Monday, May 29, 2017

Bitly vs. Goo.gl

I recently received an email from a long-time reader who wanted to know my opinion of using Bitly compared to Goo.gl for shortening and sharing URLs. I have a slight preference for Bitly, but I don't think that you can go wrong by using either tool to shorten and share URLs. Here's my quick comparison of the two services.

Bitly - Pros & Cons
Pro - If you create a free Bitly.com account you can customize your shortened URLs so that they spell words or at least have initials and numbers that are related to an event. For example, I often use Bitly to shorten the URLs that I share at workshops. When I shorten the URLs I customize them with the initials or name of the school at which I am working that day. I find that doing this makes it easier for people to copy URLs that I display on a screen.

Con -  A few years ago Bitly removed the option to create QR codes while also shortening URLs. So if you need a QR code to go with your shortened URL, you might want to try Goo.gl.

Goo.gl - Pros & Cons
Pro - Goo.gl is available in your Google Account. You can create shortened URLs and QR codes at the same time in Goo.gl.

Con - Goo.gl doesn't let you customize the shortened URL that is generated for you. You're stuck with the randomly generated characters that are given to you.

Applications for Education
Both services make it easy to shorten the URLs that you want to display on a whiteboard or screen for students to write down. Rather than copying a long, complex URL like freetech4teachers.com/2011/03/two-simple-tools-every-classroom.html you could have students just copy bit.ly/2011simple. Both tools also provide you with the option to track how many times your shortened URLs have been used. So from a classroom management standpoint, if I post a shortened URL then see that it has only been used fifteen times and I have twenty-five students, I know that at least ten students aren't on the right page.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

I had to take some time away from the blog this week so the second part of the week featured posts from the archives. New posts will resume on Monday.

Here are the most popular posts of the week:
1. The Things I Wish Every Teacher Knew About Technology...
2. 10 Ideas for Using Comics In Your Classroom
3. Great Ideas for Using Scratch in Elementary Math
4. Two Ways to Add Audio to Google Slides
5. Great Tools for Making Videos on Chromebooks
6. Benefits of Using Backchannels In Your Classroom
7. Three Ways for Students to Create Digital Flashcards

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Saying Goodbye to a Great Friend

Good morning from Maine where I'm mourning the loss of my big buddy Max. Max was a wonderful dog who I adopted from Harvest Hills Animal Shelter five years ago when he was two or three years old. We had many wonderful years together and I was looking forward to many more, but it was not to be. Max passed away peacefully on Wednesday afternoon. I like to think that he's now free to run and swim with again with his older brother, Morrison, who passed away just 18 months ago. I'll miss them both and remember them both for the rest of my own days.

As long time readers of this blog know, I'm a huge advocate for adopting not shopping when it comes to pets. Max was a classic case of a second chance dog. Some members of the shelter staff thought he should have been euthanized, but I gave him a chance and he gave me a chance. We ended up having five wonderful years together. Please consider adopting from your local animal shelter. Just like kids, they all deserve multiple chances at a great life.

Finally, a huge thank you to the staff of Bridgton Veterinary Hospital for providing great care for Max until the very end.

Friday, May 26, 2017

27 Ideas for Teaching With & About Topographic Maps - From the Archive

Due to an injury and some pressing personal matters requiring my attention, posts for the rest of the week will be favorites from the archive.

The USGS offers free topographic maps for most of the United States. The maps can be downloaded as PDFs through the USGS store. The maps can be used in the 27 suggested topographic maps lessons found in the USGS education site. All of the lessons are rated by grade level and time required for completing the activity. In the list of lesson ideas you will find suggestions for lessons about typical geography topics like coordinates, scale, and map projections as well as lesson suggestions for less common things like analysis of stereo aerial photographs and analysis of humans and hydrography.


How to Create a Progress Chart in Google Sheets - From the Archive

Due to an injury and some pressing personal matters requiring my attention, posts for the rest of the week will be favorites from the archive. New posts will resume on Monday.

Flippity provides a handful of great Google Sheets templates. I've featured their Random Name Picker, Flashcard, and Jeopardy templates in the past. The latest Flippity template that I've tried is their Progress Indicator template. With that template you can create a progress chart that will update whenever you update the data in the chart. In the video embedded below I provide an overview of how to use Flippity's Progress Indicator template.