Monday, April 3, 2017

How to Download Google Slides as Images

In the course of designing and building a great slide presentation, you may find that you have some slides that make great stand-alone graphics for things like posters, flyers, and social media posts. There is an easy way to download those slides as JPEG and PNG images. That process is demonstrated in my video below.

Applications for Education
If your students are already familiar with the design tools in Google Slides, have them use those tools to create graphics for flyers and collages rather than muddying the water with yet another web tool.

How to Create an Audio Slideshow in YouTube

This morning I received the following question in an email:

You shared how to add sound to Google Slides. Is there a way to add music as background throughout a slide presentation? I have a teacher who is having her students create a slideshow about the Great Depression and would like music to play as students' work is being presented. Is that even possible?

Unfortunately, I haven't figured out a way to make music play continuously through all of the slides in Google Slides. However, YouTube's audio slideshow tool will let you play music in the background while all of your images play. Watch the video below to learn how to do that.

It should be noted that the annotations feature that is demonstrated in the video above will be removed from YouTube at the end of this month. If you want to include text in the images shown in your audio slideshow, I'd recommend creating Google Slides then downloading them as images to use in your YouTube audio slideshow.

Jeopardy Rocks Now As Factile - Jeopardy & Flashcards

A couple of years ago I featured Jeopardy Rocks. Recently, Jeopardy Rocks changed its name to Factile and added some more features.

At its core Factile is a free platform for creating Jeopardy-style game boards to use in your classroom. Factile lets you create games and save them in your account to use whenever you need them. When you create your game you can include images in the answer display. One of the new features is a gallery of templates for creating games. You can browse the template gallery and make copies of the ones that you want to use in your classroom.

The Jeopardy games in Factile are designed to be played by teams in your classroom. You control the board and award points when students answer correctly.

Factile's newest feature provides an option for creating flashcards out of your game questions. To use the flashcard mode just select that option instead of "play" when you load a game.

Applications for Education
The new flashcard mode in Factile could be good for students to use before you play a Jeopardy game with the whole class. Of course, the game gallery could prove to helpful to those of us short on time to create a review game from scratch.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

If I Was Starting Free Technology for Teachers Today...

I am frequently asked about how I started Free Technology for Teachers. In response to that question I always tell the story about starting it as a hobby that I never thought would turn into the business that it has become. As a follow-up to that, I usually share what I would have done differently if I had thought that it was going to become a business. Here are some of the things that I would do differently if I was starting Free Technology for Teachers over again from scratch.

1. Self-host the blog and use WordPress. 
While I still believe that Blogger is a good choice for classroom blogs or small hobby blogs, it does become limiting at a certain point. One the bigger limitations being in the level of design customization that can be accomplished without diving into lots of coding. Another limitation of concern is that I'm still at the mercy of Google. If Google decides to shutter Blogger, I would still have all of my content in an XML file, but I'd have to find a new place to host it and do the arduous work of rebuilding search engine visibility. In other words, every day is a gamble running a business that relies on Google not shuttering Blogger.

Every professional blog (,, and others) that I've started in the last five years has run on WordPress. To be clear, I'm referring to the free software not the hosted blog option. I use MediaTemple as the hosting service. It's not the cheapest hosting service you'll find, but the customer service is great! And they're currently running a promotion that gives you two months of free hosting.

There are thousands of themes and templates that you can use on a WordPress blog. I've used free themes, but I've been happiest with themes that I've purchased from WooThemes, StudioPress, and DIY Themes.

2. Create and share more videos.
It's only in the last couple of years that I started to make and share a lot of my own tutorial videos. Screencast videos don't take a lot of time to make and they're quite helpful to visitors. Posting the videos on YouTube with links back to the blog is also a great way to get more visitors to the blog itself.

3. Offer an email newsletter. 
When I started this blog RSS readers were the darling of the Web 2.0 world. People were trying all kinds of things to monetize RSS feeds because the RSS reader was going to replace email. In fact, Allen Stern proposed charging $1 feed. (Side note, Allen Stern was one of the truly great guys in the Web 2.0 blogging community. He taught me and many others a lot about blogging. Sadly, he passed away far too young four years ago). Fast forward ten years and email is still here and Google Reader is long gone. The email newsletter that I finally started in 2014 now has more than 13,000 subscribers and it accounts for almost as much traffic as Facebook referrals while accounting for the majority of webinar registrations.

What I did right.
The thing that I did right from the start is have a clearly defined (at least in my head) purpose of sharing only free resources and always trying to share an idea for how that resource could be used in a classroom.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what I've learned about turning a blog into a business over the last ten years. In my upcoming course, From Blog to Job, I'll share everything I've learned and give you guidance on developing your own blog-based business. 

Don't Forget the Greater Context on Your VR Trip

During last week's Practical Ed Tech Live episode (join me this Thursday at 4pm EDT) I was asked about virtual reality, specifically Google Expeditions. The point that I tried to emphasize in my response was that it's important that we don't lost the greater physical geographic context when we take students on virtual reality trips.

Before you embark on a virtual reality field trip have your students look at physical maps and have them hypothesize about what they might see on the virtual reality trip. Ask students to use their prior knowledge to form those hypotheses. When they've done that, then go on the VR trip. It will have more meaning to your students if they have a greater context and aren't just touring around a location you sent them to in virtual reality.

For a greater discussion about virtual reality in education, please see the Hangout that I recorded with Greg Kulowiec from

The resources that we shared during the Hangout are available at