Thursday, January 14, 2021

How to Use Your Android Phone as a Document Camera

Around this time last week I published a short blog post about a new iPhone called Overviewer that turns your iPhone or iPad into a document camera that can be used in Zoom. Then in my Practical Ed Tech newsletter I featured that app as well as directions for using your Android phone as a document camera in Zoom. For those who use Android phones and didn't see my newsletter, here are directions for using your Android phone as a document camera. 

Step 1: Get Something to Hold Your Phone
I use this "goose neck" cell phone holder and ring light combo to hold and position my phone over a document. You could also use a tripod that has a cell phone bracket. I've even seen people use stacks of books to hold and position their phones over a document.

Step 2: Install Vysor
Vysor is software that you can install for free on Windows and Mac computers. Once it's installed you can mirror your Android phone's screen through a USB cable. When you use the camera on your phone, whatever the camera sees will be mirrored to your computer's screen.

Step 3: Launch your Zoom meeting
Start your Zoom meeting then when you're ready to show whatever your phone's camera is picking up, just screen share the camera into your Zoom meeting.

In this short video I provide a demonstration of the steps outlined above.

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.