Thursday, January 16, 2020

Do You Know What's On Your Phone?

When was the last time you looked at your phone? According to my site analytics there's at least a 30% chance that the answer to that question is "right now." But when was the last time you looked at all the stuff that's on your phone? How many files do have you that downloaded (knowingly or unknowingly) that you needed to look at just once? What about that app you thought you'd use all the time that you haven't used in months or years? The point is, we all have things cluttering up our phones that we don't need.

Three Benefits of Cleaning Up Your Phone
  • It could run better without all of those little files that don't need to be on it. Cumulatively, they could be hogging up a bunch of space on your phone.
  • Removes security risks. If you have some apps on your phone that you haven't used in a long time, there's good chance that you've forgotten what kinds of permissions you've granted it. And if it's an app from a small developer, it might not even be supported anymore which means they're not paying attention to permissions and security either.
  • Preserve your battery by removing apps that you don't use that might be running in the background and eating away at your battery.

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.