Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Google is Removing Annotations from YouTube Videos

Eighteen months ago Google removed the annotations editor from YouTube. Today, I logged into the YouTube editor and saw an announcement that Google is going to remove all existing annotations from YouTube videos on January 15th. Google states that viewers don't like annotations and typically close twelve of them for every one that they do interact with.

What this means for you:
If you never used YouTube annotations, this means nothing to you.
If you used YouTube annotations to make a linked series of videos or a choose-your-own adventure series, all of those links will be broken on January 15th.

Personally, I'm disappointed by this because I always felt that using annotations was a great way to build a choose-your-own-adventure series of videos. Google suggests using end screens and cards as an alternative to annotations, but it's not quite the same.

11 Years Later...

On this day eleven years I published my first blog post here on Free Technology for Teachers. I had a little bit of an idea of what I wanted to do and no idea that eleven years and nearly 14,000 posts later I would still be doing it. Some of you have been with me for almost all of last eleven years, thank you!


I think that now is as good a time as any to reflect on what's happened in the eleven years since I hit publish on the first post here.

A few observations on what's changed in eleven years of blogging
  • 11 years ago everyone was talking about wikis. One of Common Craft's earliest videos explained wikis in plain English. Today, the biggest classroom wiki services no longer exist and I haven't had anyone ask me about wikis in a couple of years.
  • 11 years ago netbooks were the low cost way to get more computers into classrooms. The first iPads were more than two years away and the first Chromebooks were almost four years away.
  • 11 years ago I checked my email on my laptop and took pictures with a camera that couldn't make phone calls or send texts. You probably did the same.
  • 11 years ago I bookmarked websites by using Delicious on Firefox. Chrome was still a couple years away.
  • Google Docs morphed into Google Drive into Google Apps for Education into G Suite for Education. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Need Blog Post Ideas? Edublogs Has You Covered

For many people the biggest challenge in maintaining a blog has nothing to do with the technical aspects. It's coming up with ideas for blog posts that often proves to be the biggest challenge to keeping a blog going. This is true whether you're running a blog for a classroom, as a hobby, or for  business. If you're trying to keep your students blogging, Edublogs has a new list of fifty blog post ideas for students.

Saying that the list has 50 prompts is a bit misleading, but misleading in a good way. Buried within the list of prompts are links to additional sources of writing prompts including this New York Times list of more than 1,000 writing prompts. In the Edublogs list you'll also find a link to one of my favorite blogging challenges of the last few years, the 100 Word Challenge

Between the 50 prompts that Edublogs provides and the additional links, you should have plenty of things for your students to blog about for the rest of the year. Click here to view Edublogs' 50 new Blog Post Ideas for Students. You can even download the list as a PDF right here

The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter - My Tip of the Week Delivered Once Per Week

As you may know, I offer professional development webinars through PracticalEdTech.com. But that's not the only thing that I do with that site. I also use it to publish my tip of the week newsletter. That is a once-per-week mailing that contains my favorite tip of the week, usually with a video, and a list of the most popular posts of the week from Free Technology for Teachers. As of this morning 16,257 people subscribe to that newsletter.

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How to Enable or Disable Gmail "Smart Replies"

Smart Reply is one of my favorite features to come with the "new" Gmail that was thrust upon all users earlier this year. Smart Reply takes the context of the email message to which you are replying and what you have already typed to form a suggested completion to your sentence. These predictions appear in gray text as you type. To utilize the prediction just tap the tab key on your keyboard. And if you don't like the suggested text, just keep typing to ignore it. I use Gmail's Smart Reply function many times throughout the day as it does save me a few minutes crafting replies to emails.

If you haven't tried Smart Reply in Gmail (including Gmail accounts managed as part of G Suite for Education), you can enable it in your Gmail settings panel. To open your settings simply click on the gear icon that appears in the upper, right corner of your inbox (on a desktop or Chromebook). You will find Smart Reply about 2/3 of the way down the settings page.



Not everyone likes Smart Reply. If you're annoyed by the constant suggestions while you're typing an email, simply disable the feature from the same settings menu as is used to enable it.