Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Lensoo Create - Create Whiteboard Videos on Your Phone or Tablet

Lensoo Create is an app for creating whiteboard videos on your phone or tablet. The app is available in an Android version and in an iOS version (iPad only).

To create a video on Lensoo Create just open the app and tap the record button in the top of the screen. You can then start drawing on the white canvas in the app. Everything that you draw and type is captured in the video as is anything that you say while drawing. You can pause the recording then add a new page on which you draw while talking. When you're finished just tap the "done" button to save your work.

One of the shortcomings of Lensoo Create is that you cannot save your videos to your phone or tablet's camera roll. Instead you have to create a free Lensoo Create account to save your videos on their cloud service. Once saved you can share links to your video. Lensoo says that you can download your videos from your online account, but I haven't been able to make that function work update: I tried it again the next morning and I was able to download the video.

Applications for Education
Lensoo Create could be a good choice for teachers who want to make whiteboard videos to explain how to solve math problems or anything else that is best illustrated with handwriting. As a free app, it's not a bad option. That said, it's not quite as good as the paid ShowMe or Explain Everything apps.

Thanks to Allison Theissen for correctly pointing out that the iOS version only works on iPads not on iPhones. 

Three Ways to Collect Registration Information for School Fundraiser Events

This evening I answered the following email from a reader who is organizing a fundraising event for her class:

Our class will be doing a dine to donate night at Applebee's on May 31st and manager would like estimate for number of attendees and suggested we use something online for people to signup. I thought I saw something that allowed more details that just a Facebook event 'going versus interested.'

These are the three services that I would look into using if I was organizing a similar fundraising event.

1. Eventbrite

  • Eventbrite is an event ticketing service that you can use for free if you are not charging people for admission to the event. By having attendees register through Eventbrite you'll get a head count, a list of email addresses, and the attendees will be issued a ticket for the event. Eventbrite will let you set a cap on registrations too. You can embed your Eventbrite registration forms into an existing blog or website. 
  • SignUpGenius is a freemium service for creating event registration forms. The free version allows you to collect basic registration information. The free version will display a lot of advertising on your registration page and will not let you embed the registration form into your blog or website. 

3. Google Forms

  • You could use Google Forms to create an event registration page. You could impose a registration limit by using the Forms Add-on called FormLimiter. And you could even issue tickets via email by using the Add-on called Certify'em with a certificate modified to be an event ticket. Watch my video here to learn how to use Certify'em.

Reminder - The Google Drive Desktop App Is Being Phased Out

Last month I posted an explanation of the pop-up notice you might be seeing in your Google Drive account regarding the end of the Google Drive desktop app. The day is almost here that will mark the end of the Google Drive desktop app being replaced by Backup and Sync and File Stream. Google has announced that transition will begin to happen on May 12th.

To be clear, Google Drive is not going away. What is happening is that the current version of the Google Drive desktop app for Mac and Windows is being phased out. It is being replaced by new tools called Backup and Sync and Drive File Stream. Backup and Sync is for Gmail-based Google Drive users (those who sign in with mygenericname@gmail.com). Drive File Stream is for G Suite users including G Suite for Education.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Weebly vs. Google Sites

Twice in the last few I have chatted with a school technology coaches who wanted my opinion about which platform their teachers should use to create classroom websites for the next school year. In one case I recommended Weebly and in the other I recommended Google Sites. Here's the rationale that I used in both recommendations.

Google Sites
The short version: Google Sites is a good option if your school already uses G Suite for Education and you don't want to introduce a new set of usernames and passwords for people to have to remember.

  • Pros:
    • Easy to embed files from Google Drive (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms).
    • Easy to embed calendars and videos.
    • Easy to invite other teachers and or students to collaborate on site development.
    • "New" version of Google Sites is optimized for mobile display.
  • Cons:
    • URLs assigned to Google Sites are long, cumbersome, and nearly impossible to remember. Don't believe, try to get all of your 7th graders to this site in ten minutes or less https://sites.google.com/a/freetech4teachers.com/civics-with-mr-byrne/ and then try to get them to remember it.
    • While design options have definitely improved in the new version of Google Sites, they're still far behind what you'll find on Weebly.
    • Support for embedding content from providers outside of the Google ecosystem has improved, but is still lagging behind other website creation services.
    • No support for a blog section within the new version of Google Sites.
The short version: Weebly offers a Weebly for Education product which is free and is preferable to the standard Weebly free product because the education version doesn't display advertising. If you're not invested in G Suite, then Weebly is a slightly better choice. 
  • Pros:
    • Weebly for Education lets you manage up to forty student accounts in one free teacher account.
    • Large gallery of design templates that you can customize to your liking.
    • Includes option to have a blog section within your site.
    • Supports embedding content from many 3rd party sources.
  • Cons:
    • So many options that it can be a bit overwhelming to first-time users.
    • Annoying pop-up message trying to sell you a custom domain appears every time you publish a new page.
    • Doesn't have a collaboration option to let you invite other teachers work on a site with you without also giving them administrative rights. 

G Suite Admins Can View Site Ownership & Request Edit Access

I don't know why this wasn't already a feature of G Suite, but as of last week administrators of G Suite domains can now view the owner of a Google Site within their domain. To view the owner information domain administrators simply click on the "site details" link in the footer of the site. From there administrators will see who the site's owner is, when the site was last updated, and they can request edit access.

It is important to note that this feature doesn't give domain administrators automatic access to edit the contents of a site. It just gives them an easier way to find the owner's information and request edit access.

Google touts this new feature as a way for domain administrators help eliminate site redundancies within a domain. It's also a way for administrators to quickly request edit access to correct factual errors within a site.

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