Thursday, January 14, 2021

Microsoft EDU - You've Got Questions, He's Got Answers

Many times over the last year I've mentioned Mike Tholfsen from Microsoft and his many Microsoft Teams tutorial videos. His YouTube channel is really the place to go for help with Microsoft Teams and OneNote questions. Next week he's hosting a live AMA (ask me anything) session on his YouTube channel. 

At 5pm ET on January 20th Mike Tholfsen is hosting an AMA session in which he'll answer all kinds of questions about Microsoft Teams, OneNote, Immersive Reader, and any other Microsoft EDU products you have questions about. So if you're a Microsoft EDU user, this is an event to add to your calendar. 

Full Episodes of National Geographic Specials

I've been a fan of National Geographic for as long as I can remember. I got hooked early in elementary school by looking through the years and years of magazines in our school library. As I got older I looked forward to the magazine being delivered to my house. And now I look forward to latest updates that appear on National Geographic's YouTube channel. One recent update that I was particularly excited about was the release of full episodes of some of the most popular specials that have aired on National Geographic television. Of those, the one about Yellowstone is my favorite. That episode is embedded below. 



I'm going to advocate for showing hour-long National Geographic specials to your students in lieu of other activities. That said, these episodes surely have segments within them that can be used as part of a lesson.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Doodle for Google 2021 - "I am strong because..."

The Doodle for Google art contest is back for the 13th year in a row! This year's theme is "I am strong because..." 

Just like all previous editions of the contest, Doodle for Google 2021 asks K-12 students to create original artwork that addresses this year's theme. Students then have their artwork submitted on their behalf by their parents or teachers. The contest awards the winner a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 technology grant to the winner's school. The deadline for entry is February 26, 2021. 

A small change from previous years is that this year's Doodle for Google contest includes a required "artist's statement" about their work.  

Teachers who are interested in having students create artwork for this contest as part of a classroom activity should head to the Educators' Resources page on the contest website. On that page you'll find an educators' guide (PDF) that includes lesson plans for incorporating the contest into your classroom. 

New Google Meet Tools to Help You Improve Call Quality

Google has added a new tool to Google Meet to help you answer the question, "why is Google Meet call quality so bad?" 

Now when you're in a Google Meet call you can click on the little "three dot" menu in the bottom-right corner of the screen and you'll find a "Troubleshooting and Help" menu. In "Troubleshooting and Help" you'll find useful information that you can use to analyze the cause of problems with your Google Meet call quality and get tips to resolve those problems. 

Some of the information that you'll find in the Google Meet "Troubleshooting and Help" menu includes CPU usage/ load and tips for improving system performance. You'll also find a live graph of system usage. The "Troubleshooting and Help" menu also includes many of the tips that you probably already know like "close unused tabs" and "move closer to your Wi-Fi router." 

The new "Troubleshooting and Help" menu in Google Meet is available now for some users and will be rolled-out to all domains over the next couple of weeks. 

Wolfram Alpha for Social Studies

Trying search tools besides Google is one of the ideas that I feature in Ten Search Strategies Students Need to Know. Wolfram Alpha is one of those alternatives to Google that I frequently mention to teachers and students. Wolfram Alpha is best known as a computational search engine that can help students with questions related to math and science. What's often overlooked about Wolfram Alpha is its utility for social studies teachers and students. 


 Wolfram Alpha is quite useful in providing students with quick fact sheets about people and places. Additionally, Wolfram Alpha can provide students with side-by-side comparisons of two or more people or two or more places. Those options are more are featured in this short video



Applications for Education
In the video above I highlighted the graph of Wikipedia hits for topics searched in Wolfram Alpha. As mentioned in the video, this graph could be the starting point for some quick, in-class research into what was happening in the world to cause a spike in interest in a topic and the corresponding spike in Wikipedia traffic for that topic.