Sunday, May 3, 2015

Measure Distances Between Places on NatGeo's Mapmaker Interactive

Late last week I received an email from a reader who was looking for some help with Google's My Maps tool. She wanted her students to be able to measure distances between two or more places without having to sign into the map as editors. This can be accomplished by simply right-clicking on the map and selecting "measure distance" then click two or more points on the map to measure.

While we're on the topic of maps, I want to remind you of National Geographic's Mapmaker Interactive which also has measuring tools for students to use. Students can measure distances on Mapmaker Interactive by selecting the polygon drawing tool on the left side of the map. As students draw lines the distances appear on the map.

National Geographic's Map Maker Interactive offers seven base maps on which users can create custom map displays. After choosing a base map students then choose layers to add on top of the map. For example, students can select the Ocean base map then choose Tropical Cyclones layer to display on the map. Map Maker Interactive also provides drawing tool and marker icons that can be added to any of the maps.

Applications for Education
One drawback to National Geographic's Map Maker Interactive is that your maps cannot be embedded into other sites. But you can download your maps, print them, and share links to them.Overall, the ease of use and the variety of themes makes Mapmaker an excellent alternative to creating maps on Google Earth. In fact, in some ways it's better because you don't have to install anything or register to use Map Maker Interactive. Adding layers to Map Maker Interactive is also more intuitive than adding layers on Google Earth.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Short Summary of Best Practices for Using Images in Blog Posts

Freeport, Maine - July 2014
In Wednesday's post, What Is Hotlinking? I gave an overview of the potential problems associated with linking to images on the web. At the end of that post I included a short summary of best practices for using images in blog posts. Since it was buried at the end of a post that was otherwise fairly technical and lacking of a catchy title, I think it is worth sharing those best practices again in this dedicated post.

Best practices for using images in blog posts.
  1. Always try to use images that you own and upload to your blog. 
  2. If you don't own a suitable image then look for images in the public domain. Pixabay is a good place to look. Download the image and upload to your blog. 
  3. If you cannot find a suitable image in the public domain then look for images that have Creative Commons licenses attached to them. Photosforclass.com makes this easy to do. Download the image, upload it to your blog, give proper attribution to the owner of the image. Alan Levine's CC Attribution Helper also makes it easy to format image citations. 
  4. If items 1, 2, and 3 above didn't provide you with a suitable image then you can attempt to use an image under Fair Use guidelines. Fair Use is a murky water so Fair Use should be your last resort. If 1, 2, and 3 failed to produce a suitable image, repeat steps 1, 2, and 3 until you find a suitable image.
Disclosure: Photosforclass.com is owned by StoryboardThat, an advertiser on this blog

The Week In Review - Time to Start Planting

Good evening from the FreeTech4Teachers.com world headquarters in Woodstock, Maine. May has arrived and so has some warm weather. It was so warm today that as I was impulsively motivated to plant some new shrubs in my yard. I now have pink lemonade blueberries planted in my yard. I didn't even know that there was such a thing as pink lemonade blueberry plant until I went to the garden supply shop today. I hope they taste as good as they sound. That was my Saturday. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you had a great day too.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Two Good Mathematics Glossaries for Students - One in English and Spanish
2. What is Hotlinking? - Why You and Your Students Should Avoid It
3. Pros and Cons of Using Social Media for School Announcements
4. Pros and Cons of Using Text Messages for School Announcements
5. Tools for Creating Animations in Your Browser or On Your Tablet
6. GeoGebra Quickstart Guides for Desktop and Tablets
7. Pros and Cons of Emailing School Announcements

PD Opportunities With Me
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.
MidWest Teachers Institute offers online graduate courses for teachers.
HelloTalk is a mobile community for learning a new language.
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.
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.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Edmodo for Parents - An App Just for Parents

Edmodo provides a good platform for sharing resources with students, hosting conversations, sending reminders, and creating content through third-party apps. The Edmodo mobile apps enable teachers to manage content on the go and allow students to quickly check for new content from their teachers.

Edmodo for Parents is an app designed just for parents. The app, available for iOS and Android, allows parents to quickly check for announcements from teachers. Perhaps more importantly the app offers a student activity feed. The student activity feed shows parents which assignments their children have completed. It also shows lists of upcoming and overdue assignments, quizzes, and events.


Is Your Blog Mobile-Friendly? Here's How to Check - And Why It Matters

Last month Google announced that they were going to start favoring mobile-friendly blogs and sites in search rankings. This makes sense when you consider how much web traffic flows through mobile devices today. For example, 23% of traffic to FreeTech4Teachers.com came from mobile devices this week. And nearly all of that traffic was caused by mobile referrals from Facebook and Pinterest.

What does this mean for your school blog or website?
If you're trying to get parents and students in the habit of checking your blog regularly, they're probably going to have moments when they're searching for the blog rather than entering the URL directly. Being mobile-friendly could help them find it.

Being mobile-friendly also means that students and parents accessing your blog on their mobile devices will have an easier time reading your posts. In turn that could help them stay on the blog longer and come back it to more frequently.

How to check if your blog is mobile-friendly.
Google provides a free tool for checking whether or not your blog is mobile-friendly. Simply enter your blog's URL into the mobile-friendly test and Google will analyze it for you. It takes just a minute for the test to run.

How to adjust your blog if it is not mobile-friendly. 
If Google deems your blog as not mobile-friendly the test page will offer suggestions on how to adjust your blog to become mobile-friendly. On WordPress-powered blogs you can use the Jetpack plug-in to enable automatic conversion of your blog to mobile-friendly formatting (it won't change the way your blog looks on a laptop, only on a mobile device). If your blog is on  Blogger simply go into the layout option and open the preferences under "mobile" and enable mobile layout.