Monday, November 30, 2020

City Walks - Hear and See Cities Around the World

City Walks is a neat website that I recently learned about from Larry Ferlazzo. On City Walks you can go for a virtual walk in more than a dozen cities around the world. You can experience the cities with or without sound. You can go for virtual walks in the daytime or at night. At the start of each walk you'll see some quick facts about the city that might help you understand a little more about what you're seeing during the walk. 

City Walks is essentially a really nice display of street-level YouTube videos with some additional menu options overlaid on them. That's not meant as a knock on the site as it is a nice site. That does mean that there isn't any interactivity built into virtual walks like you might experience in a virtual reality experience. The video sources for City Walks are clearly labeled in the lower-right corner of each screen. 

Applications for Education
City Walks isn't going to replace Google Expeditions (ending in 2021) or Google Arts & Culture, but it is a good additional resource to have bookmarked when you want to give students a street-level view of cities that they learn about in your classroom. 

The Most Popular Posts of the Month

There's just one month left in 2020! I hope those of you who had a Thanksgiving break are feeling re-charged and ready for the last month of school in 2020. 

As I do at the end of every month, I've compiled a list of the most popular posts of the last thirty days. Take a look at the list and see if there's anything new or interesting that can help you in the last month of 2020. 

These were the most popular posts in November:
1. How to Create Your Own Online Board Game
2. Two Ways to Create Your Own Online Memory Games
3. A New Google Meet Feature That Brings Order to Class Meetings
4. How to Create Self-grading, Timed Quizzes in Google Classroom
5. Ten Google Meet Features for Teachers - Fall 2020 Update
6. Five Uses for Wakelet in Your Classroom
7. Seven Tools for Creating Word Clouds
8. Five Screencasting Tools Compared and Ranked - Fall 2020
9. Use a Zoom Virtual Background for Lesson Outlines
10. How to Create and Conduct Polls in PowerPoint and Google Slides

Professional Development Opportunities 
Through Practical Ed Tech I'm currently offering two on-demand learning opportunities:
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 31,000 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.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Save Time by Searching Within Favorite YouTube Channels

One of the tips that Rushton Hurley and I have passed along in a few episodes of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff is to search within the YouTube channels of people whose tutorials you've found useful. For example, whenever I need help with a WordPress problem I head to WP Crafter and search within that YouTube channel before conducting a broader search on YouTube. I do that because Adam, the producer of WP Crafter, has been extremely helpful in the past I know that if I have a WordPress problem he's probably made a video addressing it. 

In short, searching within a favorite YouTube channel is a timer-saver for me. If you've never tried it, here's a short video about how to search within a YouTube channel

Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where I'm still groggy from all of the turkey I ate on Thursday. It's either that or my coffee hasn't kicked in this morning. Like many parents of young children I try get up an hour before my kids do in order to get a quiet moment for coffee and writing a blog post or two. I hope that all of you also get a quiet moment for coffee or other beverage this weekend. 

Every Saturday I take a look at the analytics for Free Technology for Teachers and put together a list of the most read posts of the last week. Take a look and see if there's anything interesting that you missed during the week. 

Professional Development Opportunities 
Through Practical Ed Tech I'm currently offering two on-demand learning opportunities: 
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 31,000 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.

Inexpensive Equipment to Improve Online Meetings

I usually don't write about hardware because it doesn't fall under the banner of "free." However, I've been asked about this topic a lot this year so I thought I'd cover it. 

The last nine months have put most of us in front of a webcam more than ever before. Which is why I've had more questions about webcams and microphones in this year than in the previous twelve years combined. One of the things that I've been telling people when they ask about webcams is to first make sure you have good lighting around you. Good lighting can make you look good on even an average webcam. Likewise, a good microphone can make a world a difference in the quality of your online meeting hosting experience and your students' viewing experience. 

The lighting set-up that I use in my home office consists of three inexpensive gardening lights positioned over head and one small ring light positioned in front of me just above my webcam. The ring that I've been using is fine, but lately I've noticed that it's not quite as bright as it was when I got it a few years ago. Therefore, I jumped on a "Black Friday" deal and ordered this 10" ring light with a tripod from Amazon. 

The microphones that I've used and recommended for years are Blue Snowball microphones. I own two of them and have lugged them all around the globe to use in workshops. Unfortunately, they've become so popular that they are hardly ever in stock these days. My school tried to buy some at the start of the year and couldn't. Instead, we ended up getting these Fifine microphones and they've been fine but I still like my Blue Snowball better. Either one is a great improvement over using the built-in microphone on a laptop. Speaking of built-in microphones, when you show videos in Zoom be sure to change the sound input settings to pick up the computer sounds instead of just the microphone sounds.