Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Week in Review - It Was a Rough One

Good morning from Maine where the ground is once again blanketed with six inches of heavy, wet snow. We had a big storm on Thursday night that knocked out the power to more than a third of the homes, including mine, in my county. So in the midst of remote learning we had a snow day.

Earlier in the week we were notified that we are not going back to school this year. That wasn't a complete surprise, but it was somber confirmation of what we all kind of thought would happen even though we didn't want it to happen. It's a weird incomplete feeling to have the typical "last day of school" activities replaced by the "have a nice weekend" that we said to each other on March 13th. I wonder how many of you feel the same way.

I've been going like a man with his hair on fire for a month now. My school inbox and my personal inbox have been a non-stop stream of help requests. Some of those requests end up being addressed in blog posts, but most are addressed directly (even if it takes a few days). I explained how I'm handling those inboxes in the free webinar I hosted on Thursday. That said, I'm taking the weekend off from my inbox. I'm going to play outside with my kids, hide Easter eggs on Sunday morning, and try to relax. I hope that you can have a relaxing weekend too. If reading about educational technology is relaxing for you, take a look at these week's most popular posts.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. An Option for Making Sure Students Know They Have Google Classroom Assignments
2. Three Ways to Share Docs in Google Classroom - When to Use Each
3. 5 Google Classroom Tips for Teachers - Things You Might Have Overlooked or Forgotten
4. Now You Can Use Flipgrid to Make Screencast Videos
5. Video Puppet Turns Your PowerPoint Presentations Into Narrated Videos
6. How to Use PDFs in Google Classroom
7. Three Ways to Make Whiteboard Videos on Your Chromebook

Online PD With Me!
I've been hosting professional development webinars for a decade.

  • My most popular webinars are available on-demand right here
  • If you prefer live webinars, I am planning to host some more later this month and in May so stay tuned for more information about those soon. 
  • I'm always available to schedule custom, online PD for your school.


Thank You for Your Support!

Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides FreeTech4Teachers.com and the daily email digest, there are other ways to keep up with what I'm publishing. 
  • Practical Ed Tech Newsletter - This comes out once per week (Sunday night/ Monday morning) and it includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from FreeTech4Teachers.com.
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 20,000 people subscribe to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 350 Google tools tutorials. 
  • The Practical Ed Tech Podcast is where I answer questions from readers, share news and notes, and occasionally talk to interesting people in education. 
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has more than 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last thirteen years at twitter.com/rmbyrne
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing.

Friday, April 10, 2020

How to Quickly Incorporate Google Meet Into Google Classroom

Thanks to a Tweet from Chris Pirkl yesterday evening I learned that Google has now made it easier to post Google Meet links in Google Classroom. In fact, now you can now have a Google Meet link permanently assigned to each of your classrooms with Google Classroom. This means that you can have the same meeting link for an entire semester or year. I like this because no longer have to worry about remembering to post the link for each online meeting that I have with my students. Instead, we now have the same link for every meeting and I just need to post a quick reminder for my students to join the meeting at our regular meeting times.

You can find the new Google Meet and Google Classroom integration in the settings in each of your Google Classrooms. Remember that if you have more than one classroom you will have a different Meet link for each of those classrooms.

In the following video I demonstrate how to activate the new Google Meet and Google Classroom integration.

Webinar Recording - Strategies for Remote Instructional Technology Support

Yesterday afternoon I hosted a webinar titled Three Strategies for Remote Instructional Technology Support. If you missed it, the recording is now available to view here on my YouTube channel and as embedded below. The slides from the presentation can be seen here or as embedded below.

Highlights of the webinar included:
  • Improving your autoresponder. 
  • Using Google Forms to organize your help resources. 
  • Creating a help app.


Three Strategies for Remote Instructional Technology Support by Richard Byrne

Thursday, April 9, 2020

How to Create a Tech Help Site With Google Forms

This afternoon I hosted a free webinar titled Strategies for Remote Instructional Technology Support (the recording will be available later this evening). One of the strategies that I talked about and demonstrated in the webinar was using Google Forms to create a tech help resource to share with your colleagues. This can be done by using branching logic otherwise known as "go to section based on answer" in Google Forms.

Create a tech help site with Google Forms start by adding an opening multiple choice question that asks people to pick the topic that they need help with. Then create a section in the Google Form for each topic that is listed in the opening question. Within each section you can include video tutorials and links to additional resources. At the end of each section put in another question that lets visitors return to the home screen or exit from the Form. The "go to section based on answer" feature of Google Forms will let you direct people to the appropriate section based on how they answer the first question on the Form. Watch my video below to see how the whole process works. You can see my demo Form right here.



Once you've built your tech help Google Form you can embed it into your existing website or simply email it to people who could benefit from using it.

You'll notice in the video above that I included a section in my Form for "something else" in which people can book an appointment with me via Google Calendar. That is done with Google Calendar appointment pages. This video can show you how to do that.

Save Time With This Google Calendar Scheduling Tip

Here's a little tip that I passed along to a colleague yesterday morning that might help some of you too. When you're scheduling meetings that are going to happen on a consistent schedule you can go into the "more options" for the event on your calendar and set a custom, repeating schedule. This saves you the step of having to manually add every event in a sequence.

I used this method to schedule all of my Google Hangout Meetings for my computer science students for the rest of the year. If you need to add video conferencing to your event, you can do that in the same place that you set your repeating schedule and have the meeting link automatically added to every event in the sequence. Watch my short video below to see how this works.