Friday, December 8, 2017

Zapier - Connect Your Favorite Tools

Zapier is a fantastic tool for improving your workflow between the services that you use the most. For example, let's say that you're a devoted Evernote user and a devoted Dropbox user. Zapier will let you connect the two so that you can send your Dropbox files to Evernote. Or maybe you use Twitter all the time and you want to save some Tweets in an Evernote notebook, Zapier can help you do that too.

I recently used Zapier to create an automation between Google Forms and Google Calendar. By using Zapier I was able to automatically add Google Forms submissions to events on Google Calendar. I did this so that I can create a Form that people use to register for an event and then have their email addresses added to the event on my Google Calendar. That way I can send a quick reminder to everyone who signs up for my event.

Applications for Education
Zapier supports more than 750 tools that you can connect through "zaps" in Zapier. With support for that many tools, there is probably a "zap" that can help you improve your workflow. Perhaps you use Office 365 and you need a way to quickly add parents' and students' email addresses to your contacts, Zapier offers a zap that will automatically add submissions to Google Forms to your 365 contacts. That zap might be helpful for managing things like extracurricular club rosters.

How to connect the disconnected pieces of G Suite for Education is one of the modules in my G Suite for Teachers course. Detailed directions on using Zapier are included in that module. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Promoting School Events Through Social Media

My personal Facebook and Instagram feeds are starting to be filled up with pictures from holiday concerts that my friends' kids are performing in. Seeing those pictures reminded me of a blog post that I wrote a couple of years ago in which I outlined strategies for promoting and sharing school events through social media. What follows here is an update of that post.

In Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick's book The Art of Social Media there is a chapter all about incorporating social media into physical events like conferences. When I read it I thought, "this could apply to school events."

Here's the general outline of how this could work:
1. Let's say your school's music program is having a fundraiser event like an auction or a costume contest.

2. Pick a hashtag for the event and let people know about it. Print it out and plaster it on posters with prompts like, "remember to tag your pictures, #myschoolrocks."

3.  Use a tool like TweetDeck or Hootsuite to monitor the hashtag and to reTweet, Pin, reGram, tag, and otherwise help the event's hashtag grow.

4. After the event is over go through and choose a bunch of pictures and or Tweets to create a collage of highlights of the events. Tools like Pic-Collage and Canva make it easy to build collages. (Remember to ask for permission to re-use another person's pictures). Post the collages on your school's Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. Of course, you'll also want to use the collages in your school newsletter too.

Why do this?
1. Your students and their parents are already likely to be using social media during after-school events.

2. By encouraging the use of and tracking a hashtag you can have a better sense of what is being said about the event.

3. People love to see pictures of themselves (the selfie stick is the new symbol of narcissism) so by including their pictures in news about the event they're more likely to share news about the event.

4. If the event went well, people had fun, and money was raised (or whatever the event's goal was), you now have a small army of people who have positive feelings about the school that they are sharing throughout their communities. Sharing good feelings and comments about your school is always a good thing.

FAQs About the 2018 Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group

Last weekend I announced the launch of the 2018 Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group. The first members have already registered. Many of you who have emailed me for more information about membership in the group. Yesterday afternoon I went live on my YouTube channel to answer those questions. If you missed the live broadcast, you can now watch it here.

The most frequently asked question has been, "what are the topics for the first webinars?" Here they are along with the days they will be held.
  • Building Digital Portfolios - January 9th
  • AR & VR in the Classroom - January 23rd
  • Social Media for Teachers & Principals - February 6th
  • Video Creation as Assessment - February 20th
  • Copyright for Teachers - March 6th
  • Programming Simple Apps - March 20th
Live Q&A/ discussion sessions open only to group members will be held on the last Tuesday evening of each month.

Click here to join the Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group today!

An unplanned bonus of membership in the Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group is that you will get to see the slow transformation of my office from disheveled space in my barn into a proper office. 

Canva for Education

Earlier this week I mentioned having students use Canva to create holiday greeting cards. I've since had some folks ask about how students can use it if they don't have email accounts. The short answer is that Canva supports using G Suite single sign-on which means that students can use their school-issued Google accounts to use Canva even if they don't have active email addresses. The other option is to use a temporary email address service like those listed by Larry Ferlazzo to create accounts.

A couple of years ago I was involved in helping Canva develop the education section of their service. Out of that came a collection of lesson plans developed by leading educators like Terri Eichholz and Bill Ferriter. The collection of lesson plans cover topics in U.S. and World History, poetry, mathematics, science, and graphic design. The majority of the lesson plans are suitable for use in fourth through tenth grade.

Here's a video that I made about how to create image collages in Canva.

This video that I made will show you how to use Canva's webpage design and publishing tool.

425 Ed Tech Tutorial Videos

A few years ago I started to make an effort to create more tutorial videos to include in blog posts here and to include in the Practical Ed Tech Newsletter. Yesterday's video about making video playlists on Padlet was the 425th video added to my Practical Ed Tech playlist.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified when I publish a new video. Here's how to subscribe to my YouTube channel or any other YouTube channel.