Thursday, August 16, 2018

Six New Layout Options for New Google Sites

Whether you like or not, the old version of Google Sites will soon go the way of the dinosaurs. The new version of Google Sites, which is two years old now, has seen a steady stream of updates this year. The latest update announced by Google brings six pre-built section layouts for Google Sites. These section layouts will let you combine multiple elements like images and videos into one section of a Google Site's page.

This isn't a major update to Google Sites but it is nice to have more options for layout design. These new layout options will be rolling out to users over the next couple of weeks.

If you still haven't made the switch to new Google Sites, there is a free transition tool that you can use to convert your existing Google Sites from the old version to the new version. Watch my video that is embedded below to learn how to convert from old Google Sites to new Google Sites.

How to Create a Backchannel Chat

For most of the last decade I recommended using TodaysMeet to create backchannel chats. In June TodaysMeet shut down. Since then I have been using Backchannel Chat to create backchannel chat rooms. While it isn't exactly like TodaysMeet, it is probably best alternative that I have used in the last two months.

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. Watch my video that is embedded below to see how you can use Backchannel Chat.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

60 Second Adventures in Economics

The Open University hosts a series of six short videos intended to introduce viewers to some of the basic concepts of macroeconomics. In 60 Second Adventures in Economics you will find short videos explaining things like the Paradox of Thrift and Comparative Advantage. The video about comparative advantage is embedded below.

Applications for Education
60 Second Adventures in Economics is clearly not a replacement for actual lessons in economics, but they could be good introductions or reviews of a lesson.

Blue Snowball Microphone - Takes a Lickin' and Keeps on Tickin'

I have been recommending Blue Snowball microphones for many years. They provide outstanding audio quality for not a lot of money. And they have always proven to be durable for classroom use. Here's my latest testament to their durability.

On Monday morning I got up at 3am for a flight to Missouri. As you might expect, I was groggy as could be while going through the TSA security checkpoint. Even though I have TSA Pre✓® which enables me to leave my laptop in my bag, I take my Blue Snowball microphone out of my bag because every TSA screener is mystified when they see the microphone in the x-ray scanner. Usually this is just a minor inconvenience. On Monday morning in my groggy state I pushed my tote right off the scanner conveyor belt and right onto the floor. The microphone crashed to the concrete floor then bounced a few feet before coming to rest against a cart.  After a crash and multiple bounces on the concrete I figured that my Blue Snowball microphone was toast. But after clearing security I tested it and it worked just fine.

If you're considering doing any podcasting or video projects in your classroom this year and you want to improve the quality of your students' recordings, give the Blue Snowball microphone a try.

Update about recording on iPads:
Andrew Croce asked me on Facebook about using this microphone with an iPad. It can be done if you have an adapter to connect your iPad to a standard USB cable. However, when you do that you will probably experience degraded recording quality. For that reason I recommend using a microphone built specifically for recording on an iPad. The iRig products like this microphone made for podcasting from iOS are a better option than recording with a mic connected to your iPad through an adapter.

Factitious - A Game That Tests Your Ability to Spot Fake News

Factitious is a game for testing your skill at identifying fake and misleading news stories. The game was developed by the American University Game Lab and the American University's School of Communication. I learned about the game last month when Larry Ferlazzo featured it and I have since shared it in a couple of professional development workshops. It was a hit in both workshops in which I shared it with teachers.

To play Factitious simply go to the site and select quick start. You'll then see an article appear on the screen. Read through the article, click the source listed at the bottom, and then select either the green check mark or red X to indicate whether or not you think the article is a real news story. After you make your selection you'll get instant feedback and an explanation of how you can tell if the article was a real or fake news story.

Factitious does offer the option to create an account to save your progress in a game, but you don't need to create an account in order to play the game in "quick start" mode.

Applications for Education
Factitious could be a great game to have students play at the conclusion of a larger lesson about evaluating the credibility of websites. If you don't want to have students play the game on their own, you could print the articles listed in the game and use them as part of lesson that you teach to your class.