Friday, September 12, 2014

How to Show All Event Details In Google Calendars

I recently received a question from a reader who was trying to figure out how I show all event details on my Google Calendars. Rather than typing out step-by-step directions, I created a short video about the process. That video is embedded below.

Note: if you're in a Google Apps for Education domain it is possible that your domain administrator has disabled the options to make your calendars public outside of your domain and to show all event details.

Learn the ins and outs of Google Calendar and many other Google products in my October offering of Getting Ready for GAFE.

A Video Overview of Otus - A Nice Online Learning Environment

Last month I wrote a fairly extensive review of a new online learning environment called Otus. Otus was originally designed to be a service for teachers to distribute assignments, quizzes, polls, reading materials, and essential information from their iPads to their students' iPads. Otus has expanded to support use within a web browser on laptops and Chromebooks. In the video below I offer an overview of the key features of Otus.

Visit the Otus YouTube channel for detailed video directions on how to use each element of the service.

Organize Your Review Materials With Quizlet Folders

Quizlet is an online and mobile (free Android and iOS apps available) for creating and studying flashcards. I've written about Quizlet many times over the years as the service has steadily released enhancements. The latest update that I've noticed is the option to create folders for your flashcards. Each of your folders can have subfolders or subsets of flashcards. Within each of your folders you can search for and sort individual flashcards. You can review your flashcards in a folder by simply selecting one of the six review modes that Quizlet offers.
All of the flashcards that you create on Quizlet can be made public. Likewise, all of the folders that you create can be made public. Making a folder public allows you to quickly share your flashcards with others. The flipside of that is that because folders are public it is easy to quickly assemble a set of flashcards for yourself.

Applications for Education
One of the aspects of Quizlet that I like is the "speller" review mode. Speller mode plays words for you that you then have to type correctly into the space provided. If you misspell the word that is read to you, Quizlet will show you your errors.

Reminder - You Can Now Use Class Codes to Have Students Join Wikispaces

I shared this news in early July yet I forgot to include it in my round-up of updates to popular ed tech tools. This summer Wikispaces added a feature that teachers have wanted for a long time, class codes.

You can now have your students join a wiki by entering a Wikispaces "join code." You can create a join code by clicking on "members" in the admin view of your wiki. After clicking "members" you can select "create join code."

Give your students the join code for a wiki and they can use it to join your wiki without the need for you to approve memberships. To be clear, students will still need to have Wikispaces accounts in order to participate in your wiki.

The join codes that you create for your Wikispaces wikis are valid for one week. After one week you will have to generate a new code. You can also disable codes early if all of your students join before the week is up.

Click here for a complete set of directions, with screenshots, for creating Wikispaces join codes.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Three Easy Ways to Visually Compare the Sizes of States and Countries

One of the ways that I like to help students understand the size of a country or state is by showing them comparisons to states and countries with which they are familiar. For example, if I want my students to get a better sense of how big Utah is, I compare it Maine. The following three websites all make it easy for students to quickly compare the size of countries, states, and provinces. offers a simple way to compare the size of countries, states, provinces, and cities. To make a comparison just choose two places from the drop-down menus on the right hand side of the screen. Along with the visuals your students can find links to World Factbook and Wikipedia entries about their chosen places.

MapFight. MapFight lets you select two U.S. states or two countries to quickly see which one is bigger and by how much. The select states or countries are put into overlays to help you see the size difference.

OverlapMaps is probably the most robust of the three sites on this list. Overlap Maps is a free service that can be used to quickly compare the size of countries, states, provinces, and some bodies of water. To create a visual comparison of two countries select one country from the "overlap this" menu and select one country from the "onto this" menu. The comparisons you make are displayed on a map. You can make comparisons from different categories.