Tuesday, January 15, 2019

How to Use Canva to Create a Timeline

Canva is one of those great tools that the more time you spend with it the more cool features you discover in it. One of those features is the ability to create timelines to save as images and PDFs. Canva has about a dozen timeline templates that you can modify by altering the text size and style, inserting images, and dragging-and-dropping other design elements. Watch the following short video to learn how to create a timeline in Canva.

The History of Science

The History of Science is a Crash Course series that just came to my attention when I stumbled onto The Atomic Bomb: Crash Course History of Science #33. The entire series features videos hosted by Hank Green in which he explains how big questions in science were answered and how big breakthroughs were made. Like most Crash Course videos these are heavy on the presenter (Hank in this case) and light on visual aids. And they're probably best used with students who already have a firm understanding of the basics of the topics.

Try using these videos in EDpuzzle to build comprehension and reflection questions for your students to answer while watching or after watching the videos.

Search and Save Videos Within Wakelet

Wakelet is quickly becoming a popular tool for bookmarking and note-taking individually and or collaboratively. You can use Wakelet to create collections and sub-collections of notes, bookmarks, pictures, and videos. Speaking of videos, you can search for YouTube videos from within your Wakelet account. Watch the following short video to see how that feature works.

Applications for Education
I can see Wakelet's integrated YouTube search being useful when either you or your students are creating collections of resources arranged around a central topic. For example, when creating a collection of resources about WWII students could use the integrated video search to find relevant videos without leaving Wakelet and going directly to YouTube.

How to Save Time When Posting Social Media Updates

Yesterday, I saw quite a few Tweets and Facebook posts along the lines of "I'll just use social media updates now" in response to the news that Remind will no longer be able to deliver text messages to Verizon users for free. If that's your plan or you currently use social media to share updates about your class or school, then you might want to try using an update scheduler to save time and update on a consistent basis. Hootsuite is a great tool for that purpose. 

Hootsuite is a service that you can use to schedule social media updates. You can connect Hootsuite to your Twitter account, Facebook page(s), Pinterest account, and LinkedIn account. Once you have connected your social media account(s) to your Hootsuite account you can schedule up to thirty messages at a time to appear in the future on your social media accounts. (You can schedule more messages at a time if you purchase a Hootsuite premium plan). Not only can you schedule messages through Hootsuite, you can also reply to responses to your social media postings from within your Hootsuite dashboard.

Applications for Education
If you are using social media to share updates about your school or your classroom, Hootsuite can save you time as you can simply schedule a week's worth of updates in a few minutes on a Monday morning and then only have to worry about handling responses for the rest of the week. Hootsuite also makes it easy to see updates from multiple social media channels in one place which saves time compared to going to each social media platform individually.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Free Alternatives to Remind - Spoiler Alert! They're Limited

This morning the educational technology community was buzzing with the news that Remind is going to stop offering free text message delivery to those users who use Verizon Wireless. This follows a similar move earlier this year related to Bell and Rogers subscribers in Canada. As I explained here and in the following video, the free alternatives to Remind's SMS delivery are going to be limited because Verizon's policy change is going to affect any other service that operates like Remind does.

All that said, here are the alternatives to using Remind's SMS service if you, your students, or your students' parents have phones on Verizon.

Just use Remind's in-app notifications and email notifications. This would require that you convince students and parents to install the app and allow notifications. This is probably the least disruptive of your options for the remainder of the school year because at least you won't be switching to an entirely new service.

If you are already using ClassDojo for portfolios or behavior tracking, this might be the time to start using ClassDojo's in-app messaging tool (this is just an in-app notification, not an SMS delivery).

More than a few people have asked me about Google Voice today. You could use Google Voice to send text messages to a list of numbers from your computer. And you can create a free Google Voice number that is different from your personal cell phone. Eight years ago I actually did that I stopped after a few weeks because it created a minefield of privacy concerns. So I don't recommend this option.

Google Classroom in-app notifications can be good for sending updates to students. But like Remind and ClassDojo, it would require getting students to install the Google Classroom mobile app and then enabling notifications if you want them to see updates in a timely manner.

The bottom line is that Verizon's policy change is going to affect how Remind and companies like it operate. To clarify, Remind users who are currently on a paid school-wide or district-wide plan will not be affected by this change. This change, for now, applies to users of the free Remind service.