Friday, March 27, 2020

Free Course - A Teacher's Guide to Creating Common Craft Style Videos

For more than a dozen years Common Craft videos have been used by teachers to help students understand topics including digital citizenship, personal finance, and many big technology concepts. One of the things that makes Common Craft videos popular is the clear and concise manner in which information is presented using a whiteboard, simple cutouts, and voice over. That style has become known as the Common Craft style and many teachers including myself have had students make videos using that style. Now Common Craft offers their own free course for teachers who want to make Common Craft style videos in their classrooms.

A Teacher's Guide to Creating Common Craft Style Videos is a free self-paced course that contains five modules. The modules start with the key concepts of the Common Craft style before moving onto walk you through the tools you need (and don't need), the planning process (a downloadable template included), and the final production steps. Throughout the course there are examples of work done by teachers and students.

And if you have never seen a Common Craft video before, here's a good one to get started.


For those looking to do a little more reading about the Common Craft style, take a look at The Art of Explanation written by Lee LeFever.

Disclosure: I have a long-standing in-kind relationship with Common Craft. 

Anchor Offers a New Way to Remotely Record Podcasts With a Group

Anchor is the service that I have been using since last August to produce my weekly Practical Ed Tech Podcast. I use Anchor because Anchor makes it incredibly easier to record, edit, and publish my podcast to all of the major podcast networks at once. In other words, with just a couple of clicks my podcast gets distributed to Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, and a handful of other networks. You can see my whole process outlined in this video and blog post.

Most of my podcast episodes are solo efforts, but I have done a handful with guests including this one with Scott McLeod and this one with LT Rease Miles. I used Zoom to record those episodes and then publish them through Anchor. While that process works, it could be easier. Fortunately, Anchor has introduced a new way to record podcasts with remote guests.

Anchor now lets you record with up to four remote guests even if they don't have Anchor accounts. To do this just open the Anchor app, click record, and then click "invite friends" to send them a link to join you in your recording. Guests can open the link in Firefox, Safari, Edge, or the Anchor app (Chrome support coming soon) and start recording with you. The whole process is demonstrated in this new video from Anchor.


Applications for Education
If you're looking for a way to have your students create podcasts while your school is closed, Anchor's new remote recording option could be just what you need. Anchor offers some ideas for podcast topics here or you could head to the Story Corps Great Questions page to look for some podcast topics.

How to Quickly Turn Any Document or Webpage Into a Practice Quiz

On Tuesday I wrote about the new version of Knowt that will let you import any of your Google Docs, Word docs, or any public webpage into a notebook. Once in your notebook it just takes one more click to have a practice quiz created for you. As I demonstrate in the following video, Knowt will generate quizzes with three question formats and will generate multiple quizzes from the same document or webpage.


Knowt has a product for teachers coming soon. The teacher version will let you create notebooks and practice activities to share with your students. You can register for early access to the teacher version right now.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Great Series for Introducing or Reviewing Arduino Programming Concepts

Arduino programming was one of the things that we were really starting to get rolling on just before school closed. Now that my school is closed and we're doing remote teaching and learning, I'm using EDpuzzle to create review activities for my students.

This week I used EDpuzzle to create lessons based on a great series of Arduino programming basics. The videos were produced by Bob at I Like to Make Stuff. In the three part series he covers the big, basic concepts of programming in general before moving into the specifics of Arduino programming. The final video in the series puts everything together for viewers. And if you're wondering what an Arduino is, Bob has that covered too. The first video in the series is embedded below and the rest can be found on I Like to Make Stuff.



If you're wondering what EDpuzzle is and how it works, I have that covered here.


And you're interested in learning more about Arduino, there's a section of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp dedicated to it. 

Quick Tip - Apply Custom Colors to Google Slides

Regular users of Google Slides are probably familiar with the process of adding images to the backgrounds of their slides and changing the background color. There is one little background color option that is easily overlooked. That option is applying a custom color that isn't listed in the default color menu in Google Slides.

In Google Slides it is possible to use any color you like as the background for your slides. To do this simply open the background colors option then at the bottom of the menu click the little "+" icon to open another menu in which you can enter a color code or drag your cursor on a palette to select a custom color shade. The process is demonstrated in my video that is embedded below.


Applications for Education
This is certainly not a game-changing feature of Google Slides, but it might be pleasing to some teachers and students who want a little more control over the color schemes in their slides.