Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Pixabay Offers Free Music to Use and Reuse

Pixabay is one of the resources that I frequently include in my recommendations for sources of images and video clips to use in slideshow and video projects. This morning I got a notice from Pixabay informing me of Pixabay's audio collection. I'm not sure how long it has been there, but I didn't notice it until I got the notification.

Pixabay's audio collection features instrumental recordings across a wide range of genres. You can listen to the tracks in their entirety before downloading them. Like all other media on Pixabay, you can download and reuse the sound tracks for free. And as they state in the terms of use, you don't have to cite them but it is appreciated.

I plan to add Pixabay's audio collection to my Practical Ed Tech Guide to Finding Media for Classroom Projects.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for some background music for an end-of-year slideshow or video, take a look at Pixabay's collection of free and royalty-free music.

Tactiq - Record the Captions in Google Meet

Tactiq is a new Google Chrome extension that lets you record the captions generated by the automatic captioning tool in Google Meet. You can use it to record and save all captions or select just some captions to save. When the conversation in Google Meet is over, you can save the captions as a text file on your computer or in Google Drive.

Applications for Education
Tactiq could be a good extension to use if you need to generate a transcript of a Google Meet to share with your students. Students could also use the extension to extract and save in their notes parts of what you say during a lesson conducted via Google Meet.

How to Quickly Create a Slideshow With Google Photos and Slides

Earlier this week someone sent me a question on Twitter seeking information about an add-on that lets you import batches of photos into Google Slides and have those photos automatically placed onto individual slides. The add-on that I've used for this in the past is called Photos to Slides. Photos to Slides lets you import an album from your Google Photos account into a slideshow in Google Slides.

Photos to Slides is quick and easy to use but there are a couple of things that you should note before you try it. First, you need to make albums in Google Photos before you use the add-on. Second, the free version of add-on limits you to 50 images imported at a time. Third, the reviews of the add-on are mixed, but I haven't had problem using it. 

Applications for Education
The person who asked me about this add-on was making an end-of-year slideshow for his school. That's a common use for Photos to Slides at this time of year as it could be a big time-saver for anyone charged with making end-of-year slideshows.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Five Comic and Storyboard Activities With Pixton EDU

Disclosure: Pixton EDU is currently an advertiser on

Online comic creation tools like Pixton EDU make it possible for almost anyone to create great-looking comics and storyboards without having to be a master artist. Creating comics and storyboards with online tools like Pixton EDU is a good way for students to share creative ideas, to illustrate concepts, and to show their understanding of events. Those are just a few of the ways that students can use Pixton EDU. As we head into the summer (in the northern hemisphere) and as we get requests from parents for at-home learning activities, here are five ideas to consider sharing.

Create Your Own Coloring Pages
Use the premade settings, objects, and characters to design scenes in Pixton EDU. When you’re done you can use them with the standard color schemes. But if you want to make coloring pages from your story’s scenes, you can print the scenes as black and white outlines to be colored by hand. Pixton EDU has a feature that lets you remove the colors and leave just the outline.

Create Your Own Digital Greeting Cards
We’re coming up on graduation season and Father’s Day. Many kids find enjoyment in making their own cards instead of just affixing their signatures to a store-bought card. Utilize some of the content packs in Pixton EDU to create a digital card. There’s even a content pack for Father’s Day.

Develop Fan Fiction
Rather than writing another book report, have students write an alternate ending to a favorite book. Pixton EDU has some content packs about books that are commonly taught in elementary school and middle school. But you don’t have to limit your students to those books as the tools in Pixton EDU could be used to create a fan fiction piece for just about any story.

Make Animal Stories
My kids, like many kids their age, love to watch baby animals. And now that spring is here (for those of us north of the equator) baby animals like ducklings, goslings, calves, and fawns may be spotted by curious kids. Capitalize on that curiosity and encourage kids to create stories about the animals they see. Pixton EDU has some animal content packs that can help students develop those stories.

Pitch a Product
Do you have a middle school or high school student who enjoys watching Shark Tank or Dragons’ Den? If so, encourage them to craft a pitch for their own products or services. Pixton EDU has presentation content packs. Utilize the idea of Dan Roam’s Back of the Napkin books and have students create simple storyboards to explain their products or services. It just might be what launches the next million dollar app or at least a kid’s summer job.

Certify'em Adds Two Helpful Features for Sending Certificates When Students Complete Google Forms Quizzes

Certify'em is a Google Forms add-on that I've been using and recommending for a few years. Certify'em makes it easy to automatically send certificates to students when they get a minimum score on a quiz conducted with Google Forms. You can set the minimum passing score that triggers the delivery of the certificate. You can also choose to use a standard certificate template or use your own custom template. A complete overview of Certify'em is available here.

This week the developer of Certify'em, Dave Abouav, released added two new features to the add-on. Those new features are the option to resend certificates and the option to monitor use of your email quota.

Resending certificates in Certify'em will be useful when you've previously sent certificates but a student says he/she didn't receive it. With this option you can view the responses to a quiz that have been received over the previous 14 days then choose which student(s) you want to resend a certificate to.

The email quota monitor in Certify'em is a new feature to address a problem that many teachers never worried about until they had to transition to remote instruction and started using Gmail-based tools a lot more frequently. There is a limit to the number of emails that you can send through add-ons in a day. That number varies according to the type of Google account you have, but it generally ranges from 100 to 1500 emails per day. Certify'em's new email quota monitor lets you quickly view how many emails you can send on any given day.

Applications for Education
One of the ways that I use Certify'em is to offer certificates to people who complete an online workshop with me (like the upcoming Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp). Another way that I've used it is to give students certificates when they have successfully completed a lab protocols assessment.