Friday, January 31, 2020

A Great Set of Videos for Teaching Networking and Computer Hardware Concepts

As some of you know, I took over a computer science program at my local vocational/ technical high school this year. It has been fun and, at times, has made me feel like a brand new teacher again. When I took the job I told my director that I'd be fine with the programming side of things. It was the networking and hardware that I was concerned about. Fortunately, I've been able to brush-up fairly quickly with the help of some instructor resources from Cisco and a great YouTube channel called PowerCert Animated Videos.

PowerCert Animated Videos offer clear and concise explanations of big concepts in computer hardware and networking. I've been watching them as refreshers for myself. I've also been using them in lessons for my students. I alternate between showing them to the whole class and incorporating them into Edpuzzle activities. The PowerCert Animated Videos that I used in lessons this week were FTP Explained and DHCP Explained.

On a related note, here's my demonstration of how to create Edpuzzle activities.

Gmail, Screencasts, and Summer Plans - The Month in Review

The first month of 2020 is at its end. I hope the first month of the year has gone well for you. Did you make a New Year's Resolution? How's going? Mine was to cut-out junk food and except for three slip-ups I've kept to it.

This month I had the honor of speaking at Amarillo College and I hosted a couple of online courses through Practical Ed Tech. Speaking of Practical Ed Tech, the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is going to happen again this year. Super early, super discounted registration is on sale now.

As I've done at the end of every month for the last ten years, I've put together a list of the most popular posts of the month. I don't see any reason to stop that pattern now.

These were the month's most popular posts:
1. Learn How to Use These 5 Time-saving Gmail Features in 2020
2. A Mostly Complete Guide to Classroom Blogging
3. Three Neat Things You Can Do With Google Sheets
4. A Tip for Your Colleagues Who Unnecessarily Use "Reply All"
5. Signing Into Chrome vs. Signing Into Your Google Account
6. How to Use the New Creative Commons Chrome Extension
7. A Great Update to Screencastify
8. How to Create an Online Sorting Activity Using Google Sheets
9. A Comparison of Multimedia Timeline Creation Tools - Updated
10. Three Interesting Ways to Use Google Slides Besides Making Presentations

I'll come to your school in 2020! 
Send me an email at richardbyrne (at) to learn more about how we can work together. This year I'm offering an opportunity to bring me to your school for free! Ask me for details.

Thank You for Your Support!
Other Places to Follow My Work
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  • 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
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  • The Practical Ed Tech Podcast is where I answer questions from readers, share news and notes, and occasionally talk to interesting people in education. 
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  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last twelve years at
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Thursday, January 30, 2020

Two Ways to Make Progress Trackers With Google Sheets

In my previous post I mentioned that Google Sheets can be used for all kinds of interesting things. It can also be used for practical things like keeping tally of your progress or that of your students toward a goal. There are two ways that I usually recommend doing this. The simplest way is to use the progress tracker template available at The method that offers more options is to use a pivot table in Google Sheets.

In the video below I demonstrate how to make a progress tracker using the template from Flippity.

In the following video I demonstrate to use pivot tables to make a progress tracker in Google Sheets.

How to Make Timelines With Google Sheets

There was a time when I didn't like working with Google Sheets. That changed about ten years ago after a chat with Kern Kelley who showed me some of the things that he had created with Google Sheets. Since then I've used Google Sheets for all kinds of things from self-grading assessments to data visualizations. But as a history teacher my favorite thing to do with Google Sheets has been making multimedia timelines with the help of templates from Flippity and Timeline JS.

With the Timeline JS template you can make a multimedia timeline that includes pictures, videos, audio, maps, and text. Watch my video below to see how it works.

Flippity's timeline template doesn't have as many options as the Timeline JS template, but it's still a good option for making a timeline. The upside to Flippity's template is that it is a little easier for first-time users to follow than the Timeline JS template. My video embedded below demonstrates how to use Flippity's timeline template.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Three Interesting Ways to Use Google Slides Besides Making Presentations

Google Slides was once a bare-bones alternative to PowerPoint and Keynote. I can still remember when the option to add a video was big news. Fast forward to today and there are lots of things that you can do with Google Slides besides make basic slideshow presentations. Here are three of my favorite ways to use Google Slides for something other than making a presentation.

Create a Jeopardy-style Game 
By inserting a table into your cover slide then using the slide-linking feature in Google Slides you can create a Jeopardy-style game to play in your classroom. The steps for doing that are outlined in the video below.

Create a Multimedia Timeline in Google Slides
A couple of years ago Google added some diagram templates to Google Slides. These templates can be inserted into any of your slides. A timeline is one of the templates that you'll find in the diagrams menu. Watch the following video to learn how to create a timeline in Google Slides.

Make a Common Craft-style Video
You can make simple animated videos with a bit of clip art, the animation tools built into Google Slides, and a free screen recording tool like Screencastify. In the following video I demonstrate how to do that.