Friday, April 24, 2020

How to Collect Voicemail Through Your Website with SpeakPipe

In a couple episodes of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff Rushton and I have mentioned using SpeakPipe. SpeakPipe is a tool that allows you to collect voicemail messages through your website or blog. With SpeakPipe installed on your blog anyone can click on the "send voicemail" button and leave a message for you. You can then either listen to the message or read a transcript of the message in your SpeakPipe account.

Someone who watched one of the webinars in which Rushton and I mentioned SpeakPipe emailed me this week for advice on how to install SpeakPipe. I made the following short video to explain how you can install SpeakPipe on a Google Site. The process in the video can used for just about any other website or blog platform that allows you to embed 3rd party HTML widgets.

Applications for Education
SpeakPipe can be a nice little addition to a school, library, or club website so that you can collect voice messages that are automatically transcribed for reading. You can also use it to simply create your own MP3 recordings that you download and distribute through your blog or website.

How to Reverse the Mirroring Effect in Zoom

In my recent article titled What's On My Desktop I mentioned using a small physical whiteboard during live lessons delivered via Zoom or Google Meet. Since then a few people have emailed to ask how I am able to make the writing on the whiteboard not appear reversed to students.

It's actually really easy to fix the problem of text and images appearing reversed to your Zoom audience. By default Zoom mirrors everything that is broadcast from your webcam. If you go into the video settings in Zoom there is an option to uncheck "mirror my video." As soon as you uncheck "mirror my video" you'll see everything flip sides of the screen and your audience will too. Watch my video or see my screenshot below for directions.

USGS Offers Online and Hands-on Learning from Home Resources

Since I was in elementary school I have enjoyed looking at maps and day dreaming about the places those maps depict. I like maps so much I have a couple of USGS topographical maps on the wall in my office. So whenever the USGS emails me with something new, I immediately investigate it. The latest email that I got from the USGS featured collections of "learning from home" resources.

Learning From Home With USGS offers eight weeks of lesson ideas and activities that students can complete online and or offline in their homes. For example, this week's resources include step-by-step directions and templates for building six different sand dune models. This week's resources also include dozens of links to resources for learning about national parks that contain sand dunes.

You can use the Learning From Home With USGS units in any order that you like. All of the resources from prior weeks are still available on the Learning From Home pages. Last week's unit was all about fossils. The fossils unit includes templates and step-by-step directions for making paper dinosaurs.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for some science or geography activities that your students can complete at home without an Internet connection, the USGS Learning From Home activities are worth your time to explore. All of the templates and step-by-step directions are available in PDFs that you can download and print to mail home to students.

Related Resources
The USGS offers thousands of historical maps that you can download for free through the topoView site.

Google Earth has historical and time-lapse imagery that can be useful in showing students the effects of erosion on coastal areas. Here's a video on how to find that imagery.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Google Sites Templates & Banners

Years ago Google Sites had a gallery of templates that you could pick from when you were starting to build a website. When the new (current) version of Google Sites was launched in 2016 the template gallery was removed. Today, Google brought back the Google Sites template gallery. The gallery is rather limited at this point, but it does have a few templates for education sites.

Banner announcements is another new feature that was added to Google Sites today. This feature will let you put a custom banner across the top of your site on its homepage and or all pages within the site. Putting a banner at the top can be a good way to call attention to an important notice that you want to make sure visitors don't miss. As I demonstrated in the video below, banners can be linked to calls to action for things like joining a virtual meeting.

In the video that is embedded below I demonstrate both of the new features that were added to Google Sites today.

Two Free Webinars Today and Tomorrow

Rushton Hurley, founder of Next Vista for Learning, has been hosting some great webinars over the last couple of months. One of those is every Thursday at 5pm ET and the other is every Friday at 1pm ET.

Today, at 5pm ET Rushton is hosting Activities Across Grade Levels. Susan Stewart is the co-presenter for the webinar. The focus of today's webinar is on activities for learning English and other languages. You can register for the free webinar right here.

Tomorrow, at 1pm ET I'll be joining Rushton for the fifth installment of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. Please come and ask us anything. We try to do more than just share cool tools, we try to share ideas for implementation too. You can register for the webinar and find previous episodes here.

Service via Video
Next Vista for Learning is currently running a collaborative video creation project that students and teachers. The project is called Service via Video. The goal of the project is,in Rushton's words, "to inspire others by telling stories of service using digital video." Rushton recently hosted a webinar about the project. The webinar included ideas for making videos and how to use Adobe Spark to make videos. You can find the webinar recording and handouts under "previously" on this page.