Thursday, April 2, 2020

How to Create Simple Videos on a Chromebook - No Apps or Extensions Needed

One of my colleagues asked me if I could provide directions on how to create a video on our school-issued Chromebooks. I was happy to oblige and created one specifically for our school. I then created a second one that can be used by anyone who has a Chromebook and is looking for a quick and easy to create a video without having to install any Chrome extensions or Chrome apps.

In the following video I demonstrate how to create a simple video on a Chromebook. The key points of the video are:
  • How to access the camera on your Chromebook. 
  • Where to find your video file. 
  • How to share your video file with students. 

Many people asked if I could provide screenshots of the process. I put together a set in the slides that are embedded below.

A Few Short Lessons and Reminders About Email

Earlier this week I Tweeted a plea to try to remember to use basic niceties when sending emails seeking help from me or anyone else who is providing remote tech support right now. This morning I got a request from a friend on Instagram to re-post some of the videos and tips about email etiquette and email management that I've shared in the past. That's what you'll find listed below.

Before jumping into the videos below I want to acknowledge that we're all in a stressful situation right now. Many are being pushed out of their comfort zones right now. One way to help relieve a little stress for everyone is to just remember to do basic things like address people by name and say please and thank you. It will make the IT support person who has had a long day feel little more appreciated. As I saw someone Tweet yesterday, "IT support is done by people, not machines."

Emailing Your Teacher, With Captain Communicator is the cutest video about email etiquette that I've seen. The short video features two students demonstrating how to write an email to a teacher. It's well worth 90 seconds of your time.

The following video was made by a teacher for the purpose of sharing email etiquette tips with students. It's a bit more serious that the Captain Communicator video.

Watch Clear Email Communication by Common Craft to learn how to get a recipient's attention and how to get a response from that recipient.

Time-saving Email Tips
In the following video I highlighted five features of Gmail that teachers should know how to use. A few of these can be big time-savers for you.

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

The Arduino Design Project I'm Doing With Students Who Don't Have Materials at Home

Like a lot of other schools, mine closed without much more than a few hours notice. We went home on a Friday afternoon and Sunday evening we were told that we were not going back. My 9th grade computer science principles students were really starting to hit their stride with the various Arduino projects they were working on. Of course, I hadn't sent any materials home with my students.

For a couple of weeks I gave my students some lessons via EDpuzzle to keep the basic concepts fresh in their minds. When it became clear that we weren't going to be returning to our school I started to think of other ways to keep my students interested and challenge them a little bit. (Note, this is an elective course and most of my students would be working on these types of things even if we didn't offer a course about it).

What I'm doing this week and next week to try to keep my students interested and challenged is to give them a list of parts available then find or design a project that utilizes those components. They then have to write the code and directions for assembly. After they submit their project ideas and code I'm assembling the project in a Google Meet in front of them (I have a ton of materials in my home office). Below this paragraph you'll see the directions and parts list that I gave to my students this week.

1. Find or design an Arduino project that uses some or all of the parts listed below. The project can only use the parts that are listed below. Your project must be more complex than the basic blinking programs that we did in class before school was closed. Yes, you can consult the Arduino Project Hub as well as YouTube or any other website you find that has Arduino project ideas.

2. In a Google Document write out the steps for assembling the project. At the end of the document include the code that needs to be used in order for the project to run correctly.

Parts Available:

  • 2 Arduino Unos
  • 2 Breadboards
  • 1 Potentiometer
  • 1 5V Relay
  • 1 IR Receiver
  • 1 Remote
  • 5 Buttons
  • 2 Buzzers
  • 1 Ultrasonic Sensor
  • 1 Stepper Driver Motor
  • 1 Power Supply Module
  • 1 Servo Motor
  • 1 Temperature and Humidity Sensor Module
  • 1 Tilt Switch
  • 2 NPN Transistors
  • As many jumper wires as needed (up to 100)
  • As many resistors as needed (up to 50)
  • 1 LCD Display Module
  • 1 Diode Rectifier
  • As many single color LEDs as needed (up to 100)
  • 2 RGB LEDs
  • 2 USB cables to connect Arduino to computer.

Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff - Free Webinar Tomorrow

Last Friday Rushton Hurley from Next Vista for Learning and I hosted a free webinar that we not-so-creatively titled Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. By popular demand we're going to do it again tomorrow at 1pm ET/ 10am PT. You can register for tomorrow's free webinar right here. Feel free to submit questions in advance by sending me an email at richardbyrne (at)

The replay of last week's episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff is available to watch here. Some of the resources we shared are listed here.

Rushton has also been hosting a series of free webinars with Susan Stewart. That series is called Activities Across Grade Levels. Information about those webinars including archived episodes are available here on Next Vista. The latest episode was called Activities Across Grade Levels: The Power of Voice.

Now You Can Use Flipgrid to Make Screencast Videos

On Wednesday afternoon Flipgrid announced the launch of a new recording feature for teachers and students. You can now create screencast videos within Flipgrid. The feature is kind of hidden so I made a screencast video to show you where Flipgrid's screen recording tool is found and how it works.

As I demonstrate in the following video you can combine screencast videos with regular webcam video clips in Flipgrid. You can also combine screencast videos with whiteboard videos in Flipgrid. And you can combine all three video types into one video in Flipgrid. Best of all, you don't have to install any browser extensions or download anything in order to use Flipgrid's screen recording tool! Watch my video to see how this is done.

Applications for Education
As soon as I saw this feature I thought of an old colleague of mine who used to have her students create screencast videos to explain how various pieces of software on their laptops worked. She used to have to then organize those videos in a Google Drive folder. Now that same thing can be done in Flipgrid. The other nice thing about Flipgrid's new screen recording function is that you don't have to install any browser extensions or download any software.

To learn more about how to use Flipgrid, take a look at my playlist of sixteen Flipgrid tutorial videos.