Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Try Box for Sharing Collections of Files With Password Protection

Last week I started teaching three online courses. I'll be teaching four in June and July. All of the courses feature live webinars accompanied by some handouts. Of course, not everyone can make it to all of the live webinars so I record them and upload them to private folders on Box.com.

You might wonder why I use Box.com and not Google Drive. It's simple, Google Drive doesn't give me the access controls and usage statistics that I need for an online course. Box lets me password protect folders and make folders available only by email invitation. Those who I invite can use any email address that they like, they don't have to use Gmail as they would if I tried to share the files through a Gmail-based Google Classroom. Box also lets me see how many times a file has been accessed by those I've invited.

When I publish handouts like this one about making videos on Chromebooks, I use Box to host and display the PDF in my blog. I do that because the Box.com document viewer looks and functions much better than Google Drive does when it comes to large PDFs. In fact, A Complete Guide to Using Blogger In School is a such a large file that Google Drive won't display a preview of it, it just displays a download link.

Don't get me wrong, I still love Google Drive. But I can also recognize when it's not the right tool for the job.

Padlet's "Focus Mode" Cuts Down on Confusion

On Monday I published a video about Padlet's new flowchart option. Today, I want to focus your attention on Padlet's new "focus" mode. Focus mode cuts down on distractions and confusion when a bunch of people are trying to add notes to the same Padlet wall at the same time. Now when you add a note to a wall that others are using, you will only see a small notification that someone else has added a note instead of that note instantly appearing on the screen. When you're done writing your own note hit refresh to see all of the notes that were added while you were writing your own note.

Applications for Education
For a long time one of the biggest sources of confusion for students using Padlet with a group has been seeing notes move while they're still trying to write. This new Focus mode should remove much of that confusion.

Monday, May 8, 2017

How to Create a Flowchart on Padlet

Late last month Padlet introduced a handful of new features. One of those features is the option to show connections between notes on a Padlet wall. Connector lines are now available to show the connections between notes. The connector lines can be used on Padlet walls that you create entirely by yourself and on Padlet walls that are created collaboratively. Watch my video embedded below to learn how to create a flowchart on Padlet.

Cite It In - A Free Tool for Creating Reference Citations

Cite It In is another in a long list of tools that are designed to help students properly format research citations. Cite It In provides students with templates for creating inline and bibliography citations in APA, MLA, and Chicago style. Cite It In works the same way regardless of the citation style that students choose.

To use Cite It In students simply go to the site, pick a style, and fill in the information requested in the template. Once the template is completed, students click "generate citation" and a citation is created for them to copy and paste into their documents.

Applications for Education
Cite It In isn't as slick as some of the other citation generators on the web, but it is simple and easy to use. One drawback to it is that students will have to do a lot of copying and pasting if they have a lot of references to cite.

Publish This Email - A Simple Blogging Tool

PublishThis.email is the latest in a string of relatively new services offering a quick and easy way to publish your writing online. PublishThis.email lets you create simple webpages by just sending an email to page@publishthis.email. The email that you send to that address will be turned into a webpage in a matter of seconds. You will be emailed a link to your new page. In your page you can include text and images, but video isn't supported.

The service does have some drawbacks. First, you can delete your page but you cannot edit your page once it is published. Second, anything that appears in your email signature will be published. For example, my email signature includes my phone number. You'll need to delete your signature before sending an email to PublishThis.email.

Applications for Education
PublishThis.email could be handy for teachers who want to quickly publish a webpage to announce an event. Some students might like the service for publishing a somewhat anonymous blog.

There are some concerns to note with PublishThis.email. The biggest concern is that students are going to be sending emails to a service that hasn't published any privacy statement that I can find.

At this point I'm inclined to recommend Telegra.ph as a better option for publishing writing online without the need to create an account or use an email address.