Thursday, May 31, 2018

Reminder - The End is Near for TodaysMeet

In case you missed the news at the end of April, one of my all-time favorite services is shutting down on June 16th. On that day TodaysMeet will go offline. For almost a decade TodaysMeet was the go-to tool for teachers who wanted to create a backchannel discussion forum for their students. I used in my classroom, in classrooms that I visited, and in conference settings. On June 16th I and everyone else who enjoyed TodaysMeet will have to find an alternative. These are the alternatives that I like:

Tozzl
This tool is no longer available. February - 2020
Tozzl is a chat platform that allows you to quickly create private, password-protected message boards as well as public boards. To get started visit Tozzl and select "create a new Tozzl." Then you can name your message board and set a privacy password (optional). Tozzl assigns a new, unique URL to each message board. On your message board you can add sections for chat, file sharing, to-do lists, and YouTube videos. You can also import the feed of a Twitter hashtag into your Tozzl boards.



Backchannel Chat
This is a service that provides exactly what its name implies. On Backchannel Chat you can create a free backchannel room (AKA chat room) in which you can post comments and questions for your students to respond to. Your students can respond in realtime. Students can ask you and their classmates questions within the confines of your Backchannel Chat room. The free version of Backchannel Chat limits you to 30 participants at a time.

GoSoapBox
GoSoapBox allows you to have your audience respond to questions through their laptops, tablets, and phones. Polls and Discussion in GoSoapBox are the meat and potatoes of the service. The Polls tool allows you to survey your audience by having them select an answer choice in response to a question. The Discussions tool allows you to have audience members reply to open-ended questions. One of the simplest yet effective survey options in GoSoapBox is a tools called a Confusion Meter. The Confusion Meter allows members of your audience to simply say, "yes, I get it" or "no, I don't get it." The Confusion Meter, like all of the GoSoapBox survey tools, can accept anonymous feedback. You can use the Social Q&A tool in GoSoapBox to have students submit their questions to you. Students can see each other's question submissions and vote them up if they want to.

Forms, Videos, and VR - The Month in Review

Good evening from Maine where the sun has just set on the month of May. It was a busy month for me as I worked on developing a new course that will be available through the Teaching Channel later this summer. I also hosted a few webinars and conducted some on-site workshops in May. June is going to be even busier as I have more on-site workshops and more webinars planned. As always, if you're interested in having me come to your school, please get in touch.

As I do at the end of every month, I have assembled a list of the posts that received the most views during the month.

These were the most popular posts in May:
1. Six New Features Coming to Google Forms
2. Create a Video Lesson Completely In PowerPoint
3. Twelve Tools for Building End-of-year Review Activities (That Aren't Kahoot Games)
4. Animaker Edify - Easily Create Animated Videos In an Online Classroom
5. Using Google Forms to Track Professional Development
6. Five Options for Creating Animated Videos on Your Chromebook
7. Nine Fun and Challenging Geography Games
8. Changes Coming to the Google Drive User Interface - Web Version
9. TED-Ed Lessons About Every Element on the Periodic Table
10. How to Use Google's New VR Tour Creator

Bring Me to Your School
I have three openings left in my summer schedule for on-site professional development workshops. I can provide professional development workshops on G Suite for Education, Teaching History With Technology, and many other topicsClick here to learn more or send an email to richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to book me today.

Book me for a G Suite for Education workshop and in addition to my on-site training your whole school gets access to my online G Suite for Teachers course

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. Send an email to richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com book me today.

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.
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.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Try These Google Forms Options to Organize Responses

I love using Google Forms to collect information from students and or their parents. Forms are rather easy to create and share. But if you have a large group responding to the questions on your Form, you will need to take some steps to try to keep all of those responses organized a bit better than what the default Google Forms settings provide. Here are three things that I recommend doing to try to keep those responses organized.

Form Limiter
Form Limiter is an Add-on that lets you automatically stop accepting responses at a specified time or when you have reached a specified maximum number of responses. This Add-on is excellent when you need to cap the responses you need for a volunteer activity. Obviously, it's also good for imposing a time limit on your students to complete an assessment in Google Forms.

Form Publisher
Google Forms on its own will create a spreadsheet of response submissions. The Form Publisher Add-on will let you create a Google Document of responses instead of or in addition to a spreadsheet.


Go To Section Based on Answer
This isn't an Add-on, it's a feature that is built into multiple choice questions in Google Forms. I used this feature a lot when I taught multiple sections of the same course and I wanted to direct students to answer a set of questions based on which section they were in. I would make the first question in the form, "what period of the day do you have my class?" and then based on that response students would be directed to a different section of the Form.

I'll be teaching how to use these Google Forms features and more during Google Forms & Sheets for Beginners Thursday at 4pm ET. Click here to register. 

Kaizena Now Offers Rubrics to Go With Voice Comments on Google Docs

Earlier this year Kaizena released an updated Google Docs Add-on that streamlined the way that you can add voice comments to your students' Google Documents. The Add-on lets you simply highlight a word or a sentence in a document and then record a voice comment about that highlighted word or sentence. Voice comments can be used in conjunction with text comments.

If you find yourself frequently writing the same comment or type of comment in your students' documents then you will want to utilize the canned comments that are available through Kaizena. And now you can also use rubrics in Kaizena.

Today, Kaizena announced the launch of a rubrics feature to go along with their existing voice and text comment tools. Unfortunately, you cannot import a rubric that you have created outside of Kaizena to use in Kaizena. You have to create the rubric within Kaizena by selecting "skills" comments that you write and then grouping them into rubric components. Honestly, I think that the process of creating rubrics within Kaizena is a but cumbersome until you've done it a few times. But you can judge that yourself after you look through the directions here.

I like Kaizena for its voice commenting component. The canned text comments and the rubric components are nice, but you can do those things with other tools that are a little easier to use for those purposes. JoeZoo Express (Google Docs Add-on) and Online Rubric (Google Sheets Add-on) are the tool that come to mind for canned comments and rubrics.

Learn more about Google Docs and Google Docs Add-ons in my online course, G Suite for Teachers

Google Expeditions Updated With New Augmented Reality Content

Since its launch Google's Expeditions app has been a hit in many schools. What started out as a somewhat canned teacher-led virtual reality experience has morphed into a tool that students can use to explore and discover new things on their own. Last summer Google added the option for students to explore the VR expeditions on their own. Today, Google released a new feature that students can use. That feature is new augmented reality tours.

Like any augmented reality app, the new AR content in Google Expeditions lets students view and manipulate digital content in a physical world context. The new AR content can be used as components in science, math, geography, history, and art lessons. Some examples of the more than 100 AR tours that you'll now find in the app include landforms, the skeletal system, dinosaurs, ancient Egypt, the brain, and the Space Race. And as a good Mainer my favorite of the new AR tours is about lobsters.

To use the AR content available through Google Expeditions you will need to print marker or trigger sheets that students scan with their phones or tablets. Once scanned the AR imagery appears on the screen. (You can actually preview some of the imagery without scanning a marker, but the imagery will not be interactive or 3D). Students don't need to look through a Cardboard viewer in order to see the AR imagery.

You can get the Google Expeditions Android app here and the iOS version here. If you already have the apps installed, just run an update to get the new AR content.