Thursday, November 12, 2020

Lucidspark - A New Collaborative Online Whiteboard Option

Lucidspark is a new collaborative whiteboard tool from the makers of the popular Lucidchart service. Lucidspark has all of the features that we've come to expect in an online whiteboard tool. It contains tools for placing pre-made shapes, drawing with a pen tool, and adding text to the screen. There is a wide array of color options for all of the elements that you add to your whiteboard in Lucidspark. 

There are two elements of Lucidspark that differentiate it from some of its competitors. First, Lucidspark offers a large gallery of templates that you can apply to your whiteboard. That gallery includes templates for things like concept maps, flowcharts, empathy maps, and story maps. The sharing menu is the other area in which Lucidspark separates itself from some of its competitors. The sharing options in Lucidspark will remind many people of the options found in Google Docs. You can share your Lucidspark pages as "view only," "comment only," and "edit." You can send collaboration invitations via email or by simply posting a link in your LMS. 

Here's a video overview of Lucidspark. 

Applications for Education
Lucidspark, like many other online whiteboard tools, could be a useful tool for teachers conducting live online or hybrid classes. Much like using Jamboard instead of Zoom's whiteboard tool, using Lucidspark when you need to sketch a concept map or illustrate a point enables you to share that sketch later and use it in other places independently of Zoom (or Google Meet or Microsoft Teams). 

TED-Ed Explains the Basics of Stocks and Investing

TED-Ed has released a new lesson that should be of interest to anyone who has hopes of retiring some day. That lesson is titled How Do Investors Choose Stocks? Some of the highlights of the lesson include a basic explanation of what a stock and the stock market is, the differences between active and passive investing in the stock market, why some people pick one of those approaches over the other, and how traders analyze the prospects of a stock. 

Applications for Education
This TED-Ed lesson could be a great introduction to a larger lesson on stock markets. If I was still teaching social studies I would definitely include this video as introductory material before my students played a stock market simulation game.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Three PD Opportunities With Me Starting Tomorrow!

Every week Rushton Hurley from Next Vista for Learning and I host a free webinar called Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. It's a fun 30-ish minute webinar in which we have fun answering all kinds of interesting questions about educational technology and share some interesting things that we've found around the web in the last week or so. The next episode will be hosted tomorrow at 4pm ET/ 1pm PT and you can join us by registering for free right here!

One of the ways that I've been able to keep Free Technology for Teachers going for the last thirteen years is through the support of people like you who register for my Practical Ed Tech webinars, courses, and workshops. Right now I'm offering an on-demand course called A Crash Course in Making and Teaching With Video. That course consists of six self-paced modules designed to give you the knowledge and skill to create video lessons for your students. A favorite module in that course shows you how you can make sure your students actually watch your instructional videos.

Next Tuesday at 4pm ET I'm hosting an encore presentation of Formative Assessment for Virtual and Hybrid Classrooms. Getting students to interact with you and each other is a challenge for many of us who have recently transitioned to virtual and or hybrid classrooms. Without that interaction it can be tough to get a sense of whether or not students are “getting it.” In this one-hour webinar I’ll share five formative assessment methods that work in virtual and hybrid classrooms. Learn more and register here

Wizer Now Offers a Google Drive Add-on

Wizer is an online platform for creating multimedia worksheet activities that you can distribute to students through a variety of means including Google Classroom. On Wizer you can design worksheet activities that include pictures, text, videos, and audio. One of its better features is the option to add questions directly on top of images and diagrams. A variety of question formats are supported including open response, multiple choice, and matching questions. Years ago I made this video about how to use Wizer. The interface has changed a little since then but the tools are the same. 

This month Wizer released a Google Drive add-on that lets you quickly convert PDFs that are in your Google Drive into online worksheets on Wizer. With the add-on installed you can simply select any PDF in your Google Drive then choose "open with Wizer" to use that PDF in Wizer where you can then add interactive elements. 

Applications for Education
Wizer has exploded in popularity this year as a result of more teachers looking for tools to create online activities for elementary school students. The Google Drive add-on should make it easier for those who already have PDF worksheets stored in Google Drive to create online activities for their students to complete. I particularly like the ability to add image and diagram-based questions to PDFs in Wizer.

Mixkit Now Offers Free Sound Effects, Music, and Video Clips for Your Multimedia Projects

Back in February I published a video overview of how to use Mixkit to find free b-roll video and music to use in multimedia projects. This week the folks at Mixkit added sound effects to their library of free media. The sound effects library is separate from the music library in Mixkit. The sound effects library contains things like short clips of dogs barking, doorbell chimes, and car horns blaring. Just like with the other libraries in Mixkit, you can find sound effects by conducting a keyword search or by just browsing through the content tags. 

The licensing terms for assets on Mixkit are clear. You can download videos and audio files from Mixkit to re-use and remix. You don't have to credit Mixkit, but they will appreciate it if you do credit them.

Applications for Education
Mixkit is a good resource to bookmark and share with your students when they need music, sound effects, or b-roll videos to use in their own video projects, podcasts, or other multimedia presentations. If you're worried about your students wasting time browsing through the Mixkit galleries, create a shared Google Drive or One Drive folder that you add a collection of Mixkit files to for your students to use.