Friday, June 26, 2020

7 New Google Meet Features for Teachers

In a move that clearly is an attempt to match the functionality of Zoom and Microsoft Teams, Google has announced some new features that will soon be coming to Google Meet for G Suite for Education users. All of the new features that were announced address the many concerns about Google Meet that teachers have expressed in the last few months. Some of these features are available now and some will be coming over the next couple of months.

New Moderator Controls
  • Remotely mute all participants.
  • A hand-raising function will be coming soon. This lets students raise their hands in Google Meet to indicate that they want to speak in the meeting. 
  • Teachers will be able to end meetings for all and prevent students from rejoining after the meeting has been ended by the teacher. 
  • Guests can only "knock" or request to join after being ejected from meeting. 
  • The default setting for Google Meet will not allow anonymous guests.
Integrated Whiteboard!

  • This might be the most-requested feature for Google Meet. I've shared a couple of options (here and here) for a DIY whiteboard integration, but this should be a lot easier to use. 

Change Your Background

  • Much like in Zoom, you'll soon be able to use a custom background in Google Meet. 

Features for G Suite for Education Enterprise
G Suite for Education for Enterprise is the paid version of G Suite for Education. There are some new features coming to that version too. Those features include an option to record attendance and an option for break-out rooms in Google Meet. 

How to Use Loom to Make a Whiteboard Video

This week I published a couple of videos about making whiteboard-style instructional videos with Screencastify (you can see those videos on my YouTube channel). Of course, Screencastify isn't the only browser-based screencasting tool available to teachers. Loom is also an excellent and popular choice for making screencast videos right from your web browser.

In the following video I demonstrate how I paired Loom and Google's Jamboard to make a whiteboard-style instructional video. One of the tips that I shared in the video is to use the sharing option in Jamboard to give your students a copy of the drawings or sketches that you use in your instructional video.

Make a Whiteboard Video With Google Slides and Screencastify

Earlier this week I published a video demonstration of how to create a whiteboard-style instructional video with Google's Jamboard and Screencastify. At the end of that video I mentioned that you can do a similar thing with Google Slides and Screencastify. That's exactly what I demonstrate in the following new video.

One of the "tricks" that I share in the video is to enter presentation mode before you start recording your video. Doing that eliminates some of the fumbling of transitioning between editing mode and presentation mode in your video. Take a look at my demonstration video that is embedded below to see the whole process of making a whiteboard video with Google Slides and Screencastify.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

July PD Opportunities With Me

Last week I hosted the first Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. I realize that the middle of June isn't the ideal time for everyone to join online professional development. That's why I'm offering the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp two more times in July. The first July session runs July 6th-10th and the second session runs July 20th-24th. Only seven spots are left for the July 6th-10th session.

The Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp consists of ten live webinars spread across five days. There is a webinar at 10am ET and 1pm ET each day of the week. Recordings of the sessions will be available to those who register but cannot attend every live meeting. Topics covered in the webinars includes making virtual tours, creating instructional videos, fun formative assessment, classroom podcasting 101, and building your own apps (that one was a lot of fun last week). The complete list of topics can be seen here. FAQs are answered here.

Teaching History With Technology is the other live, online course that I'm hosting in July. This course will run July 13th-17th. Teaching History With Technology is a series of five live webinars. Each interactive webinar features practical ideas for using technology to create new, engaging lessons or to update some of your existing “go-to” history lessons. Detailed handouts are provided with every webinar. And if you miss a meeting or you just want to see something again, a recording of the webinars will be available to you too. Register here.

People sometimes ask why I advertise these courses here, the short answer is that registrations from these courses help to keep the lights on for Free Technology for Teachers. 

TechSmith Capture Replaces Jing

TechSmith's Jing was the first tool that I used to make screencast videos more than a decade ago. It was amazing to be able to quickly record a short video to explain things to colleagues and students. Since then other and better tools have come along including tools like Snagit made by TechSmith. Last spring Techsmith announced that they were winding down the Jing project because, in part, it used Flash as the file output. The end of Jing has now arrived and TechSmith is replacing it with a free product called TechSmith Capture.

You can download TechSmith Capture for free to use on Windows and Mac computers. Like its predecessor TechSmith Capture can be used to create screencast videos and capture screen images. An update over Jing is found in the fact that you can now record with your webcam while recording your screencast video. Finished videos are rendered as MP4 files that you can use in all of the typical places that you would share a video including YouTube.

I tried to install TechSmith Capture on my Windows computer this morning. Unfortunately, the installation kept timing out when I was prompted to sign into my TechSmith/ Screencast.com account. I was, however, successful in getting TechSmith Capture to run on my Mac.

Applications for Education
Like any screencast recording tool, TechSmith Capture can provide you with a convenient way to create short instructional videos for your students. Screencasting tools can also be helpful to students to explain in video format any problems they're having and need your assistance in solving.