Saturday, November 7, 2020

The Week in Review - Heading Into Hibernation

Good morning from Maine where we're going to enjoy the last warm days of the year this weekend. Warm is a relative term because while those of us here think that 50F-60F is warm many of my southern friends will disagree. Either way, the Maine black bears that my daughters and I saw preparing for hibernation last Sunday think that winter is close. (We saw this bears at the Maine Wildlife Park, a center for wildlife rehabilitation and visitor education). 

Rising counts COVID-19 cases, election news, and the new and constantly changing challenges of teaching during a pandemic have contributed to a stressful week. Writing my weekly summary of popular posts is a bit of a soothing process for me. I hope that you also benefit from it. Have a great weekend!

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Three Ways to Conduct Polls in Google Slides
2. The 2020 Great Thanksgiving Listen
3. Use a Zoom Virtual Background for Lesson Outlines
4. Five Uses for Wakelet in Your Classroom
5. A Template for Getting Permission for Publishing Student Blogs, Podcasts, and Videos
6. How to Record a Video in PowerPoint (Windows Desktop Version)
7. Two Short Lessons on Checks & Balances

On-demand Professional Development: 
Through Practical Ed Tech I'm currently offering an on-demand course called A Crash Course in Making & Teaching With Video

Thank you for your support! 
  • 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. 
  • Wakelet is a great tool for making collections of resources, recording video, and more!
  • GAT Labs offers a great, free guide to using Google Workspaces in online classrooms.  
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, November 6, 2020

Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff - Episode 25!

Yesterday, Rushton Hurley and I hosted the 25th episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff. We took last week off which resulted in us having a backlog of questions to tackle. Neither of us are known for giving succinct answers but we tried our best to cover as many questions as we could. You can watch the episode right here or as embedded below. All of the resources that we shared along with the slides we used can be found here on the Next Vista for Learning webinars page. While you're there you can sign up to join us for episode 26 of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff

Bulk Acceptance of "Knocks" in Google Meet

Some Google Meet users may have noticed a handy little update that was rolled-out yesterday. You can now accept "knocks" in bulk in Google Meet. This means that when students knock to join a class in Meet you can accept all of them at once instead of having to manually accept each individual student. 

While this isn't a major change to Google Meet, it will be helpful to those who have large classes meeting in Google Meet. This is available in all versions of Google Workspaces (formerly known as G Suite). 

If you don't see this new feature today, keep checking as it is being rolled-out over the next ten days to all users. 

How to Keep Students Safe Online While Learning Remotely?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by GAT Labs. GAT Labs offers a good guide to using Google Workspaces in online classrooms. 

There’s no doubt that 2020 has been the year of everything remote, where our digital interactions replaced our physical ones and our traditional classrooms packed and moved with us online. 

And as we carefully prepare and lead through our virtual K-12 classrooms, our students’ online safety and security needs to stay on top of that priority list as they spend more time than ever learning online.

From profane content to cybercrime and hacking schemes, there’s a lot we need to protect them against. That’s why there are Acts like the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) — and schools need to stay compliant.

As teachers, there’s a lot you can do to help — by both educating students on cybersecurity and staying safe online, as well as blocking access to inappropriate content and risky sites.   

Here are 3 powerful ways to help keep your students safe and secure online:

1. Raise their cyber awareness using FUN!

‘Knowledge is power’ — One cool way to teach students about staying safe online is to have them complete Google’s Be Internet Awesome.

It teaches them about digital citizenship and internet safety in a gamified environment, which we all know, Kids love!

The five pillars of the curriculum are:
  • Be Internet Smart - share with care
  • Be Internet Alert - don’t fall for fake
  • Be Internet Strong - secure your secrets
  • Be Internet Kind - it’s cool to be kind
  • Be Internet Brave - when it doubt, talk it out
Remember: raising your students’ cyber awareness is their first line of defense against online danger; or the new ‘Stranger Danger’. 

2.Use Security Tools to enforce Cyber Security Rules

Now on to their second line of defense: Security and Monitoring Tools!

Powerful tools like GAT for Education, offer a layered set of security solutions to help schools stay CIPA compliant with Google Workspace for Education.

They protect students in every site, at all times, while connected to their Google Workspace school account in the Chrome browser.

Such powerful Security & Monitoring capabilities include:
Alerts about bad language
Blocking Unapproved websites
Keyword Alerts
Risky app download alerts: set up a policy to ban or trust identified apps for students.
Alerts about certain search queries
Bulk removal of phishing emails
Complete content searches of all user’s Drive, Email and Calendars.

3. Stick to EdTech tools vetted for privacy

Speaking of tools — while there is a wide spectrum of EdTech tools out there that can help boost your virtual classroom environment (and we highly recommend exploring your options), remember to ALWAYS check their privacy policies for student data.

It’s important to ensure that these policies comply with student privacy laws and understand how your student’s data will be handled.

Flipgrid Text Comments - In Case You Missed It Like I Did

About a month ago Flipgrid added a new option for writing comments in response to videos within a discussion topic. This is in addition to the written feedback option that teachers have had for quite a while in Flipgrid

Now students and teachers can write comments in response to students' video submissions within a Flipgrid discussion topic. These comments are automatically reviewed by Flipgrid for potentially insensitive comments. That's a feature in addition to the manual topic moderation that you can enable on all of your Flipgrid topics. 

Flipgrid's little video overview of using text comments is embedded below. 



Applications for Education
I'm using Flipgrid for daily exit tickets in my freshmen computer science class this fall. Some of my students are prolific in their video production while others only do the bare minumum. I'm hoping that using text comments will enable more kids to participate in the back-and-forth of a conversation started by the exit ticket submissions.

If you're not sure what Flipgrid is or how to use it, here's my overview of the service and how to use it.