Monday, March 30, 2015

Register for Two Free Webinars With Me

People who are subscribed to the Practical Ed Tech newsletter got this information yesterday. I apologize to those who are seeing it as a repeat.

This week I am leading some free webinars for teachers.

On Tuesday I will be giving two short (30 minutes) presentations as part of Simple K12’s afternoon of webinars on Google Apps. My presentations will be on search strategies and workflow tips. My presentations will at 2pm and 3pm Eastern Time. You can learn more and register here.

On Thursday I will be hosting a free webinar on the best backchannel and informal assessment tools for teachers. This webinar is based on my popular in-person workshop of the same name. This is going to be an interactive webinar so come ready to participate. The webinar will be held at 7pm Eastern Time. Registration is limited to the first 200 people. Click here to register.

Thursday’s webinar will be recorded. You do not need to email me to get the recording, it will be posted on and included in next Sunday’s Practical Ed Tech newsletter.

Neither of the free webinars listed above carry any graduate credits or certification. My online classes on Google Apps and Blogging do offer graduate credit options through the Midwest Teachers Institute.

ExamTime Changes Names - Still Offers Good Review Tools

ExamTime is a service that provides a bunch of good study tools for students. Over the weekend ExamTime changed its name to GoConqr. Students will be able to use their ExamTime usernames and passwords on GoConqr. GoConqr will offer the same options as ExamTime did for creating and sharing flashcards, building mind maps, and tracking your own study habits.

The next update to the ExamTime mobile apps will the reflect the new GoConqr name too.

In reading ExamTime's blog post about their name change it wasn't exactly clear what motivated the name change or if anything significant will change in the service. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Note: the ExamTime website is still live, but when you try to sign into an account you will be redirected to GoConqr.

Convert PDFs to Google Docs to Differentiate Instructional Materials

This is a guest post post from Brenda Doucette (@doucetteb) of EdTechTeacher - an advertiser on this site.

Recently, we discovered a feature of Google Drive that has changed how we prepare and access materials and resources for our students. As we attempt to make all curricula digital and thus make it available to all students, the idea of using PDFs was always a problem. PDFs are just not editable in most situations, and this was an issue when it came to modifying and differentiating documents. Adobe Acrobat was our “go to” application for this type of conversion, but it was costly and often hard to come by in an educational setting. Note: We still use Adobe Acrobat for complex projects or documents that do not convert well in Google Drive. With the most recent update to Google Drive, OCR (Optical Character Recognition) capabilities are better and easier than ever.

Here is how it works:
  1. Open and sign into Google Drive
  2. Upload a PDF document to your Drive
  3. Right-Click on the document once it is uploaded.
  4. Choose Open with>Google Docs
Convert PDFs to Docs

The original PDF remains in your Drive and a new, converted document is created. You can open your new document and rename, edit, annotate, share, etc. just as you can do with any other Google Doc, Slides or Sheets. This works best with PDF documents that are clear and mostly text-based. Tables, images and formatted text can be a bit of a challenge for Google Docs (images and tables tend to end up on one page and text on a separate page), but I am sure it’ll get even better and easier in the next update.

To learn more about differentiating instruction and working with Google Apps, EdTechTeacher will be offering a variety of hands-on Summer Workshops in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

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.