Monday, June 12, 2017

Soapbox - A New Tool for Creating Screencast Videos on Chromebooks

Soapbox is a new tool from Wistia that makes it easy to create great screencast videos on a Chromebook or any computer that is using the Chrome web browser. With Soapbox installed in the Chrome web browser you can quickly record your screen and your webcam at the same time.

Soapbox is a little different from other screencast tools. The most distinguishing feature is that you can have your video transition from your screen to your webcam to a combination of the two. Soapbox includes some simple editing tools for zooming in on an area of your screen and calling attention to specific parts of your screen.

Completed Soapbox videos can be shared via email or anywhere else that you want to post a link to your video. The shortcoming of Soapbox is that you cannot download your video. It lives on Wistia's hosting service.

Applications for Education
Soapbox is another option to explore if you aren't happy with the current options for creating screencasts on Chromebooks. The editing tools make it stand out a bit from some of the other screencasting tools that work on Chromebooks. Screencasts in general are useful in helping students learn how to navigate a new web tool.

Come to the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp to learn more about making videos on Chromebooks. 

Quickly Generate an Outline in Google Documents

Google Documents contains lots of handy features that often go overlooked. One of those features is the outline tool. The outline tool will quickly create an outline of your document. The outline is based on headers that you write in your document. The outline appears in the right-hand sidebar of Google Docs and lets you quickly jump to a section of a multiple page document. Watch my video below to see how it works.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Leaving One G Suite District for Another? - Take Your Data With You

Over the last few weeks I received a bunch of questions from readers who are leaving one school district that uses G Suite (formerly known as Google Apps) and going to another. The questions, all phrased slightly differently, have essentially asked how to save and or move data from one G Suite account to another. There are two things that I have recommended. First, you can download your Google Drive files as I demonstrate in the video below.

Second, you can use Google Takeout to move your data. At the Google Takeout site you can create an offline archive of the information in your Google Drive, Gmail, Google Calendar, Photos, Books, and many other Google Services. To do so just visit Google Takeout and select the service(s) you want to archive. A list of the file formats that Google will export to is available here.

Diigo vs. Google Keep - A Comparison of Bookmarking Tools

During Practical Ed Tech Live last Thursday afternoon I answered a request for a comparison of Diigo and Google Keep as alternatives to Delicious. The video of that explanation was a little muffled by some background noise so I decided to write out my explanation of the key differences between Diigo and Google Keep.

Social Sharing
Diigo was designed for sharing bookmarks.  You can create groups in which group members share some or all of their Diigo bookmarks. You can also choose to make all of your bookmarks public so that they can be discovered by others. In fact, discovering other users' bookmarks might be the best aspect of Diigo.  

Google Keep wasn't originally designed for social sharing of bookmarks. Yes, you can share individual bookmarks, but you cannot share entire collections of bookmarks in one swoop as you can in Diigo.

Diigo offers options for highlighting passages of text from a page while bookmarking that page. (The free Diigo plan limits you to 100 highlights). Google Keep doesn't offer that option in the exact same way. With Google Keep installed in the Chrome web browser you can highlight text then send it to Google Keep with a right-click.

Diigo provides an option for adding sticky notes to pages. Google Keep does not have that option at this time.

Cross-platform Accessibility
Both services are available for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. Diigo has extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer. The only official Keep extension is for the Chrome browser.

Other Considerations
Google Keep is now integrated into G Suite. You can access Google Keep notes/ bookmarks within a Google Document. That means that you can quickly insert your bookmarks into a document.

Diigo has special plans for educators that allow you to manage your students' Diigo accounts.

Bottom Line
If you're already using G Suite for Education, I would give the slight edge to Google Keep because of the integration with Google Docs. If you're not married to G Suite, Diigo has a few more options for you and your students.

5 Google Docs Formatting Tips

Some of the first questions that new Google Docs users ask are usually centered around formatting options in Google Docs. The stress of the transition from Word or Pages to Google Docs is eased once some of the basics are addressed. In the following videos I provide demonstrations of five Google Docs formatting options.

How to Insert Columns Into Google Docs:

How to change page orientation, image placement, and text prediction:

How to use strike-through formatting:

Learn more about Google Docs and all parts of G Suite in my online course, Getting Going With G Suite. The next class starts on July 6th. 

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