Tuesday, December 15, 2020

How to Create Breakout Rooms in Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet

Breakout rooms can be useful to get students talking and working in small groups in a virtual class meeting. Here are directions for creating breakout rooms in Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet. 

How to Create Breakout Rooms in Zoom
To create breakout rooms in Zoom you'll first need to make a small change in your account settings. The change is to enable the breakout rooms option so that a "breakout rooms" button appears in your meeting controls during your meetings. 

To enable breakout rooms in Zoom:

  1. Open your account settings. 
  2. Select the "Meeting" tab. 
  3. Select "In Meeting (Advanced)."
  4. Move the Breakout Room slider icon to the on position. 
  5. Breakout rooms should now appear as an option in the meeting controls for every meeting you host. 


How to Create Breakout Rooms in Microsoft Teams
This is a new feature in Microsoft Teams. To use the breakout rooms function you need to be using the latest version of Microsoft Teams (check with your IT admin if you're not sure that you're on the latest version). Then you can follow the detailed directions that Mike Tholfsen (product manager for Microsoft EDU) provides in this video


How to Create Breakout Rooms in Google Meet
Google Meet offers a breakout room functionality only for those people who are using a paid version of Google Workspaces or G Suite for Education Enterprise Edition. If your school has the paid version, you can enable breakout rooms by clicking on the "activities" icon during a call. You can find more details about the feature here

For those who are using the free version of Google Workspaces or G Suite for Education, there is a third-party Chrome extension for creating breakout rooms. The latest version addresses some of the problems with previous iterations. One thing to keep in mind when reading reviews of third-party extensions is that developers are often at the mercy of Google's constantly evolving policies and programs. That means that sometimes an extension stops functioning correctly not because of something the developer did but because Google made a change that the developer hasn't yet responded to. 


Monday, December 14, 2020

How to Find "Lost" Items in Google Drive

In my previous post I shared directions for uploading files and folders into Google Drive. In that post I also described how I loosely organize my files in Google Drive. If you're like me and also have a very broad interpretation of "organize," you'll want to use search function in Google Drive to find your old files. I use the search function to search according to keyword and filetype within my account. When I do that I can usually find what I'm looking for fairly quickly.

In this short video I demonstrate how I use the search functions in Google Drive to find files whose names I can't remember ten years after I created them. 

How to Move Desktop Files and Folders Into Google Drive

Last week I received a question from a reader who was looking for a little help organizing all of the files that she had created and stored on her computer. My suggestion was to organize the files into folders then upload those folders into Google Drive. Once the folders are in Google Drive they can be accessed from any computer. The process of uploading folders into Google Drive is a straight-forward one. In the following video I demonstrate how to move folders and individual files from your computer to your Google Drive account. 


I organize my files into a handful of big folders according to units that I teach throughout the year. I don't do this, but some people that I've worked with create sub-folders with unit folders. Those sub-folders are then labeled with things like "quizzes" or "group projects." The structure that you use for folders isn't as critical as it used to be because you can always use the search function with Google Drive to search for the file you need (as long as you can remember what you called it). 

What is a DDos Attack? - A Simple Explanation

Were you one of the millions of people frustrated by Google services like Classroom and Gmail being down earlier today? If so, and you turned to Twitter to see who else was talking about it, you may have noticed that #DDoS was a trending topic as people speculated that perhaps Google was the victim of a DDoS attack. (So far Google has not given an explanation of what caused the outage). 

I had one student in my classroom this morning and the rest were virtual. Since I couldn't reach my virtual students I scrapped this morning's lesson plan and talked with my one in-person student about network and data security. We ended up spending a good bit of time talking about DDoS as it was a trending and relevant topic for my class. Specifically, we did a lot of speculation on the various ways a DDoS attack might get started. 

If you're wondering what the heck a DDoS attack is and why it would be relevant to all users of cloud-based services, take a look at PowerCert's animated explanation of DDoS. It's one of the best "non-techy" explanations I've found.


Update: 10:45am ET Google released a short statement about the outage. It was not related to a DDoS attack. 

Saturday, December 12, 2020

The Week in Review - Time to Pick Up Sticks

Good afternoon from Maine where I'm spending some of the day cleaning up from last weekend's snow and ice storm. We had a bunch of branches and one tree snap last weekend. All week long I've been picking up sticks and branches but with another storm in the forecast I'm clearing brush in earnest today. It's not a fun task, but it has to be done. The upside is that it is good exercise. I hope that wherever you are this weekend, you're doing some a little more fun that picking up sticks. 

One thing that I am looking forward to this weekend is watching Mr. D The Gym Teacher on Amazon Prime. It's my new "binge" show. I got a chance to chat with the star of the show yesterday. If you missed that conversation, you can watch the video here

These were the most popular posts of the week:
1. How to Reduce Noise in Zoom Meetings
2. Twelve Free Apps for Math Instruction
3. How to Reduce Noise in Microsoft Teams Meetings
4. How to Share Books in Google Classroom and Google Sites
5. Write on PDFs in Google Classroom - Good Tool for Math
6. Five Key Features of Making Comics in Canva
7. How to Create Freehand Drawings in 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.
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  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for thirteen years. 
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  • And if you're curious about my life outside of education, you can follow me on Instagram or Strava.