Monday, May 3, 2021

My Ten Favorite "Hidden" Office 365 Features

Last week my most popular post on Free Technology for Teachers was this one highlighting my favorite features of Google Workspaces that are frequently overlooked. Based on the response to that post and video I decided to do the same thing for Office 365 users. I don't use Office 365 products as much as I do Google Workspaces (that's a result of the schools I've worked in over the years), but I still do have some favorite "hidden" features of Office 365 for teachers and students. 

My favorite “hidden” Office 365 features:
  • Word: Image insert with Pexels add-in.
    • Video insert and playback.
  • PowerPoint: Presenter coach
  • Forms: Open and close dates
  • OneNote: Save articles without annoying advertising pop-ups.
  • OneDrive: Share files with an expiration date and password.
  • Teams: Export Whiteboard Drawings as PNG
  • Excel: Analyze Data
  • Outlook: Schedule sending.
    • Message encryption/ forwarding prevention.
  • Message encryption/ preventing forwarding.
  • To Do: Add multiple steps within a task.

All of those features are demonstrated in this video.


This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, TodayHeadline, and 711Web.

Blackbird Code - Overview and First Impressions from My Students

Last week I published a written overview of a new learn-to-code platform called Blackbird. In short, Blackbird is a platform that is trying to bridge the gap between using block editors like Scratch and making students jump into a full-fledged IDE without any built-in support resources. Blackbird teaches students how to write code (specifically, JavaScript) through a series of short, guided lessons before challenging them with some "workshop projects." Along the way there are plenty of easily accessible help resources for students to use without having to leave the code that they're currently writing. Watch this video that I made for a visual overview of Blackbird.



Initial Impressions from My Students
I have a small group of students taking a Computer Science Principles class with me. In the class there is a mix of freshmen, juniors, and seniors (sophomores are welcome to take the class, I just don't have any this year). Today, I used Blackbird with them for the first time. All of my students thought the first few lessons were "too easy" and they breezed right through them. But by the time they got to the fourth lesson in stage 1, they didn't feel that way. At that point they started to use the "show me" button in Blackbird to get a little help writing their code. All of the students felt like there was a lot of repetition which, as one student pointed out, is a good way to learn the language.

The exception to the above impressions from my students was one junior who had a lot of prior experience writing JavaScript. He ripped through all of the stage 1 lessons very quickly. So quickly, in fact, that I challenged him to watch this video then try to code the Snake game. He accepted and will probably finish by the time class meets again on Thursday.



This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that regularly steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, TodayHeadline, and 711Web.