Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Three Webinar Recordings - Blogger, Google Drive, and YouTube

Last week I presented three webinars on behalf of Simple K12. If you couldn't attend the live sessions, you can now access the recordings through Simple K12.

Update 8/1/2015: Unbeknownst to me, Simple K12 has started to charge for these recordings. 

Click the links below to access the webinar recordings and hand-outs.
Blogging With Blogger. Hand-out.

10 Best Google Drive Add-ons. Hand-out.

The YouTube You Don't Know. Hand-out.

5 Important Things I've Learned About Classroom Blogging

1. Just ship it. Don’t spend too much time worrying about how the blog looks from a design standpoint because you can always tweak it later. When you’re getting started, any of the standard templates from Blogger,, KidBlog, Edublogs, or Weebly will do. The important thing is to get the blog started. As one of my bosses at FedEx used to say, “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”

2. Send out a blogging mission and permission notice to parents. Your school may not have a policy about student blogging, but it’s still a good idea to send a notice to parents about why their children are blogging. If you work with students under 13, you will want to explain how their privacy will be protected (no faces posted, no last names, pen names, etc). Jen Deyenberg shared a good blogging permission form here. A quick Google search for “blogging permission slips” will generate a bunch of other samples to evaluate.

3. Review Internet safety and etiquette protocols with your students. Planet Nutshell offers an excellent set of cartoon videos on Internet safety.

4. Create guidelines for how the classroom blog is to be used by students. If you’re planning to use the blog for active discussions with students, talk with them about tone. You might make it a classroom activity to develop online discussion norms. If you’re planning to use the blog as place for students to showcase their work, talk with students about how to offer constructive criticism. If the blog is going to include a widget through which students submit assignments, talk about file types and formatting so that you don’t pull your hair out converting a myriad submitted file types.

5. Expect that something will go wrong. You can plan until the cows come home, but there is always something that doesn’t go according to plan. In the case of classroom blogs that could be a mistake you make in posting a link or an inappropriate comment that a student writes. Treat these mistakes like any other mistake that happens in a classroom and turn them into teaching opportunities. If you made a mistake in posting a link or you posted a video that didn’t play correctly, explain what happened to the students so that you can all learn together. If a student posts an inappropriate comment (you should have comment moderation enabled to grab it before it goes live) use that opportunity to review Internet safety and etiquette with the student.

All of these lessons and many more will be explored in detail in my upcoming course, Classroom Blog Jumpstart starting on August 17th. 

Why You Might Want to Share a Tech Glossary at Your Next PD Day

A few years ago when I published my guide to using Blogger in the classroom I included a glossary of terms in it. That same glossary was also published as a stand-alone document that I often distribute when I lead webinars and workshops about blogging.

I created that glossary and others like it because I found that people in my workshops often had questions about the vocabulary that I and others were using. Distributing the glossary provides everyone in the workshop with a common vocabulary to use. Using that common vocabulary gives people a higher level of comfort in asking questions and more precision in articulating what they need from me.

We give students vocabulary lists and glossaries in our classrooms. We should do the same in professional development settings.

Supporting Teachers With Four Blog Posts

On Tuesday afternoon I met with the instructional technology facilitators in Mooresville, North Carolina. They are a great group of people doing excellent work with teachers and students. One of the things that we talked about during our meeting was how to share our ideas for using educational technology with the people that we serve. And, of course, we talked about how to support those people once we’ve shared our ideas with them.

One of the suggestions that I made to the group was to develop a four part messaging system to support the ideas we share with teachers. The system starts with a post on your blog in which you introduce a tool or strategy. That post should also be sent as an email. Then for the next couple of weeks write follow-up posts that support the implementation of the idea in the first post. These follow-up posts could be along the lines of “five ways to use X,” “five teachers who have used X,” “five things you might not have thought about regarding X.” These follow-up posts can also be sent as emails. The overall purpose of this strategy is to remind and provide reinforcement for your ideas about educational technology.

Here’s how I have implemented this strategy in the past when introducing people to Thinglink.
  1. Introductory post that includes an explanation of what Thinglink does and how it works.
  2. A post about five ways to use Thinglink. A reference back to the introductory post is included for the folks who missed it the first time.
  3. A post with examples of Thinglink projects completed by students. Again, a link to the introductory post is included for the folks who missed it the first time.
  4. A post introducing some less-obvious uses of Thinglink including some examples of app-smashing with Thinglink. For example, I often combine the use of PicMonkey and Thinglink. As with the two previous posts I include a link back to the introductory post that offers instruction on how to use Thinglink.

Using Hootsuite to Spread Your School's Message

Last month I shared an outline for distributing your school and classroom messages to as many people as possible. Hootsuite is one of the tools that I mentioned, briefly, in that outline. Hootsuite allows you to schedule Tweets and Facebook posts to appear on a schedule of your choosing.

Reasons for scheduling Tweets and Facebook posts: 
1. You're busy and might not have time to log-in and post on a daily basis.
2. You want to repeat your Tweets and Facebook posts.
3. You want to populate your Twitter feed with messages related to a school event. Use the hashtag you've chosen for the event in your Tweets. This could encourage parents and students to use the same hashtag in their Tweets.

Why you want to repeat Tweets and Facebook posts:
Twitter and Facebook updates stream past most of us at a pace that is faster than we can follow. If you post your message only once, you have only one opportunity to grab the attention of students and parents who are following your classroom or school Tweets and Facebook posts. Use Hootsuite to schedule your messages to appear in the morning and the evening.

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