on your own website, and one-click sharing via email. Those sharing features are in addition to the already present option to share directly to Google Classroom.

Applications for Education
Screencastify is a fantastic tool for students and teachers to use to create short videos. Some of the types of videos that I've had students make with Screencastify include whiteboard-style instructional videos, simple animated videos, and one-take video journal entries. Of course, Screencastify is great for screencast videos to show students and colleagues how to use a new program or website.

Screencastify is one of the tools that is featured in my upcoming course, Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom

Thanks to Brad Dale for Tweeting about the screencastify update last night.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Signing Into Chrome vs. Signing Into Your Google Account

Last week my friend Beth Still asked me if I had a video that showed people how to sign into Chrome and switch between Chrome profiles. She mentioned it because she was helping some people who were confused about the difference between signing into Chrome versus signing into their Google accounts. The differences are small, but significant. In the following video I demonstrate signing into your Chrome profile versus signing into a Google account.


Applications for Education
As I explained in the video, signing into Chrome makes it easy for students to take their bookmarks and personalized Chrome settings with them from computer to computer. It's also important to note that students should sign out of their Chrome profiles if they are sharing computers and don't have separate user accounts for the shared computers.

How to Upload a Podcast to SoundCloud

Yesterday, I shared an update about NPR's 2020 Student Podcast Challenge. One of the requirements for participation in that contest is that teachers have to upload students' podcasts to SoundCloud. Watch the following video if you're thinking about having your students participate in the contest, but you're not sure how to go about uploading a podcast to SoundCloud.


On a related note, SoundCloud used to offer a built-in recording tool. That is no longer the case which is too bad because it did provide a convenient way to record a podcast. Fortunately, tools like Anchor.fm offer a similar capability. I've included a tutorial on how to use Anchor in the video below.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

A Student Podcast Contest

For the second year in a row NPR is a hosting a podcasting competition for students in fifth through twelfth grade. To enter the challenge students have to create a podcast that is three to twelve minutes long. Unlike last year, this year students can include music in their podcasts. Any music that is included in a podcast has to be a student's original work.

NPR's Student Podcast Challenge is open for submissions now and will stay open until March 24th. The winning submissions will be played on NPR broadcasts. 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.


H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where we're anticipating a winter ice storm. I'm trying to get a lot done before the inevitable power outage. One of those things is writing up this week's list of the most popular posts of the week.

This week I hosted the first session of Teaching History With Technology. 31 people are participating in the course. At the end of the month I'll be hosting a new course called Video Projects for Every Classroom - Deep Dive.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. A Comparison of Multimedia Timeline Creation Tools - Updated
2. Biomes and Ecoregions Interactive Map
3. Tips on Using Voice Typing in Google Documents
4. How to Use the New Creative Commons Chrome Extension
5. Learn How to Use These 5 Time-saving Gmail Features in 2020
6. Algorithms Explained by Common Craft
7. How to Combine Multiple Google Forms Into One

I'll come to your school in 2020! 
2020 will be my tenth year of speaking at schools and conferences. Send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to learn more about how we can work together.

Thank You for Your Support!
Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides FreeTech4Teachers.com and the daily email digest, there are other ways to keep up with what I'm publishing. 
  • Practical Ed Tech Newsletter - This comes out once per week (Sunday night/ Monday morning) and includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from FreeTech4Teachers.com.
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 16,000 are subscribed to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 300 Google tools tutorials. 
  • The Practical Ed Tech Podcast is where I answer questions from readers, share news and notes, and occasionally talk to interesting people in education. 
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has nearly 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last twelve years at twitter.com/rmbyrne
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing.

Friday, January 10, 2020

The Practical Ed Tech Podcast Episode #28

This evening after my toddlers went to bed I sat down to record the 28th episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast. This episode follows the same format as most of the others. I shared some news and notes from the world of ed tech, gave a little update on what's happening in my classroom, and answered a handful of questions from readers and listeners. You can listen to the latest episode right here or on your favorite podcast network.


The show notes are available in this Google Doc.



Listen to all episodes of the podcast here or find them on the following podcast networks:

Reverb Record - Quickly Create Voice Recordings

Reverb is a relatively new service (still in beta) that is designed to let people create short voice recordings to share with others. The concept is similar to Voxer and Synth in that you can record a message for a group to listen to and then members of that group can reply with voice messages of their own. Reverb Record is a recording tool offered by Reverb that you can to record and share with the world.

To use Reverb Record simply go to the website, click the microphone icon, and start talking. Click the microphone icon to stop the recording when you're done. You can then share your message via social media or by embedding your recording into a blog post. Registration is not required in order to use Reverb Record.


Applications for Education
Reverb Record could be a convenient tool to use to create a short audio recording for your students and or their parents to listen to. I've used Vocaroo in the past to record sub plans for my classes to listen to and Reverb Record could be used in the same way.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

A Mostly Complete Guide to Classroom Blogging

Over the last couple of weeks I've published some lengthy blog posts about classroom blogging activities and tools for classroom blogging. Those posts were excerpts from a longer piece that I've been working on. That longer piece is almost done. For lack of a more creative title, I'm calling it A Mostly Complete Guide to Classroom Blogging.

In A Mostly Complete Guide to Classroom Blogging you'll find a glossary of blogging terms, a comparison of blogging platforms, a list of K-12 blogging activities, and some suggestions for classroom blogging ground rules.

You can get a Google Docs copy of A Mostly Complete Guide to Classroom Blogging right here.

How to Use the New Creative Commons Chrome Extension

Earlier this week Creative Commons released a new Chrome extension that enables users to find Creative Commons licensed images without having to leave the browser tabs their currently viewing. With the CC Search Browser Extension installed users can find images from more than a dozen hosts of Creative Commons licensed works. The extension not only provides images for download, it also provides all of the attribution information needed for the images. And to help users keep track of their images, the CC Search Browser Extension provides a bookmarking capability. Watch my video that is embedded below to see how the new CC Search Browser Extension works.



Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for sharing the CC Search Browser Extension in his Ed Tech Digest post. 

Applications for Education 
The CC Search Browser Extension could be a great little tool for students to use to quickly find some pictures that they can use in slideshows and video projects. It should be noted that a lot of the results through the extension come from Flickr so if Flickr is blocked in your school the search results could be limited.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Algorithms Explained by Common Craft

This week in my ninth grade computer science principles class we started talking about big data and algorithms. One of the resources that I used in introducing this topic was Common Craft's explanation of algorithms. The two and a half minute video explains what an algorithm is and the roles that algorithms can play in our lives, particularly in our online lives.


After they watched the video I had my students list some other ways they could think of that algorithms are or could be used in their lives. The most common example in my classroom was in the videos that are suggested to them on YouTube. 

Disclosure: I have a long-standing in-kind relationship with Common Craft. 

Dozens of Fun, Hands-on Science Lessons

Science Snacks from Exploratorium is a great collection of hands-on science lessons for elementary school, middle school, and high school students. I've been recommending it for years and recently revisited it to discover that more activities have been added. 

Science Snacks features activities that can be conducted with inexpensive and readily available materials. Each Science Snack comes with a materials list and step-by-step directions. Science Snacks are also accompanied by a written explanation of the science at work in the activity. Many Science Snacks, like Penny Battery, include video demonstrations and explanations.

You can search for Science Snacks alphabetically or you can search by subject. The subject search is the best way to search if you are looking for an activity to match a lesson plan or curriculum standard that you already have in mind.

Applications for Education

Many of the Science Snacks activities could be conducted by students at home with the help/ supervision of parents. Using the Science Snacks in that way could be a good alternative to typical homework assignments. Have students do one of the activities for homework and report their observations in Google Documents or as comments in Google Classroom.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Tips on Using Voice Typing in Google Documents

A couple of weeks ago I published an article and video about accessibility settings and tools that are available in Google Documents. One of those tools is voice typing. What I forgot to mention in that piece, as a few people have pointed out, is that you have to speak very clearly when using voice typing in Google Docs. The other thing that I should have clarified in my video is you have to use the Chrome web browser to use the voice typing feature that is built into Google Docs. Finally, as is mentioned in my video below, you do have to give commands for starting new lines and adding punctuation. A list of commands is available here.

How to Use Branching Logic in Microsoft Forms

For teachers working in schools that use Office 365, Microsoft Forms is a great tool for creating online assessments. Branching logic is one of the features of Microsoft Forms that is sometimes overlooked. It's a great feature that can be used to direct students to a specific section of a form based on their answers to prior questions. For example, I can have my students answer different sets of questions within the same form based on how they answer an opening question of "who is your homeroom teacher?"

Watch my new video that is embedded below to learn how you can use branching logic in Microsoft Forms.


Watch this video for a primer on how to create a basic quiz in Microsoft Forms.

Monday, January 6, 2020

A Conversation With Tom Richey - History Teacher & YouTube Star

During winter break I caught up with my friend Tom Richey to record an episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast. Tom is a high school history teacher (AP Euro) and the producer of fantastic YouTube videos covering lots of topics in AP Euro, World, and U.S. History. He has more than 150,00 subscribers to his YouTube channel. Tom also produces videos covering AP test taking strategies and hosts live online review sessions for students.

I always enjoy talking with Tom and I hope that you enjoy this episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast. You can listen to the episode here or on your favorite podcast network by searching "Practical Ed Tech Podcast."



Listen to all episodes of the podcast here or find them on the following podcast networks:

A Comparison of Multimedia Timeline Creation Tools - Updated

Making a timeline is a "classic" history class assignment. When I started my teaching career my students made timelines on big sheets of paper. Later I had them use some online programs that let them include some pictures and links. Eventually, we got to a place where true multimedia timeline creation tools were readily available. Today, there are plenty of ways to create multimedia timelines. In the following chart I highlight the features of my favorite tools for making multimedia timelines.  A copy of the chart can be acquired in Google Docs format here.


I'll be covering some of these tools in greater depth during my upcoming course, Teaching History With Technology

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Biomes and Ecoregions Interactive Map

Ecoregions 2017 is an interactive map produced by Resolve for the purpose of showing the ecoregions and biomes of the world. When you visit the map you can choose to display either ecoregions or biomes. After you make that selection you can then click on any location on the map to discover the ecoregion or biome of that location. An associated image of that location and some brief details are also displayed when you click on the map.

Applications for Education
The Ecoregions 2017 interactive map could be a good little reference to add to a Earth Science course website, OneNote notebook, or Google Classroom section.

H/T to Maps Mania.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where the snow that blanketed us earlier in the week is still here and will be here until April. I'm not complaining at all because at our house snow equals skiing. And that's what we're going to do after the sun comes up and we wrangle our toddlers into their snowsuits and boots.

I had classes on Thursday and Friday this week. If you did too, I hope it was a smooth start to 2020 in your classroom.

Last week I announced that I'm hosting an updated version of my Teaching History With Technology course starting on January 8th. Fifteen people have signed up. Register by midnight on Monday if you'd like to join us.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Learn How to Use These 5 Time-saving Gmail Features in 2020
2. The Twelve Most Popular Posts on Free Tech for Teachers in 2019
3. Remove Image Backgrounds With PhotoScissors
4. Ten Blogging Activities for Kindergarten Through High School Classrooms
5. How to Make an Interactive Graphic With Canva
6. How to Create and Publish Multimedia Collages
7. FAQs About Teaching History With Technology 2020

I'll come to your school in 2020! 
2020 will be my tenth year of speaking at schools and conferences. Send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to learn more about how we can work together.

Thank You for Your Support!
Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides FreeTech4Teachers.com and the daily email digest, there are other ways to keep up with what I'm publishing. 
  • Practical Ed Tech Newsletter - This comes out once per week (Sunday night/ Monday morning) and includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from FreeTech4Teachers.com.
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 16,000 are subscribed to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 300 Google tools tutorials. 
  • The Practical Ed Tech Podcast is where I answer questions from readers, share news and notes, and occasionally talk to interesting people in education. 
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has nearly 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last twelve years at twitter.com/rmbyrne
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing.

How to Combine Multiple Google Forms Into One

Import questions is one of the many useful, yet often overlooked functions in Google Forms. The import questions function lets you draw questions from your existing forms to use in a new form. In the following video I demonstrate how you can use the import questions function to combine questions from multiple Google Forms to create one new one.


Applications for Education
One of the things that I typically do at the end of the semester is create practice quizzes for my students by compiling questions from quizzes that they have already taken. Usually, I focus on including the questions that were most frequently answered incorrectly earlier in the semester. Google Forms makes this easy to do. By using the import questions function in Google Forms I can quickly create a new form that is just a compilation of questions from prior forms. The determination of which questions to pick is done by looking at the summary data from the prior quizzes.

Friday, January 3, 2020

The Practical Ed Tech Podcast Episode 26 - Old Decade, New Decade

This afternoon I recorded the 26th episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast. In this episode I shared some important news about how I'm publishing new content in 2020, highlighted some "decade in review" articles, and answered questions from readers and viewers like you. The complete show notes can be read here.

Listen to episode 26 of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast right here or on your favorite podcast network.



Listen to all episodes of the podcast here or find them on the following podcast networks:

A Comparison of 6 Blogging Services for Teachers and Students - Updated

About five years ago I assembled a series charts that compared the features of ed tech tools that served similar purposes. Some of the charts I made were about video tools, animation tools, timeline tools, digital portfolios, and blogs. To start 2020 I'm revisiting those charts and updating them to better reflect the current features and availability of various tools. The first chart that I've updated is this one that compares and ranks six popular blogging services.

Comparison of Six Blogging Services for Teachers outlines the administration options, design options, domain mapping options, and TOS conditions amongst other key features to look for when picking a blogging service to use in your classroom. You can get a Google Docs copy of the chart here and a PDF version here.
While you're exploring blogging tools, take a look at these ten blogging activities for K-12 students.

Here's my ranking of the blogging services featured in the chart:

My ranking of these services:
1. Blogger - It’s free and easy to set-up. It can be integrated into your Google Apps for Education account which means that you and your students can use the same usernames and passwords that they use in all other Google tools. You can make your blog private (up to 100 members invited by email). The drawback to it is that a lot of school filters flag it as “social media” and block it on those grounds.

1a. Edublogs - Probably the best option for elementary school and middle school use. Blogs and individual blog posts can be made private, password-protected, or public. You can create and manage your students’ accounts. Outstanding customer support!

2. Weebly for Education - It’s free to have up to 40 students in your account. You can manage your students’ accounts. You can have students contribute to a group blog and or let them manage their own individual blogs.

3. SeeSaw.me - SeeSaw was originally launched as a digital portfolio tool. The addition of a blogging component was made in January 2016. The blogging component of SeeSaw allows you to import and display your students’ digital artifacts publicly or privately. There is not much you can do with SeeSaw in terms of customization of layout and color scheme.

4. WordPress.org - If you have the technical acumen or the time to learn it (it’s not that hard), self-hosting a blog that runs on WordPress software will give you the ultimate in control and flexibility. You will be able to create and manage student accounts, have a nearly infinite variety of customization options, and you’ll be able to move your blog from server to server whenever you want to. That said, you will have to pay for hosting (or convince your school to give you server space) and you will be responsible for maintaining security updates and backing-up your blog regularly.

5. WordPress.com - It’s easy to use and is free, but with some serious limitations at the free level. The free version displays advertising on your blog which you cannot control. The free version also doesn’t allow embedding content from many third-party sites.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

How to Create and Publish Multimedia Collages

Now that Canva offers an education version that provides all of the pro features for free to teachers and students, there is a ton of neat things that students and teachers can make. One example of that is designing and publishing multimedia collages. Along with pictures, text, and hyperlinks you can add video and audio files to any of the designs that you make or modify in Canva. Obviously, the video and audio will only play if you publish your design online. Fortunately, Canva offers a couple ways to publish your collages online. Those options are to publish the collage as a simple stand-alone webpage or embed it into an existing webpage.

In the following video I demonstrate how to create and publish multimedia collages in Canva.


Applications for Education
Making a multimedia collage in Canva could be a good way for students to assemble simple one page digital portfolios to showcase examples of their work.I can also see making multimedia collages in Canva as a fun way for students to organize a collection of digital artifacts to summarize key points in a time period or in a person's life.

What Do You Want to Learn in 2020?

I posed this question on Practical Ed Tech and I'm going to pose it here too. What do you want to learn in 2020? It could be learning to code or it could be a new instructional strategy or it might be learning how to cartwheel. Whatever it is, I'd love to hear about it. And if it's something that I can help you with, you can bet that I'll cover it on the blog, in video, or in a podcast this year. So go ahead and fill out the short form below and I'll do my best to help you learn something new in 2020.

By the way, I want to learn new instructional strategies for adult education and some new Python skills in 2020.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Learn How to Use These 5 Time-saving Gmail Features in 2020

Some days it feels like I'm playing the world's longest game of whack-a-mole in my inbox. If this sounds familiar to you and you're a Gmail/ G Suite user, there are some things that you can do to tilt the odds of winning that game of email whack-a-mole in your favor. Those things include creating canned responses, scheduling messages, enabling smart replies, and creating message filters. Those time-saving Gmail features are demonstrated in the video below.


One more time-saver is to make sure that you have your contacts organized into groups. Doing that can save you time when you're trying to send a message to department members, parent groups, or any other group that you frequently send the same messages to.

FAQs About Teaching History With Technology 2020

For the new year I have updated my popular Practical Ed Tech course, Teaching History With Technology. The course begins next Wednesday. I announced the course about ten days ago and I've answered a handful of emails about it. Here are those questions and answers.

1. Will the sessions be recorded? 
Yes. Every live webinar in the course will be recorded so that you can go back and watch it whenever it is convenient for you. Of course, you'll still be able to send me questions just like you would if you were there for the live webinars.

2. How long are the webinars?
Each one is planned for an hour plus some time for Q&A as needed.

3. Can I register with a purchase order?
I will accept a purchase order if you have five more people from the same school who want to register together. Otherwise, I can't accept a PO because it generally takes a colossal amount of time to navigate school district paperwork requirements. Any major credit card can be used to register.

4. Do you offer any kind of certificate?
I do provide a certificate of completion for five hours of PD time. Whether or not your school district or certification/license office will accept it for license/certification renewal is a determination you will have to make.

5. Will I be able to use this with elementary school students? 
I've had lots of elementary school teachers take this course since I started offering it in 2015. I designed the course so that the ideas, tools, and resources can be modified to use with students as early as 4th grade through high school students.



Register Here!