Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Use Google Drawings as an Alternative to Thinglink

Thinglink recently made some changes to their free plans that further limited access for students. Because of those changes, a few days ago I received an email from a reader who was looking for an alternative to Thinglink. One of my suggestions was to try using Google Drawings to create hyperlinked images. In the following video I provide a demonstration of how to create hyperlinked images in Google Drawings.

Click here to see five more ways to use Google Drawings.

Videos and Google Earth File for Learning About Glaciers

SciShow Kids recently published a new video that explains to children how glaciers are formed and how they change over time. SciShow Kids is intended for early elementary school grades and this video about glaciers not an exception to that pattern.

For older students you might want to take a look at How Do Glaciers Move? which explains how glaciers are formed, the physical properties of glaciers, and how glaciers move. The video also answers the question of whether a glacier is a solid or a liquid.

Finally, the Extreme Ice Survey offers a Google Earth file (clicking the link will launch a KML download) that displays the results of the Extreme Ice Survey. In this Google Earth file users can view glaciers, historical data about glaciers, and some video clips about shrinking glaciers. The Extreme Ice Survey website has high quality photos and time lapse videos from the surveyors.

Use one of these seven tools to create a science lesson with either video that is posted above.

Getting Out of Your Ed Tech Rut

For the last seven weeks I've been making it a point to try out the features of Microsoft's offerings for teachers and students. See yesterday's post about Microsoft Forms as an example of that. I have been doing this because it is forcing me to take an honest look at the competitor to G Suite for Education which I have used in its various forms for more than a decade. Yesterday afternoon I went live on Facebook to talk about why I'm trying Microsoft tools right now. If you missed my live broadcast, the recording is embedded below.

Search Within a Folder in Google Drive

A convenient update to Google Drive was released yesterday afternoon. You can now search within a folder in your Google Drive account. You can do this in one of two ways. The easiest way is to right-click on a folder's name and then select search. The second option is to open a folder and then use the search box at the top the page.

Like almost every update to Google Drive, this new search feature will be rolled-out gradually over the next couple of weeks. So if you don't see the new search option today, you will see it before too long.

If you're new to using G Suite for Education, take my on-demand course that will teach you everything you need to know to get going and feel comfortable using G Suite in your classroom. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Three Things I Like About Microsoft Forms

I've been a devoted user of Google Docs, Forms, and all things G Suite for more than a decade. I've helped thousands of teachers get started with Google Forms. I tell you all that as a way of saying that it takes a lot for me to be happy with an alternative product. But that's how I feel about the following three aspects of Microsoft Forms.

Feedback Options
I appreciate that I can give feedback to students on each of their responses through the Responses tab on my Microsoft Form. As I view a student's response sheet I can click the comment icon to give the student individualized feedback on one or all of his or her responses. Yes, you can do similar things in Google Forms, but I just found this a bit more streamlined in Microsoft Forms.

Video & Image Formatting
Just like Google Forms, Microsoft Forms allows you to use videos and images in your questions. In Microsoft Forms videos are automatically resized to fit in the space allotted. Images are displayed to right of the text. Microsoft Forms will also let you add alt text to an image. That text will be displayed when a student places his or her cursor over the image. I used that function to provide a clue for the image I used in this form.

Mobile Preview
This might not be a big deal to some people, but I like the option to preview how my form will look to users who are trying to complete it on their phones. Microsoft Forms will show me both a mobile preview and a desktop preview.

One Thing I Wish Microsoft Forms Had
Microsoft Forms has support for branching logic that direct users to specific questions. However, it doesn't appear to have support for making independent sections or pages like Google Forms does. To be fair, I'm new to using Microsoft Forms so multiple sections might be a feature that I just haven't discovered yet.