Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A Great Update to Screencastify

Screencastify is a tremendously popular screencast recording tool. A large part of its popularity comes from being easy to use on Chromebooks. In fact, last fall I helped eighth grade students use Screencastify in conjunction with Brush Ninja on their Chromebooks to make simple animated videos. As great as it was Screencastify wasn't without limitations. Those included a monthly limit on the number of videos you could make and placing a watermark on all videos. As of last week those limitations are gone!

Last week Screencastify announced that the limitation on the number of videos you can make in month has been removed from the free plan. Furthermore, the requirement of having a watermark on the videos you make with the free plan has been removed. The only limitation now is individual videos must be under five minutes long.

In addition to removing limitations from the free plan Screencastify added new features to the free plan. Those new features include trimming videos, exporting videos in three formats (MP4, MP3, GIF), and additional sharing features. The new sharing features are one-click QR code generation, embed codes for placement on your own website, and one-click sharing via email. Those sharing features are in addition to the already present option to share directly to Google Classroom.

Applications for Education
Screencastify is a fantastic tool for students and teachers to use to create short videos. Some of the types of videos that I've had students make with Screencastify include whiteboard-style instructional videos, simple animated videos, and one-take video journal entries. Of course, Screencastify is great for screencast videos to show students and colleagues how to use a new program or website.

Screencastify is one of the tools that is featured in my upcoming course, Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom

Thanks to Brad Dale for Tweeting about the screencastify update last night.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Signing Into Chrome vs. Signing Into Your Google Account

Last week my friend Beth Still asked me if I had a video that showed people how to sign into Chrome and switch between Chrome profiles. She mentioned it because she was helping some people who were confused about the difference between signing into Chrome versus signing into their Google accounts. The differences are small, but significant. In the following video I demonstrate signing into your Chrome profile versus signing into a Google account.


Applications for Education
As I explained in the video, signing into Chrome makes it easy for students to take their bookmarks and personalized Chrome settings with them from computer to computer. It's also important to note that students should sign out of their Chrome profiles if they are sharing computers and don't have separate user accounts for the shared computers.

How to Upload a Podcast to SoundCloud

Yesterday, I shared an update about NPR's 2020 Student Podcast Challenge. One of the requirements for participation in that contest is that teachers have to upload students' podcasts to SoundCloud. Watch the following video if you're thinking about having your students participate in the contest, but you're not sure how to go about uploading a podcast to SoundCloud.


On a related note, SoundCloud used to offer a built-in recording tool. That is no longer the case which is too bad because it did provide a convenient way to record a podcast. Fortunately, tools like Anchor.fm offer a similar capability. I've included a tutorial on how to use Anchor in the video below.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

A Student Podcast Contest

For the second year in a row NPR is a hosting a podcasting competition for students in fifth through twelfth grade. To enter the challenge students have to create a podcast that is three to twelve minutes long. Unlike last year, this year students can include music in their podcasts. Any music that is included in a podcast has to be a student's original work.

NPR's Student Podcast Challenge is open for submissions now and will stay open until March 24th. The winning submissions will be played on NPR broadcasts. Submissions to the contest have to be made by teachers on behalf of students. Submissions have to be uploaded to SoundCloud. Submissions have to be original work created specifically for the contest. All of the contest rules are available here.

Applications for Education
For this contest NPR has published two extensive podcasting guides. The guide for students walks them through the planning and recording processes. Although they don't provide tutorials on specific tools, they do offer this video about training your voice to sound more natural on a microphone.


H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where we're anticipating a winter ice storm. I'm trying to get a lot done before the inevitable power outage. One of those things is writing up this week's list of the most popular posts of the week.

This week I hosted the first session of Teaching History With Technology. 31 people are participating in the course. At the end of the month I'll be hosting a new course called Video Projects for Every Classroom - Deep Dive.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. A Comparison of Multimedia Timeline Creation Tools - Updated
2. Biomes and Ecoregions Interactive Map
3. Tips on Using Voice Typing in Google Documents
4. How to Use the New Creative Commons Chrome Extension
5. Learn How to Use These 5 Time-saving Gmail Features in 2020
6. Algorithms Explained by Common Craft
7. How to Combine Multiple Google Forms Into One

I'll come to your school in 2020! 
2020 will be my tenth year of speaking at schools and conferences. Send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to learn more about how we can work together.

Thank You for Your Support!
Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides FreeTech4Teachers.com and the daily email digest, there are other ways to keep up with what I'm publishing. 
  • Practical Ed Tech Newsletter - This comes out once per week (Sunday night/ Monday morning) and includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from FreeTech4Teachers.com.
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 16,000 are subscribed to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 300 Google tools tutorials. 
  • The Practical Ed Tech Podcast is where I answer questions from readers, share news and notes, and occasionally talk to interesting people in education. 
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has nearly 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last twelve years at twitter.com/rmbyrne
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing.