Showing posts with label remote teaching. Show all posts
Showing posts with label remote teaching. Show all posts

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Five Tips for Live Online Instruction

Whether you use Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams for online class meetings there are some universal things that you can do to make the experience better for you and your students. The following five tips for live online instruction are an excerpt from my recently published 2020-21 Practical Ed Tech Handbook.

Elevate your camera and plug in a mic: 
Besides the obvious, “no one wants to look up your nose” reason, elevating your webcam makes it easier for students to see your eyes during a live meeting. And you should keep your webcam on because students want to see you and make a connection with you and not just your voice whenever it is possible.

If you have one, use an external microphone for your live classes in Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams. Using an external microphone, especially one with a USB connection will improve the quality of your audio. Even pairing Bluetooth earbuds to your computer can improve the audio quality of your online meeting.

If you're looking to purchase an external microphone, for years I've used and recommended the Snowball iCE microphones made by Blue. For those who would prefer not to have another thing on their desks or are looking for a microphone that works with smartphones, try this lapel microphone.

Share an outline:
Just like you would put a daily agenda on the board in your physical classroom, share an agenda with your students at the start of each online class meeting. It gives students a sense of what to expect during the class and how the meeting will last. Don’t forget to give kids a break during the meeting if you’re going to have them on for more than twenty or thirty minutes.

Assign roles: 
Kids want something to do during a class meeting besides just listening to you drone on. Consider assigning roles like meeting secretary, fact-checker, or even co-moderator in your online meetings.

Silence is okay: 
It’s natural to want to fill every moment of an online class meeting with your voice or your students’ voices. You don’t have to do that. You can give students a task to work on during the meeting then just leave your webcam on and the call going to support them if they have questions while working on the task. Zoom’s breakout rooms function can be useful for this kind of meeting structure.

Announce recordings: 
If you plan to record a meeting, let your students and their parents know at the outset of the class.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Five Features of Microsoft Teams to Note

This year I added a section on remote teaching to the Practical Ed Tech Handbook. What follows here is an excerpt from that section.

Whiteboards: To use the whiteboard in Microsoft Teams meetings simply open the screen sharing menu then choose “whiteboard.” You can turn the whiteboard on or off at any time during your meeting.

Grid View: An option to see all of your students in a grid display in a Microsoft Teams call was released in July of 2020. As of this writing (August, 2020) it is available for some, but not all users. Additionally, it only works in the desktop version of Teams. Here’s a short video demo of how it works.


Custom and Blurred Backgrounds: This is another feature only available in the desktop version of Teams. With this feature enabled you can insert a custom image to use as your background or simply blur your background. Find this function in the ellipsis menu next to the screen sharing and recording options in a meeting.

Attendance Reports: This is a relatively new feature that must be enabled by your IT administrator before you can use it. Once enabled, you can download a record of who attended your meeting. Mike Tholfsen, Microsoft EDU project manager, offers this video tutorial on how to use attendance reports in Microsoft Teams.



Recording: To record a meeting in Microsoft Teams your IT administrator has to enable that function. Once it is enabled you’ll see a small recording icon within the ellipsis (more actions) menu during your meeting. It’s important to note that the recording will not capture shared notes or a whiteboard. Learn more about recording here.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Seven Zoom Tutorials to Watch Before School Starts

As the new school year approaches I've been getting a lot questions about Zoom. I have published some tutorials on my YouTube channel that address most of those questions. Until this morning I haven't put them all together in one place. Here are my Zoom tutorial videos.

The Basics of Hosting a Zoom Meeting


Zoom from a Student's Perspective (desktop version)



Zoom from a Student's Perspective (mobile version)


Zoom Virtual Background and Green Screen



How to Create a Whiteboard Video in Zoom


How to Flip the Camera in Zoom


5 Things You Should Never Do In a Zoom Meeting (Fun)

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Zoom from Teacher and Student Perspectives

As the new school year gets closer I'm getting a lot of requests for help with Zoom. I have published a few video tutorials about Zoom including this one that covers the basics of setting up a meeting with students. I've also published this one about how students see Zoom meetings on Android phones. But until this week I hadn't put the teacher and student perspectives together in one video. That's what I did in this new video that is embedded below.


I have always found it helpful to look at tools from the students' perspectives as well as my teacher perspective. Doing that helps me better understand how students will use the tools and better prepares me to help them troubleshoot problems that they run into when using the tools.

Friday, June 26, 2020

7 New Google Meet Features for Teachers

In a move that clearly is an attempt to match the functionality of Zoom and Microsoft Teams, Google has announced some new features that will soon be coming to Google Meet for G Suite for Education users. All of the new features that were announced address the many concerns about Google Meet that teachers have expressed in the last few months. Some of these features are available now and some will be coming over the next couple of months.

New Moderator Controls
  • Remotely mute all participants.
  • A hand-raising function will be coming soon. This lets students raise their hands in Google Meet to indicate that they want to speak in the meeting. 
  • Teachers will be able to end meetings for all and prevent students from rejoining after the meeting has been ended by the teacher. 
  • Guests can only "knock" or request to join after being ejected from meeting. 
  • The default setting for Google Meet will not allow anonymous guests.
Integrated Whiteboard!

  • This might be the most-requested feature for Google Meet. I've shared a couple of options (here and here) for a DIY whiteboard integration, but this should be a lot easier to use. 

Change Your Background

  • Much like in Zoom, you'll soon be able to use a custom background in Google Meet. 

Features for G Suite for Education Enterprise
G Suite for Education for Enterprise is the paid version of G Suite for Education. There are some new features coming to that version too. Those features include an option to record attendance and an option for break-out rooms in Google Meet. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

A Great Set of Microsoft Teams Tutorials

I published a bunch of videos about using Google Meet and Zoom this spring. That's because those are the tools that I use the most and I was asked about the most. This afternoon I answered an email from a reader who was looking for help with Microsoft Teams. My recommendation was to check out the videos on Mike Tholfsen's YouTube channel.

Mike is a product manager at Microsoft EDU so he probably knows the products better than just about anyone else who is producing tutorials about Microsoft EDU products including Teams, OneNote, and Immersive Reader.

Here's Mike's tutorial on using Kahoot in Microsoft Teams.



Here's his tutorial on keyboard shortcuts in Microsoft Teams.

Friday, April 24, 2020

How to Reverse the Mirroring Effect in Zoom

In my recent article titled What's On My Desktop I mentioned using a small physical whiteboard during live lessons delivered via Zoom or Google Meet. Since then a few people have emailed to ask how I am able to make the writing on the whiteboard not appear reversed to students.

It's actually really easy to fix the problem of text and images appearing reversed to your Zoom audience. By default Zoom mirrors everything that is broadcast from your webcam. If you go into the video settings in Zoom there is an option to uncheck "mirror my video." As soon as you uncheck "mirror my video" you'll see everything flip sides of the screen and your audience will too. Watch my video or see my screenshot below for directions.



Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Week in Review - It Was a Rough One

Good morning from Maine where the ground is once again blanketed with six inches of heavy, wet snow. We had a big storm on Thursday night that knocked out the power to more than a third of the homes, including mine, in my county. So in the midst of remote learning we had a snow day.

Earlier in the week we were notified that we are not going back to school this year. That wasn't a complete surprise, but it was somber confirmation of what we all kind of thought would happen even though we didn't want it to happen. It's a weird incomplete feeling to have the typical "last day of school" activities replaced by the "have a nice weekend" that we said to each other on March 13th. I wonder how many of you feel the same way.

I've been going like a man with his hair on fire for a month now. My school inbox and my personal inbox have been a non-stop stream of help requests. Some of those requests end up being addressed in blog posts, but most are addressed directly (even if it takes a few days). I explained how I'm handling those inboxes in the free webinar I hosted on Thursday. That said, I'm taking the weekend off from my inbox. I'm going to play outside with my kids, hide Easter eggs on Sunday morning, and try to relax. I hope that you can have a relaxing weekend too. If reading about educational technology is relaxing for you, take a look at these week's most popular posts.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. An Option for Making Sure Students Know They Have Google Classroom Assignments
2. Three Ways to Share Docs in Google Classroom - When to Use Each
3. 5 Google Classroom Tips for Teachers - Things You Might Have Overlooked or Forgotten
4. Now You Can Use Flipgrid to Make Screencast Videos
5. Video Puppet Turns Your PowerPoint Presentations Into Narrated Videos
6. How to Use PDFs in Google Classroom
7. Three Ways to Make Whiteboard Videos on Your Chromebook

Online PD With Me!
I've been hosting professional development webinars for a decade.

  • My most popular webinars are available on-demand right here
  • If you prefer live webinars, I am planning to host some more later this month and in May so stay tuned for more information about those soon. 
  • I'm always available to schedule custom, online PD for your school.


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 it includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from FreeTech4Teachers.com.
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 20,000 people subscribe to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 350 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 more than 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last thirteen years at twitter.com/rmbyrne
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Webinar Recording - Strategies for Remote Instructional Technology Support

Yesterday afternoon I hosted a webinar titled Three Strategies for Remote Instructional Technology Support. If you missed it, the recording is now available to view here on my YouTube channel and as embedded below. The slides from the presentation can be seen here or as embedded below.

Highlights of the webinar included:
  • Improving your autoresponder. 
  • Using Google Forms to organize your help resources. 
  • Creating a help app.


Three Strategies for Remote Instructional Technology Support by Richard Byrne

Monday, April 6, 2020

Three Ways to Make Whiteboard Videos on Your Chromebook

Last week I published a video on how to make a simple video on a Chromebook without installing any extensions or apps. That video was fairly popular and it prompted some follow-up questions from readers and viewers who wanted my recommendations for making whiteboard videos on a Chromebook. Besides just recording in front of an actual whiteboard (I have a small one like this at home that I use) here are the three recommendations that I have been making.

#1 - Make a Whiteboard Video in Flipgrid
Last fall Flipgrid added an option for creating whiteboard videos. That feature lets you start video using just your webcam then transition into using a built-in whiteboard function to teach a lesson. This feature has also been integrated into the Flipgrid video tools that are available in Wakelet. Watch my videos below to see how you can make whiteboard videos in Flipgrid.



#2 - Make a Whiteboard Video in Seesaw
Seesaw offers a recording tool that you can use to draw and talk at the same time. To do this just create a new announcement or assignment then select the "draw" option when attaching an item. In "draw" you'll find a microphone icon that you can click to start recording while drawing. The recording and drawing will sync together. Students can watch the recording in their Seesaw accounts.

#3 - Use the Drawing Tools in Screencastify
Screencastify had already made most of their features free to teachers before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now they offer all of them for free. To record a whiteboard style video with Screencastify first open a blank white Google Slide then start recording. While recording use Screencastify's built-in drawing tools to draw over that slide while you're recording your video.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

A Student View of Joining a Zoom Meeting on an Android Phone

A few days ago I got an email from a reader asking me what it looks like when a student tries to join a Zoom meeting on an Android phone. It was a good question because it is important to have an understanding of what a student experiences when he or she tries to use the technology that we're requesting them to use. I made the following short video to show what it looks like when a student joins a Zoom meeting on an Android phone.

It's important to note that students can join without installing the Zoom Android app. This video shows what it looks like when students join without installing the app.


On a related note, here's my overview of how to schedule and start a Zoom meeting as a teacher.