Thursday, January 16, 2020

Keeping Track of Students' Websites

A couple of months ago I wrote about how my students are using Google Sites as digital portfolios this year. Fortunately for me, this year I only have twenty-five students' sites to keep track of. Years ago I had more than one hundred to keep track of. If you find yourself trying to keep track of one hundred or more student websites, try the method that I described in the following blog post from 2015.

This morning I answered an email from a reader who was looking for a little advice on keeping track of more than 150 Google Sites maintained by students as their digital portfolios. Here's the scenario that was described to me,
I have more than 150 students using e.Portfolios and I struggle with finding different students' work. I ask students to name their GoogleSites specifically so I can sort them. I have created a form for student to complete to keep a record of the links. Maybe you have a better way?
This was my suggestion for attempting to keep track of all the sites. (I used this method myself with about 100 students a few years ago).
To make it easier to sort submissions I create student groups (not for collaboration, just for sorting) and make a different form for each group. Students have to submit their updates to the form that is assigned to their group. That way instead of having 150 students making submissions to one form I have 25 students making submissions to each of six forms. It's a little easier to sort through 25 students making submissions than 150 students making submissions to one form. I make it the responsibility of the students to enter their submissions on the correct form.

Google Classroom Originality Reports Expand Next Week

Back in August Google unveiled Originality Reports as a beta product in Google Classroom. According to an email that landed in my domain administrator account this afternoon, Originality Reports will be available in all G Suite for Education domains beginning on January 21st.

Originality Reports in Google Classroom will let you check documents for elements of plagiarism originality against the millions of webpages and books that are indexed by Google. Students are able to run Originality Reports on their own work before submitting it as an assignment in Google Classroom.

Teachers who are in G Suite for Education domains can activate Originality Reports on up to three assignments within a Google Classroom. Teachers who are in a G Suite for Education Enterprise domain (the paid, upgraded version of G Suite for Education) can use Originality Reports on as many assignments as they like.

Using Originality Reports as a Teacher
If you're like me and most teachers who use G Suite for Education, you're probably using the free version of G Suite for Education and therefore will only be able to use Originality Reports on three assignments. That's why I foresee it only being used on long and infrequent assignments like research papers and not on short and frequent assignments. For shorter assignments I'll just use the good old standard of, "that doesn't sound like something student X would write" and then copy and paste a phrase or two into Google search to check for plagiarism.

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.