Thursday, July 11, 2019

Schedule Assignment/ Assessment Windows in Otus LMS

Otus is a learning management system that continues to grow in popularity in part because of some of the tools they offer for free that other learning management systems don't offer or charge extra to use. One of those features is an assignment/ assessment window.

The assignment/ assessment window feature in Otus lets teachers set a start time and end time for the availability of an assessment. You can set up to ten different availability windows for each assessment. Being able to set multiple availability windows is a great option when you have some students absent or for other reasons need to differentiate the timing of assessments.

Another of the great features that Otus offers is a video feedback capability. As I wrote last year, Video feedback can feel a lot more personal to a student than just reading some comments that you have written in a document. While it might not be as efficient as using canned comments, giving video feedback on big projects can make students feel better about the feedback they're getting.

5 Ways to Enhance Your Classroom Blog

A classroom blog can be used for so many purposes that it is still one of the things that I think every class should have. A blog can be used for communicating important information to parents and students, it can be used by students as a journal to reflect on lessons, it can be used as a digital portfolio, and it can be a way to connect your class with other classes around the world. Now is a great time to tweak your existing blog before the time-crunch of the new school year arrives.

1. Add an Engaging Sidebar Widget or Two
One way to make your blog a destination in your students' and their parents' web browsing habits is to regularly update it with engaging and important information. You can do this in the form of blog posts and in the form engaging third-party widgets. Clustrmaps is a widget that displays how many people have viewed the blog and where in the world they're viewing it. Adding an Instagram or Flickr widget is a good way to keep parents interested in the blog by showing displaying pictures of school activities (of course, make sure that you have permission before showing pictures of students' faces in the blog). Edublogs has a great list of engaging widgets that are appropriate for classroom blogs.

2. Create a FAQ or "Need to Know" Page. 
If you have been teaching for more than a year or two in the same school, you probably have a good sense of the kinds of questions that parents and students frequently ask at the beginning of the school year. Create a FAQ page on your blog to help parents and students get answers to those questions.

3. Create a Featured Blog Post
A featured or "pinned" blog post is one that always appears at the top of the list of posts on your blog's homepage. At the beginning of the school year your featured post might be a welcome message. Later in the school year your featured post might be a reminder or a note of encouragement for students and their parents. Watch my video below to learn how to create featured blog posts.

4. Add a Custom Favicon to Your Blog
A favicon is the little icon that appears in your browser tab next to the title of your blog. The favicon can help people pick your blog out from all of the other tabs that they may have open in their web browsers. You can easily add a custom favicon to your classroom blog. Watch my videos below to learn how to customize the favicon in Blogger, Edublogs, and WordPress.

5. Add a Calendar Page to Your Blog
If you use Google Calendar to display upcoming events and assignment due dates, add that calendar to a page on your classroom blog. Here's how you can do that.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Practical Ed Tech On-Demand Webinars

One of the ways that I'm able to keep Free Technology for Teachers going is through the sale of my in-person workshops and professional development webinars on Practical Ed Tech. I hosted webinars throughout the 2018-19 school year. The most popular of those webinars are available on-demand.

I'm offering the 2018-19 school year webinars on sale for the rest of July. During the sale you can save as much as 67% compared to the regular price. You can purchase the webinars individually for $15 each or all six in one package for $50. Find all of the webinars right here

After July the webinars will not be available to purchase as they will be replaced by new live webinars in the 2019-2020 school year starting in August.

How to Customize Your Edublogs Favicon

A couple of weeks ago I published a video about how to customize the favicon on Blogger blogs. Since then I've answered a few emails from readers who wanted to know if the same is possible in Edublogs. Yes, it is possible to customize the favicon icon for Edublogs blogs. The process of doing this is simple once you have the image (PNG format) that you want to use as the favicon.

In the following video I demonstrate how to customize the favicon in Edublogs blog. The process demonstrated in my video also works for any Wordpress blog.

Applications for Education
Changing your blog's favicon is a nice and simple way to customize the appearance of your blog and make it stand out when visitor has a dozen other tabs open on his or her computer. Students can do this with their own blogs to differentiate them from their classmates' blogs.

Satellite Observations of Arctic Change

Satellite imagery gives students, teachers, and professional researchers access to lots of information to analyze and interpret. Through timelapses of satellite imagery students can see how landscapes and seascapes change over time. Some timelapses of satellite imagery can be found in Google Earth. The National Snow & Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado Boulder also offers some excellent timelapses based on satellite observations.

Satellite Observations of Arctic Change is a set of eight timelapse maps. Each of the maps shows representations of changes based on information collected via satellite imagery. The maps included in the set are:

  • Frozen Ground
  • Sea Ice
  • Sea Ice Average
  • Water Vapor
  • Snow Cover
  • Vegetation
  • Near-surface Air Temperatures
  • Annual Minimum Exposed Snow and Ice
Applications for Education
Satellite Observations of Arctic Change could be a useful set of maps to use in a lesson on climate change. The maps alone don't explain what caused changes. The assignment for students to complete is to research the factors contributing to the changes. 

H/T to Maps Mania