Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where I'm up before most reasonable are awake on a weekend. Getting a few minutes alone to think and write requires me to get up before 5am. Having two toddlers will do that to a person. Before everyone starts stirring, I have this week's list of the most popular posts to share with you.

This week I wrapped-up my online course titled Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom. I'll be offering some new online PD opportunities in March so check the blog on Monday for those. I also like to remind you that registration is now open for the 2020 Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. How to Quickly Turn a Blog Post Into a Video
2. Ten Fun and Challenging Geography Games for Students of All Ages
3. Mixkit - Hundreds of Free Music and Video Clips for Multimedia Presentations
4. Three Good Ways to Create Rubrics - Tutorials Included
5. How to Quickly Turn a Podcast Into a Video
6. Rubrics for Videos, Podcasts, Blogs, and More
7. The Practical Ed Tech Podcast - Episode 34 Featuring Dr. La'Tonya Rease Miles

2020 Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp!
Registration is open for the 2020 Practical Ed Tech Summer. Head here to learn more and score a discount code.

I'll come to your school in 2020! 
Send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to learn more about how we can work together. This year I'm offering an opportunity to bring me to your school for free! Ask me for details.

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 it includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from FreeTech4Teachers.com.
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 17,000 people subscribe 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 Search the Smithsonian's Open Access Collection

Earlier this week the Smithsonian launched a new open access collection. Smithsonian Open Access contains more than 2.8 million digital artifacts that you can view and download for free. While the Smithsonian Open Access homepage does have a couple of introductory videos, they're more promotional than they are instructional. That's why I created the following short video overview of how to search Smithsonian Open Access.

How to Use Mixkit to Find Free Audio and Video Clips for Your Projects

Mixkit is a good place to find free video clips and audio clips to use in your multimedia projects. I wrote about it earlier this week and mentioned it on my podcast. For those who would prefer a visual overview of how to use Mixkit to find free audio an video clips, I offer the following tutorial video.


As I mentioned in the video, the licensing terms for assets on Mixkit are pretty clear. You can download videos and audio files from Mixkit to re-use and remix. You don't have to credit Mixkit, but they will appreciate it if you do.

If you're looking for more places to find free audio files to use in classroom projects, check out this list that I published on Practical Ed Tech.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Join Me This Summer for Two Days of Hands-on PD

The days are getting longer and even though we had a snow day yesterday, today is a beautiful day here in Maine. Before we know it kids will be showing up to school in shorts and tee-shirts again. And although the summer might feel far away, it will be here sooner than later. I'm looking forward to doing a lot of things this summer including hosting the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp for the seventh time.

What is it?
The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is a hands-on professional development workshop that I host here in Maine. This year we'll be back at the Bethel Inn Resort.

Registration is limited to 25 people so that everyone can get the attention and time they need to dive into a variety of topics in educational technology. This year I'll be leading the group through activities in search strategies, video creation, podcasting, Arduino and simple electronics, app design for beginners, and AR & VR in the classroom.

When and where?
July 13th and 14th at the Bethel Inn Resort in Bethel, Maine (about an hour northwest of Portland).

In previous years people have turned their trips to the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp into vacations by spending additional time touring western Maine, the White Mountain National Forest, coastal Maine, and other parts of northern New England.

Is it a conference? 
You can call it that if that's what it takes to get your school to pay for your registration. But it's not a conference, it's a two-day workshop. It's 25 dedicated educators who come together to learn, talk, and explore new ways to use technology in their classrooms and libraries.

Who should attend?
Anyone who has an interest in learning and developing new ways to use technology in her or his practice should attend the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp. You don't have to be a "techy" to participate. Teachers of all subjects and grade levels are welcome to participate. Whether you're just starting on your technology integration journey or you're a veteran tech coach, your participation is valuable. That's what has brought some people back for two, three, and four years in a row!


Get a registration discount code and more information right here!

Google Earth Now Works in Firefox, Edge, & Opera!

I shared this news in my podcast earlier today, but just in case my podcast isn't the first thing you listen to in the morning, I'm excited about the web version of Google Earth finally being available in Firefox, Edge, and Opera. The Tech Lead Manager and a software engineer for the Google Earth announced this news on Wednesday.

In the announcement that was published on Wednesday there was an explanation of what has made it possible for Google Earth to now run in Firefox, Opera, and Edge. The short version is that Google Earth now uses Web Assembly instead of Native Client which was a Chrome-only option.

Applications for Education
The significance of this update is for schools that would prefer to have only Edge or Firefox installed, but were allowing Chrome for the purpose of using Google Earth can now stick with their preferred browsers.

If you're interested in learning more about how to use Google Earth in your classroom, watch my video below or check out my on-demand webinar Google Earth & Maps - It's More Than Just Social Studies.

The Practical Ed Tech Podcast - Episode 35 - Snow Day!

School was cancelled yesterday (our 98th snow day, or so it felt) so I recorded my weekly installment of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast a day early. In this episode I highlighted a couple of new resources for pictures, videos, and audio files to use in your multimedia projects. The first part of the podcast also features two resources about recognizing misinformation that are worth bookmarking. And if you missed the big news about TikTok, I covered that too.

As I always do in my weekly episodes, in this episode I answered a handful of questions from readers and listeners. There were questions about podcasting, game creation, image editing, and Google Forms.

You can listen to episode 35 of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast right here or on your favorite podcast platform. The complete show notes are available here.




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

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Three Good Ways to Create Rubrics - Tutorials Included

In my previous post I highlighted the University of Wisconsin Stout's collection of rubrics for multimedia projects. At the end of that post I mentioned that while the rubrics might not match exactly what you need, they can be a great starting point for developing your own rubrics. If you're looking for a good way to create rubrics of your own, try one of the three methods that I demonstrate in the videos that are embedded below.

How to Create a Rubric in Google Sheets
For years I have been a big fan of the Google Sheets add-on Online Rubric. It's still my go-to for making a rubric that I can enter scores into while watching students present or while grading written work. You can use it with or without Google Classroom.



How to Create a Rubric in Google Classroom
Last fall Google added a rubric feature to Google Classroom. Initially, rubrics in Google Classroom was a beta feature that was only available to some users. The rubric feature has now been rolled out to all G Suite for Education domains. Watch my video that is embedded below to learn how to create and use rubrics in Google Classroom. As a point of clarification before you watch the video, rubrics in Google Classroom can now be re-used from assignment to assignment.



How to Quickly Create Printable Rubrics
If you prefer to score presentations on paper, which can be convenient for jotting notes while watching a presentation, try using Quick Rubric to quickly create and print rubrics.

Rubrics for Videos, Podcasts, Blogs, and More

Over the years I've referenced the University of Wisconsin Stout's collection of rubrics for multimedia projects. It has been a few years since I last featured it so I think it's time to highlight it again.

UW Stout's collection of rubrics is organized by task or project type. There are sections in the collection for presentations, eportfolios and websites, social media, group work, graphic organizers, videos, games, writing, and the research process.

The section containing rubrics on the research process is new since the last time that I wrote about UW Stout's collection of rubrics. In the section on research process there are rubrics appropriate for elementary school, middle school, and high school students. There is even a link to Joyce Valenza's question brainstorming template that students can use to help them refine their searches.

Applications for Education
What prompted me to revisit UW Stout's collection of rubrics was the need for a podcast rubric. Sure enough, there is one right at the top of the presentation section in the collection. The rubric isn't a perfect fit for my needs, but it does provide me with a great starting point for making my own podcasting rubric.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Practical Ed Tech Podcast - Episode 34 Featuring Dr. La'Tonya Rease Miles

This evening I had the pleasure of talking with Dr. La'Tonya Rease Miles and recording our conversation for The Practical Ed Tech Podcast.

LT Rease Miles is the Director of First Year Experience at UCLA. About a month ago in Amarillo, Texas I saw her give a great presentation about hidden curriculum and the challenges that first generation college students face that we might unknowingly overlook. We spoke after the conference and I invited her to join me on the podcast to talk and share more about the concept of hidden curriculum.

I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with LT and I hope that you enjoy listening to it too. If you're a high school teacher, guidance counselor, or a college faculty member, I think you'll pick up some fantastic insights and ideas from listening to this episode of the podcast. You can listen to the full episode here or on your favorite podcast network.





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

The Google Keep Chrome Extension is Back!

Last week the Google Keep Chrome extension stopped working. After five days of no responses from Google on the support page for the extension, the extension was updated today and has started working again. If you disabled or removed the extension last week because you were getting an "extension corrupt" message, you can now reinstall it from the Keep Chrome extension page.

On a related note, in the video that is embedded below I provide an overview of ten handy features of Google Keep.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Join the Student Blogging Challenge in March

Every year Edublogs hosts a couple of student blogging challenges. The next one begins on March 15th. The challenge is open to all K-12 classrooms. Your classroom blog or student blogs don't have to be hosted on Edublogs in order to participate.

The 2020 Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge provides eight weekly blogging suggestions suitable for K-12 students. Every week students complete the challenge then you can submit the URL of your students' posts to be included in a larger Student Blogging Challenge form that other participating classes can see. By submitting the URLs of your students' work, you're providing them with an opportunity to get feedback from other students and teachers who are participating the challenge.


Applications for Education
Blogging can be a great way to get students interested in writing and publishing their work for an audience. The challenges of classroom blogging have always been coming up with things for kids to write about and building an audience for your students' work. The Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge addresses both of those challenges.

Mixkit - Hundreds of Free Music and Video Clips for Multimedia Presentations

Mixkit is a website that offers hundreds of free music files and videos that you can download to use in your multimedia projects. The licensing terms for assets on Mixkit are clear. You can download videos and audio files from Mixkit to re-use and remix. You don't have to credit Mixkit, but they will appreciate it if you do.

To find videos and music tracks on Mixkit you can search by keyword, click on the content tags, or simply browse through the galleries. The videos that you find on Mixkit could be described as b-roll footage. In other words, you're not going to find videos from your favorite television shows or YouTube channels. Similarly, the music on Mixkit is largely instrumental music.

Applications for Education
Mixkit could be a good resource to bookmark and share with your students when they need music or videos to use in their own video projects, podcasts, or other multimedia presentations. If you're worried about your students wasting time browsing through the Mixkit galleries, create a shared Google Drive folder that you add a collection of Mixkit files to for your students to use.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Ten Fun and Challenging Geography Games for Students of All Ages

Over the years I've tried dozens of online geography games for students of all ages. Many have come and gone over the years but the following geography games are still going strong.

WikiWhere is a neat map-based trivia game. The goal of the game is to identify cities based on their descriptions. The descriptions come from Wikipedia entries. You can get up to three clues before you have to answer by clicking on the map to identify the city that you think is described by the excerpts. When you click on the map you'll be shown the correct answer and how far away you were from the correct answer.

The browser-based version of Google Earth has a bunch of geography games for students to play including a few versions of Where In the World is Carmen San Diego? If you go into the Voyager mode in Google Earth you will find other games and quizzes to try. The quizzes are neat because when you answer a question correctly you automatically zoom to the Street View imagery of the location. Check it out in my video below.



GameOn World is a multiplayer geography game developed by a high school teacher and his student in Portland, Maine. The game is similar in structure to that of Kahoot. In GameOn World the teacher selects a game category (cities, places, and timeline are three of the nine categories) and starts the game. The students join the game by going to GameOn.World and entering a game pin. In the location and timeline games, students answer the questions by moving a placemark on a map or selecting a date on a timeline. In some of the other games students answer by choosing a number on a sliding scale.


GeoGuessr shows you a Google Street View image and a clue to try to guess where in the world the imagery was captured. Playing GeoGuessr is a fun way to get students to look at all of the visual and text clues they have in order to form a good guess as to where in the world they think the imagery came from. This used to be completely free, but it moved to a freemium model in 2020 which limits how many games you can play for free.

Quizzity is an online geography game that uses a familiar concept. Quizzity presents you with the name of a city and you have to click on the map where you think that city is in the world. Quizzity quizzes you on cities all over the world. To increase the accuracy of your guesses you should zoom-in on a region before clicking the map. Each round of Quizzity presents you with six city names. Points are awarded for accuracy and speed.


City-Guesser is a challenging map-based game. The game shows you a section of a map centered over a city. The labels are removed from the map so you have to guess the city's name based on other clues like bodies of water and orientation. City-Guesser gives you four answer choices to choose from. If you choose correctly, you move to the next level. If you choose incorrectly, the game is over and you have to start again from the beginning.

Capital Toss is a free geography game from ABCya. The game has a state capitals mode and a country capitals mode. In both modes of the game works the same way. The name of a state or country appears at the bottom of the screen and three rows of capital names scroll across the top. When the correct capital name appears players virtually toss a ball at it. After ten correct answers players can choose a new ball. Three consecutive incorrect answers ends the game.

Spacehopper is a game based on Google Maps Street View imagery. Spacehopper shows you a Street View image and you have to guess where in the world the image was captured. You can click the clue button to have the country identified before making a guess. After three incorrect guesses the correct answer will be revealed to you. You can play Spacehopper on a global level or you can specify that you only want to see images from a particular continent.

How Many European Cities Can You Name? and How Many US Cities Can You Name? are game developed by Ian Fisher who is a software engineer at Google. Both of the games are played the same way. Simply open the game map and start typing the names of cities. When you enter a city it will appear on the map. The object is to name as many cities as you can without stopping. When you're done you'll see a list of the cities that you named and the populations of the five biggest cities and the five smallest cities that you named.

Bonus: Make Your Own Game!
Mission Map Quest is a free tool for creating geography games. The concept is simple, you create a series of clues that your students need to follow to identify places around the world. You can add as few or as many clues to your Map Quest as you like. When you're ready to have students try your Quest just give them the web address of the challenge or have them scan the QR code assigned to your Quest. Watch my video below to see how to make your own Mission Map Quest game.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

How to Quickly Turn a Blog Post Into a Video

Last week I published 5 Ways to Create Social Videos. In that post I included a neat tool called Lumen5 that can be used to turn blog posts or any other written text that you own into a video.

In the video below you'll see that Lumen5 takes the text of your article and breaks into small chunks to be displayed on slides. Lumen5 then automatically detects keywords in those chunks of text and adds corresponding images to the slides. Finally, music is added to the video. You can override any of the automatic selections that Lumen5 makes.


Applications for Education
Lumen5 could be useful for taking your written school announcements and having them quickly turned into a video to distribute on your school's website and or social media accounts.

Lumen5 might also be a neat tool for students to use to see a visualization of the short stories or persuasive essays that they write.

Oshi - File Sharing With an Expiration Date

Oshi is a free file sharing service that doesn't require you to create an account in order to host and share small files. What makes Oshi interesting is that you can set an expiration date for the files that you share through the service. You can set files to expire after an hour, a day, three days, seven days, thirty days, or ninety days. You can also set your file sharing link to expire after someone has downloaded your file.

While Oshi is designed for temporary hosting and sharing of your files, it is possible to extend the life of a hosted file. If you do need to extend the life of your hosted file, you can do that by hitting the manage button on your files.

A little quirk of Oshi that I noticed in my testing is that it works better in the latest version of Firefox than in it does in the latest version of Chrome.

Applications for Education
Oshi could be useful for sharing things like pictures from a school event that you want to make available to parents but don't want to put online indefinitely.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

How to Quickly Turn a Podcast Into a Video

Earlier this month I shared Headliner as an alternative to using Adobe Spark to make videos. One of the features of Headliner that I didn't share in that post was their tool for turning podcast episodes into videos.

In Headliner there is a tool for taking any podcast episode and having a video based on its audio automatically created for you. It only takes a couple of minutes and it works with just about any public podcast. Watch my short video that is embedded below to learn how to use Headliner to turn a podcast into a video.


Applications for Education
If you have students who are producing podcasts for your class, using Headliner to make videos based on those podcasts could be a good way to increase the distribution options for those episodes.

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where the sun is rising and it's a balmy 10F outside. This is the last weekend of my school vacation week so I'm planning to get outside to play for a bit more. I spent part of the week working on some long-term projects. But it wasn't all work all week as I did spend the first couple of days of vacation ice fishing on Moosehead lake with a group of teachers that I've known for almost twenty years now. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you have time to do something fun too.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Animate Anything With Cloud Stop Motion
2. 5 Google Slides Features New Users Should Know - Updated
3. Write Faster With These Two New Google Docs Features
4. Quickly Turn Articles Into Videos With InVideo
5. Convert PDF to Word and More
6. The Practical Ed Tech Podcast - Episode 32 - Back from the Flu
7. DNS & IP Explained

2020 Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp!
Registration is open for the 2020 Practical Ed Tech Summer. Head here to learn more and score a discount code.

I'll come to your school in 2020! 
Send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to learn more about how we can work together. This year I'm offering an opportunity to bring me to your school for free! Ask me for details.

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 17,000 people 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.

Four Videos Explaining Leap Year

This year is a Leap Year and Leap Day is just a week away. Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo I recently learned about this new video from Homeschool Pop that explains Leap Year to kids.


Here are three other video explanations of Leap Year. These were all featured on this blog for the last Leap Year.



Friday, February 21, 2020

It's Not Just You - The Google Keep Chrome Extension is Broken - Update! It's Back!

Google Keep is a great tool that can be used for all kinds of things including setting reminders, taking notes, and bookmarking websites. The Google Keep Chrome extension makes it easy to do all of those things, when it's working. Unfortunately, for the last couple of days the Keep Chrome extension has not been working. I thought it was just me until I looked at the support section of the Keep Chrome extension page and saw tons of people also complaining the that extension was corrupted.

Running the built-in repair function for the Keep Chrome extension doesn't fix the extension. So for now we're all just stuck waiting for Google to fix the Keep Chrome extension. I'll update this post when the extension is repaired.

In the meantime, I'll be using the OneNote extension and or Chrome's built-in bookmarking tool to save links.

How to Annotate Videos With Timelinely

Timelinely is a free service for adding annotations to YouTube videos. You can use Timelinely to add text, image, and video annotations to any public YouTube video. After you have added your annotations to a video you can share the annotated version with anyone much like you would share any other video. You can share your annotated video by embedding it into a blog post or by just giving people the link to the annotated version of the video. In the following video I demonstrate how to use Timelinely to annotate YouTube videos.


Applications for Education
One of things that I like about Timelinely is the option to include pictures and videos in your annotations. I can see the image option being used to include an alternate example for students to view when watching a math lesson. Adding a video into your annotation could be a good way to add your own commentary or clarifying comments to a video about a topic in history or current events.

GoSoapBox - Quickly Poll Your Class

GoSoapBox is a student response system that I've used off and on over the years. It offers a few ways to conduct online polls for your students to respond to on their phones, tablets, or laptops.

My favorite polling option in GoSoapBox is called the Confusion Meter. The Confusion Meter is a simple poll that just asks students if they're "getting it" or if they're confused. Students can change their answers as many times as they need to during your lesson or class period. Watch my short video below to see how the Confusion Meter and other GoSoapBox features work.


As is demonstrated in the video above, there are other polling options in GoSoapBox in addition to the Confusion Meter. You can create and distribute quizzes in GoSoapBox. You can also create a simple discussion forum in which students can ask questions of you and or their classmates.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Practical Ed Tech Podcast - Episode 33 - Larry Bird

In this week's episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast I'm back from the flu and from a short vacation. Highlights of this episode include new Google Docs tools, a new way to make videos from text, and a cute app for little kids like mine. As always, I answered a handful of questions from readers, viewers, and listeners like you!

Get the complete show notes in this Google Doc.

Listen to the episode right here or on your favorite podcast network.



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

Volcanoes 101 - Updated

A few years ago National Geographic published a video titled Volcanoes 101. Last month they published a new video with the same name. The new Volcanoes 101 explains the types of volcanoes, their shapes, common locations, and what causes volcanoes to erupt.



On a related note, The BBC has a series of interactive guides that explain how natural disasters are caused. The series of guides is twelve years old, but still includes good information presented in a clear manner for students. Included in this series is a twelve part animated explanation of volcanic eruptions. The series also includes explanations of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis.

Applications for Education
Volcanoes 101 is the right length and has the right style and pacing to make it an excellent choice for a flipped lesson intended to introduce the big concepts of a lesson about deserts. My go-to tool for making flipped lessons continues to be EDpuzzle. You can learn how to use EDpuzzle by watching the following video.

5 Ways to Create Social Videos

Yesterday, I wrote about a new video creation tool called InVideo. InVideo is one of many tools to emerge in the last couple years that is designed to help users create eye-catching videos to post on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter. These videos use a mix of images and text to grab your attention and quickly tell a short story. Most include music, but can also be effective even when the music is turned off. If you're using social media to share school or classroom announcements, you might want to try making social media videos. Here are five tools worth trying for making social media videos.

Lumen 5
Lumen5 is a service that will produce a video for you based upon your written work. To create a video with Lumen5 you can enter the URL of your published work or paste in the text of your blog post. Lumen5 will then select highlights from your writing to feature in a video. Lumen5 generates a preview of a video for you based on the title, keywords, and key phrases in your blog post. The video will consist of images and video clips matched to the words in your blog post.Completed Lumen5 projects can be shared directly to Facebook. You can also download your video to use on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and anywhere else that you like post short videos.

Canva
Canva offers tons of templates for making social media graphics. One of the overlooked options for sharing Canva graphics is exporting as MP4. In the following video I demonstrate how to create a video with Canva.



Adobe Spark
Like Canva, Adobe Spark offers a lot of templates for making social media graphics. Adobe Spark also offers a dedicated video editor for making videos. You can make a video from scratch or use one of the templates that is designed specifically for posting on social media.



Sharalike
Sharalike is a simple video creation tool that is available as a browser-based tool as well as an Android app and iOS app. All three versions let you bulk upload/ import a collection of pictures then drag and drop those pictures into the sequence in which you want them to appear. Once you've arranged your images you can add music from Sharalike's library of free, royalty-free music. Sharalike will then create the video for you. I've successfully uploaded as many as 45 pictures at once to Sharalike to make a video. The only downside to Sharalike is that you can't download your video, you have to watch it online.



Headliner
Headliner is an online video creation tool that offers templates designed for creating videos to share on social media. Headliner also offers a neat service that will turn your spoken audio or podcast files into video files. Headliner offers their pro version to schools for free.


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Quickly Turn Articles Into Videos With InVideo

This morning I was browsing Product Hunt when I saw a new product that was promoting itself as a way to create "insanely good social videos." The service is called InVideo. While it is fairly easy to use to make audio slideshow-style videos, that's not why I'm mentioning it today. The reason I'm mentioning it is that contains a feature to convert written articles into videos.

InVideo offers lots of tools and templates for making audio slideshow videos to share on social media and elsewhere. One of those tools lets you copy the text of an article into a template then have InVideo automatically select images to match the text of the article. A similar InVideo template lets you enter the URL of an article and have a video made with images that are automatically selected to make the text of the article. In both cases parts of the text appear on the slides with the images. And in both cases you can manually override the automatic image selections.

When your InVideo video is complete you can download it for free with a watermark applied to it. Alternatively, you can invite other people to join InVideo and the watermark is removed. Or you can purchase an InVideo subscription to have all watermarks removed.

Applications for Education
InVideo probably isn't a tool that students can use because it does require a phone number in order to sign up. That said, it could be useful for teachers who want to provide their students with a visual summary of the key points of a long passage of text.

Convert PDF to Word and More

I don't get nearly as many requests for help with file conversion as I did 5-10 years ago, but I still do get them from time to time. Last week I was asked for help converting a PDF into Word for editing. My immediate suggestion was to try the conversion tool available from Online Convert.

Online Convert offers a dozen tools for converting all kinds of files from one format to another. That includes a free tool for converting PDFs into Word documents. To use the PDF to Word conversion tool simply upload your PDF or import it from your Dropbox account. Once your PDF is uploaded just hit the "start conversion" button and your file will be converted. You can wait on the Online Convert screen for the file conversion process to happen or you can enter your email address to be notified when your converted file is ready to download.

In addition to the PDF to Word conversion tool, Online Convert offers tools for converting video files, audio files, image files, ebook files, and a handful of other file types.

Online Convert also offers a Chrome extension and a Firefox add-on for converting files without having to visit the Online Convert homepage in a new tab or window.

Applications for Education
Thanks to services like Google Docs and Microsoft 365 we no longer have the problem of years ago when students would email assignment submissions as file attachments that couldn't be read because they were in the wrong file format. Today, the utility of a tool like Online Convert is in converting our older documents and files into formats that we can edit and update. The last person who asked me about converting PDF to Word was trying to do so that he could update some older handouts that he still wanted to use with students.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

5 Google Slides Features New Users Should Know - Updated

One of the things that I've been reminded of a few times in the last month is to revisit the basics even if you're working with people who have had access to G Suite for a long time. On that note, here are five Google Slides features that all users should know how to use.

How to Add Images to Google Slides



How to Add Videos to Google Slides



How to Import PowerPoint Slides Into Google Slides



How to Insert Audio Into Google Slides



How to Print Google Slides

Write Faster With These Two New Google Docs Features

Two new Google Docs features are rolling out to all G Suite users beginning today. Today, Google announced the addition of Smart Compose in Google Docs for G Suite users. Earlier today, Google also announced that autocorrect is being added to Google Docs for all users.

Smart Compose in Google Docs works much like Smart Compose in Gmail. As you type, suggests for completing your sentences appear in light gray text. If you like the suggestion, just hit the tab key to accept the suggestion and continue typing your next sentence. Smart Compose in Google Docs is available only to G Suite users and not to those using personal Google accounts.

Autocorrect in Google Docs is available in G Suite accounts and personal Google accounts. Autocorrect in Google Docs works like that in Gmail. Suggested changes to your spelling are made as you type.

Both of these new features should make it possible to accurately create documents more quickly than before. Smart Compose and Autocorrect in Google Docs is appearing in accounts now and will be rolled out to users over the next few weeks.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Practical Ed Tech Podcast - Episode 32 - Back from the Flu

Last week I had the flu and lost my voice so I wasn't able to record the Practical Ed Tech Podcast. But after a week I'm back to full strength and have a new episode of the Practical Ed Tech Podcast.

In this episode of the podcast I shared a neat new stop motion video tool and a handy update to Wakelet. I also explained a new tool called PayGrade.io that I'm trying with my freshmen. And in the Q&A I answered a tricky Creative Commons license question.

You can listen to episode 32 of the Practical Ed Tech Podcast right here or on your favorite podcast network. The complete show notes can be read here.





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

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Animate Anything With Cloud Stop Motion

Cloud Stop Motion by ZU3D is a new stop motion animation tool that I recently learned about from Danny Nicholson's The Whiteboard Blog. Cloud Stop Motion is a browser-based tool for creating short stop motion videos. I gave it a try this afternoon and found it quite easy to use.

You can try Cloud Stop Motion without creating an account. That said, I'd recommend creating a free account because without one your video has to be so short that you really can't get a sense for how all of the tools work.

Once you've created your Cloud Stop Motion account you should enable your webcam so that you can use it to capture pictures of objects that you place in front of it. Taking a series of pictures is as simple as clicking the camera icon in the Cloud Stop Motion editor. Your pictures are automatically added to the editor in the sequence in which you took them. You can also connect an external camera to capture and import images into your project.

After adding images to your Cloud Stop Motion project you can upload sounds, record sounds, or select sounds from the gallery provided by Cloud Stop Motion. You can also add text and title screens to your project.

When all of the media for your Cloud Stop Motion project are in place you can preview your video by hitting the play button. If you don't like any element of the video, you can go back and edit it out. Adjusting the frames per second is a simple edit that you can make in the Cloud Stop Motion editor.

Applications for Education
Cloud Stop Motion offers free accounts for schools. The free school accounts provide 2GB of storage for every student. The school accounts also provide tools for administrators to manage student accounts.

Cloud Stop Motion could be a great tool for students to use to create short videos to animate stories they've written by using toys or clay models. Making a stop motion video is also a good way for students to demonstrate the steps of a long process in a short window of time.

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where it is a crisp -9F! Unfortunately, the forecast indicates that it's not going to get much warmer than 0F and it will be windy. In other words, it might be a day for bowling instead of playing outside. My youngest daughter recently discovered that she loves bowling! Well as much as you can call it bowling when you're two years old. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you have time for something fun no matter what the weather holds.

As it is a frigid day here in Maine it's only natural to remind myself that spring isn't too far away. And my spring will be busy as I get ready for Dirty Kanza 200 and then the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp. Tickets for the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp are on sale now! Fill out the form on this page to get a discount code.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Fifteen Digital Citizenship Resources for K-12
2. The Electoral College Explained by Common Craft
3. Headliner - A Good Alternative to Adobe Spark Video
4. Three Neat Things You Can Do With Google Sheets
5. PayGrade - A Classroom Economy Simulation You Can Use All Year
6. Three Easy Steps to Encourage Technology Integration
7. Four Tips for Facilitating Classroom Arduino Projects

I'll come to your school in 2020! 
Send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to learn more about how we can work together. This year I'm offering an opportunity to bring me to your school for free! Ask me for details.

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 17,000 people 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, February 14, 2020

DNS & IP Explained

One of the things that quickly became clear when I started teaching an introduction to computer science course for high school freshmen was that while they are happy to use the Internet, they don't really understand how the Internet works. I suppose the same can be said for lots of adults too. The Domain Name Systems is the most important or at least most frequently used part of how people use the Internet today. PowerCert Videos, a YouTube channel that I featured a couple of weeks ago, has a good video that explains how a DNS server works. I used this video with my own students earlier this year.


Code.org offers a video on the same topic. Code.org's video gets into a bit more of the history of the development of the Internet. I also showed this video to my students, but I didn't find it nearly as effective as the PowerCert video.


Applications for Education
If you have never built a website from scratch without the use of service like Weebly or Google Sites, you may not have ever thought about the role of IP addresses and the domain name system in getting a website online. These videos can help students understand how that process happens and how DNS makes it easy to navigate the web today.

Local vs. Online Documents

I've been a Google Docs user longer than most middle schoolers have been alive. I don't need convincing that online documents are great. But not everyone is convinced. In fact, just last week I had a conversation with a teacher in my school who wasn't convinced that there could be any benefit to moving away from using Word on his desktop PC. I even tried telling him that there is an online version of Word. (This was also the same person who didn't want to use two-factor authentication on his G Suite account because "who knows who can see my phone number?")

If you find yourself, like I did last week, trying to explain the benefits of online documents to someone, consider using Common Craft's new video on the topic. In my case, with the colleague I described above, it might not help. Hopefully, in your case it does help explain the benefits of online documents.

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

Thursday, February 13, 2020

How to Get Reminders Based On Your Location

Without using reminders in Google Keep, I'd forget half of the things that I'm told asked to do every day. I use time-based reminders and location-based reminders in Google Keep. The location-based reminders are particularly useful to me when running errands around town. In the following video I demonstrate how to use Google Keep's location-based reminders feature.



Applications for Education
The obvious use for location-based Google Keep reminders for students is to set reminders to do homework or get papers signed when they arrive at home.

Location-based reminders is just one of many Google Keep features. In the following video I demonstrate ten other useful Google Keep features.

Kissing, Love, and Math - Three Valentine's Day Lessons

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. It is also day of the Winter Carnival Dance at my school. In short, love and hormones will be flying all around the hallways of my school tomorrow. Perhaps the same will be happening in your middle school or high school. If you're looking to work a little Valentine's Day themed lesson into your day tomorrow, here are three good videos to consider viewing.

Why Do We Love? is a TED-Ed lesson that explores some philosophies on why people love. The lesson won't provide you with any clear answers, but it will make you think. And isn't that what philosophers want you to do?



The following video from It's Okay To Be Smart (produced by PBS Digital Studios) explains why humans kiss, the history of symbols associated with kissing, and some cultural views of kissing. When I saw this video I immediately thought of my friends who teach middle school and high school health classes.


The following fun video, also from It's Okay to Smart, attempts to use math to determine the odds of a 25 year old woman finding love in New York. (Remember, the video is just for fun).

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Fifteen Digital Citizenship Resources for K-12

As it is Safer Internet Day it's a good time share the following excerpt from my free Practical Ed Tech Handbook.

Common Sense Education (often referred to as Common Sense Media) offers an extensive set of free lesson plans for teaching digital citizenship to all K-12 students. The lesson plans are listed by grade level on Common Sense Education’s Digital Citizenship Curriculum homepage. As is to be expected Common Sense Education’s series of lesson plans include videos and instruction about privacy and what to share or not share online. What I like about Common Sense Education’s curriculum is that beginning with Kindergarten and running through twelfth grade there are lesson plans under the heading of “media balance & well being.” Those lessons get beyond the nuts and bolts digital citizenship by making students think about how their media choices and media use affect them and others.

Planet Nutshell's Net Safe series contains eighteen episodes covering topics like protecting personal information, responsible posting of pictures, and mobile location privacy. The videos are labeled with grade levels. Below each grade level label you will find a summary of the key points of each video.

Elementary School Resources
Be Internet Awesome is Google's Internet safety curriculum. The Be Internet Awesome site features a game called Interland. The game is set in a virtual world that students navigate by correctly answering questions about Internet safety. The graphics of the game are great and there are some elements in which students navigate, but there is also a heavy reliance on multiple choice questions in the game. The Interland game can be distributed through Google Classroom. G Suite administrators can push the game to the taskbar on managed Chromebooks. There is a 98 page PDF containing lesson plans on each concept in the Be Internet Awesome curriculum that teachers can download for free. The curriculum is based on five concepts: Share with care, Don't fall for fake, Secure your secrets, It's cool to be kind, When in doubt, talk it out.

Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius is a PBS Kids online series of videos and online quizzes designed to help elementary school students understand the importance of things like online privacy, safe texting behaviors, and managing screen time. The series also includes a section on how to conduct internet searches and how to tell the difference between what is an advertisement on a webpage and what is useful information.

Professor Garfield is a free resource that has been helping students learn about internet safety, search, and responsible online behavior for more than a decade. developed in part by the Virginia Department of Education. Professor Garfield teaches students how to be safe online, how to recognize and respond to cyberbullying, and how to decide if something is a fact or an opinion. These educational activities can be found in the free Professor Garfield apps; Online SafetyFact or Opinion, Cyberbullying. All of the free Professor Garfield iPad apps use the same format. The format is a set of comic strips that students read to learn about the issues the app is focused on. At the end of the comic strips students play some simple games to practice recognizing good online behaviors.

Middle School / High School Resources
A Thin Line is a digital safety education resource produced by MTV in collaboration with other media partners. The purpose of the site is to educate teenagers and young adults about the possible repercussions of their digital activities. A Thin Line offers a series of fact sheets about topics like sexting, digital spying, and excessive text messaging and instant messaging. A Thin Line gives students advice on how to recognize those behaviors, the dangers of those behaviors, and how to protect your digital identity. Students can also take a short quiz to practice identifying risky digital behaviors.

Own Your Space is a free ebook designed to educate tweens and teens about protecting themselves and their stuff online. This ebook isn't a fluffy, general overview book. Each chapter goes into great detail explaining the technical threats that students' computers face online as well as the personal threats to data that students can face online. For example, in the first chapter, students learn about the different types of malware and the importance of installing security patches to prevent malware infections. The fourteenth chapter explains the differences between secured and unsecured wireless networks, the potential dangers of an unsecured network, and how to lock-down a network.

Seven Digital Deadly Sins is an interactive story produced by the National Film Board of Canada. The story contains seven chapters each containing short videos, essays, and polls. The videos and essays tell the stories of people suffering from digital sins like greed (illegally downloading media) and wrath (cyberbullying). After reading or watching the stories viewers can vote on questions about what they would do in similar situations. Seven Digital Deadly Sins does deal with some content, mostly in the section on lust, that you will want to screen before deciding if it is appropriate for the students in your classroom.

Factitious is a game for testing your skills at identifying fake and misleading news stories. The game was developed by the American University Game Lab and the American University's School of Communication. To play Factitious simply go to the site and select quick start. You'll then see an article appear on the screen. Read through the article, click the source listed at the bottom, and then select either the green check mark or red X to indicate whether or not you think the article is a real news story. After you make your selection you'll get instant feedback and an explanation of how you can tell if the article was a real or fake news story.

Checkology is a service that is designed to help students develop those skills. Checkology's free version offers four interactive modules for students to complete. Each of the modules is comprised of between twenty and forty-seven instructional video clips and interactive comprehension checks. The four modules are titled Info Zones, Democracy's Watchdog, Practicing Quality Journalism, and Misinformation. As you might expect, the contents of the modules gets progressively more difficult as each section is completed.

Bad News is a website that offers simulations that show visitors how misinformation is spread through social media. Bad News is available in two versions. The regular version is intended for those who are high school age or older. Bad News Junior is appropriate for middle school and older elementary school students. The difference between the two versions is found in the news topics that are used in the simulations.In both versions of Bad News players work through a simulation in which they attempt to build a Twitter following by spreading misleading news stories. (I must emphasize that there are no real Tweets sent and you don't have to even have a Twitter account to play Bad News). Through the simulation players learn how headlines, memes, and Tweets are designed to manipulate people and prompt reactions from them. The simulation also shows players how Twitter bots are used. There are six distinct sections of Bad News. At the end of each section players are awarded a badge signifying that they have learned about the manipulation techniques associated with trolling, impersonation, discrediting, polarizing, emotional manipulation, and conspiracy theories.

Creating and Protecting Strong Passwords
One of the best ways to protect your online identity is to create strong passwords containing unique characters. Creating a strong password is the first step in securing your online accounts. Google offers good advice in this video.

Sometimes it's difficult to think of new strong passwords. When you're having a mental block thinking up a new password try using Wolfram Alpha to come up with a new password. To do this simply go to WolframAlpha.com and type in “password.” Then a random eight character password will be shown to you.

Whenever it is offered as an option, it is a good idea to use two-step or two-factor authentication on the online services you use. Google, Dropbox, Box, and many other cloud services offer this option. Two-step authentication means that just entering one password isn’t enough to log into a service. Learn about Google’s two-step authentication in this video and read about it in detail at http://bitly.com/ftgtwostep

Common Craft offers some excellent videos on crafting strong passwords, understanding why creating a strong password isn’t enough to stay safe online, and how to protect your mobile phone from hacking.