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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Join Me for a Live Podcast Q&A Tomorrow at 3pm ET

Tomorrow afternoon at 3pm ET I'll be a guest on Jeff Mao's new podcast Edmoxie TL4Ed Live! Jeff, in his own words, is a recovering government bureaucrat, who successfully led the Maine Learning Technology Initiative for many years. I've talked to Jeff many times over the years including interviewing for a job that I didn't get :) This should be a fun podcast conversation.

I know that Jeff has some questions lined-up for me, but we welcome your questions too. You're also welcome to join if you don't have questions and just want to hear me in a live, unscripted format. You can join the live broadcast tomorrow right here.

In fairness to Jeff, I would have been a terrible choice for that particular job. For fans of The Office, I would have ended up doing some Jim Halpert-like things out of boredom. 

Explore the Library of Congress on Your iPad

The Library of Congress Collections app is a free iPad app that offers a nice way for students and teachers to explore collections of artifacts housed by the Library of Congress. The collections available through the app are also available directly on the LOC website. The benefit of viewing them in the app is ability to smoothly pinch and zoom on documents, maps, and images. The app also offers collections that contain audio and video recordings.


The LOC Collections app lets you browse and search through collections of artifacts covering a wide range of topics in U.S. History. When you do find an artifact that you like and want to save for future reference you can add it to your favorites within the app. Additionally, many items found in the app can be shared to other apps like OneNote, Google Drive, and Box that you might already have on your iPad.

LOC Collections is only available for iOS at this time. An email that I received from the Library of Congress stated that an Android version of the app will be available later this year.

Applications for Education
The LOC Collections app could be a great resource for students who are researching a specific topic in U.S. History and need to consult some primary sources. For example, there is an entire collection of "man on the street" audio recordings of interviews done with Americans immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Listening to those interviews could give students a better understanding of how Americans felt in 1941.

The LOC Collections app could also be a good resource to have students explore to find a topic that they want to research in more depth. Just browsing through the list of collections could spark some curiosity and introduce students to topics they might not have thought about or even heard about.

Gallery AR - Augmented Reality Art on Your Walls

Gallery AR is a free iPad app and free iPhone app that anyone can use to view classic works of art in augmented reality. The app features art work that was digitized by The Art Institute of Chicago.

Gallery AR digitally displays works of art on your walls when you point your phone or iPad at it. Works appear to be chosen at random, but you can swap them out with another work by tapping the reset icon in the app. You zoom in on the art work by walking closer to the wall in front of you.

In my testing of Gallery AR I found it to be a bit sensitive to changes in lighting. In fact, the app didn't display anything until I turned on every light in my office and opened the shades to let in sunlight. In fairness to the developer, I have the same problem with the augmented reality function in the Google Arts & Culture app.

Applications for Education
Gallery AR could be a nice app for art teachers to recommend to students who are currently at home and looking for a new way to experience classic works of art. The app is free and doesn't require any registration to use and doesn't offer any confusing in-app purchases.

A Few Overlooked Ways to Customize Google Sites

In a recent article about using digital portfolios for assessment I mentioned using Google Sites and Blogger. Neither of those tools are known for being aesthetically outstanding. In fact, I'd say they're very plain at best. That said, there are some little tweaks that you can make to Google Sites to improve site navigation and to attempt to differentiate your site from the standard templates. Unfortunately, those options are kind of hidden and often overlooked.

In the following video I demonstrate a few little tweaks that you can make to your Google Site. In this video you will see:
  • How to change the placement of navigation links. 
  • How to apply a custom favicon. 
  • How to add a site logo.


On a related note, here's a video about changing the favicon on Blogger blogs.

How to Enable Google Sites Collaboration Through Google Classroom

After watching my video about Google Sites in my recent Practical Ed Tech newsletter a reader emailed to ask me for ideas for the best way to share Google Sites with her students so that they can all work on the same site. In this post I'll share a couple of ways to do that including how to enable collaboration through Google Classroom.

There are a couple ways to enable collaboration on Google Sites. The first is to click the "share with others" icon in the upper-right corner of the Google Sites editor and then enter your students' email addresses. The other method is to share your Google Site as an assignment in Google Classroom and allow students to edit the file. Both methods are demonstrated in the following video.

In this video:

  • How to share a Google Site via email.
  • How to share a Google Site through Google Classroom. 
  • A suggestion on how to manage shared Google Sites.