Thursday, June 4, 2020

Two Free Webinars Today and Tomorrow

Every week Rushton Hurley at Next Vista for Learning hosts free webinars for teachers, parents, and principals. Yesterday, he hosted Preparing for Next School Year- Advice for Teachers and School Leaders (you can watch the recording and get handouts here). Today, at 5pm ET/ 2pm PT he and Susan Stewart are hosting Activities Across Grade Levels - Cool Ways Teachers Can Use Summer (register here). And tomorrow at 1pm ET/ 10am PT Rushton and I will host Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff (register here).

Recordings of all of the webinars Rushton has hosted this spring can be found on the webinars page on Next Vista for Learning and on Rushton's YouTube channel.

Try Your Hand at Bird Identification With the Audubon Bird App

We have a bunch of bird feeders hanging outside of house. My daughters love seeing the various birds that visit our feeders. I particularly enjoy seeing orioles come to one of our feeders. My daughters (2 and 3 years old) are curious about the names of many of the birds that come to the feeders. Orioles, robins, and chickadees are easy for me to identify. There are many birds that visit our feeders that I can't identify right away. That's why I've installed the Audubon Bird Guide app on my Android phone (an iOS version is also available).

The Audubon Bird Guide app is very helpful in identifying the birds that you see but don't know the names of. When you open the app tap on "identify bird" and you'll be taken to a screen where you then make a few selections to narrow down the list of birds that are possibly in your area. Those selections include your location, the month of the year, the relative size of the bird, the color(s) of the bird, and activity of the bird. After making those selections you'll see a list of birds with pictures. My favorite part of the app is that you can listen to recordings of bird songs/ calls to further help you identify the bird that you saw.

How to use the Audubon Bird Guide app from on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
I think that a fun assignment for students of all ages would be to try to identify as many birds as possible in their neighborhoods. I'd consider either creating a "bingo" sheet with the names of birds for students to identify. Another option would be to have students submit their observations in a Google Form then use that information to create a map of observations (here's a video on how to do that). In either case the Audubon Bird Guide app will be helpful to students as they try to accurately identify birds.

By the way, the Audubon Bird Guide app does offer the capability to record and share observations, but out of concern for student privacy I wouldn't recommend using that function.

Five Things You Should Know About Using Audio in Google Slides

Late last year Google added support for using audio in Google Slides. Since then a few changes have been made to how it works. Over the last six months I've fielded lots of questions about using audio in Google Slides. In the following video I cover five things that I'm frequently asked about using audio in Google Slides.

Five things you should know about using audio in Google Slides.
1. How to upload audio files.
2. How to loop audio.
3. How to hide audio icon.
4. How to adjust audio icon.
5. Sharing settings for audio files.

Get public domain audio at

Three quick ways to record audio to use in Google Slides.

The Practical Ed Tech guide to finding media for classroom projects.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Two New Google Docs Features in G Suite for Education

Back in February Google added Smart Compose and Autocorrect as new features in Google Docs. However, those features were only available in Google Docs in G Suite for Business accounts. Google has now announced that Smart Compose and Autocorrect will be available in Google Docs in G Suite for Education domains.

I've been using Smart Compose and Autocorrect in two of my Google accounts since February. I'm excited that it will finally be available in my G Suite for Education domain.

Smart Compose in Google Docs works just like the feature of the same name in Gmail. As you are typing Google Docs will try to predict what the next few words of your sentence are going to be. Those predictions appear in gray text. If the prediction is correct and you want to use it, just hit the tab key to add the predicted text to your document. If the prediction is not correct, just keep typing as you normally would.

Smart Compose and Autocorrect in Google Docs in G Suite for Education is appearing in some domains right now and will be rolled-out over the next month. Currently, there is not a domain admin control over this feature, but Google's announcement states that there will be one by the start of the 2020/21 school year.

Three Ways to Make Short Audio Recordings - No Accounts Required

Since late last year when Google finally added native support for audio in Google Slides I've fielded a steady stream of questions from readers looking for suggestions on the quickest and easiest ways for kids to record audio on their Chromebooks. There are three tools that I typically recommend to those who are looking to just record short spoken audio tracks and don't require additional editing functions. Those three tools are Vocaroo, Online Voice Recorder, and Twisted Wave.

All three of these tools don't require students to have email addresses or create any kind of account in order to make a short audio recording then download it as an MP3.

I've been using Vocaroo for more than a decade. It's incredibly simple to use. Just head to the site, click the record button, and start talking. When you're finished recording hit the stop button. You can listen to your recording before downloading it as an MP3. If you don't like your recording you can create a new one by just refreshing the homepage and starting again. Here's my recent demo of how to use Vocaroo.

Online Voice Recorder offers the same simplicity of Vocaroo plus a couple of features that I've always wished Vocaroo had. One of those features is the ability to pause a recording in progress and resume it when I want to. The other feature is the option to trim the dead air at the beginning and end of a recording. Watch my video to see those features in action.

Twisted Wave
Twisted Wave offers many more features than either of the tools mentioned above. But at it's most basic level you can still just head to the site, launch the recorder, start talking, and then export your recording as an MP3 all without creating an account on the site. For those who are looking for a way to save audio directly into Google Drive, Twisted Wave offers that capability. Watch my short video below to see how you can use Twisted Wave to make an audio recording and save it directly to your Google Drive.

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