Sunday, June 21, 2020

Story Spheres - Create Audio Tours of Immersive Imagery

Story Spheres is a free tool for adding audio to 360 degree images that you own or have the rights to re-use (Creative Commons licensed or public domain). With Story Spheres you can add audio narration and ambient audio to your 360 images. Once you have a 360 image that you want to use, using Story Spheres is fairly easy to use. Before you try to make your own, take a look at this one about Uluru to get a better sense of what's possible with it.

To create a Story Sphere you will need to create an account on the site. Once you've created an account you can upload any 360 image that you own. After uploading your image you can then upload audio files to use in your Story Sphere. (Audio must be recorded outside of Story Spheres, a tool like Online Voice Recorder would work well for this activity). When your audio is uploaded you then position the audio play button in your 360 image. You can choose to have the audio automatically play or play only when clicked by the viewer of your Story Sphere.

Completed Story Spheres can be shared in all of the usual manners that you might expect including a direct link and embed codes. My Story Sphere about a historic home in my neighborhood is embedded below.

Applications for Education
One of my favorite uses of Story Spheres is creating short local history projects. Students can explore their communities and capture imagery that they then narrate to tell the story behind what they have photographed.

I used the Google Street View app to capture the 360 imagery for my Story Sphere, but there are many other free apps that will let you capture 360 imagery without needing to purchase a 360 camera.

Spacecraft AR - Explore NASA Spacecraft With Augmented Reality

Spacecraft AR is a free iPad and Android app offered by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The app enables students to learn about various NASA spacecraft including the Curiosity rover, Voyager, Mars Exploration Rover, and a handful of other spacecraft. Spacecraft AR includes information about each spacecraft's development and use.

With Spacecraft AR installed and open on their iPads or phones, students can select a spacecraft or mission then point their iPads or phones at a flat floor or wall see the spacecraft appear. Once the spacecraft appears on screen students can move to see other angles of the spacecraft and move the spacecraft. Students can also pinch and zoom to change the size of spacecraft they're looking at.

Spacecraft AR reminds me of NASA's previous AR app, Spacecraft 3D. The key difference between the two is that Spacecraft 3D required students to scan a printed target in order to make spacecraft appear on screen. Spacecraft AR does not have that requirement, but it does require that you have a fairly recent iPad or Android device that has either Apple's ARKit or Google Play Services for AR (formerly known as ARCore).

Get the iPad app here and the Android version here.

Applications for Education
Spacecraft AR and Spacecraft 3D are fun apps for students to use to learn about the robotic spacecraft that NASA uses or has used to explore our solar system. I think that the app could be used by students of any age, but it probably best for kids of upper elementary school and middle school age.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Five Overlooked Features of Google Forms Quizzes

Google Forms has been my go-to tool for making quizzes and surveys for at least a decade. Over the years Google has added lots of handy little features that have made my job easier when it's time to make a quiz. Unfortunately, not all of those features are obvious when you start using Google Forms. Here are five little features of Google Forms that are often overlooked.

1. Changing default point values.
2. Using the confirmation message as a prompt for students.
3. Automatic shuffling of question order.
4. Automatic shuffling of answer choices.
5. Enforcing a minimum response length on short answer questions.

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where it is already hot and the sun has only been up for an hour. My daughters have been enjoying their water table and wading pool all week. I see a lot more of that happening today. I hope that you also get outside for some fun this weekend.

This week I hosted the first session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. A huge thank you to all of the great teachers who joined me for five days of online learning. Many great questions were asked and ideas were shared. I'll be hosting the same event again in July. You can register for the July sessions here.

These were the most popular posts of the week:
1. How to Convert a PDF Into a Google Document
2. Five Screencastify Settings You Should Know How to Use
3. Webinar Recording & Slides - A Framework for Using Educational Technology
4. How to Create Your First Google Sites & 5 Ways to Customize It
5. Seven Ideas for Flipgrid Activities
6. A Great Set of Microsoft Teams Tutorials
7. How to Create Complete Sentence Requirements in Google Forms

Online Summer PD Opportunities
The Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp will be held two more times this summer. Register here for the July session of your choice.

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 - 25,000 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.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Explore the Royal Academy of Arts in Google's Arts & Culture Apps

Google's Arts & Culture site and corresponding apps make it possible for students of all ages to virtually explore thousands of fascinating landmarks and works of art. This morning Google announced a new collection with the Arts & Culture site. That collection features the Royal Academy of Arts.

The highlight of the Royal Academy of Arts collection within Google Arts & Culture is a collection of 31 online exhibits. The exhibits tell the stories of the artists and art showcased in the Royal Academy of Arts collections. You can also take a virtual tour through the Academy and some of the galleries. Visitors can navigate through the tour much like navigating in Google Street View imagery.

Applications for Education
Google Arts & Culture is, obviously, a great resource for art teachers who want to give their students opportunities to explore great works of art from around the world. It's also a good resource for social studies teachers who are looking to have their students make connections between events they learn about in their classes and how those events have been depicted through various forms of art over the years.

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