Friday, August 14, 2020

Journey Into the Deep Sea - Neat Nat Geo VR Experience

Earlier this year I featured National Geographic's fantastic playlist of 360 degree immersive videos that can be experienced with or without a virtual reality viewer. Recently, National Geographic added another excellent video to that collection. That video is Journey Into the Deep Sea.

Journey Into the Deep Sea is a nine minute underwater tour of the coral reefs around Palau. In addition to the fantastic imagery of fish, sharks, and manta rays the video includes little "pop-up" facts windows throughout the video. You can view the video in a VR viewer like Google Cardboard or simply watch it in your web browser. If you watch in the web browser on your computer you can click on the video to pan and zoom through it. When you watch the video in a VR viewer your movements will reveal different aspects of the video.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Seven Zoom Tutorials to Watch Before School Starts

As the new school year approaches I've been getting a lot questions about Zoom. I have published some tutorials on my YouTube channel that address most of those questions. Until this morning I haven't put them all together in one place. Here are my Zoom tutorial videos.

The Basics of Hosting a Zoom Meeting


Zoom from a Student's Perspective (desktop version)



Zoom from a Student's Perspective (mobile version)


Zoom Virtual Background and Green Screen



How to Create a Whiteboard Video in Zoom


How to Flip the Camera in Zoom


5 Things You Should Never Do In a Zoom Meeting (Fun)

Q&A With Me and Rushton Hurley Tomorrow at 2pm ET

Last week Rushton Hurley and I resumed our free weekly series Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. If you missed last week's episode, you can watch the recording here.

We're hosting another Q&A tomorrow at 2pm ET/ 11am PT. Register here! This is a change from what we announced last week. I had a scheduling conflict that I didn't notice until Monday morning.

Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff is exactly what the name implies. We answer your questions (you can email them in advance or ask them live) and we share a few cool or interesting free resources that we've found. The whole thing lasts about 30-35 minutes.

Join Us!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

DIY Smithsonian Mini Exhibits

The Smithsonian Learning Lab is an excellent resource for social studies and language arts teachers. I've been using and recommending it for years. One of its many features is an option to create and share collections of artifacts from the Smithsonian and external sources. And every month the Smithsonian Learning Lab sends out an email with ideas for activities for students. This month's email featured Mini Exhibits about household items.

The idea behind Mini Exhibits of household items is to get people to create little exhibits that showcase the household items that are important to them and or tell a story. For example, I could tell lots of little stories about the tools and fasteners that I found in the barn when I bought my 165 year old house a few years ago.

Applications for Education
Creating a mini exhibit of household items could be a great way to get students to introduce themselves to you and to their classmates at the beginning of the new school year. You could do this with the Smithsonian Learning Lab's collections tools or just have students put together a slideshow of artifacts. 

Watch this playlist of videos from the Smithsonian Learning Lab to learn more about all of the tools and features offered.

Two Ways to Quickly Create Transcripts of YouTube Videos

About a week ago I hosted a webinar for an organization that hired me this summer and in the summer of 2018. The webinar was about improving the accessibility of online resources that we share with our students. One of the things that I covered in that webinar was how to improve the accessibility of YouTube videos. In addition to customizing the captions display I showed them how to quickly create transcripts for videos. There are two methods for this. Both methods are explained in the videos below.

Option 1
When you are viewing a video on YouTube you can open the automatically generated transcript (a feature many people overlook) and then copy the transcript into a Google Doc. Once the transcript is in the Google Doc you can edit the text and text formatting. Additionally, in the Google Doc you can insert links to the corresponding timestamps for the video. Watch this video for a demonstration of how this process works.



Option 2
The other option for making a timestamped transcript of a YouTube video is to use a third-party service. VidReader is the service that I've been using since last fall to create transcripts of YouTube videos. Here's my demo of VidReader.


For more tips on improving the accessibility of online resources, take a look at this guide that I published on Practical Ed Tech.