Friday, October 16, 2020

A Small, Potentially Annoying Change to Google Slides

From improved meeting controls to an easier way to add citations in Google Docs, there have been a bunch of positive changes to Google Workspaces (formerly G Suite) this fall. Now Google has made a change to Google Slides that could prove to be quite annoying to some of us. That change applies to how videos are played in Google Slides. 

This week Google announced that the new default setting for videos in Google Slides is going to be automatic playback when presenting. The previous default was for videos to only play when you chose to play them while presenting. Now as soon as you advance to a slide that has a video in it the video will start playing. The new default playback will probably prove to be incredibly annoying to those of us who like to explain a bit about a video before we play it for our students or other audience. 

Fortunately, you can change the playback setting for the videos that you insert into Google Slides. You can do that by highlighting the video in your slide and then opening the "format options" menu. In that menu you can change the video from the default automatic playback to manual playback. 

Using Mood Clouds in Virtual and Hybrid Classrooms

Earlier this I published a video about creating and hosting polls in Google Slides with the Poll Everywhere Chrome extension. When I published that I mentioned that I use the word cloud option and have students respond to simple questions like "how do you feel after the long weekend?" and "what's the best word to describe today's lesson?" Students respond from their computers and a word cloud appears on the slide giving me a better sense of the overall mood of my hybrid class (half of my students are virtual and half are in-class on any given day). It's not perfect, but it works for me and it might work for you. 

Three Tools for Creating and Hosting Polls in Slides

As mentioned above, I'm currently using the combination of Google Slides and Poll Everywhere. You can watch this video to see how that combination works. Poll Everywhere also offers a PowerPoint add-in that works in a very similar manner. Of course, you could also just use directly without the slides. All three options will let you display word clouds. is another tool that you can use in Google Slides and PowerPoint to create an host polls. Students can respond to your polls from their computers or phones. I've used in the past. I'm not currently using it for any particular reason other than I wanted to try something different this fall. Here's a little video overview of how it works in Google Slides. Both the PowerPoint and Google Slides versions will display word clouds of responses from students. 

Mentimeter is another polling tool that I've used at various times in the past, mostly in conference presentations. While it doesn't offer a Google Slides add-on, it does offer a PowerPoint add-in that you can use to create and host polls. Like the two services listed above, Mentimeter lets students respond to your questions from their computers and phones. Responses can be displayed in a variety of formats including word clouds. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

How to Make Whiteboard Videos in Wakelet

Wakelet is a tool that become immensely popular in schools in the last few years. A large part of the popularity is due to the many ways that Wakelet can be used. You can use it to host collections of pictures, to share bookmarks, and you can even use it to create instructional videos. That's exactly what I demonstrate in this new video

You can learn a lot more about making and teaching with videos in my on-demand course, A Crash Course in Making & Teaching With Video.

Five Free Tools That Help Students Format Bibliographies

When I was in high school we had to learn how to create bibliographies by working from a template that my history teacher, Mr. Diggs, provided to us. When I went to college, I referred to that template and an early version of The Student Writer to make bibliographies. Today, students have a wealth of online tools that can help them properly structure citations and bibliographies. I've featured a handful of them over the last couple of years. Here they are. 

Google recently added a citation tool to Google Docs that makes most citation add-ons redundant. With the latest update to Google Docs you can now create MLA, APA, and Chicago style citations directly in Google Docs without the need for a third-party add-on. You'll find the new citation feature in the tools drop-down menu in Google Docs. Watch this video to see how it works.

Bibcitation is a free tool that supports dozens of citation styles. To use Bibcitation select the type of resource that you're citing and then enter the requested information. In many cases, just entering the title of a book or a webpage URL will fill-in all of the other required information for you. After you have entered into Bibcitation all of the resources that you need to cite, a list of the citations will be generated for you. You can then download all of the citations in your preferred style as a document, as HTML, or as BibTex. Here's a video overview of how it works.

QuickCite is a free tool that helps students create properly formatted MLA 8 citations. QuickCite can also be used by students to create informal citations for use in things like blog posts, slideshows, and videos. One of the features of QuickCite that I particularly like is that it provides little help bubbles for students to consult if they aren't sure what to enter into the citation. I highlight that feature and other features of QuickCite in the following video.

MyBib is another free tool that students can use to create citations and bibliographies in a wide range of styles including the popular MLA, APA, Chicago, IEEE, and Harvard styles. Watch my video to see how your students can use MyBib to create bibliographies.

Formatically is a free tool that was designed by college students to help other students create properly formatted works cited pages. To use Formatically's instant citation tool just paste the URL of the page that you want to cite into the instant citation tool. Once pasted into the tool you can choose the format that you want to use for your citation. If there is an error in the citation, you can correct it by clicking the edit icon at the end of the written citation. The system works the same way for books except that rather than entering a web page URL you enter a book title. Watch the video embedded below to learn more about Formatically's instant citation tool.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Addressing Two Common Copyright Misunderstandings

Long time followers of my blog know that over the years I have fought many many many battles with people who think it's okay to republish my blog posts in their entirety without permission. I've been doing this for so long that at times I feel like I'm preaching to the choir.  Then at other times I feel like I'm yelling into a black hole while simultaneously ramming my head into a wall. Two incidents this week have brought these feelings roiling to the top. Rather than just vent, I'm going to try to turn these into teaching experiences by sharing them here on Free Technology for Teachers

Incident #1: A Plea for Help
On Monday I got the following email from a reader who was looking for my assistance. 
The media specialist at my school feels that it is OK to use images that have watermarks on them in her school news videos under the educational fair use copyright guidelines because they are not being used to make a profit nor are the images being distorted or changed. Nevermind the fact that they should be using images from sites that have copyright free images for educational use, is she correct in her reasoning that she can use ANY picture, including ones with watermarks, under the educational fair use copyright guidelines?
Getting this message was worrying because a "media specialist" should have a much better understanding of copyright and fair use than was is portrayed in the message above. A quick look at Stanford University Library's Measuring Fair Use should make it clear to the media specialist in question is absolutely wrong in her understanding of fair use. In short, unless the images the person is using are so unique that there is nothing else like them and she's using them in a critique or as an instructive example (for example, explaining an aspect of a Picasso painting) that's not fair use. 

Simply saying "I'm not making a profit from it" doesn't mean it's a fair use. The use has to also not diminish the artist's opportunity to earn an income from his/her work. When you use a copyrighted work with permission and without paying a royalty, you've diminished the artist's income potential. This is the same reason why you can't buy one copy of a textbook then make 100 photocopies of it and say "well I'm not making money from it." Houston ISD was hit with a $9.2 million fine after trying to use that very logic to justify photocopying copyrighted works (they eventually settled for a $7.8 million judgement). 

Incident #2: It Says Free
The second copyright incident this week is the one that really got under my skin. There's a website that was copying and pasting my blog posts and ever so slightly changing a word or to make it appear as though it was their original work. When I caught them and called them out on Twitter the first defense, in a now deleted Tweet, was "I paid someone on Fiver to set it up, it wasn't supposed to be like that." To which I replied, "It was done wrong so fix it!" The second Tweet I got from the offender was this one that shows a complete lack of understanding of how copyright and the Internet works. 

For those who can't see the embedded Tweet, this is the text of it: "Well no problem but you need to stop saying I stole it because it was free to use from your website free tech teaching so that’s not stealing or using and I will get them remove it no problem"

Just because you can read something for free on the Internet even if it is on blog called Free Technology for Teachers (a title that has been a blessing and curse over the years) doesn't mean you can do whatever you want with it. 

Resources to help your colleagues understand copyright.
I've shared all of these at various times in the past. They're still good so take a look. 

Copyright for Teachers was a free webinar that Dr. Beth Holland and I hosted a few years ago. We addressed a slew of copyright questions and scenarios during presentation. You can watch the recording here

As mentioned above, Stanford University Library's Measuring Fair Use is a great resource for teachers, librarians, and students who have questions about what is and isn't a fair use of a copyrighted work. 

In Three Lessons to Learn From the $9.2m Copyright Ruling Against Houston ISD I summarized what went wrong and how to avoid making the same mistakes. 

If you have a Common Craft subscription (disclosure, I have an in-kind relationship with them), you have access to a few excellent video explanations of copyright, creative commons, and fair use. 

A few years ago the Crash Course YouTube channel did an entire course about intellectual property. The third segment in the course was about fair use. You can watch that segment here

Finally, if you'd like to read a book about getting permission to use copyrighted works, Richard Stim, a major contributor to the Stanford site mentioned above, has a book called Getting Permission: How to License & Clear Copyrighted Materials Online & Off