Friday, November 25, 2016

Three Ways to Host Online Tutoring Sessions

I recently received an email from a reader who was looking for some tools that she could use for online tutoring/ instruction. The catch was that she needed to be able to share a whiteboard with her students. That's not an unusual request because whiteboards can be invaluable when trying to explain a mathematics concept online. These are the suggestions that I offered to her.

Web Whiteboard for Google+ Hangouts. This little tool adds a whiteboard to your Google+ Hangout. You can draw on the whiteboard while still taking advantage of all of the other features of Google+ Hangouts like voice, video, and text chat. To use Web Whiteboard in Google+ Hangouts simply go to the site and click G+ Hangout.

Stoodle is a free collaborative whiteboard tool hosted by the CK12 Foundation. You can use text chat while sharing your whiteboard. Registration is not required in order to use Stoodle. In the video embedded below I demonstrate the features of Stoodle.



Join.me offers a whiteboard tool in their video conferencing system. There is a free version of Join.me available. The free version does limit some of the functions, but you can try the full version for free for up to three weeks. The other limitation is that you do have to install the desktop client or the iPad app in order to use Join.me so it's not an option for Chromebook users.

Google Drive vs. Padlet

Earlier this week I received a message on the Practical Ed Tech Facebook page from a reader who asked, "What do you suggest as the best way to share resources such as documents and webpages for teachers? Google Docs? Padlet?"

File sharing comparison
Comparing Google Docs (or Drive) to Padlet for file storage is a bit of an apples to oranges comparison. Google Drive was created for creating and sharing files in an orderly manner. Padlet, while it can be used to share files, wasn't designed for file sharing and lacks the organization tools needed for making sense of large collections of files. Google Drive lets you create folders and subfolders with various levels of sharing permissions. Google Drive also has a search tool that makes it relatively easy to find a file if you forget which folder you stored it in. Padlet has none of those features. Therefore, Google Drive is the clear choice for file sharing.

Bookmark sharing comparison
The part of the question was about sharing webpages. This is where Padlet gets the nod because it actually has a tool designed for sharing links. Padlet Mini is a Chrome extension that you can use to send links directly to Padlet wall. You can then just share the wall with your colleagues so that they can see your links. Google Drive wasn't designed for sharing links so again we have a bit of an apples to oranges comparison.


There are better tools for sharing bookmarks than either Padlet or Google Drive. Tools like Diigo or the ubiquitous Pinterest will give you better options for organizing your bookmarks before sharing them with others.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thank You!

Good morning from Connecticut where I am watching my brother and other members of his club run in the 80th annual road race in our hometown. To borrow a line from Jim Nantz, in my family watching the race "is a tradition unlike any other." But enough about my family...

On this Thanksgiving morning I'd like to say thank you to everyone who has helped keep this blog going for the last nine years. Without your support this blog wouldn't survive. Whether you've taken one of my courses, invited me to your school, or simply shared some of my blog posts with others, you have helped me keep this little project going. Thank you!

A Simple Alternative to Blubbr for Making Video Quizzes

On Wednesday morning I received an email from a reader who had been using Blubbr to create video quizzes for her students. Unfortunately, Blubbr seems to have gone offline so she was looking for a replacement. My immediate suggestion was to try Vizia. Vizia lets you build multiple choice questions into any YouTube video. The responses that you gather appear in either a Google Sheet or a CSV file to download. If you use the Google Sheet option you can then use Flubaroo to grade your students' responses to the quiz. In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of how to use Vizia.

The Search for Alice's Restaurant

Radio stations all over the United States play Alice's Restaurant Massacree on Thanksgiving Day. While I was looking for a recording of the song on YouTube it occurred to me that many other people were surely doing the same thing. That thought prompted me to go to Wolfram Alpha where I found a chart of Wikipedia traffic for the search term "Alice's Restaurant." So the question/ cultural history lesson for students is "why do people search for that term around Thanksgiving?"

Here's the song:


Happy listening! Happy Thanksgiving!