Thursday, April 18, 2019

Sub-image Search - A Strategy for Answering "What Is This?"

Image Credit: Becky Willough
Earlier this week I had the good fortune to sit in on two presentations at TLA given by Daniel Russell. He is Google's Senior Scientist in charge of search quality and user happiness. If you ever get the chance to hear him talk about search, take it! Even if you think you're good at conducting web research, you will learn something new by listening to Dan speak. This week I learned about Google's new Dataset Search tool (more on that in another blog post) and I was reminded of an image search strategy called sub-image searching.

The strategy is to take a screenshot of a portion of an image then upload that image to Google Image search to see if you can identify or at least get a good clue to help you solve a search challenge.

I used this strategy and wrote about it six years ago to help a friend identify the meaning of the lettering on the tea set that she purchased at a flea market. Had I simply uploaded a picture of the whole tea set to Google Image search, I would have had a huge list of pictures of random tea sets because Google Images would have interpreted my search as a request for tea sets. So instead of uploading a picture of the tea set I uploaded a screenshot of the lettering. That alone that work in some cases. In this case I had to try adding few words to my image search before I was able to find the answer to the question of "what does this lettering mean?" That additional step is called Search by Image FU and is outlined in this 90 second video.



By the way if you are interested in learning more about developing search lessons for K-12 students, I am hosting a webinar on that topic next week. And if you want to dive into some highly advanced search challenges, take a look at Daniel Russell's SearchReSearch blog. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Best of the Web - The TLA Edition

Greetings from the Austin, Texas airport where I'm waiting for a flight home after a great three days at the TLA annual conference. I gave three presentations and ran two workshops during the conference. The last of my presentations ended just a couple of hours ago. The room was packed (I was worried about the fire marshal shutting us down) as I shared the latest version of my Best of the Web presentation. This one was different than the others that I have recently shared because it was designed with teacher-librarians in mind and it included some resources that I haven't even written about on this blog, yet. Check it out as embedded below.


A huge thank you to all of the kind folks who came to all of my presentations this week. And especially to those who came up to me after my sessions for selfies or to just say hello. Getting to meet so many passionate teachers and librarians is always the highlight of a conference for me.

If you're interested in the other things that I shared at TLA, you can see them here.

How to Make Your Own Mobile App

On Tuesday morning I published a post about great service called Glide that enables anyone who can make a Google Sheet to make his or her own mobile app. Judging by the volume of emails and Twitter DMs that I received, a lot of people are interested in using Glide. I made the following video to answer many of the questions that I received about Glide and to help more people get started making their own mobile apps in minutes.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A New Way to Customize Google Slides

Earlier this month Google announced a huge update to Google Slides in the form of native support for audio files. Yesterday, Google Slides got another update that many users will like. That is the option to customize the color palettes in the themes within Google Slides. In other words, if this is a new way to tweak a theme in Google Slides.

You can access the new color palette customization tool from any of the color picker menus in Google Slides (the one for font colors is probably the easiest one to find). To change the colors open the color picker menu then click on pencil icon next the word theme that appears below the color grid in the menu.

This new feature isn't a groundbreaking feature, but it will be convenient for those teachers and students who want break away from the standard themes of Google Slides.

This feature is rolling out over the next couple of weeks.

Glide - Make Your Own App by Just Making a Spreadsheet

Glide is an amazing free tool that I featured in a presentation during yesterday's TLA Tech Glamp. Glide enables anyone who can make a spreadsheet in Google Sheets to create his or her own mobile app. If that sounds simple, that's because it is just that simple. The headers that you put into your spreadsheet and the data that you enter into your spreadsheet is used by Glide to generate a mobile app for you that will work on Android and iOS devices.

To get started making your first app with Glide you will need to create a spreadsheet in Google Sheets. Your spreadsheet's column headers are what will become the sections your app. The information that you enter into your spreadsheet's columns is what will be displayed within each section your app. You can include links to videos, images, and maps in your spreadsheet and those items will be included in your app too.

After you have created your spreadsheet in Google Sheets, go to Glideapps.com and connect to your Google account. That connection will allow you to import your Google Sheet. Once your spreadsheet is imported you will be able to see a preview of your app. You can change the layout and color scheme of your app in the Glide editor. When you're happy with how it looks, hit the share button to publish your app for others to see. You can share your app publicly via QR code and public URL or you can share your app privately via email.

Applications for Education
Glide could be a fantastic way to have students create simple study guide apps, to create apps for making guides to their favorite video games, or to build apps about their towns.