Monday, June 25, 2018

SeeSaw Unveils a New Activity Library - 1500+ Activities to Use Now

SeeSaw is a great digital portfolio tool that students can use on Chromebooks, iPads, Android tablets, and on any computer that has an updated web browser. Last fall SeeSaw introduced a feature called "Activities" that enabled teachers to create and give assignments in their SeeSaw online classrooms. That feature proved to be a hit! Now SeeSaw is making Activities even better with two new features.

SeeSaw Activity Library
The SeeSaw Activity library contains more than 1500 activities created, used, and submitted by SeeSaw's teacher ambassadors. The library is arranged by grade and subject. When you find an activity that you like simply tap or click the heart icon in the activity's title to save it in your own SeeSaw library. Once you have saved the activity in your library you use it as written or modify it to meet your students' needs.

Improved Activity Sharing
Last week when I talked to Carl Sjogreen, one of SeeSaw's co-founders, he mentioned that workflow is one of the things they've worked hard to improve since Activities launched last fall. To that end, teachers can now share Activities to multiple classes with just one click. Previously, if you wanted to give the same activity to multiple classes you had to manually open each class and assign activities to students. Now that can all be done from one place when you're viewing one of your SeeSaw Activities.
SeeSaw is made up of some of the friendliest people I've had the pleasure to talk with in the ed tech business. If you're at the ISTE conference this week, stop by their booth to see the new SeeSaw features in action.

Google Forms Will Have a "Locked" Mode This Fall (For Some Users)

Last week Google introduced some long-awaited style customization options. This morning Google introduced another long-awaited feature. That new feature is "locked" mode. Locked mode will be a setting that you can activate in Google Forms when you create and distribute a quiz. The locked mode will prevent students from leaving the Google Form until they submit their final answers. Locked mode will be available in the fall.

Before you get too excited about the locked mode for Google Forms, it is important to note that it will only work on Chromebooks that are managed by your school. So if you don't use school-managed Chromebooks you're going to need to find another solution to prevent students from opening new tabs or windows while completing an online assessment. One possible solution is the new Lockdown Browser option from Otus.

A New Look for Kahoot - Coming Soon

Two weeks ago Kahoot added a new game creation capability to their free mobile apps. This week at ISTE they're previewing a new user interface for teachers. The new user interface is based on the one that is now available for Kahoot business users. The new interface features improved collaboration options and improved results reporting. Watch the following video to get a sense of what the new Kahoot interface will look like.

A firm date has not been announced for when the updated interface will be available to teachers. The press release that I received simply said, "by late 2018."

The Web Version of Google Earth Finally Gets a Measuring Tool

Distance measurement has been a feature of the desktop version of Google Earth for as long as I have been using it. So I was surprised when it wasn't included in the browser-based version of Google Earth that was launched last year. This morning Google announced that a measuring tool has finally been added into the browser-based version of Google Earth. A measuring tool has also been added to the Android version of Google Earth and will soon be available in the iOS version of Google Earth.

Google's announcement about the new measuring tool states that it is available now in Chrome (browser) and Android versions of Google Earth. However, as of 11:20 Eastern Time I don't see it in any of my accounts. Once I get a chance to use it, I'll publish a video tutorial on how to use it.

Applications for Education
The measuring tool in the desktop version of Google Earth has always been useful in developing lessons that incorporate math and geography concepts. Tom Barrett's Maths Maps has always been a great source of inspiration on that topic. Now that a measuring tool will be available in the browser version of Google Earth teachers whose students use Chromebooks can avail themselves of some of the ideas that Tom has shared in Maths Maps.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Short List of Physical Tech Products That I Recommend

From time to time I am asked for recommendations on the purchase of physical tech products. I generally don't make recommendations for school-wide or other large scale purchases, but I will make recommendations for small purchases. Here's the short list of physical tech products that I recommend today.

Elegoo UNO Super Starter Kit for Arduino
If you're thinking about trying your hand at Arduino programming, this kit has everything that you need to get started. It even includes a comprehensive tutorial and suggested first projects. It's a good deal at $34.99 (less if you have Amazon Prime). I've purchased more than a dozen of these kits for use in some of my workshops.

Blu Snowball Microphone
I have been recommending this microphone for years. It's an affordable, high-quality microphone for recording on your Windows, Mac, or Chromebook computer. I own two of them. One of which has seen on four continents, been dropped countless times, and triggered more TSA "enhanced security screenings" than I care to count. At $49.99 it is affordable and durable. These have been around for so long that you can actually get refurbished ones now.

Acer R11 Touchscreen Chromebook
Today, I do most of my daily work on a Lenovo T470s Windows 10 laptop. But for a while I was using my Chromebook for the bulk of my work and the Acer R11 is the Chromebook that I still use whenever I host workshops geared toward Chromebook-using teachers. The Acer R11 is an affordable and durable touchscreen Chromebook. If I was buying a Chromebook for one of my kids today, the Acer R11 is the one that I'd go for. You can buy this new for $299 or refurbished for $219.

Essential Android Phone
I have been using and abusing Android phones since 2011. The Essential Phone is the one I am using today. The only one that I liked better was my custom Motorola Pure Droid X. The Essential Phone is one of the only truly unlocked smartphones on the market today. It doesn't come with any pre-installed apps other than what is absolutely essential to make the phone and camera run. You can buy it today for $443 and use it on any network. I published a detailed review of this phone on Practical Ed Tech.