Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Physical Tech Products I Own and Recommend

This blog is all about digital products that teachers and students can use for free. That said, I do get requests for physical product recommendations on a fairly regular basis. These are the products that I own and recommend.

iPad - 32 GB - Current Version
I finally updated my updated this month after using the same one for four years. Amazon has them on sale right now for $249!

Blue Snowball Microphone
I've been using these microphones for years. They're durable, easy to use, and affordable. Just plug it into a USB port on a Mac, Windows, or Chrome laptop and it's ready to use. They're on sale for $39 right now. You can use them with an iPad if you use a 3.5mm to USB converter like this one

No-name Lapel Microphones
Purchasing a Snowball microphone isn't an option for everyone. An alternative that I test this fall came in the form of these no-name lapel microphones that I found on Amazon. For $7 I got a three pack of lapel microphones that worked perfectly well on my iPad.

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.

Targus Laser Presentation Remote
I've been using the same Targus presentation remote for many years. It has worked equally well on Mac, Windows, and Chrome laptops over the years. There's nothing fancy about it, it just works. And at $35 it's cheaper than a lot of other remotes.

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 $222.

Lenovo Thinkpad T470s
This has been my workhorse for the last 18 months. I bought it knowing that it would be my primary computer. I love the keyboard and the tech specs are outstanding too. I've never had to worry about slowdown even when running video editors on it. It's not cheap (Amazon lists it at $1399), but has been worth every penny for me.

A tech purchase that I wish I could do over!
This fall I bought a new iMac. I went the relatively cheap route and purchased the base model. It works fine, but it's not fast and is noticeably slow when trying to multitask with a video editor running. If I could do it over, I would have spent a little more to get this one with a 3.4GHz quad-core processor.

Monday, December 17, 2018

How to Use a Spreadsheet to Create a Map

Last week when I posted about Google closing Fusion Tables I mentioned that some of the functions of Fusion Tables can be replicated in Google Sheets. An example of that is creating a map based on the data in a Google Sheet. Google's My Maps tool lets you import a Google Sheet and have the data from that sheet displayed as placemarkers on an interactive map. Watch this video that I created to learn how you can create a map based on data in a Google Sheet.

A Quick Tip About Changing Font Sizes in Google Docs

When it comes to formatting your documents Google Docs provides plenty of options. Some of those options are obvious and some are hidden deep in the menus of Google Docs. Here's one that falls somewhere in between those ends of the spectrum. When you're choosing a size for the font in your document, you don't have to use the sizes that are listed in the drop-down menu. You can enter any size that you want to use. As you can see in my one minute video, you can even use odd numbers for your font size.


And if you're wondering how to change the default font style in Google Docs, watch this short video.


Learn much more about Google Docs in my online course Getting Going With G Suite.

Kids World Atlas - An iPad App for Learning About Animals Around the World

Last week I wrote a review of the Kids U.S. Atlas iPad app. That app offers an interactive map of the United States that kids can tap on to learn about 25 animals that are indigenous to the United States. Kids World Atlas is the companion app to the Kids U.S. Atlas. Kids World Atlas uses the same format as Kids U.S. Atlas.

Kids World Atlas features a map of the world that students can tap on to learn about forty animals around the world. Students simply tap an animal on the map and new window pops-up with a picture of that animal and brief text passage about it. The app has videos about some of the animals on the map. Unfortunately, unlike Kids U.S. Atlas, Kids World Atlas doesn't offer narration of the text passages.

Like the Kids US Atlas app, the Kids World Atlas app is a freemium app. The animal map is free. There are other maps available through in-app purchases at $1.99 a piece.

Applications for Education
Just like the Kids US Atlas app the Kids World Atlas iPad app to learn some basic facts about animals. A follow-up activity to students exploring the app would be to have them chose a favorite animal on the map and then research the characteristics of that animal that make it suited to its habitat.

21 Places to Find Media for Classroom Projects

Yesterday, people who subscribe to the Practical Ed Tech newsletter received a copy of my guide to finding copyright-friendly media for use in classroom projects. The guide includes explanations of Public Domain, Creative Commons, and Fair Use. In the section on using self-created media I included an example of how I unintentionally committed a copyright violation when making a screencast video a few years ago. Finally, the guide includes 21 places to find copyright-friendly media to use in classroom projects. You can access the guide here as a Google Doc or here as a PDF.


Some of the resources featured in this guide are integral to my upcoming course Video Projects for Every Classroom.