Sunday, August 21, 2022

Mailbag - Three Answers to Frequently Asked Reader Questions

I regularly invite readers of Free Technology for Teachers and subscribers to my newsletter to send me questions. Many of the questions that I receive are fairly similar and in my lane, but every once in a while I get some that are a little different. Here's a smattering of questions that I've received this summer and the answers that I've given. I hope you find the questions and my answers helpful.

#1 - My school has Chromebooks and we've always used Screencastify for making videos. Now that Chromebooks have a built-in screencast tool is there any reason to keep Screencastify?

As I write this, I don't think the screencasting tool that is built into Chromebooks is quite up to the level of Screencastify (or Loom for that matter). I wrote about this in more depth in June, but in short, the Chrome screencast tool just doesn't have enough editing options for my liking. 

#2 - My new school district is all-Google Workspace and they don't want us using Flipgrid because they have some privacy concerns. I used it a lot at my old school and loved it. Do you have any suggestions for alternatives that I could use? 

That's a bummer about your school not wanting you to use Flip (the new name for Flipgrid). I'm not sure I understand their stance on Flip privacy. Nonetheless, here's what I'd do. I would use Padlet to create a Flip-like environment. You and your students can use the camera function in the notes on a Padlet to record videos. As a teacher you can moderate video submissions and you can disable comments if you like. Here's a tutorial on recording videos in Padlet

#3 - I'd like to have my students create "about me" videos to start the year. Do you have any recommendations on the best tool for doing something like that?

I'm not entirely sure what you have in mind for the finished product, but I'm guessing you want the vides to be relatively short. I'd use Canva to have students create a few slides about themselves then turn those slides into a video. Here's a short demo of how that works.