Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Telegraph - Super Simple Blogging

Alan Levine's Cog Dog Blog is one of my absolute favorite blogs. I skip over many others in my Feedly list to read his posts first. I almost always learn something new when I read his blog. Yesterday, I learned about super simple publishing tool called Telegra.ph

Telegra.ph gives you a simple place to publish your writing and pictures without the need to create an account on the site. To publish you simply go to telegra.ph and start writing. You can include pictures in your writing, but you cannot include videos. Your writing will be given its own URL that you can share with those you want to read your work. The whole process of publishing on Telegraph is quick and easy. Here's my first Telegraph entry.


Here are the shortcomings of Telegra.ph. Once you close your browser, you cannot go back and edit your writing. The other limitation is that every new piece that you write will be given a different URL which means that people can't simply follow you like as they might if you had a full fledged blog.

Applications for Education
Telegra.ph could be a good tool for those teachers who are looking for a way for their students to share their writing online without the hassle of having them register for a blog or use the ugly interface of a publicly published Google Doc.

HSTRY is Now Sutori

Over the last couple of years HSTRY has become a popular multimedia timeline creation tool. One of its best features is the option to include quiz questions in the timelines that you share with your students.

Over the weekend HSTRY rebranded itself as Sutori. Other than the name, nothing else has changed on the platform. If you currently have projects in HSTRY, they are safe in Sutori. You can log into Sutori using your HSTRY credentials. Likewise, if you have created an online classroom in HSTRY all student account credentials are the same in Sutori. All timelines that you have embedded into blog posts will remain unchanged.

Learn more about how to use Sutori, formerly HSTRY, by watching the video embedded below.

Flubaroo Adds a New Feedback Option - Stickers & Badges

Back in June when Google added a scoring option to Google Forms many people wondered if Flubaroo was still a necessary Add-on. The answer to that is yes for anyone who wants to grade quizzes that have multiple correct responses, fill-in-the-blank questions, and for those who who want do more advanced grading tricks like case-sensitive answers, extra or partial credit, and numerical ranges. And now Flubaroo offers another feature that you won't find in Google Forms' built-in grading tool.

Flubaroo now offers the option to include a sticker/ digital badge when you distribute grades to your students either through Google Docs or through email. Flubaroo includes some standard stickers that you can use or you can upload your own stickers to use.

To include stickers in your Flubaroo grade distribution simply select the "advanced options" when you are sharing grades. Then select "sticker set-up"to choose the stickers that you want to use. You can choose a grade cut-off line for when a sticker is or isn't distributed to students. See the complete process here.

Applications for Education
Distributing stickers probably won't change the way that you score quizzes, but it is a nice option for giving students a bit of visual feedback.

If Flubaroo is new to you, take a look at my playlist of tutorials embedded below.

Monday, November 28, 2016

World Population History - An Interactive Map and Timeline

Last night on the Practical Ed Tech Facebook page I shared a post from Randy Krum that included a visualization of U.S. population growth. Watching that visualization led me to a related visualization about world population growth.

World Population History is an interactive map and timeline of the world's population growth from 1 C.E. to today. The map is essentially a heat map of population centers. The timeline at the bottom of the map features little placemarks that feature developments in science, trade, and major political events. Students can click on the markers in the timeline to learn more about each development.

Applications for Education
The combination of the map with the timeline can help students see the correlation between scientific advancements and changes in population growth. For a classroom activity you could have students create a similar map and timeline of population changes in their local areas. For example, my students in Maine might make a map and timeline that depicts changes in forestry practices and the corresponding changes in populations throughout the state.

9 Lessons Learned Through Nine Years of Blogging

Today marks the ninth birthday for this little blog that I started on a Wednesday evening in 2007. Read that first post and you'll see that I didn't have much in the way of goals or expectations for this blog. It was just something I was doing to help other teachers. Back then I didn't have any idea that I would publish nearly 12,000 blog posts about educational technology. Along the way to publishing I've learned a lot about education, blogging, and business. Here's a short summary of the highlights of the last nine years.

1. Publish early, publish often.
This is a tip that I learned early on from Pete Cashmore, founder of Mashable. Not only does this help for SEO purposes it helps me maintain the habit of writing everyday.

2. Ad revenue is a terrible business model for a blog.
Ad revenue relies on pageviews, pageviews rely on constantly publishing new content. Constantly publishing new content can be a challenge when you feel like you've written everything that you can think of. You need a team of writers to produce the quantity of content needed to survive on ad revenue alone. I don't want to manage a team of writers.

3. People are generally good and nice. 
This lesson has been reinforced to me many times over the years, but there are two times that stand-out from the rest. First, in 2009 when a Twitter follower, Beth Still, organized the NECC Newbie Project to crowd-source the funds to get me to the NECC (now ISTE) conference. Second, when my beloved dog, Morrison, passed away in September last year I received hundreds of emails people expressing their condolences. Larry Kelly's email moved me to tears and still does when I think about it.

4. A few rotten comments can stick with you for a long time.
Fortunately, I can only remember of handful of these.

5. Read, read, read!
Read blogs, read books, read magazines, read the flyers in a doctor's office waiting room. You never know when something you read will inspire a blog post. There have been many times when I was reading a book completely unrelated to educational technology when something I read sparks an idea for a blog post here.

6. Cite your sources and fight plagiarism. 
When someone else inspires a blog post that you write, acknowledge that person even. I forgot to do this once and I was thoroughly embarrassed.

If someone is copying and pasting your blog posts verbatim, call him/ her out on it. Don't let them get away with, "I was just trying to share it with my teachers." Tell them to direct people back to you. A lot of plagiarism in the ed tech world seems to originate from the idea that it's okay to copy and paste if you're doing it to share with other teachers. Educate others on proper ways to share blog posts.

7. Give the people what they want.
When someone makes a reasonable request for help, answer them. Turn those answers into blog posts. I learned this lesson from the late Allen Stern who ran Center Networks. I miss that guy.

8. Everything changes.
When I started this blog MySpace was still more popular than Facebook. iPads and Android tablets weren't a thing. Chromebooks didn't exist although we did have netbooks running Windows XP (I used one throughout 2009). What I wrote about in 2007 and 2008 seems like ancient history. Some of the things I reviewed back then is still relevant, but a lot of it isn't. Adapt or die...

9. It's the readers that matter.
This blog wouldn't still be going today without all of you who follow this blog and share it with your friends and colleagues. Thank you!