Monday, May 29, 2017

History Project Vignettes

The History Project is a service that I like to describe as StoryCorps With Timelines. When the service launched last summer it was designed to help people record and share personal stories in a timeline format. Each event on a timeline can include multiple pictures, text, and audio that you either record in the service or upload from a previously made recording. After using The History Project for a while I realized that although it was made for recording and sharing personal stories, it can be used to create timelines of any series of events.

Last week The History Project added a new format in which users can share stories. That new format is called Vignettes. Vignettes are essentially short slideshows of up to twelve images with minimal text. The slideshows automatically display in full screen at web addresses that are automatically assigned to them.

Applications for Education
The History Project Vignettes could provide your students with a quick way to share the highlights from a long timeline that they have constructed. Think of it as providing a summary of a timeline in a slideshow format.

See this blog post for a comparison of The History Project with six other multimedia timeline tools.

Screencastify and Nimbus Screenshot Compared

I recently received an email from a reader seeking a comparison of Screencastify and Nimbus Screenshot. Back in March I published a comparison of both tools along with Capture Cast. Here's a short recap of that comparison.

My preference is for Nimbus Screenshot because its free plan offers more of what I need than Screencastify's free plan offers. Nimbus Screenshot's free plan includes a countdown timer that displays before the recording starts, it records in higher resolution than Screencastify, and it doesn't apply a watermark to my video.

Here's a video that I made with Nimbus Screenshot on my Chromebook.

Bitly vs.

I recently received an email from a long-time reader who wanted to know my opinion of using Bitly compared to 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 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 - Pros & Cons
Pro - is available in your Google Account. You can create shortened URLs and QR codes at the same time in

Con - 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 you could have students just copy 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

Looking for a keynote or workshop? Click here to learn about my professional development services.

I am currently offering five online courses:

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
WriteReader is a fantastic multimedia writing tool for elementary school students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explanatory videos.

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.