Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Spring Forward This Weekend!

This weekend those of us in North America who observe Daylight Saving Time have to move our clocks forward by one hour. This time around it is especially annoying for me because I have an early morning flight on Sunday. And, of course, my dogs and my toddlers don't observe Daylight Saving Time. If you have kids that are older than mine or students who are wondering about the reasons for Daylight Saving Time, check out the following resources.

The following videos offer concise explanations of Daylight Saving Time.

Even though it is not about daylight saving time, this TED-Ed lesson about the standardization of timezones is worth watching.

The Answer to the Question I'm Asked More Than Any Other

I answer a lot of emails from readers who ask all kinds of questions about educational technology. One question that I answer more often than any other is about the screencast videos I post on my YouTube channel. People often want to know how I get the yellow circle to follow my cursor around the screen. The answer to that is, "I use Screencast-o-matic."

Screencast-o-matic is available in a browser-based version and in a desktop version. I use the desktop version unless I'm using my Chromebook. There are three Screencast-o-matic service plans to choose from. Those versions are free, deluxe, and premier.

The free version of Screencast-o-matic offers everything that students and most teachers need to create a quick screencast video. The free version includes quick sharing to Google Classroom, video captioning, password protection of your videos. Those are just three of the eighteen features available to users of the free version of Screencast-o-matic.

The deluxe version of Screencast-o-matic is the version that I use. The deluxe version offers twenty-three more features than the free version offers. Those extra features are mostly found in the video editing capabilities which include greenscreen capabilities, hiding and revealing webcams, zoom features, and the removal of Screencast-o-matic's watermark.

The premier version of Screencast-o-matic provides everything in the free and deluxe versions plus fifty times the storage space of the other plans and dedicated video playback pages.

If you have an educational technology question for me, join me on Wednesday for Practical Ed Tech Live!

5 Favorite Google Slides Add-ons

Last week I shared my favorite Google Forms add-ons. Yesterday, I shared my favorite Google Docs add-ons. So today I'm sharing my favorite Google Slides add-ons.

Unsplash Photos Google Slides add-on gives you instant access to Unsplash's collection of free, royalty-free photographs. In the following video I demonstrate how to add the Add-on to your Google Slides, how to use Unsplash Photos, and I explain the licensing of Unsplash Photos.

Photo Slideshow
Photo Slideshow is a free Add-on that makes it quick and easy to import an entire Google Photos or Google Drive folder into Google Slides. Once you have installed the Add-on just select either Google Photos or Google Drive and then choose the folder of images that you want to have displayed in a slideshow. Each image in the folder will automatically be placed on a slide.

Easy Accents
This add-on appeared in my list of recommended Google Docs add-ons. I recommend the Google Slides version of it too. Easy Accents for Google Slides is easy to use. When you have it installed you can launch it on any slide. Type as you normally would until you need to add an accent mark that isn't easy to create on your keyboard. Then just insert the letter and accent mark that you need from the Easy Accents keyboard. After inserting the letter and accent mark you can go back to typing on your physical keyboard.  Easy Accents for Google Slides currently supports more than twenty languages.

Grackle is a service that will check your Google Documents, Slides, and Sheets for accessibility. It is available as an Add-on for Google Docs, for Google Slides, and for Google Sheets. When you run Grackle's accessibility checker it will identify places where your slide doesn't meet accessibility standards. It makes suggestions for improvement on the areas in which your document, slide, or sheet doesn't meet accessibility standards. Some of the suggestions can be implemented with just a click from the Grackle Add-on menu while others are changes that you will have to make yourself.

Add Audio to Your Google Slides!
This isn't an add-on, it's a Chrome extension that you install to work with your Google Slides. AudioPlayer for Slides is a Chrome extension that will let you add music or spoken audio to your Google Slides presentations. With the extension installed you can simply right-click on a slide in your presentation and then select an audio file from your Google Drive to play on that slide. Unfortunately, the audio file will only play on the selected slide and not over all of the slides throughout the presentation. It should also be noted that you can only play audio files that you have stored in your Google Drive.

Monday, March 4, 2019

How to Install Google Docs Add-ons Individually and School-wide

I've written about Google Forms and Google Docs add-ons in a coupe of recently posts. It occurs to me that if you're new Google Docs, you might not know how to install the add-ons that I've featured in those recent posts.

How to Distribute Add-ons School-wide
If you're in a school that uses G Suite for Education it is possible for your administrator to install add-ons on your behalf. That's a great option when you to ensure that all of your students have the same add-ons correctly installed. That process is outlined in this video.

How to Install Add-ons Individually
Installing add-ons on your own is a great way to try them out before deciding to ask your G Suite administrator to add them to your students' accounts. To do this simply open the "Add-ons" drop-down menu while viewing any of your Google Documents and then select "Get Add-ons." When the "Get Add-ons" menu opens you can browse for add-ons and read their descriptions. When you find one that you want to try, click the blue "+Free" button. The whole process is demonstrated in the following video.

My 5 Favorite Google Docs Add-ons

Last Friday I shared my five favorite Google Forms add-ons. That same day I posted a video featuring a convenient hack for speeding up the process of commenting on students' Google Docs. Those posts spurred a couple of emails from readers regarding Google Docs add-ons. The following are my favorite Google Docs add-ons.

Kaizena is a Google Docs add-on that lets you add voice comments to your students' documents. With the Kaizena add-on installed simply highlight a word or a sentence in a document and then record a voice comment about that highlighted word or sentence. Voice comments can be used in conjunction with text comments. Students need to have the add-on installed in order to listen to the audio comments.

Pixabay for Google Docs is a free Add-on created by Learn In 60 Seconds. With this free Add-on installed you can quickly search for an image. Search results appear in the right hand margin of your document. Double-click on an image to insert it into your document. You can resize the image just as you would any other image that you upload to a Google Document.

Knowing the right keyboard shortcuts to type the accents and characters is one of the challenges that students face when learning and trying to type in a new language. Easy Accents is a Google Docs Add-on that can eliminate that challenge. Easy Accents provides a virtual keyboard that enables students to quickly insert the letters and accents found in French, German, Spanish, Māori, and many other languages.

I don't like it nearly as much I used to, but the EasyBib Bibliography Creator Google Docs add-on is still useful. The EasyBib Bibliography Creator makes it easy to cite resources and format a bibliography in APA, MLA, or Chicago style. As many teacher-librarians will be quick to point out, EasyBib isn't always up to date with the latest requirements of APA and MLA.

The Tag Cloud Generator add-on will create a word cloud in the right-hand margin of any of your Google Documents that contain more than one hundred words. This is useful for quickly identifying the most frequently used words in a document.