Monday, December 9, 2019

A Few Tips for Getting the Most Out of Webinars

The first webinars of the free Practical Ed Tech Creativity Conference will be broadcast tomorrow. These are going to be live presentations with time for Q&A. More than 500 people have registered to attend. If you're one of them, here are a few tips for getting the most out of attending webinars. These are tips I've shared in the past, but they're worth repeating.

1. Participate in live webinars, don't just watch them.
Every webinar platform has some kind of chat or Q&A feature. Use it! Use it to ask the presenter questions. An experienced webinar presenter will be able to handle questions in realtime. Don't be afraid to ask clarifying questions. Even when I'm attending webinars about things with which I'm already familiar, I make an effort to think of questions to ask. This forces me to tune-in and listen with more focus than if I was just listening in the hopes that something said by the presenter will jump out at me.

2. Close Facebook and take notes.
If I cannot attend the live version of a webinar, I still find great value in recorded webinars. When I watch recorded webinar I focus on it the same way I would during a live session. That means closing Facebook and taking notes in my notebook. In that notebook I write the questions that I want to send to the presenter via email.

3. Act on webinar ideas quickly.
When I participate in a webinar my participation isn’t over until I actually act on what I was just taught. Just like in a traditional classroom setting, it’s important to try for yourself what was just demonstrated for you. Do this as quickly as you can.

Here's a video that I made a couple of years ago about these tips.

Lesson Plan, Meal Plan, and Fitness Plan Templates

Last week Canva announced a handful of new features including a video editor and a desktop application. A new education-specific version of Canva was also announced. Those new features don't appear to have been rolled-out quite yet. But I did notice that there seems to be an expansion in the number of templates intended for educational settings. That includes a big set of lesson plan templates.

A quick browse through Canva's lesson plan templates gallery will reveal dozens of templates that you can easily copy and modify in your free Canva account. In the gallery you'll find templates for daily lesson plans as well as templates for planning a week's worth of lessons. Like all Canva templates, you can modify them with your own text choices, color schemes, and decorative elements. Completed templates can be saved as PDFs.

Scroll down through Canva's lesson plan templates gallery and eventually you'll come to templates for meal planning and workout planning.

Applications for Education
Canva's lesson plan templates could be great for those who like to print out their lesson plans in a visually appealing format. The meal plan templates could be helpful to those who are in charge of publishing your school's lunch calendar.

Once Canva for Education is up and running you'll be able to share and collaborate on lesson plans using the lesson plan templates.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Practical Ed Tech Podcast Episode 22 - Fitness, Code, and Q&A

Last night I published the 22nd episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast. In this week's podcast I talked about how I improved my fitness in 2019, shared some resources for Hour of Code, and answered some questions from readers, listeners, and viewers like you. One of my favorite questions this week was about what to do with energetic middle school students in the last week before winter vacation. In the podcast I also shared my highlight of the week from my classroom.

You can listen to episode 22 of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast right here or on your favorite podcast network.

Get the complete show notes here.



Listen to all episodes of the podcast here or find them on the following podcast networks:

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from snowy Maine where it is going to be a great weekend for playing outside. When the sun comes up I plan to do some sledding with my kids. Later, we might do a little skiing too. But first I have this week's list of the most popular posts of the week.

Before reading the list of the most popular posts of the week, take a look at this picture in this post. That's a Compaq LTE Lite 4/25 laptop from 1994. One of my students found it in the back of a cabinet in the back of the storage closet in my classroom. We plugged it in and it works! For those who are curious, here's a PDF of the original spec sheet for the Compaq LTE Lite line of computers.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Three Google Sites Updates to Note
2. Google Sites as Digital Portfolios
3. Tools to Improve the Accessibility of Websites, Videos, and Slides
4. Two Neat Polling Tools That I Recently Recommended
5. How to Find Historical Comics and Create Lessons With Them
6. Watch the Evolution of Campaign Commercials on The Living Room Candidate
7. A New Version of Easy Accents for Google Docs

I'll come to your school in 2020! 
2020 will be my tenth year of speaking at schools and conferences. Send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to learn more about how we can work together.

Thank You for Your Support!
Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides FreeTech4Teachers.com and the daily email digest, there are other ways to keep up with what I'm publishing. 
  • Practical Ed Tech Newsletter - This comes out once per week (Sunday night/ Monday morning) and includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from FreeTech4Teachers.com.
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 16,000 are subscribed to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 300 Google tools tutorials. 
  • The Practical Ed Tech Podcast is where I answer questions from readers, share news and notes, and occasionally talk to interesting people in education. 
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has nearly 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last twelve years at twitter.com/rmbyrne
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing. 

Friday, December 6, 2019

A Great Update to Google Sites - Review Changes Before Publishing

Earlier this week I wrote about how I'm having my students use Google Sites as digital portfolios. Right after that I published that post Google announced a few helpful updates to Google Sites. Then yesterday there was another update announced. The latest update might be the best one yet for those who use Google Sites in a collaborative environment.

Google Sites users will soon have the option to review all changes to a site before the changes are published. You'll be able to review the original view of the site and the updated view of the site side-by-side and then choose whether or not to publish the updated view. You'll be able to see who updated the site, what's been added or deleted, what's been moved, and any layout changes before publishing the new look of your site.

This new Google Sites feature is available now to some users and will be widely available in January. Learn more about how to use the Google Sites review feature in this help article.

Applications for Education
The option to review changes before publishing a new version of a Google Site could be a fantastic option to use when students are collaborating on the creation of a website. This could give you and or your students to review changes to make sure that nothing incorrect or inappropriate is published on a classroom website.

Another use of the review changes option in Google Sites could be to apply it to an editing protocol in which a few students will have to review and approve changes before publishing an update to collaboratively managed website.