Wednesday, May 13, 2020

An Easy Way to Manage Tasks in Gmail

Raise your hand if you battle this same task management problem that I battle. I read and reply to an email then forget to do the follow-up task that is associated with email.

Here's an example of what I struggled with for years.A parent emails you on a Friday afternoon to request a meeting with you and two of your team members. You reply, "I'll set up the meeting on Monday." But when Monday comes you forget to include your team members on the meeting invitation. Does this ever happen to you? It happened to me a lot more before I started using the Add to Tasks feature in Gmail.

Add to Tasks in Gmail makes it easy to quickly add an item to your Tasks list and keep the context of the email connected to the task. The Task will appear in the sidebar of Gmail as well as on your personal Google Calendar. I find the combination of those two things to be tremendously useful in keeping track of tasks that are related emails that I send and receive.

Applications for Education
Adding an item to a Tasks list in Gmail can be a good way for students to set reminders for themselves about upcoming assignment due dates. While Google Classroom does provide an option to see assignments on their Google Calendars, some students might prefer to set reminders or advance the due date for themselves. Tasks makes it easy for students to create those reminders.

On a related note, Google Keep offers a couple of ways to create reminders.

Seven Ideas for Flipgrid Activities

One of the reasons that Flipgrid became popular and continues to grow in popularity is that it can be used across grade levels. Another reason for its popularity is that it new features are added to it on a regular basis. With every new feature comes a new way to think about how Flipgrid can be used in classrooms. I was thinking about this as I revised my slides for a webinar that I'm hosting tomorrow and I decided to jot down some ideas for using Flipgrid. Here are seven ideas for Flipgrid activities.

1. Question of the day.
This is an easy and obvious activity. It works in any classroom to get the day started. In our current state of remote learning and virtual classes having a question of the day in Flipgrid is a good way to keep the connections between you and your students going.

2. Q&A with guest speakers.
Flipgrid has a guest mode that you can use to invite people from outside of your class to join into a conversation. Use the guest access option to invite a guest speaker to post a video and reply to some of your students' questions. This could be a good way to host a virtual career day, to host an author, or host any expert who is willing to answer some questions from students.

3. Explain your work.
Last fall Flipgrid added a whiteboard capability. This lets you and your students draw on a white screen while recording. This is a great way to have students explain their work on a math problem or make a quick sketch of a flowchart.

4. Record a virtual tour.
About a month ago Flipgrid introduced a screen recording feature. This lets you and your students make screencast videos up to ten minutes long. You can make simple virtual tours by using the screen recording feature while navigating through Google Earth.

5. Pitch a book.
This might be my recent binge watch of Shark Tank coming through, but I think that a fun alternative to book reports and book trailers. Students can make thirty to ninety second "pitches" for the next book that their whole class should read. Students would pick their favorite book and pitch it to the class in an attempt to get their classmates interested in reading it. If you want, you could have students vote for their choice after all of the videos have been posted.

6. Make a puppet show. 
I regularly hear from teachers who want to use Flipgrid but have students who are not comfortable being on camera. In that case, have students use puppets on camera instead of putting their faces on camera. Looking for an at-home art project? Have kids make stick puppets to use in Flipgrid videos. Here's a Pinterest page full of ideas for making stick puppets.

7. Make a mixtape. Show highlights of the school year.
As the school year winds down many people start to think about creating videos to share highlights of the year. Flipgrid's Mixtape feature makes it easy to combine videos from multiple grids and multiple contributors. You can have students share their highlights of the school year. Or you might make a new grid and invite your colleagues to contribute their highlights of the school year. Don't forget that it is possible to upload videos to a Flipgrid grid which means that all submissions don't have to be recorded directly in Flipgrid.

The webinar that I mentioned at the top of this post is A Framework for Using Educational Technology. It will be live at 3pm ET tomorrow, May 14th. 

Five FAQs About the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp

Two weeks ago I announced the dates for the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. Since then registrations have been coming in every day. And many more people have sent me questions about registration and about the format of this virtual professional development event. In no particular order, here are the answers to the FAQs.

Is there a group discount?
Yes, there is a group discount available. You can save $50/person if you have five or more people registering from your school district. Email me for a discount code to apply to online group registrations or to initiate a PO registration.

Can I register with a purchase order or check?
Yes, you can certainly register with a purchase order. Send me an email or have your business office send me an email to initiate that process. Because of the additional paperwork and delay in receiving funds, the early registration discount doesn't apply to purchase order registrations.

Can I get CEUs/ contact hours?
You will receive a certificate from me indicating that you participated in ten hours of professional development time. Whether or not your school, state, or province will accept it for license/ certificate renewal is a determination that you will have to make. The rules about CEUs vary widely from state-to-state and I can't possibly keep track of them all.

What platform are you using for the webinars?
All of the webinars will be conducted through the GoToWebinar platform. I've tried many other webinar services, but I keep coming back to GoToWebinar because of it's reliability. I've used it for almost a decade for hundreds of webinars. You can access GoToWebinar on any computer or tablet.

Will the sessions be recorded?
Yes, all of the live webinars will be recorded. If you have to miss a session, you'll be able to watch the recording. That said, I find that people get the most out of webinars when they can attend live broadcasts and ask questions in real-time. Therefore, I encourage you to pick the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp session that works best with your schedule.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

An Important Setting for Using Audio and Video in Google Slides

Last fall Google finally added an option to insert audio files into Google Slides without the need for any third-party add-ons. While it wasn't as good as some people hoped it would be, it was still great news for Google Slides users.

There are some quirks to adding audio to Google Slides. One is that you have to record your audio outside of Google Slides then upload it to Google Drive and then add it into your presentation. The other quirk is that you have to change the sharing permissions on your audio file if you want people who view your presentation on their computers to be able to play the audio. I explain how to make that change and why it's important in this new video.

As I mentioned in the video above, you also need to change permissions on video files that you insert into Google Slides from your Google Drive account. Just like with audio, if you don't change the permissions on the video, people viewing a copy of your slides on their computers won't be able to play the video.

How to Deploy G Suite Add-ons Across a Domain

From time to time a reader will ask me if there is a way to install a Google Docs or Google Sheets add-on for his or her students. This is possible if you are a G Suite domain administrator. Otherwise, ask your G Suite domain administrator to do it for you. In the following video I demonstrate how to deploy a G Suite add-on for all users or a subset of users within a domain.

Applications for Education
Deploying an add-on across a domain is not only a time-saver for teachers and students, it's also a way for domain administrators to make sure that the add-on meets all of the requirements of your school's data policies.