Saturday, August 24, 2019

A Quick Way to Check if a Website is Working Correctly or Not

On Thursday afternoon I was having trouble loading a couple of websites that I planned to use in a presentation. To make check if the problem was on my end or with the website I turned to a handy site called Down For Everyone Or Just Me? The site will tell you if a website that you're trying to visit is down or not. To use the site just enter the name of a site into the search tool on Down For Everyone Or Just Me? and you will quickly get a yes or no answer. Watch my short video overview below.


Applications for Education
The next time you try a site in your classroom and the kids say to you, "it's not working" put the site's address into Down For Everyone Or Just Me? to see if the problem lies with the site or with your school's filters.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Practical Ed Tech Live - Episode #2 Now Available in Six Places

Earlier today I recorded the second episode of Practical Ed Tech Live for the new school year. As I mentioned last week, this year I'm starting each episode with five to ten minute overview of new and interesting things in the world of educational technology. The second half of the episode is when I answer questions from readers, viewers, and listeners like you.

The latest episode can be viewed as embedded below. You can also find it in podcast format on five platforms including Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Spotify, Radio Public, and Anchor.fm. Click here to find it in podcast format. 


Here's a copy of the show notes.


A Good Source of Free Music for Multimedia Projects

Last fall the Free Music Archive, one of my go-to sources of free music for multimedia projects, nearly closed. Fortunately, it was taken over by KitSplit who has kept it running. The Free Music Archive provides free, high-quality, music in a wide range of genres. The content on Free Music Archive is used under various creative commons licenses.

Anyone can download music from FMA for use in podcasts, videos, and other digital presentation formats. Downloading music from FMA does not require any kind of registration. In the following video I demonstrate how to find and download free music from the Free Music Archive.


Applications for Education
FMA can be a good resource for high school students looking for music tracks to use in podcasts and videos.

I am hesitant to use FMA in middle school or elementary school settings because there isn't a way to filter out tracks that might have inappropriate lyrics in them.

The Free Music Archive does offer an FAQ for educators that addresses many questions about use and re-use of audio tracks from the FMA.

5 Google Drive Tips You Might Have Overlooked or Forgotten

Google Drive is the core of many aspects of G Suite for Education. There are lots of little features of Google Drive that are often overlooked or simply forgotten about. Many of those little features can improve your Google Drive experience. So as we head into the new school year, take a look at these five Google Drive settings that you might have overlooked or just forgotten about.

Change the Layout of Your Google Drive Dashboard
There are two layouts that you can apply to your Google Drive dashboard. You can use either the material view (the layout that has files arranged in tiles) or the linear view. I prefer the linear view that puts all of my files and folders in a list. Watch this video to see how to change the layout in your Google Drive dashboard.



Disable Email Notifications
If you end up sharing files and folders with a lot of people, you could end up getting an overwhelming volume of notification emails. You can disable those notifications rather easily. Here's how to disable email notifications in Google Drive.



Create Shared Google Drive Folders
Do you have a bunch of documents and slideshows that you want to share with a colleague? Put those files in one folder and share it. Here's how you can create and share a Google Drive folder.



Share Videos Through Google Drive
You can store just about anything in your Google Drive including videos. In fact, Google Drive offers a great way to share videos without having to upload them to a video sharing site. Here's how to share videos through Google Drive.



Automatic File Conversion
If you're transitioning to G Suite for Education there is a good chance that you have a lot of older Word and PowerPoint files that you'll still want to use. You can have those files automatically converted to Google Docs and Slides format when you upload them to Google Drive. Watch the following video to learn how to have files automatically converted to Google Docs format when you upload them to Google Drive. It's important to note, as Deborah Alexander pointed out to me, that converting a file from PPT or Word to Google Docs or Slides can impact on the formatting of that file.



Learn more about Google Drive and G Suite for Education in my upcoming on-demand course, Getting Going With G Suite

Ten Workshops Ideas for Your Next PD Day

Over the last ten years I've had the good fortune to run workshops and give presentations at hundreds of schools and conferences. I'm frequently asked what I cover in my workshops and keynotes. Some of the outlines and slides from those presentations have appeared in blog posts in the past. But my list of workshops and keynote topics is always evolving with the times and technologies available to schools. That said, here are the ten workshops that I'm currently offering to schools for your next professional development day.

  • Teaching History With Technology
  • Getting Going With G Suite
  • AR, VR, and Mixed Reality in Education 
  • DIY App Creation  
  • Teaching Search Strategies Students Need to Know 
  • Fast & Fun Formative Assessments  
  • Making & Teaching With Video 
  • To Geography and Beyond With Google Earth & Maps 
  • Blending Technology Into Outdoor Learning 
  • Keeping Track With Google Keep, Calendar, and Classroom
  • A combination of these topics? I can do that for you. Just fill out the form below.
All of these workshops can be modified according to grade level (elementary, middle, high), the technology available to teachers and students, and to time allotted for professional development. 

If you're interested in having me run a professional development workshop at your school, please get in touch with me at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com or complete the short form below. 




Finally, if you're looking for an online option for professional development, I am offering an on-demand course starting in September. And throughout the year I host live professional development webinars over on PracticalEdTech.com. Join the Practical Ed Tech newsletter to be notified when those webinars are scheduled.