Monday, July 16, 2018

Ten Common Challenges in 2018

This morning I had the privilege to give the opening keynote at the TechSplash conference in Abingdon, Virginia. When I was invited to the conference the organizers expressed interest in one of my older keynote topics so I updated it for 2018. The slides from my talk are embedded below.

These Chrome Extensions Can Help You Stay On Task

In my previous post I shared a few tools that can help you save time on routine tasks. A related challenge is managing your time to be more productive. Both students and adults can struggle with resisting the urge to do things like checking Facebook or checking Amazon for a sale. During the course of a day those little things can rob you of time that could be better spent on other things. Here are three Google Chrome extensions that can help you stay on task.

Stay Focusd is a Chrome extension designed to help you stop wasting time on sites like Facebook and get your work done instead. With Stay Focusd installed you can set a time limit for yourself for how much cumulative time in a day that you spend on sites like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Once you've used up your self-allotted time on those sites you won't be able to revisit them in that browser for 24 hours.

Dayboard is a free Google Chrome extension that opens your daily to-do list every time you open a new tab in Chrome. When you open a new tab for the first time Dayboard will appear and ask you to enter your to-do list for the day. After creating your to-do list for the rest of the day whenever you open a new tab you will see your list. You can place a checkmark next to items as you complete them. Dayboard does not require you to create an account, it works offline, and when I installed it it only asked for permission to view activity on the Dayboard website.

WasteNoTime is an extension that provides reports on where you spend time on the internet. This extension allows you to block some sites all of the time and set time quotas for others. There is also a feature that allows you to lockdown everything so you can focus for a set period of time with little internet access. You can also customize when these settings will be in place.

Three Tools That Can Help You Save Time on Routine Tasks

Time is the one thing that we want more of. We can't create more time for ourselves but we can be more efficient on some routine tasks so that we have more time for the fun things we want to do. Here are three tools that you might want to try to use to save time on routine tasks.

Reply to email more efficiently
Auto Text Expander for Google Chrome is a convenient Chrome extension that enables you to create keyboard shortcuts for phrases that you frequently use in emails. As you can see in the video embedded below, you can set a keyword that when typed will fill the body of your email with programmed text. This is a convenient tool to use if you find yourself frequently replying to the same type of questions in your email.

Use your voice to comment on documents
Kaizena is a free tool that enables you to record voice comments on Google Documents instead of writing comments. But the part of Kaizena that really stands out is the option to link your comments to a lesson that you have stored in your Kaizena account. For example, you could highlight a misuse of "their" or "there" in a student's document and then link that highlight to a lesson about homonyms.

Create and send videos from your inbox
If you're the person who everyone emails for help with their tech problems, you need to try Loom. You can launch Loom's screen recorder directly from your inbox. Not only can you launch it from your inbox you can also add your recording into any email that you are sending. As I explain and demonstrate in this video, Loom makes it easy to quickly send a screencast to a colleague who emails you to ask for tech help.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

An Easy Way to Create a GIF from Google Slides

A simple animated GIF can be useful for things like showing how a simple system works, illustrating the steps to solving a math problem, or showing a sequence of before and after pictures. A few months ago I shared three easy ways to create animated GIFs. This morning I discovered another easy way to create a GIF.

Docs365 GIFmaker is a free Google Slides add-on that you can use to turn your slides into a GIF. To make a GIF with Docs365 GIFmaker first create a set of slides in the sequence in which you want the parts of your animation to appear. After making your slides run the Docs365 GIFmaker add-on. The add-on will then turn your slides into a GIF. You can specify the dimensions that you want your GIF to be or you can use the default sizing. Your GIF can be downloaded directly to your computer or you can save it to Google Drive right from the add-on.

Forms, Games, and Timers - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where we have a busy Saturday ahead of us. Our little Tinkergarten class starts up again this morning. It's a fun time of exploring and learning with friends in an outdoor setting. If you have kids between ages 18 months and six years, consider joining a Tinkergarten group in your area. After Tinkergarten I have to mow the lawn then pack for a trip to Virginia where I will be speaking at the TechSplash conference on Monday morning. I hope to meet some of you there.

But before I do any of the things on my list for the day, I have this week's list of the most popular posts to share. Take a look and see if there's an item that piques your interest.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. 5 Google Forms Features You Should Know How to Use
2. 51 World Geography Games for Kids
3. Educational Games for Elementary School Science Lessons
4. PhET PowerPoint Add-in - Add Science & Math Simulations to Slides
5. TypingClub's Typing Jungle Offers Hundreds of Typing Lessons
6. How to Add a Timer to PowerPoint Slides
7. 7 Places to Create Your Own Educational Games for Students to Play at Home

Bring Me to Your School
My fall calendar is almost full! If you would like to bring me to your school for a professional development day, please get in touch. I offer 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) to book me today.

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) 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.
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Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
Kami is a great tool for annotating and collaborating on PDFs. 
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.
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