Friday, March 13, 2020

MonkeyLearn - A Neat Word Cloud Generator

MonkeyLearn is a new tool for creating word clouds from text that you supply. As you can see in my video that is embedded below, MonkeyLearn lets you customize the display of your word clouds before you download them as PNG files. MonkeyLearn does more than just make word clouds. You can use it to extract keyword from a document. You can also use it to analyze the sentiment of a document.

Applications for Education
MonkeyLearn, like other word cloud generators, could be useful in providing students with a nice way to visualize the most frequently used words in passages of text they are reading and or writing. In the context of analyzing their own writing word clouds can help students identify words or phrases that they might be using a little too often.

Reminder - Free Webinar on Remote Learning - Today at 1pm ET

There are tons of free webinars about remote learning that have been offered in the last week and are scheduled for the coming days. Many of those appear to be vendor-specific. Rushton Hurley, former principal of an online school and founder of Next Vista for Learning, is hosting a free webinar today at 1pm ET that is not vendor-specific. Rushton will be addressing questions around how to transition to online teaching. This webinar will complement the guide, Emergencies and Switching to Online Learning, that he published last week.

Rushton will be using Zoom to host the webinar. If you're interested in learning how to host an online meeting with Zoom, watch my short video that is embedded below.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Cisco Makes Webex Free and Publishes Guides for Teachers and Students

In amongst a wave of email related to COVID-19 I found a message from my local Cisco contact (my school licenses their NetAcad program) that Webex is now free to any school that needs it to conduct classes online.

To support a quick transition to using Webex for classes, Cisco has published some short guides to getting started with Webex. There are guides made for teachers, guides made for students, and guides made for parents. The target audience for the student guides appears to be middle school age and older. All of the guides can be downloaded as PDFs.

For those who would like a little more guidance on how to use Webex, Cisco has two recorded webinars available. This is the one for teachers and this is the one for students. Again, the student audience should be middle school or older. I'd say that if you're a middle school teacher you should encourage parents to watch the student webinar.

Slido for PowerPoint - Create and Run Polls Within Your Presentation

Slido for Google Slides was one of my favorite new tools in 2019. That's why I'm excited that it's now available for PowerPoint and Zoom too! As part of Slido for Education Slido now lets you create polls and run polls within Google Slides, PowerPoint, and Zoom presentations. Slido is hosting a free webinar next Thursday about how to use their product, but I couldn't wait so I went ahead and attempted to test Slido's PowerPoint integration for myself.

Slido's new PowerPoint integration works on the Windows 10 version of PowerPoint. At this time it doesn't appear to work with the Mac or web versions of PowerPoint. Additionally, you have to use a school-issued email account to sign into Slido within PowerPoint. If you can meet all of those requirements then you can go ahead and download Slido for PowerPoint.

To be fair to Slido, their PowerPoint integration is in beta so it's not unusual to find some quirks. That said, I found it to be exceptionally quirky just to set it up. First, I had to manually extract all of the files from the installation zip file. Then once I ran that gauntlet I was able to sign-in using my G Suite for Education account or so I thought. Unfortunately, when I logged in with my G Suite for Education account Slido put up a message that said "only available to those in education." So that's where my test of Slido's PowerPoint integration ended. Hopefully, the webinar that they're hosting next week explains how to actually use Slido's PowerPoint integration.

If you want to see how Slido's PowerPoint integration is supposed to work, you can watch this video that they published.

Slido for Google Slides works very well and I'm very happy with it. Hopefully, once they get the kinks worked out the Slido PowerPoint integration works just as well as the Google Slides integration.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Save and Use Multiple Signatures in Gmail

Google has introduced a new Gmail feature that could be helpful to anyone who has ever struggled with choosing what to put in his or her email signature. Gmail will now let you create multiple signatures, save them, and pick the one you want to use on each of the messages you send. For example, you could create one signature for emails that you're sending to your students and one signature for emails that you're sending to colleagues.

The new multiple signature feature is going to be rolled-out over the course of the next couple of weeks.

Applications for Education
I see a lot of email signatures in emails from teachers. Some use signatures to remind students of norms and protocols while others use the signature to remind students about important school events. Some teachers use the signature to provide a motivational quote. While that's a great for students to read, it might not always give the impression wanted in communicating with people other than students. Gmail's new multiple signatures feature could be useful in letting you create a signature for emails you send to students and one for emails that you send to colleagues and or parents.