Showing posts with label free technology for schools. Show all posts
Showing posts with label free technology for schools. Show all posts

Monday, May 7, 2018

Weebly vs. Google Sites

Twice in the last few I have chatted with a school technology coaches who wanted my opinion about which platform their teachers should use to create classroom websites for the next school year. In one case I recommended Weebly and in the other I recommended Google Sites. Here's the rationale that I used in both recommendations.

Google Sites
The short version: Google Sites is a good option if your school already uses G Suite for Education and you don't want to introduce a new set of usernames and passwords for people to have to remember.

  • Pros:
    • Easy to embed files from Google Drive (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms).
    • Easy to embed calendars and videos.
    • Easy to invite other teachers and or students to collaborate on site development.
    • "New" version of Google Sites is optimized for mobile display.
  • Cons:
    • URLs assigned to Google Sites are long, cumbersome, and nearly impossible to remember. Don't believe, try to get all of your 7th graders to this site in ten minutes or less and then try to get them to remember it.
    • While design options have definitely improved in the new version of Google Sites, they're still far behind what you'll find on Weebly.
    • Support for embedding content from providers outside of the Google ecosystem has improved, but is still lagging behind other website creation services.
    • No support for a blog section within the new version of Google Sites.
The short version: Weebly offers a Weebly for Education product which is free and is preferable to the standard Weebly free product because the education version doesn't display advertising. If you're not invested in G Suite, then Weebly is a slightly better choice. 
  • Pros:
    • Weebly for Education lets you manage up to forty student accounts in one free teacher account.
    • Large gallery of design templates that you can customize to your liking.
    • Includes option to have a blog section within your site.
    • Supports embedding content from many 3rd party sources.
  • Cons:
    • So many options that it can be a bit overwhelming to first-time users.
    • Annoying pop-up message trying to sell you a custom domain appears every time you publish a new page.
    • Doesn't have a collaboration option to let you invite other teachers work on a site with you without also giving them administrative rights. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

How to Enter Samsung's Solve for Tomorrow Contest

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

Last week I shared some information about Samsung's Solve for Tomorrow contest. he contest is designed to get students in grades six through twelve interested in STEAM projects that can have an immediate impact on local and global communities. As I wrote last week, initial entry into the contest is free and only requires answering a few short questions. In the video below I demonstrate how to complete the initial entry form. Entries are due by November 9th. Take a few minutes to enter and you could be on your way to winning $25,000 worth of Samsung products for your school.

All state finalists (255 in all) will receive a Samsung tablet (valued at $499.99). From those state finalists’ plans, state winners will be chosen. State winners will receive $25,000 in Samsung technology for their schools. State winners will be invited to submit a video about their projects. Those videos will be used in selecting ten national finalists who will receive $50,000 in school technology and a trip to the national pitch event where three national winners will be chosen. National winners will receive $150,000 in Samsung technology for their schools.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Create Formative Labeling Activities

Back in June Formative released an overhauled user interface for creating digital formative assessments. One of the things that you can do in the updated interface is change the background on a "show your work" question. Changing the background lets you create a labeling activity for your students to complete. Watch my video embedded below to see learn how to create a labeling activity on The video also includes a view of the assessment from a student's perspective.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Try YouTube Live To Reach More Students

Back in May I shared how Tom Richey was using YouTube Live to host AP World History review sessions for students. That's one way to use YouTube Live to help your students. Another way to use YouTube Live is to broadcast and record lessons from your classroom.

As I explained and demonstrated yesterday at the Upstate Technology Conference in South Carolina, you can rather easily broadcast yourself teaching a lesson. Get a cheap tripod for your phone and point it in the direction of where you're standing to give a short lesson. Turn on the YouTube Live broadcast from the YouTube app for iPhone or Android and it starts broadcasting and recording. The recording can then be embedded into your blog or shared in your Google Classroom.

Applications for Education
Broadcasting your lesson can help you reach students who are absent from your class. They can either watch live and ask questions via the Q&A feature of YouTube Live or they can watch the recording later.

Friday, September 30, 2016

5 Neat Things Students Can Do With Google Drawings

Google Drawings is one of the tools in the Google Drive suite that often gets overlooked by students and teachers. It can be a handy tool if you know how to use it. In the short video embedded below I provide a demonstration of five things that students can do with Google Drawings.

The five things featured in the video above are:
1. Image cropping
2. Image filtering
3. Image labeling & commenting
4. Creating custom word art
5. Creating & customizing charts and graphs.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Kiddom - Another Online Classroom Service

There isn't any shortage of online classroom services available today. From Google Classroom to Otus to Edmodo, every service offers something a little bit different from the others. Kiddom is the latest entry into this crowded space.

Kiddom is a free service that enables teachers to create online classroom spaces. In Kiddom you can create and manage multiple classrooms. In those classrooms you can distribute assignments to students to complete and return to you.

One of the things that Kiddom offers to try to make itself stand out is an integrated search for assignment materials. For example, fourth grade teachers can search for mathematics assignments that are aligned to standards of their choosing. When a material is found teachers can then assign it to their students as a homework assignment, as a quiz, or as a long-term assignment. Teachers can also create assignments from scratch by uploading materials and or importing them them Google Drive.

Another thing that Kiddom does to try to appeal to schools is offer standards alignment within the gradebook. Teachers can choose from a set of state standards or set custom standards to align to each assignment.

Kiddom in Action
I registered for a free Kiddom account and created a classroom. The process of creating a classroom and adding students to it was relatively straight-forward and easy. However, creating assignments was not as quick and easy as I had hoped it would be.

To create an assignment you have can either search for existing materials within the Kiddom library or upload your own. I tried a bunch of searches for high school social studies materials and never got any results. Then I tried to search for elementary school mathematics materials and I did get some results. I ended up uploading my own materials to create an assignment.

Once you've uploaded materials for an assignment you then have to choose if the assignment is for homework, a paper, or a quiz. Once you make that selection you then have to choose how you will grade the assignment. Your grading options are "no grade,""points," or "rubric." If you choose rubric you then have to create a rubric in Kiddom. After choosing how to grade the assignment you then have to choose which standard(s) are aligned to your assignment. Finally, after making all of those selections you get to assign a start date and due date for the assignment. But wait, there is still one more step of choosing which student(s) will receive the assignment.

Fortunately, grading assignments in Kiddom isn't quite as cumbersome as creating and distributing them. To grade an assignment you simply go into your dashboard and choose an assignment. Then select "grade" and you can quickly see each student's submission and either assign point values or rubric values to each student's submission.

Initial conclusion
Kiddom is probably a fine service run by good people. It is in a crowded market up against behemoths like Google and Pearson so they're going to have to do a little bit more in terms of making the assignment creation process a little better in order to stand out. Kiddom does offer free iOS app. In an increasingly fractured mobile OS environment they should add an Android app ASAP.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

ClassTag Streamlines Scheduling of Parent Teacher Conferences

ClassTag is a new service that aims to help you organize parent-teacher conference, classroom volunteer requests, and school events. The highlight of ClassTag is the option to create appointment slots that parents can reserve to meet with you.

To get started on ClassTag create an account and enter some basic information about your classroom or classes that you teach. To get the full benefit of ClassTag you will need to enter the email addresses of your students' parents. Once those steps are completed you can create a parent-teacher conference schedule. You can create time slots as short as 15 minutes or as long as an hour. Once a parent reserves a slot no one else can grab it.

The other core aspects of ClassTag are a requests feature and an event scheduler. The requests feature in ClassTag allows you to send out notes requesting things like field trip chaperones or material donations to your classroom. Parents can volunteer to fulfill the requests through the note that you send via ClassTag and ClassTag will keep track of the responses for you.

If you have a school event coming up, you can promote that event through ClassTag. Your ClassTag event page can include information about times, things you should bring to the event, or event costs. ClassTag will also keep track of RSVPs for you.

Overall ClassTag does offer a nice set of features of teachers. Many of the features can be found in other tools, but ClassTag does a good job of putting them all into one place for you.

Monday, November 30, 2015

November's Most Popular Posts on Free Technology for Teachers

Good evening from the Free Technology for Teachers World Headquarters in Woodstock, Maine. It's the end of the month and as I always do at this time, I've put together a list of the most popular posts of the month. This list is based on the number of views each post received on this blog. I use Google Analytics to determine which posts had the most views. Google Analytics is also helpful in discovering the search terms that people use the most when they land on That information sometimes helps me decide what to write about.

Here are this month's most popular posts:
1. Dozens of Great PowerPoints for AP History Students & Teachers
2. 5 Good Typing Instruction and Practice Sites for Kids
3. 4 Math Add ons for Google Docs
4. 3 Good Tools for Creating Rubrics
5. 10 Things Students Can Do With Google Keep
6. 7 Tools for Creating Flowcharts, Mind Maps, and Diagrams
7. 11 TED-Ed Videos on How the Human Body Works
8. Click to Spin - A Fun and Free Random Name Picker
9. Seven Web-based Tools for Delivering Flipped Lessons
10. A Fun App for Learning to Identify Plants and Animals

Would you like to have me speak at your school or conference?
Click here to learn about my professional development services. 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
BoomWriter provides a fantastic tool for creating writing lessons. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards and cartoon stories.
AlfaTyping offers great, free typing lessons for kids. 
MasteryConnect offers a series of apps for identifying standards. 
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosting host workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
SeeSaw is a great iPad app for creating digital portfolios.
Lesley University offers online education programs for teachers. 
Southeastern University offers online M.Ed programs.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

GroupTing Makes It Easy to Coordinate Classroom Events and Volunteers

We're starting to get into the time of the school year in which a lot of elementary schools will be having special events like classroom parties and PTA fundraisers. As anyone who has tried to organize those kind of events can tell you, it can become a time-consuming task to get everything coordinated. GroupTing is a free service that makes it easy to coordinated events and volunteers. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to organize an event in GroupTing.

This video is number 165 in my playlist of Practical Ed Tech Tips.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

SpeakPipe Now Uses HTML5 - Collect Voicemail Messages on Your Blog

SpeakPipe is a neat tool that I've added to classroom blogs for a few years now. SpeakPipe allows me to collect voicemail messages through my blog. Until this week SpeakPipe was Flash-based which meant that folks visiting the blog through a mobile device couldn't leave a message. This week SpeakPipe switched to HTML5 which will allow more people to use the SpeakPipe widget to leave voicemail messages through blogs.

With SpeakPipe installed on your blog anyone can click on the "send voicemail" button and leave a message for you. When a visitor clicks the "leave voicemail" button she will be prompted to allow access to her computer. Then the visitor can start recording a message for you. Visitors can, but don't have to, enter their names and email addresses for you. You can listen to and download the messages left for you in your SpeakPipe inbox.

Applications for Education
When installed on a school website SpeakPipe provides a good way for parents to leave voicemail messages. SpeakPipe messages can be downloaded to your computer so if you need a simple way for students to record their voices for use in a multimedia project, SpeakPipe might be handy to have on your classroom blog.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

How to Get Your School Announcements to as Many People as Possible

I was recently introducing some teachers to blogging when one of them said, "but they don't even read our newsletter." She was right, most of the parents and students probably are not reading the newsletter that the school sends out. My suggestion was to create a blog. I made the suggestion knowing full well that many parents wouldn't visit it directly on a consistent basis. I suggested maintaining a blog because from it you can launch a variety of outreach strategies to connect with parents and students. My basic strategy for reaching parents and students is outlined below.

1. Maintain a blog.
Update your blog on a consistent schedule throughout the school year. You don't have to update it daily. Publishing a new post every Monday, Wednesday, and every Friday is sufficient. Monday's post could be a list of what's coming up during the week. Wednesday's post could be reminders about assignments. Friday's post could be a recap of the week.

2. Provide an email subscription option for updates.
Some parents will want updates emailed to them instead of having to visit your blog directly. Blogger offers a "follow by email" gadget that you can add to your blog. When parents use it they can subscribe to your blog through email. If you use WordPress for your blog, the Jetpack plug-in offers a free "follow by email" option. For more control over your email list, you can use paid services like FeedBlitz and Aweber to automatically email new blog posts.

3. Connect your blog to social media outlets. 
When you publish a new blog post, share it on your school/ classroom Twitter and Facebook. Services like If This Then That have recipes for automatically publishing your blog posts to Twitter and Facebook. FeedBlitz, the service I use for email, publishes my new blog posts to Twitter automatically. Tools like Hootsuite give you the option to schedule social media posts in advance. Use Hootsuite to Tweet and or Facebook your blog post once per day for parents and or students who might have missed it earlier in the week.

4. Instagram it. 
If you have a school/ classroom Instagram account that parents and students are following, post a screenshot of the latest blog post. Put the link to the blog post in your caption of the image.

5. Text it. 
Use Remind or Celly to send out the link to the new blog post.

Creating a system for getting your message out to parents and students will take you a little time to develop. Once you have a system down, you'll find that it doesn't take much time to create and send the updates. With a good system in place you'll be reaching parents and students where they are instead of hoping that they come to where you are.

I'll be covering this topic in much more depth along with many others in my July offering of Blogs & Social Media for Teachers & School Leaders

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pros and Cons of Emailing School Announcements

On Tuesday I evaluated the pros and cons of using social media for school announcements. Yesterday, I did the same for text messaging school announcements. Today, let's take a look at the pros and cons of using good old fashioned email for distributing school and classroom announcements.

Pros of using email for school announcements:
  1. There is essentially no limit to the amount of text and information you can pack into one email. 
  2. Easy to attach forms and or link to a Google Form in an email. This is helpful when you need to distribute things like permission slips. 
  3. Your school probably has a database of every parent's or guardian's email address. This makes it easy to add email addresses to mailing lists. 
  4. Most parents are familiar with how email works. The same cannot be said for social networks. 
  5. It is easy for parents and students to quickly reply to messages if they need to ask follow-up questions. 
  6. Many relatively inexpensive services are available to help you format and schedule email newsletter distribution. Alternatively, you can use spreadsheet scripts like this one can be used to schedule email distribution. 
Cons of using email for school school announcements:
  1. Not ideal for urgent announcements like school closings as people don't always check their inboxes regularly even if they have notifications on their smartphones. 
  2. Email is easy to ignore. 
  3. Some email services may flag your message as spam if it is sent to hundreds of people at once. You will have to encourage parents to whitelist your school's email domain. 
  4. Must remember to use BCC not CC when manually sending a message to a mailing list. Otherwise you expose all the email addresses to everyone on the list. And don't forget that not everyone knows not to use "reply all" when replying. 
  5. While occasionally a long email is necessary, long emails are skimmed and or ignored. You must resist the temptation to be long-winded in announcements. 
  6. As with all forms of digital communication we need to be cognizant of families in our school communities that don't have reliable access to the Internet. 
What do you see as the pros and cons of using email for school announcements? Let me know on Twitter

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pixlr - A Great Photo Editing Service Comes to Mac and Windows Desktops

Pixlr is a great set of online and mobile image editing tools. I've featured Pixlr a bunch of times over the years. This week Pixlr became available as a desktop app for Mac and Windows. The free Pixlr desktop apps allow you to do all of the things that you can do in the browser. If you want even more features you can subscribe to the pro version of Pixlr for $1.99.

The free version of Pixlr is more than adequate for the vast majority of classrooms. The free version allows you to crop images, layer images, sharpen images, add contrasts and filters, and resize images for use in a variety of other applications. One of the features of Pixlr that I like is the blur function that you can use to draw attention to a portion of an image. The video below demonstrates how the blur function works.

Make someone or something the center of attention with focal blur from Pixlr on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
The Pixlr desktop apps for Windows and Mac could be a good option for schools in which bandwidth is limited. By putting the apps on the desktop instead of relying on the cloud, your students won't experience the frustration of waiting for an image or image edit to load.

H/T to The Next Web.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Remind (formerly Remind 101) Adds Voice Options Starting August 28th

Remind (formerly known as Remind 101) has added a couple of helpful new features to their free text messaging service. First, you can now use the mobile apps to send structured feedback. According to the press release that was sent to me you can now use Remind to send questions or quizzes, track attendance for trips, gather votes or collect stars from your classes.

The second significant update coming to Remind on August 28th will allow you record and send personalized voice greetings to students and their parents. Make sure you update the app on August 28th to take advantage of this option.

Readers outside of the United States and Canada will be happy to know that Remind can be used outside of North America. The Remind app can be used to message through wi-fi, but not through SMS. This feature was released a few weeks ago.

Applications for Education
Text messages are opened and read much faster than emails or voicemails and Remind capitalizes on the pattern by allowing you to send text messages to students and their parents. The service is an opt-in service so students and parents only receive messages from you if they want to. Remind also protects privacy by masking the real cell phone numbers of all parties involved in the messaging.

Clarification at 8:27pm: I originally published this post at 5:47pm on the basis of a press release from Nectar PR, Remind's PR firm. The information they gave me did not indicate that the features listed above wouldn't be available until August 28th. I should have done a better job of verifying that the voice update was live right now. My apologies for any confusion. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ocenaudio - A Free Audio Editing Tool for Windows, Mac, and Linux

Ocenaudio is a free audio editing tool available to use on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. The free software enables you to create audio recordings from scratch and or edit existing audio files.

Once the Ocenaudio software is installed on your computer (no registration is needed to download or install the software) you can start recording spoken tracks by pressing the red record button. After making your recording you can click and highlight any section of it to delete it or adjust its sound qualities. If you're looking to adjust the sound qualities and effects of an audio file, you will like the option to preview adjustments before applying them to a file. All files created and edited in Ocenaudio are saved to your computer.

Applications for Education
Ocenaudio runs on your computer and does not require any kind of registration to use. This makes it a good option for schools that don't have the bandwidth to support cloud-based editors. It is also a good option for students who cannot create online accounts to use cloud-based editing tools. The program offers the features that students need for most classroom media projects while remaining fairly intuitive to use.

H/T to Lifehacker

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

SpeakPipe - Receive Voicemail Through Your Blog

SpeakPipe is a neat little service that allows visitors to your blog to leave you voice messages without picking up a phone. I had it installed on a classroom blog for a while. Until this week the only way to have SpeakPipe appear on your blog was as a pop-out widget. Now you can embed the recording widget directly into your blog (the sidebar is the ideal placement).

With SpeakPipe installed on your blog anyone can click on the "send voicemail" button and leave a message for you. When a visitor clicks the "leave voicemail" button she will be prompted to allow access to her computer. Then the visitor can start recording a message for you. Visitors can, but don't have to, enter their names and email addresses for you. You can listen to and download the messages left for you in your SpeakPipe inbox.

Applications for Education
When installed on a school website SpeakPipe could provide a good way for parents to leave voicemail messages. SpeakPipe messages can be downloaded to your computer so if you need a simple way for students to record their voices for use in a multimedia project, SpeakPipe might be handy to have on your classroom blog.

Friday, December 27, 2013

15 Options for Creating Screen Capture Images and Videos - Including on Chromebooks

For the next few days I'm taking some time off to relax, play with my dogs, and ski with friends. Rather than leave the blog dormant for a few days, I'm re-running some of the most popular posts of the year. 

TechSmith Snagit is a screen capture tool from the producers of the popular screencasting tools Jing and Camtasia. TechSmith Snagit is a Chrome app and extensions that allows you to capture all or part of screen then draw and write on your screen capture. The Snagit Chrome extension is what allows you to capture your screen. The Snagit Chrome app allows you to save your screen captures in your Google Drive account. You do have to install both the extension and the app for Snagit to work correctly.

Vessenger, producers of a group messaging system, offers a free program for capturing and annotating images on your computer screen. The free program, called Snaplr, is available for Windows and Mac. With Snaplr installed you can capture all or part of your screen. Snaplr's annotation tools include text boxes, highlighting, and free-hand drawing tools. When you've finished creating your annotated screen capture you can save it as a PNG file or attach it to an email message in Outlook.

Using the print screen key on your PC or "command+shift+4" on your Mac are easy ways to create a screen capture. But if you want do more and draw or annotate on that screen capture, give Snaggy a try. Snaggy is a web-based tool for drawing on, annotating, and sharing screen captures. To draw or write on your screen capture just paste your screen capture image into Snaggy. Snaggy offers tools for highlighting a section of your screen capture, typing on it, and drawing free-hand on your image. You can also use Snaggy to crop your image. When you're ready to share your screen capture, Snaggy assigns is a custom url that you can Tweet, email, or post anywhere you like. Snaggy lets you save your edited screen captures to your computer too.

Monosnap is a free screen capture tool for Mac and Windows. Monosnap is advertising that they will soon offer it for Android and iOS too. To get started download Monosnap. Once installed you can use Monosnap to capture a portion or all of your screen. One neat option is to capture your screen after a ten second delay. After capturing your screen you can draw on your image, type on it, or highlight portions of the screen capture image. You can save your screen captures on your computer or upload them to a free Monosnap account.

Szoter is a free online tool for annotating images that are stored on your computer. You can also use Szoter to capture and annotate screenshots. You can use Szoter on the web or download the Adobe Air version of it to run on your desktop. Either way you can upload images, draw on those images, and type on those images. When you're done annotating and drawing on your images you can save them to your local computer or share them online through your favorite social networks. Szoter can also be used to capture your screen and create annotated screen captures.

Explain and Send is a free Chrome extension that I have just installed in my browser. The extension allows me to quickly select all or a portion of my screen, draw on it, type on it, and share it. The extension installs in seconds and if you have synchronization enabled (click here to learn how) it will be available to you on all of the computers that you use. After you have created your screen capture you can share it via email, Twitter, or Facebook.

Pixlr offers a large set of image creation and editing tools. One of the tools that can be quite handy is Pixlr Grabber. Pixlr Grabber is Pixlr's screen capture tool. Pixlr Grabber is available as an extension for Chrome or Firefox. Using Pixlr Grabber you can capture your screen, crop the screen image, and print what you like. You can also send the image to Pixlr Editor for further editing options.

Screenr is a very simple, easy-to-use tool for creating screencast videos. You do not need to register in order to use Screenr, but if you want to save your recordings you do need a Twitter account. Screenr uses your Twitter ID to save your recording and publish it to Twitter (you can opt not to publish to Twitter). The recordings you make using Screenr can also be published to YouTube or you can download your recordings.

Screencast-O-Matic is a web-based screencast creation tool similar to Screen Castle. Screencast-O-Matic allows you to specify how much of your screen that you want to record. Screencast-O-Matic gives you up to fifteen minutes of recording time per video. If you want to include a webcam view of yourself talking you can do that too. To do that enable your webcam and then when you record a small video of you will appear in the corner of your finished video.

Quick Screen Share is a free screen sharing service from the makers of Screencast-o-matic. To use Quick Screen Cast just go to their website, select share your screen, and enter your name. Quick Screen Share will then provide you with a URL to share with the person with whom you are screen sharing. When that person opens the link you he or she will be able to see your screen. Quick Screen Share doesn't require you to install anything (assuming you have Java installed) or require you to register for the service.

The tool that I use most often of creating annotated screen capture images is Jing. Jing enables you to take a picture of part of your screen or all of your screen. Once you've captured the area you want in your picture, you can type on it, draw arrows on it, and highlight sections of text within it. To use Jing you must download and install the free software for your Mac or PC. Once it's installed, launch it and it runs in the background until you need it. You'll know that Jing is ready for you to use because you will notice an orange ball in one of the top corners of your screen. It takes up very little screen real estate and is ready to use whenever you need it. You can also use Jing to record a video of your screen. Simply select the area of your screen that you would like to show, click the record button and begin talking. Jing will capture everything you say and do for up to five minutes.

Awesome Screenshot is a great Chrome, Firefox, and Safari browser extension for capturing, annotating, and sharing screenshots. Once you've installed Awesome Screenshot you can simply activate it from your browser to capture a page or region on a page, draw boxes, draw lines, blur out information, and add text to your screenshot. When you're satisfied with your screenshot you can save it locally or share it via the url provided by Awesome Screenshot.

Bounce is a neat application that not only allows you to make annotated screen captures of websites but also allows you to instantly share those screen captures with others. To use Bounce go to their website then type in the url of any website you like and click "Bounce." Bounce will then create an image of that website on which you can draw boxes and annotate those boxes. You can create as many boxes and notes as you like. When you're done creating notes, Bounce will provide you with a unique url for your screen captures that you can share with others. If you create a Bounce account (optional) you and other Bounce users can annotate the same screen capture.

Capturing and Annotating Your iPad's Screen
To capture whatever you're currently viewing on your iPad's screen simultaneously press the on/off switch and the center "home" button. Your screen capture will be saved to your iPad's camera roll. After creating my screen capture I like to use Skitch for iPad to draw and type on the image. Using the latest version of Skitch for iPad you can register for an Evernote account and then your images will automatically be saved in Evernote. You can download Skitch for iPad here.

Capturing and Annotating Your Android Device's Screen
If you want to capture your screen on an Android device that is running Android 4.0 or higher you can do so by holding the "volume down" and "power" button at the same time. Then you can share those images to another service to mark them up. Just like on my iPad, on my Android tablets I like to use Skitch to draw on images. Click here to download Skitch for Android.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

5 Tools for Quickly Building Simple Announcement Pages

School websites and classroom blogs are excellent tools for distributing information to parents and students. But sometimes you might want to make your announcements stand-out from the rest of the cyber noise that parents and students experience on a daily basis. Or perhaps you want your students to create their own webpages to showcase their best work or to announce an upcoming school event. In those cases, you might take a look at a tool to build a stand-alone webpage dedicated to one specific event or announcement. Here are five tools for doing just that. is a service that can be used to create one page websites to show off your best digital work or to advertise an event. provides a variety of templates for digital portfolios and digital flyers. Each template can be customized by hovering your mouse on any element of the template and selecting the edit button. Free pages are assigned subdomains. Premium accounts can have custom domains.

Page O Rama is a free service for quickly creating stand alone webpages. Creating a webpage with Page O Rama is very simple. Just visit the Page O Rama homepage, select a web address, title your page, and start typing. Page O Rama offers a good selection of text editing tools including page breaks. If you want to, you can add images to your Page O Rama pages too. If you think your page is something that you're going to want to edit and update occasionally, you can enter your email address to create an administrative log-in.

Pagefin is a free service for creating simple webpages without the need to register for an account. To create a webpage with Pagefin just click "create and share," enter the captcha code, and start designing your webpage. Pagefin does not offer any fancy template to widgets to add to your pages, just a blank slate to design on. You can add text boxes, images, and videos to your webpages. When you're happy with your page click on the share button to have a URL generated for your page. The share button will also provide you with an editing link (don't share that one).

Smore is a service for quickly creating great-looking webpages. Smore markets itself as a service for creating online flyers, but it's a little bit more than that. To me "flyer" implies that you're creating a single-use PDF and posting it online. Smore's flyers are dynamic and changeable, they're not single-use PDFs. Your Smore flyers can include many types of media including videos. Deleting or adding elements to your Smore flyer is as simple as dragging and dropping them on or off your page.

Populr is a service for creating simple webpages to advertise events and promotions. On Populr you can quickly create a stylish webpage with pictures, text, and document uploads. Populr offers a selection of templates that you can modify or you can build your page from scratch. All of the editing (aside from typing text) is done through a drag and drop interface.

Monday, September 30, 2013

How to Receive an Email Alert When a Google Form Is Updated

This morning I answered an email from a reader who was looking for a way to be alerted whenever a student entered new information into the Google Form that she shared with them. There are a couple of Google Sheets scripts that can be used to accomplish this task. The easiest script to use is called "form_alert." This simple script will send you an email alert whenever someone enters new information into your form. The email that you receive will contain a timestamp along with the information that was submitted through your Google Form. The spreadsheet attached to your Google Form will still update as usual too. Directions for using "form_alert" are included in the screen captures below (click the images to view them in full size).

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After clicking configure you will begin to receive alerts in the email account that is attached to your Google Drive account.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

30 Ideas for Using Chromebooks in Education

Thanks to a Google+ post by Mikkel Storaasli I found a nice Google Slides presentation featuring 30 ideas for using Chromebooks in education. The presentation was created by Tom Gierke and Becky Evans. You can view the presentation here or as embedded below.