Monday, July 24, 2017

The Half-life of Links and School Social Media Plans

In Randy Krum’s book, Cool Infographics (disclosure, he gave me a copy) he shares that according to research done by Bitly, the half-life of a link on Twitter and Facebook is 2.8 and 3.2 hours respectively. The half-life of a link refers to the amount of time it takes for a link to reach one-half of the number of clicks it will ever receive. Krum notes that those half-life statistics were calculated in 2011. Six years later more people are active on Twitter and Facebook. In turn, the half-life of links posted today is likely shorter than it was six years ago.

Applications for Education
If your school has a Twitter account, Facebook page, and or Google+ and your school’s social media updates are only going out once per day, you’re probably not reaching as many students and parents as you could be reaching. Think of it this way, when was the last time you scrolled twelve hours back in your Facebook timeline or in your Twitter feed? A solution is to post to social networks through a free service like Hootsuite. Hootsuite allows you to publish updates on a schedule to multiple social media accounts.

Guy Kawasaki, former chief product evangelist at Apple, repeats posts on Twitter four times per day. Schools could adopt a similar schedule for distributing announcements and reminders through social media. A good schedule for schools to update their social media accounts would be to publish an hour before school starts (7-9am), shortly after dismissal (2-4pm), shortly after supper time (6-8pm), and late night (10pm-12am).

Learn About the Sounds of Nature on Wild Music

Wild Music is a fun and educational website on which students can learn about sounds commonly heard in nature. On Wild Music students can listen to the sounds of nature and explore what creates those sounds. Some of the activities students will find include a game of animal audio memory in which students hear sounds and have to match them to each other. Students can find activities such as The Mosquito in which they compare their hearing to the hearing of various animals.

Applications for Education
Wild Music is a resource that could be used by both science teachers and music teachers. Science teachers can use Wild Music as an exploration of the sounds animals make and why they make those sounds. Music teachers can use Wild Music to explore how the sounds of nature influence musicians.

Blocking and Filtering in Gmail

This afternoon a friend sent me a text message asking about methods for blocking and or filtering messages in Gmail. Like requests of this nature, it was easier to show the method than to explain it in writing. So I recorded the following video about how to block senders in Gmail.

The following video explains how to apply filters in Gmail.

Applications for Education
By using filters in Gmail, including the G Suite for Education version of Gmail, you can apply some automatic organization to your inbox.

Develop and Track ACT & SAT Prep Activities in PrepFactory

Disclosure: PrepFactory is an advertiser on

PrepFactory offers students a great selection of free SAT and ACT preparation activities. PrepFactory focuses on helping students develop good test-taking strategies while also not boring them with dozens of continuous rote exercises. For example, the Pattern Matcher game in PrepFactory has students look at questions and choose the best answering strategy rather than just answering the questions shown to them.

This past spring PrepFactory introduced helpful features for teachers. When you register as a teacher and create your classroom you can also create specific assignments for your students on an individual or class-wide basis. Then once your students have started on their assignments you can track their progress, see where they need to improve, and suggest more appropriate review activities.

Learn more about PrepFactory in the following video.

Disclosure: PrepFactory is an advertiser on

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Week in Review - New Headquarters

Good evening from the new Free Technology for Teachers world headquarters in Paris, Maine. Today, we moved into a home in the Paris Hill historic district. It's most notable resident was Hannibal Hamlin who was Abraham Lincoln's first Vice-President. As a lover of history, I'm excited to dig into more of the local history in my new neighborhood. You can expect some new blog posts in which I share the research methods I use to learn about the history of the area.

In other news, this week I hosted the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp. A big thank you to everyone who came and participated. I truly enjoyed the contributions that everyone made to the conversations throughout both days.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Students Can Now Guide Themselves In Google Expeditions
2. Save Time by Using JoeZoo Express to Give Feedback in Google Docs
3. The Periodic Table in Pictures and Words
4. How to Use Google's My Maps in Your Classroom
5. My Favorite Internet Search Tips for Teachers & Students
6. Summarize the Day With Pic Collage
7. 9 Features of ClassDojo's Digital Portfolio Platform - Coming Soon

Individual and group registration is still open my BYOD Camp. Register with a group and get a great discount!

I'm offering three online professional development courses in August. Join me for a few hours in August and you'll gain new skills and ideas to use in your classroom this fall.

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.
Beyond Tech Ed is hosting a great Chromebook training in Palm Springs. 
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
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.