Thursday, December 26, 2019

My Favorite New & Updated Tools in 2019

The end of the year is just five days away so I've put together a short list of my favorite new and updated tools in 2019. You can watch my video overview of these tools, take a look at the slides, or read more about them below. This is a highly subjective list not subject to any scientific or editorial review process and no company mentioned on this list paid to appear on it.






You can learn more about all of these tools and find tutorials on how to use them on my YouTube channel.

Anchor.fm is the platform that I'm using to produce the Practical Ed Tech Podcast. It makes it super easy to distribute my podcast to all of the major podcasting networks including Google Play and Apple Podcasts.

Slido is a new service that makes it easy to insert interactive quiz and poll questions into your Google Slides presentations.

VidReader will create a transcript of any YouTube video that contains spoken English. Transcripts are both printable and hyperlinked with timestamps.

Canva released a slew of updates to close out 2019. Included in those updates is a new video editor and a new tool for removing the background from any image. Best of all, teachers can get all of the pro features of Canva for free at canva.com/education.

Padlet has been a staple in my menu of tools throughout the decade! This year Padlet added a new multimedia mapping tool.

The web version of Google Earth received from much-needed updates this year including the addition of new geography games. The best update though was the addition of a tool for making multimedia placemarks and tours. The web version of Google Earth still lags behind the desktop version, but it's improving.

In 2019 Google Slides finally got a native audio feature! Now you can add audio to your slides without having to use any third-party add-ons or weird workarounds.

Canned responses was one of the new features that was added to all Gmail / G Suite email accounts this year. I use this feature a lot when answering questions from students and parents.

Glide Apps just might be my favorite new tool of 2019! With Glide Apps anyone who can make a Google Sheet can make a working mobile app. It has been a hit everywhere that I've demonstrated it this year. Glide Apps is one of the tools that I'm featuring in my updated Teaching History With Technology course starting in January.

ClassTools has been on my go-to list of resources throughout the last decade. In 2019 ClassTools added some new game templates and an interactive image generator template.

Educandy is a new game creation service that appeared on my radar this year. My blog post about it proved to be one of the most popular of the year.

BoClips is an educational video service that I discovered back in January. It offers millions of educational videos without all of the distractions typically associated with YouTube yet contains content licensed from some of the most popular educational channels on YouTube.

Last, but not least, Microsoft's Immersive Reader tool is making more tools and resources accessible to more students than ever before. Immersive Reader has been integrated into dozens of tools from Microsoft and third-party services. Immersive Reader provides read-aloud functions as well as other reading supports like font spacing and enlargement, line focus, and syllable highlighting.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Burning Vocabulary - A Chrome Extension for Expanding Your Vocabulary

Burning Vocabulary is a new Chrome extension that is designed to help users learn new words while browsing the web. Users of the Burning Vocabulary Chrome extension can mark and save any words on a page that are new to them. Definitions of saved words are provided by Burning Vocabulary too. Whenever a word saved in a user's Burning Vocabulary list appears on subsequent pages the saved words will be highlighted on the page. The idea is that users will learn the meanings of their saved words by seeing them in a variety of natural contexts.

Burning Vocabulary offers some additional features in a paid version. The paid version includes the option to print word lists and an option for a vocabulary review calendar.

Applications for Education
Burning Vocabulary could be a good tool for students to use to identify words that are new to them and then learn how those words are used in context. Burning Vocabulary would be a little better if it provided an option to export words to a flashcard or quiz service like Quizlet.

Now You Can Customize Anchor Podcast Pages

Anchor is the service that I am using and have been recommending to anyone who wants to quickly start a podcast. Anchor does all of the work of submitting your podcast's feed to all of the major podcast distribution networks including Google Play and Apple Podcasts. My simple method of producing a podcast with Anchor is outlined here.

One of my few complaints about Anchor was addressed last week when Anchor added the option to customize the landing page for your podcast. Previously, you were stuck with whatever color scheme Anchor gave you for your podcast's landing page. Now you can customize that color scheme. You can use any color hex code you like on your page.

Applications for Education
This doesn't change how Anchor works when it comes to producing a podcast. It's just a nice little improvement that students who use Anchor might appreciate as it gives them a bit of control over how their podcast landing pages appear to visitors.

Monday, December 23, 2019

How to Add Alt Text to Images in Google Documents

In this week's Practical Ed Tech newsletter I included a seven page handout containing tips and tutorials for improving the accessibility of documents, slides, websites, and videos. In that handout was a note about adding alt text to images in Google Documents. It's an easy thing to do that can make your documents more accessible to those who use screen readers. In the following video I demonstrate how to add alt text to the images that you include in Google Documents.

Two Easy Ways to Share Google Forms Without Google Classroom

The school that I am teaching in this year draws students from multiple school districts who come to us for technical/ vocational classes, but take their traditional academic classes in their home school districts. It is because of that arrangement that I have one class in which I can't use Google Classroom because not all of the students have the same email domain and I can't force them all to get a consumer Gmail address. Therefore, when I want to share something like a Google Form with them I will either use a QR code generated with QR Droid or share a shortened URL generated by Yellkey. In the following video I demonstrate how both of those tools work with Google Forms.