Tuesday, May 5, 2020

How to Quickly Map and Connect Spreadsheet Data

Earlier today a reader emailed me with a great question about Google Maps. She wanted to map a set of addresses and then quickly determine the shortest route between all of those places. My suggestion was to put all of the addresses into a Google Sheet, import that Google Sheet into Google's My Maps tool, and then use the directions function to connect all of the addresses with the shortest possible routing. In the following video I demonstrate how that whole process can be done.


Applications for Education
Students can use this process to quickly create a simple tour of landmarks that they studied in a geography lesson. It could also be used to create tours based on books. You can turn these into collaborative projects by having students share a Google Sheet and contribute to it.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Free Webinar - A Framework for Using Educational Technology

Whenever I'm a guest on a podcast I always asked some variation on the question, "how do you decide what to write about?" The answer is simple, I try to look at new technology through the framework of discovery, discussion, and demonstration. That little framework helps me decide what I'll use in my classroom and what I'll recommend to others.

This Thursday at 3pm ET I'm going to host a free webinar titled Discovery, Discussion, Demonstration - A Framework for Using Educational Technology. In the webinar I'll explain how I use this framework to evaluate and choose educational technology tools. And I'll give examples of how to use each part of the framework. You can register here to join me on Thursday at 3pm ET.

A recording and copy of my slides will be available to those who attend the live webinar. If you can't attend the live broadcast this week, I'll run it again next week at a different time.

Quickly Create Online Whiteboards for Your Students

In this week's Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week I mentioned a new service called Whiteboard.fi. A few weeks ago I learned about it from Alice Keeler and Larry Ferlazzo. Last week I was able to give it a real try.

Whiteboard.fi lets you create an online room in which each of your students has his or her own whiteboard to draw on. As the teacher, you can see what your students are drawing as they do it. You have the ability to clear students' boards and to kick them out of the room if they are not using their whiteboards as intended. Students are also able to see your whiteboard if you choose to push it out to them.

The whole process of using Whiteboard.fi is outlined in my video below. For those who would prefer to read step-by-step directions instead of watch a video, I have outlined those steps before the video.


Getting started with Whiteboard.fi:
1. Head to the site and click "New Class."
2. Name your class and it will be assigned its own unique URL.
3. Give the URL to your students.
4. Students open the URL and enter a screen name.
5. Students draw on their whiteboards. Their drawings appear on your screen as well as their own.
6. When a students are done with their drawings they exit the room.
7. You can close the room at any time and students won't be able to access it again.

Applications for Education
Whiteboard.fi has the potential to be a good tool to use when you want your students to quickly illustrate how to solve a math problem or you want them to make a simple mind map.

In a remote learning environment Whiteboard.fi could pair well with Google Meet or Zoom. Rather than fumbling around to pass screensharing back and forth between yourself and your students, you can just give them the link to Whiteboard.fi and you can watch all of them sketch or do math problems on your screen in realtime.

ICYMI - Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff

Every Friday afternoon Rushton Hurley and I get together to host a free webinar called Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. For about thirty to forty minutes we do exactly what the title implies. We'd love to have you join us! If you can't make it, you can always find the recordings here on the Next Vista for Learning website under the heading of "previously." While you're there you will see that Rushton hosts other webinars during the week that you might also enjoy.

The recording of last Friday's installment of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff is embedded below. You can find the slides and chat transcript here.

Three Search Refinement Tools Every Student Should Know How to Use

Search is something that everyone knows how to do as an act of typing or speaking a query. Unfortunately, too many students never get beyond the first few pages of Google search results before changing their search terms or giving up and declaring "Google has nothing on this!" Oftentimes just using a couple of search refinement tools can show students new results that they otherwise would not see.

In the following video I demonstrate and explain why students should know how to refine search results by file type, by date, and by domain.


Enroll in the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp to learn more about search and teaching search strategies.