Monday, November 28, 2022

Threadit is Closing - A Few Alternatives to Try

Threadit is a Google product that when it launched I thought could have become a rival to Microsoft Flip. As feature-laden as Threadit is, it never really caught on and now Google is shutting it down in a few weeks. On December 19th Google is closing the doors on Threadit. If you have videos in it that you want to save, you need to download them sooner than later.

Alternatives to Threadit in the Google Workspace Environment

Some of what Threadit does can be replicated with other tools that are still available to Google Workspace users. Those tools include the screencast app for Chrome OS, office hours in Google Calendar, and Google Meet.

How to Record a Screencast in Chrome OS

15 Years of Free Technology for Teachers - Some Thoughts

Fifteen years ago today I was supervising detention when I wrote the first post on this blog. I did not have any idea what was to come over the next fifteen years let alone that I'd still be writing about educational technology in 2022. So on this occasion, if you'll indulge me, I'd like to take a few minutes to reflect on the last fifteen years. 

People and Places
I've met some wonderful people and made great friends as a result of writing my blog. I've been invited to speak at events on six of seven continents over the last fifteen years. If anyone is hosting a conference in Antarctica, I'll be happy to speak at it. I've been to events in 49 of 50 states. New Mexico is the only one I'm missing. And I've spoken at events in every Canadian province that borders the U.S. (one of my old dogs got to tag along for a few of those 2012). But none of that would have happened without the support of all of the folks who have followed my blog and invited me into their schools and conferences over the years. Thank you!

Years ago many of you reached out to me when one of my dogs passed away. Some even sent me condolences via good old fashioned USPS. Likewise, many of you reached out and sent congratulatory notes when my daughters were born. In both cases it was nice to know that people cared and knew there was a real person behind the blog.

Sadly, some of the people that I met through this blog (and social media) over the years are no longer with us. Sylvia and Allen immediately come to mind and I hope they knew that their work mattered.

Social Media
Over the years I've seen social media go from this odd place where only the really techy/geeky people were hanging out to the really odd place that it's in today. I'm glad that I didn't abandon blogging to chase social media likes and views.

Only a few of the people who regularly blogged when I started are still doing it on a consistent basis. Larry Ferlazzo, Vicki Davis, Kevin Hodgson, Stephen Downes, and Alan Levine seem to be the only ones I followed then who are still at it on a regular basis today. Keep it up!

Could've, Should've
Eight years ago I had a chance to sell this blog for a sum that would have given me a lot of financial flexibility (especially considering that I was single and debt-free). I passed because I wasn't sure what the heck I would have done with myself without blogging. In hindsight, I probably should have taken the offer. Oh well, live and learn.

In 1997 my freshmen comp professor wrote on one of my papers, "you throw punctuation around like it's confetti." I'm sure I still do that because some nice readers have corrected me over the years. My favorite was the person who used purple comic sans font in all caps to correct my mistakes.

More good than bad
I've gotten some nasty emails over the years (yes, from teachers) and some of them really sting. Overall, the good ones far outweigh the bad ones. And I hope that I've done more good than bad over the last fifteen years as well.

Battling plagiarism has been a source of frustration for almost all of the last fifteen years. I try to spin it as a teaching opportunity even though it really grinds my gears.

Some of the pitches I've gotten for sponsored guest posts over the years have been quite entertaining. No, I don't think your "high quality" article about crocheting is relevant to my audience. 

Another 15 years?
To be completely transparent, there have been some times over the last couple of years that I've seriously considered walking away from it because of become a bit cynical about some aspects of the educational technology industry. But I keep coming back because at the end of the day, I still enjoy writing and trying to help other teachers. So will I still be doing this in 15 years? Probably not, but I would have said the same thing 15 years ago.

The ten most popular posts of the last fifteen years!
1. Google Forms Can Now Automatically Grade Quizzes Without an Add-on
2. How to Create Your Own Online Board Game
3. Click to Spin - A Fun and Free Random Name Picker
4. Use Whiteboards in Google Meet Without Screensharing
5. Five Google Classroom Improvements Announced During ISTE
6. 5 Handy Chrome Extensions for Teachers
7. The Periodic Table in Pictures and Words
8. Two Ways to Visually Show Classroom Noise
9. Six Tools for Creating Classroom Quiz Games - A Comparison Chart
10. 250 Google Tools Tutorials for Teachers

In Memory of Ed Webster - Resources for Teaching and Learning About Mount Everest

This morning I opened Facebook and saw the news that fellow Mainer, mountaineer, and author Ed Webster had passed away on Thanksgiving morning. He's probably most famous for pioneering a new route up Mount Everest in 1988 which he chronicled with words and fascinating imagery in Snow in the Kingdom

I met Ed a few times over the years. He was incredibly humble and he was someone who you knew right away was a kind and generous soul. The first time I met him was at LL Bean fifteen years ago. He was signing books in the lobby but all the people there that day seemed to be too busy to stop and chat. I got to chat with him for nearly an hour. What struck me most about that first meeting was that he seemed more interested in hearing about where I wanted to climb than he was about telling his stories. 

The other thing that I'll remember about Ed is that he loved history and telling the stories of climbers and explorers of old. To that end, he gave innumerable talks at libraries, schools, and clubs. His rates for speaking at schools were so low that I'm not sure he wasn't losing money when he gave those talks.

In memory of Ed Webster, here are some resources for teaching and learning about Mount Everest:

To understand the scope of the accomplishment that Ed and his three teammates accomplished in 1988 watch this presentation that he gave at a library a couple of years ago. 

Why is Mount Everest so Tall? is a TED-Ed lesson in which students learn why the peak of Everest is so high, why other mountains are longer from base to summit, and how mountains in general are formed. Through the lesson students can also learn why the heights of mountains change and why Everest may not be the tallest mountain forever.

Through Google's Street View imagery of Mount Everest Basecamp (south side) students can zoom and pan around the foothills of Mount Everest. Students viewing that imagery for the first time might be surprised at how different the view is compared the to the typical pictures of Everest. After viewing the imagery students can click forward to see Street View imagery of other places in the region.

Scaling Everest is an infographic that goes beyond the usual scale of Everest comparisons to buildings and jet flight paths. In the infographic you will find audio of three Everest climbers talking about the approach to Everest basecamp and the nuances of the climb itself. The infographic also provides some interesting facts about plants and animals in the region.

Expedition Everest: The Mission is a five minute overview and introduction to a scientific expedition to Mount Everest. The purpose of the expedition is to study the effects of climate change on glaciers on the world's tallest mountains. When you watch Expedition Everest: The Mission in your computer's web browser, you can click and drag to move the viewing angle while listening to the narration. If you have a VR viewer, watch the video in that and you can move your head to explore the immersive imagery while listening to the narration.
I was just dabbling in climbing and dreaming about bigger mountains when Ed wrote that inscription for me in 2007.

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