Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Muted Notifications During Google Meet Calls

There's a new Google Meet feature that those who utilize pop-up notifications will probably like. Now when you're sharing your screen in a Google Meet call, Chrome will automatically mute and hide pop-up notifications from things like Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Keep. It will also mute notifications from non-Google services like Slack and Intercom. It should be noted that notifications will re-appear when you stop sharing your screen. 

I personally hate getting notifications on my desktop so having pop-ups appear while screen-sharing in Google Meet has never been an issue for me. However, I can see how having pop-ups appear while screen-sharing in Google Meet could represent a problem for teachers who do utilize pop-up notifications. 

Like most new Google Meet features, this one is being rolled out over the course of the next few days. 

See Video, Chat, and Notes at the Same Time in Microsoft Teams

Mike Tholfsen has released a new video that teachers using Microsoft Teams for online instruction should be excited  to see. In this new video Mike demonstrates how to use the new presenter view in Microsoft Teams Meetings. As you'll see in the video, the new presenter view is similar to the presenter view you're probably used to seeing in PowerPoint. The difference is that in Microsoft Teams Meetings presenter view you can see participants' chat messages while also viewing your notes, slides, or video. Watch Mike's video for a full overview of the new presenter view in Microsoft Teams Meetings. 

It should be noted that the new presenter view may not be available to all users right now. To access it you will need to have enabled the "Teams Public Preview" which Mike explains here.

Introducing Arduino in a Pandemic

Watching my students design and build Arduino projects is one of the things that I enjoy the most about my job. We've just gotten to the part of the school year in which I introduce my students to using Arduino. This year, because of our hybrid model of some students in class and some online at the same time, I've had to make some modifications to how I introduce Arduino and how students can work with the materials. 

Initial Introduction With Tinkercad:
Tinkercad is a service that I started using last spring when our school went to 100% online instruction. I'm using it again this year to introduce my students to key Arduino design and programming concepts. Within Tinkercad there is an Arduino simulator. With that simulator students can use virtual Arduinos with virtual breadboards and dozens of other virtual components. The simulator also includes an IDE in which students can write programs.

I strive to avoid information dumps. As Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager point out in their great book, Invent to Learn there's a tempation to explain "just one more thing" and before you know you've prattled on for twenty minutes and kids have lost interest in what could have been an exciting class. Therefore, last week I simply gave my students a quick demonstration of how to get into the simulator and then asked them to start experimenting with the code in the program for a simple blinking light. Once they figured out how to change the rate of blinking I let them pick any Arduino project they liked in Tinkercad's circuits gallery and let them make copies to dissect and discover the components and code in those projects.

The process of picking projects from Tinkercad's gallery and then dissecting those projects sparked a lot of questions from students. Some of my students had prior experience with Arduino so their questions skewed toward the programming while my students who didn't have prior experience with Arduino raised questions that skewed toward the physical components in the projects they selected. Those questions are going to be the basis for some of the conversations we have in class today (January 26th, yes, I'm writing this in the morning before class). Those questions are also influencing how I place students in breakout rooms for discussion today. 

Organizing Physical Materials
My students are in my physical classroom once per week right now (some on Tuesday and some on Friday). In the past I had students work in pairs on Arduino projects. Unfortunately, due to scheduling and health protocols I can't have students work in pairs on the physical projects this year. 

I'm fortunate to have a lot of cabinet space in my classroom. I'm giving each student their own shelf for their project materials and their own plastic storage boxes. I'm going to have students tape small, easily lost pieces like resistors that aren't currently in use to pieces of paper or to the plastic boxes in their assigned cabinets.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Citizen DJ - A Free Tool for Remixing Music and Spoken Audio

Citizen DJ is a free tool for remixing and creating new songs from audio files that are in the public domain. The tool was developed by Brian Foo who is an Innovator in Residence at the Library of Congress

On the Citizen DJ website you will find large collections of audio files that are in the public domain. Pick one of the collections to start remixing a song or spoken audio track with drum tracks. Citizen DJ lets you select and isolate notes and rhythms from an audio recording to then mix with drum tracks that you can also remix. You can mix and match as much or as little as you like. When you've developed a remix that you like you can record it and save it as an audio file on your computer. Watch the video below that was created by Brian Foo to learn more about how Citizen DJ works (those viewing this in RSS or email may need to click through to see the video). 

Applications for Education
My first thought when I tried Citizen DJ was that it could be a good tool for music teachers to have students use to experiment with rhythms and sounds. 

Another way to use it would be to have students create remixes to use as sound tracks in video or podcast projects. All of the music and spoken audio files available through Citizen DJ are free to use and remix which means the new works that students create will also be free of copyright restrictions. 

How to Edit Your Videos by Typing in Type Studio

On Friday morning I published a blog post about a new video editing tool called Type Studio. At the end of the blog post I mentioned that I'd be publishing a tutorial video about Type Studio on my YouTube channel. That video is now available. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to use Type Studio to edit your videos. As you'll see in the video Type Studio generates a transcript of your video (fifteen languages are supported). You then edit your video by editing the transcript. If you delete a part of the transcript, the corresponding section of the video is deleted as well. 

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