Saturday, January 16, 2021

Time, Space, and Exercise - The Week in Review

(Not my house). 
Good morning from Maine where I'm hoping for snow. It has been a couple of weeks since our last snow storm and I'm worried that our ski season will be too short if we don't get more snow soon. Either way, I won't be able to ski today because this afternoon I'm hosting some webinars for the faculty of Coast Community College, California. If you're interested in having me do the same for your school, please get in touch with me here.  

This time of the school year is often the hardest for me. The fun of the winter holidays is gone, the days are short, and spring break is a long way off. For me the best way to deal with that stress is to go outside and exercise by riding my bike, skiing, or just taking long walks with my dogs. I hope that you also have a fun and healthy way of dealing with the stress of this time of school year. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Ten Time-savers for G Suite for Education Users 
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 in 2020. Those registrations help keep Free Technology for Teachers and Practical Ed Tech going. I couldn't do it without you!
  • BoomWriter is hosting a unique creative writing contest for kids. Check it out!
  • Pixton EDU is a great tool for creating comics and storyboards. 
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 32,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology 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.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Mote - An Easier Way to Add Audio to Google Slides

Mote is a new Chrome extension that I learned about from one of Greg Kulowiec's Tweets earlier this week. With Mote installed in your Chrome web browser you can quickly record audio and have it inserted into your Google Slides with just one click. 

To use Mote in Google Slides you first have to install the Chrome extension. Once you've installed the Chrome extension you'll then see a Mote icon near the "Present" button in your Google Slides editor. Click that icon to start recording. The free version of Mote lets you record for thirty seconds. After you stop recording you can then play it back. If you like your recording, just click the insert button on the Mote menu to have it added to your slide. If you don't like your recording, just hit the trash icon and try again. 

The first time that you use Mote you will have to grant it access to your Google account. That access will include accessing your Google Drive. That access is necessary because the way that Google Slides handles audio is by playing it back from audio files that are stored in your Google Drive. It's for that reason that you'll find your Mote audio recordings are stored in your Google Drive account. 

Just like inserting any other audio in Google Slides, Mote audio recordings can be set to playback automatically when you are presenting. You can also set the recording to play on a loop. More details about adjust audio playback in Google Slides is available here



Applications for Education
Mote could make it a lot easier for teachers and students to add explanatory audio to Google Slides. Just remember that if you're going to share your slides with students, you'll need to change the access settings for the audio file in Google Drive to "anyone with the link can access" otherwise they won't be able to hear your audio file. I explain and demonstrate that setting in the last portion of the video (about the 3:10 mark) that is embedded above.

Lava Lamps and Security

Network and data security is something is emphasized throughout the year in my Introduction to Networking course. To spark discussion in the class, I often share show short videos about interesting security incidents as well as short videos about implementing security systems. One of the videos that we watched this week was about Cloudflare's use of lava lamps to generate random numbers for the purpose of encrypting web traffic. Here's the video. Full details of the process can be read here. I particularly enjoyed the explanation of the distinct between true randomness and pseudorandomness. 




I realize that the vast majority of readers of this blog don't have an obvious use for this video in their classrooms. That said, consider watching it anyway and think about all of the back-end technology that is in place to make it possible for students to safely use web-based tools.

Personal note: When I started this blog 13+ years ago it was to share neat things I was finding and trying in my classroom. Sometimes I just need to go back to those early days.

Flowcharts in my Classroom Today

One of the courses that I'm teaching this year has an emphasis on computer repair and support of computers in a small business environment. Documenting everything is one of the things that I emphasize in this course. That includes documenting problems as first observed, documenting troubleshooting steps, and documenting resolutions. 

Recently, my class acquired a bunch of older computers that won't properly start-up. Most of them are sending beep codes indicating errors with their Intel-based motherboards. Before I set my students to attempting to fix these computers they're going to review the steps of the troubleshooting process. To that end, my students will be using Google Drawings today to create flowcharts of the steps that they'll take to troubleshoot based on the beep codes that they hear when they try to start the computers. Intel publishes a list of beep codes. Students will start their flowcharts working from that published list. 

There are lots of tools that my students could use to create their flowcharts. Today, they'll be using Google Drawings to create their flowcharts. There are two reasons why I'm having them use Google Drawings. First, Google Drawings has some simple templates that they can modify for today's activity. Second, my students can share their Google Drawings with me via Google Classroom as I've made today's activity an assignment in Google Classroom. 

Here's a video overview of using Google Drawings and Google Classroom to distribute flowchart and graphic organizer templates. 

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.