Thursday, April 11, 2019

A Great Email Etiquette Lesson from a Student

This morning, like most mornings, I opened my email to see a bunch of requests for help with various educational technology tools. Half of them I am very happy to answer. Those are the ones in which the sender addresses me by name and makes a polite request. Then there are the ones like this one (embedded below) that lack any kind of greeting or reek of "fix my problem, now!" Those are the ones that I either ignore or reply to with something along the lines of "I'm sorry, I can't provide remote tech support."


I'm sharing this partly as a rant, partly as a reminder that I'm a one-man show, and partly as a reminder that manners matter. To that end, here's a great lesson about email etiquette. The video lesson was produced by a student for inclusion on Next Vista for Learning's library of educational videos.

Q&A Recording

Yesterday afternoon, as I've done for the last five weeks, I hosted a live Q&A session in which I answer questions that readers have sent to me over the last week. I get dozens of questions emailed to me every week. During the live session I answer those that I think have a broad appeal. The recording of yesterday's session is embedded below.


How to Protect a Range in Google Sheets

During yesterday's live Q&A session I answered a question about sharing a Google Sheet spreadsheet in a manner that would let students edit some, but not all of the spreadsheet's elements. The way to do that is to use the "protect range" setting in Google Sheets. With that setting activated you can prevent your collaborators from editing a particular set of cells within your spreadsheet. I made a new video to demonstrate how to protect a range in Google Sheets, check it out!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

How to Mirror Your Android Device to Your Mac or Windows Computer

Whenever I give a presentation about augmented reality or virtual reality I'm asked how I project my Android phone's screen. Vysor is the product that I use to project my Android phone's screen. Vysor is my choice because it uses a wired connection rather than a wireless connection. This is important to me because many of the wireless solutions that I've tried run into glitches when switching from a home network to a public network even those that are password protected like is found at a conference.

To project an Android screen onto your Mac or Windows computer you will need to install the Vysor software. The software is available for free. Once the software is installed and activated you can use a standard USB cable to connect your phone to your computer. The trick to making your phone's screen appear on your computer via Vysor is that you must enable USB debugging on your phone. The steps for enabling USB debugging vary slightly between phone manufacturers and Android versions, but a good general overview of that process can be found in this Make Use Of article. Don't worry, USB debugging is not nearly as "techy" as it sounds.

Vysor's software is free to download, install, and use. The free version will display a short advertisement at an interval of roughly once every thirty minutes. There is an optional upgraded version of Vysor that you can purchase. The paid version provides some additional features including drag-and-drop file transfers between phone and computer, a wireless mirroring option, and no advertisement displays.

Flippity's Google Sheets Add-on is Back!

On Monday I shared an update from Flippity about their Google Sheets add-on being broken and taken offline because the deprecation of the Goo.gl service. This morning I woke up to the news that Flippity's Google Sheets add-on is back. Not only is it back, it's better than ever before!

Flippity's updated Google Sheets add-on now automatically publishes for you. In the old version you had to open the File menu then select "publish to web" and then paste the publish URL into Flippity's template. Now you simply use your chosen template and the URL is automatically generated for you. In fact, the URL is front and center for you as soon as you pick a template.

The automatic publishing of templates should make Flippity easier than ever for new users. I worked with lots of teachers over the years who forgot to manually publish their Flippity activities and then wondered why students couldn't access the activities.

For those who are not familiar with Flippity, it is a free service that provides twenty Google Sheets templates that you can use to create things like online word games, multimedia flashcards, progress trackers, and random name selectors.