Monday, April 29, 2019

Taskade 2.0 - Collaborative Notes + Video Chat

At the end of January I published a video overview of a neat collaborative notes and task management tool called Taskade. Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo's latest Ed Tech Digest I discovered that Taskade has been updated with some handy new features. At its core Taskade is the same as it was in January, but these new features might bring in a few more users.

Taskade 2.0 adds a tagging capability to your task lists. As you might imagine, tagging lets you organize and prioritize the most important notes and tasks in your Taskade account. Just like in most task management and note-taking tools, you can create as many tags as you want and apply multiple tags to the same item. Applying multiple tags is something that I would do because from day-to-day or week-to-week I might not remember which tag I had applied to a note so if I can use multiple tags I have a better chance of finding that note when I need it.

The other key addition to Taskade 2.0 is template creation. Templates are intended to be used by teams to follow for meeting notes and task delegation.

Finally, while not a new feature for Taskade 2.0 the service still supports voice and video chat for team collaboration.

Watch this video that I made in January to learn more about Taskade works.

5 Tips for New Google Expeditions Users

Image copyright: Richard Byrne
Google Expeditions is often the first educational virtual reality tool that I introduce to teachers who come to one of my workshops. Here are five tips that I frequently pass along to teachers who are preparing to use Google Expeditions for the first time. If you have never used Expeditions, you might want to watch this short tutorial and then come back to read these tips.

Download Early
A lot people either don't realize it at first or just forget to do it, if you're going to be the Guide in Expeditions, you need to download the Expedition on which you want to guide your students.

You Don't Have to Lucky Dip
If you open the Google Expeditions app on your phone or tablet and you can browse through the VR and AR tours according to broad topics like science, landscapes, and careers. And you can read a little description of each tour, but you don't really know what lessons you might teach with a tour until you open it and go through it yourself. There is another option for finding Google Expeditions VR and AR tours. That option is found in this list of Expeditions spreadsheet owned by Jennifer Holland that Greg Kulowiec shared with me.

The list of Expeditions spreadsheet includes a list of scenes in each tour, a tour summary, and in some cases a link to a lesson plan. Search through the spreadsheet by using "Ctrl+F" "Command+F" on your keyboard.

Talk to Your IT Person (the sooner the better)
If you want to guide your student in Google Expeditions virtual reality tours you will need to make sure that you and your students are on the same network. In many schools students and teachers are on different wi-fi networks. There are a few solutions to this including buying a Google Expeditions kit from a retailer like Best Buy (most expensive option), using a wireless hotspot (not terribly expensive in most cases), or asking your IT person if he/she can set-up a small network for your classroom (this may require bribing said IT person with chocolate or coffee). Your school's IT person can tell you what options are available to you.

You Can Make Your Own Expeditions
Earlier this year Google announced that you can now view tours that you create with their VR Tour Creator in your Google Expeditions app. The catch is that you must use the same Google account for VR Tour Creator as you do for the Google Expeditions app. Watch my videos below for directions on making your own tour and for viewing it in the Google Expeditions app.

Students Can Explore on Their Own
Being able to guide your students on tours in Google Expeditions is great because you can be relatively certain that they are looking at the tour that you want them to view. But there is a lot to be said for letting students explore on their own in Google Expeditions. Fortunately, Google realized this a couple of years ago and introduced Explorer mode which lets students explore VR and AR tours on their own within the Expeditions app. Watch my video below to see how students can do this.

Live Nature Webcams - Lambs, Eaglets, Piglets, and Calves, Oh My!

Image copyright: Richard Byrne
Last night while I was working on a list of alternatives to YouTube I found myself distracted by the live nature webcam streams hosted on has hosted live webcam streams for many years with the number of streams growing every year. This is a great time of year to look at those streams as many baby animals are born in the spring.

On you will find live streams of an eagle's nest with eaglets in it, a sheep barn, a pig pasture, and a bison watering hole. Those are just three of the dozens of interesting streams you can watch on In fact, there is an entire section dedicated to just showing baby animals.

In addition to live webcams you can use find documentaries about animals.

Applications for Education
Watching a webcam of a nest or watering hole could get a little boring after a few minutes. The way that I recommend using's webcam streams is to have students pick an animal or animals that they want to watch grow over the course of a few weeks. Have them watch for a few minutes a day and record observations in an online or physical journal. The Google Science Journal app could be a good option for writing those observations.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Mobile Apps, Copyright, and Flipgrid - The Week in Review

Good evening from rainy Maine where I spent part of the day pumping water out of the basement of my 170 year old house. I hope that your day was a little better than mine.

This week I had the privilege to speak in Bonner Springs, Kansas to a great group of teachers who welcomed me with the sign that's featured in this post. That was the last stop on a long string of speaking engagements that I had all over North America over the last two months. Now I have a few weeks to recharge. By the way, click here if you'd like to have me speak at your school or conference.

In other news, I've spent a lot of time this week fighting against the copyright infringement committed by a site called Online Cultus. If you see this post there, please let me know so that I can submit it their hosting company as another example of copyright infringement.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Four Free Tools for Creating Your Own Mobile Apps
2. AP Government Review Resources - Kahoots and Quizlets from C-SPAN Classroom
3. A New Way to Access Google Slides, Docs, and Sheets Offline
4. 5 Ideas for Using Glide to Create Your Own Mobile Apps in Your School
5. Google Earth Timelapses and Historical Imagery
6. This is a Copyright Infringement
7. 13 Flipgrid Tutorial Videos - #FlipgridFever

This week I welcomed a new site supporter. Please take a look at and tell them that you appreciate their support of Free Technology for Teachers.

Checkology - Lessons in Being Discerning Media Consumers

Checkology is a website designed to help students learn to be discerning consumers of online, print, and television media. Checkology has a free version and a premium version. This review is only about the free version of Checkology.

Checkology's free version offers four interactive modules for students to complete. Each of the modules is comprised of between twenty and forty-seven instructional video clips and interactive comprehension checks. The four modules are titled Info Zones, Democracy's Watchdog, Practicing Quality Journalism, and Misinformation. As you might expect, the contents of the modules gets progressively more difficult as each section is completed.

Checkology's Info Zones module is contains thirty-one sections. The purpose of the Info Zones module is to help students understand how online media (videos, memes, articles) is used to persuade, provoke, sell, entertain, or otherwise present information. Throughout the module students will watch a short video explanation then answer application questions. Most of the application questions present students with three examples of media and they have to identify its purpose and or how it is used to persuade, provoke, sell, or entertain.

In the Checkology module titled Democracy's Watchdog students work through twenty-two modules designed to help them learn about role of investigative journalism in democracy. While this module does include some short explanatory videos, the stars of this module are the detailed timelines and articles about significant moments in history like Watergate and Nixon's subsequent resignation that were shaped by investigative journalism.

Checkology's Practicing Quality Journalism is the longest of the four free modules. This module contains forty-seven parts. In this module students play the role of a journalist gathering and verifying information. In the module students have to make decisions about which stories are newsworthy and which are not. As you might guess, students have to make decisions about the validity of the information that they find throughout this module.

The fourth free Checkology module is rated by them as the most difficult one. That's the module that is titled Misinformation. In the Misinformation module students learn the difference between fake news and misinformation. The module does this by showing students examples of information that has been manipulated into misinformation. The examples include videos and articles, but the bulk of the examples are memes.

Applications for Education
Checkology could be a fantastic resource for middle school and high school students to use to learn how to be discerning consumers of online, print, and television media. Each of the four modules should take students forty-five to sixty minutes to complete accurately.

It should be noted that Checkology is provided by the joint effort of the News Literacy Project and the Facebook Journalism Project.

Popular Posts