Wednesday, July 15, 2015

5 Google Maps Tutorials for Teachers and Students

Yesterday, at that the third annual Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp Jim Wells spent about an hour sharing ideas for using Google Maps and Google Earth in variety of classroom settings. Google Earth offers a vastly more robust set of features than Google Maps offers. However, Google Maps is easier to access and is initially easier to understand. I have a set of Google Maps tutorial videos that I've created over the last year. Those videos are included in the playlist embedded below.

Spoken Announces Updates to Their Audio Publishing Network

Last month I wrote about a new audio publishing network called Spoken. Spoken is designed for sharing audio recordings of four minutes or less. Spoken describes itself as "Instagram for audio." On Spoken you can upload audio recordings that are up to four minutes long then attach cover images to those recordings.

The most significant update to Spoken is the option to recordings into blog posts. I've done just that with the Spoken recording announcing updates to the Spoken platform. Listen to the recording as embedded below.


Applications for Education
Spoken could provide a good way for high school or college students to share audio recordings in which they reflect on learning experiences and or share advice with other students. As a teacher you would have to follow each of your students to hear their recordings.

AudioBoom is a service similar to Spoken that offers a service specifically for students and teachers.

Spoken is currently in beta. You will need to request an invite to use the service. My invitation arrived about 24 hours after my request.

Three Classroom Uses for the Vocaroo Audio Recorder

This is a guest post from Avra Robinson (@AvraRachel) of EdTechTeacher - an advertiser on this site.

Vocaroo is a simple, free voice recorder that allows users to create an audio recording with just a few clicks. Once recorded, the audio file can remain on the Vocaroo servers and be easily transmitted via a link, or it can be downloaded into several different file types including MP3, Ogg, FLAC, or WAV. Additionally, it can be embedded onto a blog or website or shared via several social media buttons.

Since Vocaroo is web-based, it’s an ideal companion for the Chromebook classroom or any web-based environment. Students and teachers can easily record and share their thoughts with each other. The audio recordings become great opportunities for formative assessment and feedback as well as a neat way to have students double-check their writing for errors.

EdTechTeacher, Vocaroo

3 Classroom Applications:

Formative Feedback

Students can record 30-60 seconds of audio feedback about a new concept, and teachers can then collect links to the audio recordings in a Google Form or via a Padlet wall. Within 30 minutes, teachers could have a pulse on how well their students are understanding the ideas shared.

Peer Feedback

As students give peer-to-peer feedback using the comments function in a Google Doc, they can easily insert a Vocaroo link to provide an audio comment. This is especially helpful when they want to share ideas that are too lengthy to type. Teachers can do the same as they provide feedback to students about their work.

Read Aloud to Catch Mistakes

Prior to submitting a draft of an essay, teachers can require students to read the essay aloud in a Vocaroo recording to catch mistakes and hear their essay. While teachers often encourage students to do this on their own, requiring a link to them reading it aloud would ensure that students see the process through. The link to the recording could be shared in a comment within the Google Doc or even added at the top of the essay. This simple task can help augment students’ oral reading fluency and help them catch potential mistakes that they might not have caught by reading their work quietly to themselves.

To learn more about working with Google Apps, Web Tools, and Chromebooks, EdTechTeacher provides FREE resources on their website

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Two Chrome Extensions That Can Help You Stay on Task

At one point or another we've all said, "I'm just going to check Facebook/ Twitter/ Pinterest for a minute then I'll get back to work." It's funny how that minute can quickly become ten or twenty minutes. Here are a couple of Chrome extensions that I use when I find myself falling into social media vortex and not being as productive as I should be. These extensions are equally useful to students as they are to adults.

Stay Focusd is a Chrome extension designed to help you stop wasting time on sites like Facebook and get your work done instead. With Stay Focusd installed you can set a time limit for yourself for how much cumulative time in a day that you spend on sites like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Once you've used up your self-allotted time on those sites you won't be able to revisit them in that browser for 24 hours.


Dayboard is a free Google Chrome extension that opens your daily to-do list every time you open a new tab in Chrome. When you open a new tab for the first time Dayboard will appear and ask you to enter your to-do list for the day. After creating your to-do list for the rest of the day whenever you open a new tab you will see your list. You can place a checkmark next to items as you complete them. Dayboard does not require you to create an account, it works offline, and when I installed it it only asked for permission to view activity on the Dayboard website.

Advice for New Bloggers - Numbers Aren't Always What They Seem

Like a lot of the conferences that I attend, at the ISTE conference I had conversations with a bunch of people who were seeking advice about blogging. At some point almost of those people would say something like, "my blog is small, I only have a few hundred followers." Or they would say, "I'm on Twitter, but I only have one thousand followers." My response to both statements is, "that's awesome!" After that statement I follow up with some context to explain why 1,000 people is a lot of followers.

New bloggers and podcasters often get obsessed with how many followers they have. When you have a few hundred or one thousand followers that can seem like a small amount when you compare it to the more established blogs in a niche. But don't compare your follower/ subscriber count to that of more established bloggers. Instead compare your current subscriber/ follower count against the previous month's. Look to grow month by month not to become the world's most popular blogger in one month.

Let's put 1,000 followers into context. I live in a town of roughly 1,000 people. If I sent a letter to every person in town, I might get positive responses from 20 people. But if I send an email, publish a blog post, or produce a podcast episode for 1,000 people who have in someway said, "yes, I want to get more information from Richard" then I am going to get a far higher rate of response and engagement. Put another way, picture getting all of your followers together in one place and then you'll realize that 1,000 followers is a lot of people.

338,000 people like my Facebook page, but I get more responses from the 6,000 people who subscribe to the PracticalEdTech.com weekly newsletter. Creating a successful blog or podcast isn't about having the most followers, it's about having engaged followers.