Friday, August 21, 2020

Factitious 2020 - Can You Spot Fake News Stories?

In yesterday's episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff I shared some information about an update to a favorite resource of mine, Factitious. Factitious is a game that is designed to help students practice identifying real and fake news stories. The 2020 version of the game features stories about COVID-19.

To play Factitious simply go to the site and select start. You'll then see an article appear on the screen. Read through the article, click the source listed at the bottom, and then select either the green check mark or red X to indicate whether or not you think the article is a real news story. After you make your selection you'll get instant feedback and an explanation of how you can tell if the article was a real or fake news story.

Points are awarded in Factitious based on accuracy, speed, and whether or not you viewed the source link before making a guess at the legitimacy of the story. The 2020 version of Factitious contains three rounds with five stories in each round.

Applications for Education
Factitious is a good game for students to play after you've taught a lesson or two about how to recognize signs of misleading or false information. Alternatively, you might choose a story or two from the game to build a lesson around.

How to Include Videos in Microsoft Forms Response Feedback

Last week I shared directions on how to include videos in the answer feedback on questions in Google Forms. Microsoft Forms users can do a similar thing. When you create a quiz with Microsoft Forms there is an option to include messages to display when students view their answer summaries. Those messages can include video links.

In the following video I demonstrate how to include videos in the answer feedback in Microsoft Forms.


Applications for Education
Including videos in the answer feedback can be a good way to provide students with explanations of correct answers or incorrect answers on a quiz. You could include links to videos that you've made or links to good videos made by others.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Five Zoom Features You Need to Know

As the new school year gets going there is going to be a lot more Zoom calls in our future. At my school students are going to be on Zoom or Google Meet for at least two days of every week to start the year. If that sounds like you, here is a handful of reminders about Zoom features and how to use them.

Virtual Backgrounds:
This is an option available to Mac, Windows, and some Chromebook users. This option allows you to place any picture of your choosing in place of the background that is in your default webcam view. It’s possible to use the virtual background as a means for making a green screen video. Here’s a video on how to make a green screen video with Zoom.

Whiteboards: 
Zoom has an integrated whiteboard that you can use at any time during a meeting. You’ll find the whiteboard function in the screen-sharing menu during your Zoom call. This video shows you how to use the whiteboard in Zoom.

Breakout Rooms: 
During a Zoom call you can divide participants into groups for small group discussion then bring them back into one large group. In order to use breakout rooms in Zoom you must have the breakout room function enabled in your account settings. For a detailed overview of how to use Zoom’s breakout rooms function, watch this recorded webinar hosted by Rushton Hurley from Next Vista for Learning.

Waiting Rooms: 
Enable the waiting room function in your Zoom account settings to prevent students from joining your Zoom meeting before you get there. Waiting rooms also allows you to make sure that no one joins your meeting without your approval. Watch this video to see how to enable the waiting room function.

Recording: 
If you plan to record your Zoom meetings, enable recording by default in your account settings. Doing this will ensure that you never forget to hit the record button at the start of your meeting.

Five Tips for Live Online Instruction

Whether you use Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams for online class meetings there are some universal things that you can do to make the experience better for you and your students. The following five tips for live online instruction are an excerpt from my recently published 2020-21 Practical Ed Tech Handbook.

Elevate your camera and plug in a mic: 
Besides the obvious, “no one wants to look up your nose” reason, elevating your webcam makes it easier for students to see your eyes during a live meeting. And you should keep your webcam on because students want to see you and make a connection with you and not just your voice whenever it is possible.

If you have one, use an external microphone for your live classes in Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams. Using an external microphone, especially one with a USB connection will improve the quality of your audio. Even pairing Bluetooth earbuds to your computer can improve the audio quality of your online meeting.

If you're looking to purchase an external microphone, for years I've used and recommended the Snowball iCE microphones made by Blue. For those who would prefer not to have another thing on their desks or are looking for a microphone that works with smartphones, try this lapel microphone.

Share an outline:
Just like you would put a daily agenda on the board in your physical classroom, share an agenda with your students at the start of each online class meeting. It gives students a sense of what to expect during the class and how the meeting will last. Don’t forget to give kids a break during the meeting if you’re going to have them on for more than twenty or thirty minutes.

Assign roles: 
Kids want something to do during a class meeting besides just listening to you drone on. Consider assigning roles like meeting secretary, fact-checker, or even co-moderator in your online meetings.

Silence is okay: 
It’s natural to want to fill every moment of an online class meeting with your voice or your students’ voices. You don’t have to do that. You can give students a task to work on during the meeting then just leave your webcam on and the call going to support them if they have questions while working on the task. Zoom’s breakout rooms function can be useful for this kind of meeting structure.

Announce recordings: 
If you plan to record a meeting, let your students and their parents know at the outset of the class.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Five Features of Microsoft Teams to Note

This year I added a section on remote teaching to the Practical Ed Tech Handbook. What follows here is an excerpt from that section.

Whiteboards: To use the whiteboard in Microsoft Teams meetings simply open the screen sharing menu then choose “whiteboard.” You can turn the whiteboard on or off at any time during your meeting.

Grid View: An option to see all of your students in a grid display in a Microsoft Teams call was released in July of 2020. As of this writing (August, 2020) it is available for some, but not all users. Additionally, it only works in the desktop version of Teams. Here’s a short video demo of how it works.


Custom and Blurred Backgrounds: This is another feature only available in the desktop version of Teams. With this feature enabled you can insert a custom image to use as your background or simply blur your background. Find this function in the ellipsis menu next to the screen sharing and recording options in a meeting.

Attendance Reports: This is a relatively new feature that must be enabled by your IT administrator before you can use it. Once enabled, you can download a record of who attended your meeting. Mike Tholfsen, Microsoft EDU project manager, offers this video tutorial on how to use attendance reports in Microsoft Teams.



Recording: To record a meeting in Microsoft Teams your IT administrator has to enable that function. Once it is enabled you’ll see a small recording icon within the ellipsis (more actions) menu during your meeting. It’s important to note that the recording will not capture shared notes or a whiteboard. Learn more about recording here.