Thursday, January 4, 2018

The First Six Webinars for the Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group

The first meeting of the 2018 Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group is next Tuesday. Another member joined last night and another person inquired with a question about the topics to be covered in the group.

The first six webinars will be as follows:

  • 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

In addition to these webinars there is a monthly members-only Google Hangout for open discussion and Q&A about anything that members want to talk about. And throughout the year members can participate in a Slack group for extended discussion.

Click here to join the 2018 Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group.

Can I Use Canva With Students Under 13? - Yes, But Read This

Canva is a fantastic service for creating all kinds of graphics. Over the years I have featured many ways to use it in your classroom. Here's a collection of free lesson plans that incorporate Canva and graphic design in many subject areas.

Whenever I write about it, someone will ask me about Canva's terms of service and whether or not it can be used with students under age 13. And that's what happened yesterday. I reached out to Canva's CEO Cliff Obrecht to seek clarification. He put me in touch with Canva's education team manager. Here's what they wrote to me.

Under 13s can use Canva if they’re appropriately supervised. We have a help centre article on exactly this point:

We made this change a couple of years ago.

The original message says we still have a 13+ requirement in our Terms. We don’t, we just require supervision. To my knowledge we have no functionality to block G Suite accounts for those under 13, nor any plans to add it. It would make it difficult to enable supervised access if we were blocking them.

Thanks to Cliff, Lee, and Julien at Canva for their quick responses to my email. And thanks to Jonathan for raising the question to me in an email yesterday morning.

Three Options for Hosting Snow Day Study Sessions

Batten down the hatches! We've got a big storm about to hit the northeastern part of the United States. When I went to bed last night many schools were already announcing closings for today and when I got up at 4am even more had closed. Then when I went on Twitter someone asked me for advice about remote tutoring/ test review on a snow day. The actual message was, "got any ideas of how to remotely tutor/test review with students (multiple at once) during a snow day? I've got a tablet PC and we're a Google apps district." It turns out that I do have some ideas about this.

1. If your school district allows it/ has enabled it, you could use Google Hangouts. Pro tip: there is often a few people who can't join/ have trouble joining due to being signed into multiple Google Accounts at the same time.

2. is a free and simple service for hosting online study sessions. In the following video I demonstrate how quick and easy it is to create a virtual conference room on WebRoom.

3. Know Lounge that will let you create a live broadcast from your laptop. Know Lounge includes a whiteboard that you can draw on and share with your audience. Students can ask you question by writing them into a chat box. Additionally, you can allow students to use their webcams to ask you questions during your broadcast. Directions for using Know Lounge can be watched here.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Thinking of Starting a Blog in 2018? - Here Are My Recommendations

Are you thinking about starting a blog in 2018? If you are, here are my recommendations based on more than a decade of daily blogging.

Classroom Blogging
If you want to start a blog to use with your students my first recommendation is to try Edublogs. It runs on the powerful WordPress platform but doesn't require you to worry about any of the technical aspects of using WordPress. More importantly, you have control over the creation of your students' usernames and passwords. Blogs and individual blog posts can be made private, password-protected, or public.

Blogger is a good option for G Suite for Education users. If you get your G Suite for Education administrator to enable Blogger on your domain, your students can log into Blogger by using their Google Accounts. Blogger doesn't have quite as many privacy options as Edublogs, but there are enough privacy options for most classroom settings.

Weebly for Education, like Edublogs, lets teachers create and manage students' accounts. The limitation of Weebly for Education is that you can only have 40 students in your account for free. Weebly was originally designed to be a website builder, and it is good at that, so there are quite a few options built into it that you won't need if you're just using it for a classroom blog.

Personal / Professional Blogging
Many, many times that if I was starting Free Technology for Teachers today, it would be done as a self-hosted WordPress blog. In fact, every other blog and website that I run is built that way. A self-hosted WordPress blog will give you the ultimate in design and function flexibility. On this page I have written directions and detailed step-by-step tutorial videos that will walk you through the process of creating a self-hosted WordPress blog.

If creating a self-hosted WordPress blog isn't the route you want to go, I'd then consider using Weebly (affiliate link). My buddy Tom Richey has been quite successful in building a nice following through his Weebly-powered site.

Learn more about how to create a great classroom blog in this recorded Practical Ed Tech webinar

Free Timer Templates for PowerPoint Presentations

Over the years I have featured a lot of free countdown timers that you can use in your classroom. At the beginning of the 2017-18 school year I published this list of recommended countdown timers. Here's one more option to consider, using a timer in a PowerPoint slide.

Microsoft offers a couple of timer templates that you can use in your PowerPoint presentations. You can find those templates in this template gallery (use Control+F to search the gallery). You can use the default timer settings in the slides or you can modify them.

Applications for Education
Putting a timer on a slide can help you create a sense of urgency to complete an activity. Using a timer is also a great way to keep a break from running too long.

When I give conference presentations I usually include short breaks for teachers to talk to each other. Using a timer always helps me refocus the audience after those conversation breaks.