Thursday, June 4, 2020

About the Circles and Ovals in My Videos

A bunch of times this week I've received emails and Facebook comments about the oval shape that I have started using when overlaying my webcam on my screencast videos. (See this video for an example). The comments have all been along the lines of "I like that" and "how did you do that?"

I use the "deluxe" version of Screencast-o-matic to make nearly all of the videos that appear on my YouTube channel. The deluxe version is the paid version that costs $1.65/month. With that version comes the option to crop and resize the webcam view that you can overlay on your screencast. One of those cropping options is to use an oval. That's what I do. Screencast-o-matic also provides the option to have a highlighted circle follow your mouse pointer on your screen (Screencastify offers the same option).

The Free Option
Loom is a screencasting tool that also lets you overlay your webcam view onto your screencast video. Loom defaults to a circle shape for your webcam view. And Loom is free to use in your web browser. By the way, Loom also offers a free iPad app.

Overviews of Screencast-o-matic and Loom
Back in March I published complete overviews of Screencast-o-matic and Loom. You can find those overviews here.

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.

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