Saturday, June 6, 2020

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where the sun is shining and my lawn is taller than it should it be. Before I head out to deal with that and about a dozen other home maintenance tasks I have this week's list of the most popular posts to share with you. I hope that you have a great weekend!

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. How to Create Whiteboard Videos With Zoom
2. A Comparison of Multimedia Timeline Creation Tools - Updated
3. 5 Ways to Edit Images in Google Slides
4. Two New Google Docs Features in G Suite for Education
5. How to Make Whiteboard Videos on Your Chromebook - Updated
6. How to Create Whiteboard Videos in Seesaw
7. Three Ways to Make Short Audio Recordings - No Accounts Required

Online Summer PD Opportunities
This summer I'm hosting two online professional development courses. I'm hosting the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp three times. The June session is sold out! The July sessions have more seats available.

In July I'll be hosting Teaching History With Technology. This is a five part course designed to help you develop new ways to create engaging history lessons and projects. Register now and use the discount code THWT2020.

This summer I'm working with a handful of schools and organizations to develop online professional development for teachers. If you'd like to work with me, please send me a note at richardbyrne (at) to learn more about how we can work together.

Thank You for Your Support!
Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides and the daily email digest, there are other ways to keep up with what I'm publishing. 
  • Practical Ed Tech Newsletter - This comes out once per week (Sunday night/ Monday morning) and it includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 23,000 people subscribe to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 350 Google tools tutorials.  
  • Facebook - The Facebook page has more than 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last thirteen years at
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing.

Milanote Offers Nice Templates for Creating Multimedia Storyboards

Milanote is a neat tool that I like to think of as being part storyboarding tool, part bookmarking tool, and part task management tool. For this post I'll focus on the storyboarding aspect of Milanote.

Milanote offers dozens of templates for making storyboards and flowcharts. The templates that stand out for me for education are the storyboard templates for the story templates and the note-taking templates. There are templates for creating character profiles, templates for planning novels, and templates for outlining stories. As you can see in the screenshot below, it is possible to include pictures and videos in the storyboards that you create in Milanote.

Applications for Education
One of the things that I like about Milanote is that students can include pictures and videos in their storyboards. This could be helpful to students in organizing bits of information and media that they've found while researching a topic for a paper or presentation.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Easy Ways to Remove Image Backgrounds

This morning I answered an email from someone who had watched my video about using PowerPoint to remove image backgrounds and wanted to know if the same can be done in Google Slides. While you can change the transparency of an image in Google Slides, there isn't a built-in tool for completely removing image backgrounds. Fortunately, there are plenty of online tools for removing image backgrounds. Once the image background is removed you can then upload the new version of the image to your Google Slides presentation. Here are some free tools you can use to remove image backgrounds.

Photo Scissors
To use PhotoScissors online simply go to the site and upload a picture that you want to edit. After you have uploaded your picture you will be taken to an editing screen. On that screen you use a green marker to indicate the parts of the picture that you want to keep and use a red marker to indicate the parts of the picture that you want to remove. You will see a live preview of your edited image while you work. If you remove too much, you can put it back into the picture by just coloring with the green marker. If you didn't remove enough, just do a little more red marking. When you are happy with your cutout image you can download it as a new image. is a tool that will remove the background from your images. To remove the background from your picture simply go to the website and upload your picture. Within a minute you will have a new image file that you can download. Watch my short video below to see how it works.

In Canva there is now an effects menu that you can utilize whenever you click on an image in the Canva design editor. The effects menu includes a background remover. Just click the option to remove the background and Canva does the rest for you. The background removal tool works with pictures of people, animals, and inanimate objects.

Applications for Education
As I demonstrated in the video about one of the fun ways to use these background image removal tools is to have students take pictures of themselves, remove the background, then place themselves in front of landmarks around the world. You can add to that assignment by having students write short stories based the new images they've created.

Five Things You Should Know About Using Video in Google Slides

Google Slides has some handy little settings that you can use when adding videos into your presentations. Things like specifying the start and end time for a video within a slide keeps you from having to search for the clip you want to show during your presentation. Likewise, that also means you don't have to worry about stopping the video at the proper place during your presentation. Specifying start and stop times is just one of the five Google Slides features that I demonstrate in the following video.

Five things you should know about using videos in Google Slides.
1. Three ways to add videos.
2. Automatic playback.
3. Selecting specific portions for playback.
4. Muting audio within the video.
5. Adding drop shadows.

On a related note, here's how to share videos in Google Drive.

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.