Saturday, October 17, 2020

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from rainy Maine. It looks like it's going to be the perfect kind of day to stay inside to watch movies and read a good book. But I won't be doing that because I have toddlers, dogs, and an old house that always needs something fixed. We'll be putting on our wellies and jackets and going outside to play for at least a little while. I hope that wherever you are this weekend that you can get outside for some fun too. 

This week I hosted a Practical Ed Tech webinar about formative assessment methods for online and hybrid classes. An on-demand version of that webinar will be available next week. In the meantime, check out my other on-demand offerings including A Crash Course in Making & Teaching With Video

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Two New Helpful Features in Google Meet 
  • More than 300 of you have participated in a Practical Ed Tech course or webinar this year. Those registrations help keep Free Technology for Teachers and Practical Ed Tech going. I couldn't do it without you!
  • Pixton EDU is a great tool for creating comics and storyboards. 
  • Cloud Stop Motion makes it easy to create a stop motion video in your web browser. 
Other Places to Follow Me:
  • The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter comes out every Sunday evening/ Monday morning. It features my favorite tip of the week and the week's most popular posts from Free Technology for Teachers.
  • My YouTube channel has more than 30,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of edtech tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for thirteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • And if you're curious about my life outside of education, you can follow me on Instagram or Strava.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Story Spheres - Create Immersive Audio Tours of Interesting Places

Story Spheres is a neat tool for adding audio recordings to 360 imagery. Story Spheres lets you upload short audio recordings in which you describe to viewers what they're seeing, the history of what they're seeing, and the significance of what's in the scene they're seeing. It's possible to upload multiple recordings. When you're done you can can share your Story Spheres story in a blog post, on social media, or any other place that you typically post a link. Take a look at this Story Spheres story about Uluru to get a better sense of what can be done with Story Spheres. 

Back in June I wrote out directions for how to use Story Spheres. You can read those directions here or watch my new video about how to make a Story Spheres story. 


Applications for Education
One of my favorite uses of Story Spheres is creating short local history projects. Students can explore their communities and capture imagery that they then narrate to tell the story behind what they have photographed. 

I used the Google Street View app to capture the 360 imagery for my Story Sphere, but there are many other free apps that will let you capture 360 imagery without needing to purchase a 360 camera.

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 PollEverywhere.com directly without the slides. All three options will let you display word clouds. 

Sli.do 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 Sli.do 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.