Thursday, December 10, 2020

Google Made Some Meet Settings Sticky

Google has steadily added features to Google Meet throughout the fall (spring for my friends in the southern hemisphere). The latest feature is one that should prove to be a time-saver for some teachers. 

The latest update to Google Meet makes some settings "sticky" after you implement them. Now when you disable screen sharing and or chat messages for students in a meeting, that change will apply to future meetings that you host in Google Meet. I like this change because it's just one less thing that I have to think about at the start of a meeting. Of course, if you want to undo the sticky setting you can do that by just re-enabling screen sharing or chat in your next meeting. 

This isn't a huge update, but it should prove to be convenient for many teachers. This update is rolling-out now and should be available to all teachers using G Suite for Education in January. 

If you have colleagues who need an overview of key Google Meet features, please share this video overview of Ten Google Meet Features for Teachers with them. 

A Show About Teachers That I'm Looking Forward to Watching Again

Back when I was spending a fair bit of time in Canada there was a show on the CBC that I loved to watch whenever I could. It was called Mr. D and I couldn't get enough of it. A season or two of it has been available on Hulu here in the U.S. in the past and now it's coming to Amazon Prime in its entirety. 

On Amazon Prime the show will be called Mr. D The Gym Teacher instead of just Mr. D as it was on the CBC.  The show is loosely based on the stories of teacher-turned-comedian Gerry Dee. Yes, it's a sitcom about teachers, principals, and school librarians. And yes, it's hilarious!

Mr. D lasted eight seasons which is far longer than any other sitcom about teachers that I can remember. That was possible because the show featured an actor and writer who actually spent years teaching instead of just relying on some cliché Hollywood ideas of teachers. You can watch some snippets of the show on Gerry Dee's Facebook page and Twitter account

We all need something to look forward to that we can do at home these days. Flipping on Mr. D The Gym Teacher and having a good beer or wine cooler (a joke you'll get if you watch the show) after my kids go to bed is what I'm looking forward to on Saturday night. If you don't have Amazon Prime you can get a 30 free trial right here

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

How to Reduce Noise in Zoom Meetings

On Monday I shared Mike Tholfsen's tutorial on how to reduce background noise in Microsoft Teams calls. That prompted a few people to ask me if the same thing can be done in Zoom. Yes, you can filter background noise with some tools that are built into Zoom. 

In the advanced audio settings for Zoom you can adjust the level of filtering that you apply to steady and intermittent background noise. The default setting is "automatic." You can adjust that setting to be "aggressive" to filter more background noises. 

You'll find the advanced audio settings in Zoom by clicking on the small drop-down menu that appears next to the microphone icon during your Zoom calls. 

In this new video I provide a demonstration of how to reduce background noise in your Zoom meetings. 

How to Share Books in Google Classroom and Google Sites

One of my favorite features of Google Books is the option to clip sections of free ebooks to share with students. It's also possible to share with your students an entire ebook from Google Books. You can then use those clips or full books to spark discussions in Google Classroom. Another way to use the clipping and embedding feature of Google Books is to create a digital bookshelf of public domain works in a Google Site. Both of those things are demonstrated in this new video that I recorded yesterday afternoon. 

Watch this short video for a general overview of how to search in Google Books.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - A Future Rival to Google Search?

This afternoon TechCrunch posted a story about Richard Socher's new venture called has a lofty goal of replacing Google as our go-to search engine.'s homepage is short on details right now, but it appears that it will be a search engine that doesn't rely on advertising for funding and that it will give you greater control over the privacy of your search activity. It sounds promising, but so did Blekko when it launched with a similar goal of being a better search engine ten years ago. If you have forgotten about Blekko as I did until today, here's the Wikipedia page about the defunct search engine

 I like the idea of a search engine results pages that aren't influenced by advertising or prior search activity. That's one of the reasons why I encourage teachers and students to try alternatives to Google Search from time to time. I hope that can follow through on its goals. I've already registered for the beta list. You can do the same right here