Monday, April 9, 2018

Sympathy for Padlet

Last week when Padlet's founder and CEO Nitesh Goel announced the changes to Padlet's pricing model the online ed tech community was upset. Some of the Tweets and Facebook posts that I saw about it were a bit harsh to say the least. I'm sure that Nitesh saw much worse in his inbox than I saw online. For the record, I understand why Nitesh had to make the changes, I support his decision, and I'm actually surprised that he didn't do it earlier. Read Nitesh's full statement on the changes right here and you might be on his side too.

I can tell you from first-hand experience that running a mostly free service is expensive and often thankless. I spent over $12,000 last year to keep Free Technology for Teachers running. And every time that I hosted a free webinar last year I got complaints about everything from the scheduling to the requirement to enter an email address (ironically, that complaint was emailed to me). I can only imagine the email that Padlet gets from users of the free plan.

Padlet is a team of six dedicated people. You might be surprised to learn that many of your favorite ed tech services are run by similar size teams. In almost every case they're dedicated people who want to do the best for their customers. They care, but running a service that is mostly free is expensive and they have bills to pay just like the rest of us. So before you send your angry Tweet to Padlet, please remember that they're nice people who are just trying to do their best like the rest of us.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

NASA's Interactive Guide to the Solar System

I have been reviewing and sharing sharing resources from NASA for almost as long as this blog has existed. Somehow, I missed NASA's Solar System Exploration until it was mentioned last week on Maps Mania.

NASA's Solar System Exploration website contains interactive displays of the planets, dwarf planets, and moons of our solar system. To launch an interactive display just choose one of the planets, dwarf planets, or moons from the menu in the site's header. Each display includes little markers in it. Click one of the markers to open a side panel that contains information about that particular feature of the planet, dwarf planet, or moon. Below each interactive display you'll find additional facts and figures.

Applications for Education
Google Earth (the desktop version) has files for displaying the moon and Mars. But to explore the rest of the solar system, NASA Solar System Exploration is a must-bookmark. It could make a great reference site for middle school science classes.

How I Keep the Lights On

A little more than ten years ago I was where a lot of teachers find themselves at one point or another. I loved teaching but I didn't love scraping to pay the bills. On one Wednesday afternoon in January, 2008 I had to borrow gas money from my department head to get me through to Thursday when direct deposit would hit. No two ways about it, that sucked! It was then that I decided that I should try to monetize this little blogging hobby I had started.

Perhaps you're in a situation like I was in 2008. Or, hopefully, you're in a little better situation but still wanting to earn a little extra money without having to take a job at Home Depot on the weekends. Here's an introduction to all the ways that I've earned money online while still doing what I love.

Advertising revenue
This is the obvious one when you visit my blog. I started doing this in 2008. I wish that I knew then how hard it is to make any significant money through ad revenue. I don't recommend banking this method unless you either have lots of traffic on your blog (100,000+ monthly visits) or you're ready to publish 4-6 blog posts on 5-7 days per week.

Amazon Affiliates
Amazon Affiliates is a program that lets you earn a small commission on the sales of products that you recommend online. Amazon isn't the only online business that offers an affiliate program, it's just the biggest. This hasn't worked all that well on Free Technology for Teachers, but it has generated some gas money. That said, I know bloggers for whom it has worked very well. Some people even create websites just for the purpose of recommending Amazon products.

Speaking & Consulting
This category accounts for almost half of my annual income today. It took a while to develop the presence and authority required to get speaking and consulting contracts. Like anything else, start small and build up from there. I did a bunch of speaking and consulting work for not much more than the cost of gasoline and a Subway sandwich (Spicy Italian on herb & cheese, please).

Live webinars, on-demand courses, and digital downloads
Almost six years ago I set-up for the purpose of offering live online courses that I hosted through GoToTraining/ GoToWebinar. Since then I have used various services to sell downloads of individual webinars as well as offer entire courses in on-demand, self-paced formats. I looked at using Teachers Pay Teachers to sell downloads, but they took too big of a cut for my liking. Rather than use TPT to sell my downloads I found some other solutions that allowed me to keep almost all of my sales revenue. I'll be sharing those solutions in Thursday's webinar, How to Ditch TPT and Sell Your Digital Products.

I must point out that none of the four methods created money overnight. It took a lot of trial and error to get things working well. There's still a lot of trial and error today. Fortunately, my errors today are generally smaller because of the errors I made during the previous ten years. If you're thinking about trying to earn some income through blogging or another online venture, I'd be happy to lend advice. I also have an online course that walks you through everything I've done and would do again to start another online business.

What Makes a Poem? - A Lesson for Poetry Month

This is National Poetry Month. "What is a poem?" might be the first question that students ask after, "why is it National Poetry Month?" The answer to that first question can be found in a TED-Ed lesson titled What Makes a Poem...a Poem?

By watching What Makes a Poem? students can learn the origins of poetry, the characteristics traditionally associated with poems, why poems don't always rhyme, and the format of a haiku. The video can be seen as embedded below.

Take a look at Read Write Think for some poetry lesson ideas that incorporate their free Word Mover app.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Padlet, QR Codes, and Body Odor - The Week in Review

Good evening from Maine where the sun is setting on a productive day. Today, I was able to pack up the tools that I've been using to convert old barn space into my office space. Some of you have been following this project since I started it late last summer. Now when you join me for a webinar or YouTube live broadcast, you'll see finished walls in the background. More importantly, I probably won't be wearing a hat or winter jacket to stay warm during those broadcasts. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you had a productive and enjoyable day too.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 5 Alternatives to Padlet
2. Reminder - The Library of Congress Seeks a Teacher-in-Residence
3. ReCall Study Time - An Extension to Get You Back on Task
4. Is Being Shut Down - 5 Alternatives
5. How to Quickly Create a QR Code for Almost Anything
6. What Causes Body Odor? - A TED-Ed Lesson
7. New Science Lesson Plans from Storyboard That

Ditch TPT & Keep More of Your Money!
Next week on Thursday at 4pm ET I am hosting a webinar titled How to Ditch TPT and Sell Your Digital Products. This webinar is for folks who have used Teachers Pay Teachers and were not happy with giving 20-45% of their sales revenue away. It's also for those who have ever thought about trying to sell their digital products. I'll show you three ways that you can sell your digital products without using TPT and keep more of the sales revenue in your pocket.

Book Me for Your Conference
I’ve given keynotes at conferences from Australia to Alaska for groups of all sizes from 50 to 2,000+. My keynotes focus on providing teachers and school administrators with practical ways to use technology to create better learning experiences for all students. I like to shine the light on others and so I often share examples of great work done by others as well as my own. Click here to book me today.

Online Professional Development
On I offer on-demand professional development webinars and courses. There are significant discounts for groups who enroll in G Suite for Teachers or Teaching History With Technology.

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.
MySimpleShow offers a great way to create animated videos for free.
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.
QuickKey provides an efficient way to conduct online and in-person formative assessments.