Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Public Domain Explained by Common Craft

Public Domain Explained by Common Craft is a new video that answers some common questions about the differences between works that are in the public domain and those that are copyrighted. The video also teaches how works end up in the public domain and some tips for finding media that is in the public domain. You can watch the video and or read the transcript here. The video is also embedded below.


Applications for Education
This new video is a great companion to Common Craft's previous video about Copyright and Creative Commons. Both are videos that students and adults should watch before downloading and re-using any pictures, videos, or audio recordings that they find on the Internet.

On a related note, next week Common Craft is hosting a free webinar about how to make Common Craft-style videos.

Disclosure: I have an in-kind business relationship with Common Craft.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

How to Create a Word Cloud In Google Docs

Last week during Practical Ed Tech Live I answered a request for a suggestion for a tool to create word clouds. One of the tools that I suggested was the Word Cloud Add-on for Google Docs. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to quickly create a word cloud in Google Documents.

CK-12 BrainFlex Can Help Kids Keep Their Math & Science Skills Sharp This Summer

For the third summer in a row the CK-12 Foundation is hosting the CK-12 Brainflex Summer Challenge. The challenge is a free program that students can use to keep their math and science skills sharp through the summer while also learning some new knowledge and gaining new skills. Students register for the program and then track their skills review through the CK-12 Brainflex website. The CK-12 Summer Challenge is self-paced and students choose the subjects that they want to review. Teachers and parents can sign into CK-12 to track their students' progress through the eight modules of the Brainflex program.

Applications for Education
Teachers can send invitations to students to participate in the CK-12 Summer Challenge. With those invitations teachers can include suggestions for subjects to review. CK-12 also provides a template for a letter to send home to parents with suggestions on subjects for their children to review over the summer. That letter could be sent to the parents of the students moving on from your classroom this summer or to the parents of the students you're expecting to see in the fall.

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.