Friday, January 3, 2020

A Comparison of 6 Blogging Services for Teachers and Students - Updated

About five years ago I assembled a series charts that compared the features of ed tech tools that served similar purposes. Some of the charts I made were about video tools, animation tools, timeline tools, digital portfolios, and blogs. To start 2020 I'm revisiting those charts and updating them to better reflect the current features and availability of various tools. The first chart that I've updated is this one that compares and ranks six popular blogging services.

Comparison of Six Blogging Services for Teachers outlines the administration options, design options, domain mapping options, and TOS conditions amongst other key features to look for when picking a blogging service to use in your classroom. You can get a Google Docs copy of the chart here and a PDF version here.
While you're exploring blogging tools, take a look at these ten blogging activities for K-12 students.

Here's my ranking of the blogging services featured in the chart:

My ranking of these services:
1. Blogger - It’s free and easy to set-up. It can be integrated into your Google Apps for Education account which means that you and your students can use the same usernames and passwords that they use in all other Google tools. You can make your blog private (up to 100 members invited by email). The drawback to it is that a lot of school filters flag it as “social media” and block it on those grounds.

1a. Edublogs - Probably the best option for elementary school and middle school use. Blogs and individual blog posts can be made private, password-protected, or public. You can create and manage your students’ accounts. Outstanding customer support!

2. Weebly for Education - It’s free to have up to 40 students in your account. You can manage your students’ accounts. You can have students contribute to a group blog and or let them manage their own individual blogs.

3. SeeSaw.me - SeeSaw was originally launched as a digital portfolio tool. The addition of a blogging component was made in January 2016. The blogging component of SeeSaw allows you to import and display your students’ digital artifacts publicly or privately. There is not much you can do with SeeSaw in terms of customization of layout and color scheme.

4. WordPress.org - If you have the technical acumen or the time to learn it (it’s not that hard), self-hosting a blog that runs on WordPress software will give you the ultimate in control and flexibility. You will be able to create and manage student accounts, have a nearly infinite variety of customization options, and you’ll be able to move your blog from server to server whenever you want to. That said, you will have to pay for hosting (or convince your school to give you server space) and you will be responsible for maintaining security updates and backing-up your blog regularly.

5. WordPress.com - It’s easy to use and is free, but with some serious limitations at the free level. The free version displays advertising on your blog which you cannot control. The free version also doesn’t allow embedding content from many third-party sites.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

How to Create and Publish Multimedia Collages

Now that Canva offers an education version that provides all of the pro features for free to teachers and students, there is a ton of neat things that students and teachers can make. One example of that is designing and publishing multimedia collages. Along with pictures, text, and hyperlinks you can add video and audio files to any of the designs that you make or modify in Canva. Obviously, the video and audio will only play if you publish your design online. Fortunately, Canva offers a couple ways to publish your collages online. Those options are to publish the collage as a simple stand-alone webpage or embed it into an existing webpage.

In the following video I demonstrate how to create and publish multimedia collages in Canva.


Applications for Education
Making a multimedia collage in Canva could be a good way for students to assemble simple one page digital portfolios to showcase examples of their work.I can also see making multimedia collages in Canva as a fun way for students to organize a collection of digital artifacts to summarize key points in a time period or in a person's life.

What Do You Want to Learn in 2020?

I posed this question on Practical Ed Tech and I'm going to pose it here too. What do you want to learn in 2020? It could be learning to code or it could be a new instructional strategy or it might be learning how to cartwheel. Whatever it is, I'd love to hear about it. And if it's something that I can help you with, you can bet that I'll cover it on the blog, in video, or in a podcast this year. So go ahead and fill out the short form below and I'll do my best to help you learn something new in 2020.

By the way, I want to learn new instructional strategies for adult education and some new Python skills in 2020.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Learn How to Use These 5 Time-saving Gmail Features in 2020

Some days it feels like I'm playing the world's longest game of whack-a-mole in my inbox. If this sounds familiar to you and you're a Gmail/ G Suite user, there are some things that you can do to tilt the odds of winning that game of email whack-a-mole in your favor. Those things include creating canned responses, scheduling messages, enabling smart replies, and creating message filters. Those time-saving Gmail features are demonstrated in the video below.


One more time-saver is to make sure that you have your contacts organized into groups. Doing that can save you time when you're trying to send a message to department members, parent groups, or any other group that you frequently send the same messages to.

FAQs About Teaching History With Technology 2020

For the new year I have updated my popular Practical Ed Tech course, Teaching History With Technology. The course begins next Wednesday. I announced the course about ten days ago and I've answered a handful of emails about it. Here are those questions and answers.

1. Will the sessions be recorded? 
Yes. Every live webinar in the course will be recorded so that you can go back and watch it whenever it is convenient for you. Of course, you'll still be able to send me questions just like you would if you were there for the live webinars.

2. How long are the webinars?
Each one is planned for an hour plus some time for Q&A as needed.

3. Can I register with a purchase order?
I will accept a purchase order if you have five more people from the same school who want to register together. Otherwise, I can't accept a PO because it generally takes a colossal amount of time to navigate school district paperwork requirements. Any major credit card can be used to register.

4. Do you offer any kind of certificate?
I do provide a certificate of completion for five hours of PD time. Whether or not your school district or certification/license office will accept it for license/certification renewal is a determination you will have to make.

5. Will I be able to use this with elementary school students? 
I've had lots of elementary school teachers take this course since I started offering it in 2015. I designed the course so that the ideas, tools, and resources can be modified to use with students as early as 4th grade through high school students.



Register Here!