Thursday, August 27, 2020

Getting Started With Flipgrid - Teacher & Student Views

In the last month I've shared videos about how to make split screen videos in Flipgrid and how to make whiteboard videos in Flipgrid. It was pointed out to me, in the form of a reader request, that those are great features once you know how to use the basics of Flipgrid. To help people get started with Flipgrid, I made the following video.

I think it's important to understand what students see when they use a tool that you've assigned to them. For that reason I've included the teacher and student views of Flipgrid in my getting started video that is embedded below.


What is Flipgrid?
In a nutshell, it's a free tool for posting discussion prompts for your students to respond to with short videos that they record directly in the Flipgrid website or Flipgrid app.

How to Use Remind to Send Messages to Multiple Classes at the Same Time

Yesterday I posted a video about how to get started using Remind to send text messages from your computer to students and their parents. This morning a high school teacher asked me if it would be better to have just one large class in Remind or multiple classes in Remind representative of her schedule with multiple classes. My suggestion is to have a Remind class for each actual class. Then you can use the option to send the same message to all classes or choose to send it to just one class. That's what I demonstrate in this new video.


Applications for Education
Creating multiple classes in Remind is a great way to organize all of the classes that you teach. If you, like I did for years, have multiple sections of the same course you know that it's almost impossible to keep them on the same schedule throughout the semester. That's why I'd have a different Remind class for each class I taught. Then I could easily send the same message to all classes when necessary and send differentiated messages when necessary.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

How to Use Remind to Send Text Messages from Your Computer

Remind is a service for sending text messages to your students without having to reveal your real phone number. I've been recommending and using it for years. One of my favorite aspects of Remind is that I can schedule and send messages from my computer and respond to messages from my computer.

In the following video I demonstrate the basics of getting started with Remind to send text messages to students and their parents from your computer.


It should be noted that if your school or school district subscribes to a school-wide paid Remind plan then the process of setting up your classroom and importing students is slightly different. However, the process of sending messages is the same whether you use an individual Remind plan (free) or a school plan.

Free Webinar Tomorrow - Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff

Every week Rushton Hurley from Next Vista for Learning and I host Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. The next episode is tomorrow at 4pm ET/ 1pm PT and you can sign up here to join us for the live broadcast.

The webinar is exactly what the name implies plus a little more. In addition to answering the technical questions that you might expect us to get, we'll also get into questions around pedagogy and planning. And we've been known to recommend a book or two during the webinar. For example, last week I mentioned re-reading Seymour Papert's Mindstorms. And we always recommend Rushton's books like Technology, Teamwork, and Excellence.

Watch the recording of one of the previous episodes of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff to get a sense of what the show is all about.


The Five Things I've Been Asked About the Most at the Start of the New School Year

Every week I receive dozens of emails from teachers asking me for advice on all kinds of things related to education and technology. Many of those questions get answered during Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff on Thursday afternoons. Many of the questions I answer directly via email. As many of the questions I'm receiving lately are similar in nature, I thought that I'd address them broadly in a blog post.

Timed Quizzes/ Cheating Prevention
I've received a lot of questions along the lines of "how do I make sure my students are looking up answers for quizzes?" and "how can I give a timed quiz online?"

Back in April I published this video on how to give a timed quiz with Google Forms and Classroom. On the question of preventing cheating when students are taking online quizzes at home, I have a couple of significant concerns. First, if your quiz or assessment is easily aced by students Googling the answers, you might want to reconsider the questions that you're asking. Second, without installing monitoring software on students' computers and requiring webcams to be on (and opening up a whole can of worms regarding privacy) there isn't a way to force students to stay in one browser tab while taking your quiz.

Microphones
Like many of you, this fall I'll have some students in my classroom and some joining remotely. For the times that I can be at my desk I'll be using my Blue Snowball microphone that I've had for years. When I'm not at my desk I'll be using this handy wireless mic and receiver combination hooked up to my computer.

Earbuds/ AirPods
Related to questions about microphones, I've had a bunch of questions about using earbuds or AirPods instead of dedicated microphone. Rushton and I addressed this issue in the last episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. The short answer is it will work, but there are better options. One of the key points to consider is that if you are wearing earbuds/ AirPods to broadcast to a remote audience while also trying to teach students in your classroom, will you be able to accurately hear the kids in your classroom? I know that I can't.

Video Lesson Production
I use Screencast-o-matic Deluxe on my desktop to produce most of my videos. If you're looking for a browser-based video creation tool, Loom is a solid choice. One easy way to make short instructional videos is to record a screencast over an existing set of slides. Another easy method is recording over a white background and drawing on the screen.

Flipgrid is quickly becoming a go-to tool for making screencast and whiteboard videos. Here's a quick overview of how to make a whiteboard video with Flipgrid.



Zoom vs. Google Meet

Many of us are not getting a choice of Zoom or Google Meet. Instead, we're just told by the IT department which one we have to use. If you do have a choice, here are a few things to consider.

At this time Zoom has more meeting controls and options than Google Meet offers for free. Google does appear to be trying to catch up in that regard, but it's still a long way off. For example, green screen and virtual backgrounds are still not possible in Google Meet. At this time, breakout rooms are a great Zoom feature that Google Meet doesn't have. And while you can use meeting nicknames to control the start of a Google Meet, it's still a clunkier process than using waiting rooms in Zoom.

The one slight advantage I'd give to Google Meet over Zoom is the option to have an assigned Meet link readily displayed and re-usable in Google Classroom.