Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mail Call! - Answers to Questions from Readers

I receive a lot of emails and Facebook messages from readers asking all kinds of questions related to educational technology. Some of those questions are very specific to the writer's classroom while others have a bit more broad appeal. My answers to the broader questions often end up as blog posts. Here are some of the latest questions from readers and my answers to them.

1. I am wondering if you might have any suggestions for an application that can take voice mail messages and transcribe them to text and put them in a spreadsheet. Thanks for any help you can offer.

Google Voice will transcribe your voicemail messages. You could then try using this If This Then That formula to send the transcriptions to a Google Spreadsheet (full disclosure, I have not tried this recipe, I just found it through a search on If This Then That).

2. Do you know of any sites that are a better alternative to Quia? Our teachers use quia but some find that is lacking when it comes to graphics. Our Engineering and Design teacher was hoping to find something similar (with games) that has better support for his engineering graphics that he needs to display as part of the assessment/game. Any ideas?

TinyTap (an iPad and Android app) keeps expanding their offerings to provide support creating games/ quizzes based upon your own graphics. These game board builders might offer what you need ProProfs also offers some game builder tools

3. Mr Richard sir, if that is your real name. Have been trying to find a recording tool that also records sound as in over the speaker sound and not mic. Have been using Screenr till now but of course it doesn't have this feature. Been installing questionable programs for a few hours now and all I've found is BSR screen recorder, but the audio goes way out of sync or stops all together....even on very conservative quality settings. Got any tips? Thanks in advance and thanks for all the effort you put into sharing.

Yes, Richard is my real name. Feel free to Google me. has all of the features that you're looking for. I use it for that purpose at least twice a week.

4. Hey Admin ..!! I want to purchase your page instead i will give you a good amount if you are interested then feed me back. My offer will be $16,000 for this page payment via Paypal.or Western union, , if sounds good to you then reply me back with your personal profile link or message me in private so we can close the deal asap.

Hey spammer! As tempting and legitimate as your offer sounds (#sarcasm), I'll have to say no.

Too Many Updates?

Every Sunday morning FeedBlitz (my RSS and email provider) sends me a report about the number of subscribers to my blog and email updates. That report also tells me the reason people give for unsubscribing. By far the most common reason people give is "too many updates." So to remedy that problem last year I started the Practical Ed Tech newsletter.

The Practical Ed Tech newsletter is sent out once per week on Sunday evening (Eastern Time). The newsletter contains my favorite tip of the week (usually with a screencast video) and a list of the most popular posts of the week from Again, I only send that update once per week. So if you're feeling like you cannot keep up with everything I do here, give the Practical Ed Tech newsletter a try.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Dozens of Alternatives to YouTube

Over the last few years I've seen more schools opening up access to YouTube, at least to teachers, than I had in the past. YouTube for Schools has partially contributed to that trend. Tools like ViewPure and Watchkin have made using YouTube videos in schools a little less scary too. All that said, there are still lots of schools that block access to YouTube. That's why a few years ago I started to maintain a list of alternatives to YouTube.

This week I updated my list of alternatives to YouTube. I removed some options that have disappeared and edited information about sites that have changed. The updated list and video search engine can be found here.

7 Tools for Building Review Games

This week I received at least a half dozen emails from people who were looking for suggestions for creating review games or practice quizzes for their students. The following are the tools that I suggested in reply to those emails. One teacher's needs are little bit different from another's so this list covers a fairly wide range of options.

TinyTap is a good iPad and Android app for creating your own review games based on pictures and diagrams. You can create games in which students have to identify parts of picture or diagram. You can also build games in which your students have to assemble a puzzle by dragging and dropping pieces into place (the puzzle does not have to follow the jigsaw puzzle format). Click here to see a selection of games that teachers have made and published through TinyTap. offers a handful of templates for building your own educational games. Through you could build a Pac-Man style game, a Connect Four style of game, or build a QR code treasure hunt for your students.

Socrative and Kahoot continue to be my two favorite platforms for hosting fast-paced review quizzes. Both services allow you to create quizzes and host quizzes that your students complete through their mobile devices or laptops. Students can receive instant feedback on each question (if you allow that option) and a final score. In both tools you can include pictures as part of your questions. Socrative allows you to host team activities that they call "space races."

If a Jeopardy-style game is what you're after, eQuizShow, Jeopardy Rocks, and FlipQuiz are worth giving a try. None of the three services requires you to download any files to create your activities. All three services provide text-based questions for free. eQuizShow and FlipQuiz support picture-based questions if you upgrade to their premium plans. Click here to learn more about FlipQuiz, eQuizShow, and Jeopardy Rocks.

The Week in Review - Keep Calm and Go Skiing

Good morning from the world headquarters in Woodstock, Maine. For a few seconds this morning I thought that this week's week-in-review post wouldn't be happening. When I logged into my blog this morning 9000+ posts were missing. It took me a few more seconds to realize that I logged into the wrong blog. That experience reminded me of two things. First, back-up your blog often. Second, sometimes there is nothing you can do so keep calm and go skiing. Skiing is what I'll be doing soon. I hope that all of you have something fun planned for your weekend too.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 10 Charts Comparing Popular Ed Tech Tools
2. 10 Good Google Docs, Sheets, and Forms Add-ons for Teachers
3. 60 Second Lessons on the Presidents of the United States
4. Twisted Wave - Create Audio Recordings Online to Save in Google Drive
5. Three Good Ways to Use Socrative In Your Classroom
6. PlayMessenger: Supervising Children on the Digital Playground
7. An Overview of Important Basic YouTube Settings for Teachers

The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp being held on July 13 &14. The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is a two day, hands-on learning experience for teachers. This year's event is being held in downtown Portland, Maine just a few blocks from the ocean, great dining, and iconic lighthouses. Register by April 16th to save $50 on registration.

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.
Versal is a great tool for building interactive online course components.
MidWest Teachers Institute offers online graduate courses for teachers.
PresentationTube provides a good way to use PowerPoint to create flipped lessons.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments.
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.