Friday, April 30, 2021

Three Simple Ways to Publish Online Writing Without Creating a Blog

On a fairly regular basis I get asked for recommendations for starting blogs. My advice is that using a self-hosted WordPress blog is the way to go if your goal is to create a robust platform to showcase your professional work. But creating a blog like that could be overkill for those who just want to find a quick and easy to way to publish their thoughts online. The following three platforms reside somewhere between Creed Thoughts and full-fledged blogging platforms.

Telegra.ph gives you a simple place to publish your writing and pictures without the need to create an account on the site. To publish you simply go to telegra.ph and start writing. You can include pictures in your writing, but you cannot include videos. Your writing will be given its own URL that you can share with those you want to read your work. The whole process of publishing on Telegraph is quick and easy. Here's how it works.



Draft is a free, collaborative writing platform that provides a distraction-free environment. When you write in Draft you won't see anything but the text in front of you. Draft is stripped of options for messing about with font colors or inserting pictures. Anyone who has an email address can participate in editing a document in Draft. Draft is a nice option for people who don't have access to Google Docs and or those who just want to focus on the text and not worry about playing around with font styling.

Page O Rama is a free service for quickly creating stand alone webpages. Creating a webpage with Page O Rama is very simple. Just visit the Page O Rama homepage, select a web address, title your page, and start typing. Page O Rama offers a good selection of text editing tools including page breaks. If you want to, you can add images to your Page O Rama pages too. If you think your page is something that you're going to want to edit and update occasionally, you can enter your email address to create an administrative log-in.

Geese, Comments, and Games - The Month in Review

Good morning from Maine where the sun is trying to rise through the rain on the last day of April. This month was a busy month at school and on my websites, Free Technology for Teachers and Practical Ed Tech. This month I hosted a couple of webinars, hosted Teaching History With Technology, and announced the 2021 Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp

As I do at the end of every month, I've compiled a list of the most popular posts of the last thirty days. Take a look and see if there's something interesting that you missed earlier in the month. 

These were the month's most popular posts:
1. How to Create Your Own Online Board Game
2. Alternatives to Google Expeditions & Tour Creator
3. A Fun and Educational Use of Cardboard Boxes
4. View What’s Behind Shortened URLs Without Clicking On Them
5. e-Comments Makes It Easy to Add Canned Comments to Documents and Learning Management Systems
6. Three Areas That Can Help Teachers Improve Hybrid Learning for All Students
7. TeacherMade Adds More Features to Make Your Online Lessons Better
8. Two New Google Workspace Features for Students - Including Saving Google Forms in Progress!
9. 19 Canva Tutorials for Teachers and Students - Certificates, Comics, and More!
10. Tools to Help Students Analyze Their Own Writing

On-demand Professional Development
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 35,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fourteen 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.
This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, TodayHeadline, and 711Web. Feature image captured by Richard Byrne. 

Thursday, April 29, 2021

What is Hotlinking? - Why You Should Avoid It

This morning I had a chat with a colleague who was having a little issue with his website not displaying the images that he was inserting into blog posts. The problem was that he was trying to insert images via URL instead of uploading images to host on his blog. In short, he was hotlinking images. Explaining that process to him reminded me of the following information that I wrote for a course about blogging that I used to teach.  

What is hotlinking?

Why you and your students should avoid hotlinking.
Hotlinking itself isn't bad if you're only linking to images that you own and control online. For example, let's say that you have a Flickr account to which you upload dozens of pictures that you took. You could use the embed code or the link that Flickr provides to post your images in your blog post.

When hotlinking causes trouble is when you link to another person's image hosted in their account or on their servers. Even if the image is in the public domain you probably don't want to hotlink to it. In fact some services will block attempts at hotlinking. They block hotlinking because when you hotlink you're using more of their bandwidth than if you simply downloaded the image to your computer then uploaded it to your blog.

The biggest concern about hotlinking is not knowing exactly who or what you're linking to. It is possible that the image you linked to and the image displayed could be changed without warning. It's also possible that the link a student inserts to hotlink links back to site or host laden with malware that could then rain down havoc on your blog.
Click image for full size.

Best practices for using images in blog posts.
  1. Always try to use images that you own and upload to your blog. 
  2. If you don't own a suitable image then look for images in the public domain. Pixabay and Unsplash are good places to look for images that are either in the public domain. Download the image and upload to your blog. 
  3. If you cannot find a suitable image in the public domain then look for images that have Creative Commons licenses attached to them. The Creative Commons Chrome extension makes that fairly easy to do (here's my video about how it works). Download the image, upload it to your blog, give proper attribution to the owner of the image. 
  4. If items 1, 2, and 3 above didn't provide you with a suitable image then you can attempt to use an image under Fair Use guidelines. Fair Use is a murky water so Fair Use should be your last resort. If 1, 2, and 3 failed to produce a suitable image, repeat steps 1, 2, and 3 until you find a suitable image.




This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, TodayHeadline, and 711Web. Annotated screenshots created by Richard Byrne.

Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp FAQs

Last week I announced the dates for the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. A bunch of people have already registered. Many more people have sent me questions about registration and about the format of this virtual professional development event. In no particular order, here are the answers to the FAQs.

Is there a group discount?
Yes, there is a group discount available. You can save $50/person if you have five or more people registering from your school district. Email me for a discount code to apply to online group registrations or to initiate a PO registration.

Can I register with a purchase order or check?
Yes, you can certainly register with a purchase order. Send me an email or have your business office send me an email to initiate that process. Because of the additional paperwork and delay in receiving funds, the early registration discount doesn't apply to purchase order registrations.

Can I get CEUs/ contact hours?
You will receive a certificate from me indicating that you participated in ten hours of professional development time. Whether or not your school, state, or province will accept it for license/ certificate renewal is a determination that you will have to make. The rules about CEUs vary widely from state-to-state and I can't possibly keep track of them all.

What platform are you using for the webinars?
All of the webinars will be conducted through the GoToWebinar platform. I've tried many other webinar services, but I keep coming back to GoToWebinar because of it's reliability. I've used it for almost a decade for hundreds of webinars. You can access GoToWebinar on any computer or tablet.

Will the sessions be recorded?
Yes, all of the live webinars will be recorded. If you have to miss a session, you'll be able to watch the recording. That said, I find that people get the most out of webinars when they can attend live broadcasts and ask questions in real-time. Therefore, I encourage you to pick the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp session that works best with your schedule.

7 Interesting Features You Can Add to Google Sites

Last week Google sent out a notice reminding domain administrators that the end of the classic version of Google Sites is near. That prompted me to publish directions for transition from the classic version of Google Sites to the current version. I also shared a set of tutorials for building your first website with the current version of Google Sites. 

Once you've made the switch to the current version of Google Sites, you might want to go beyond the basics to add some interesting features to your site to make it a one-stop shop for all of your students' and parents' needs. Here are some things you can do to enhance your Google Site with additional features. 

Embed Posters Into Google Sites

Canva is my favorite tool for making all kinds of graphics including infographics and interactive posters. In the video below I demonstrate how to embed Canva posters into the pages of your Google Sites.



Add a News Section to Google Sites
If you want to make sure that visitors to your site see the latest updates and news first, use the method demonstrated in this video to include a "latest news" section in your website. 



Add Physics, Chemistry, and Math Simulations to Google Sites
PhET offers fantastic simulations for teaching math and science concepts. Those simulations can be embedded into your Google Site as is demonstrated in the following video. 



Add Padlet Walls to Google Sites
Padlet is one of the most versatile ed tech tools that I use. You can use Padlet to create backchannels, collaborative KWL charts, video and image galleries, and even create interactive maps. All Padlet walls can be embedded into Google Sites pages. 



Add an Art Gallery to Google Sites
Wakelet, like Padlet, is a versatile tool for making collections of links, images, videos, and more. You can use Wakelet in conjunction with Google Sites to create an online art gallery. 



Add an Image Carousel to Google Sites
Do you have a bunch of pictures from a school event that you'd like to share with people visiting your website made with Google Sites? If so, adding an image carousel to your Google Site is a simple and good-looking way to do that. 



Add Flipgrid Topics Into Google Sites
If you have a Flipgrid that you want to share with a wider audience without having to send out individual invitations, embedding that Flipgrid into your Google Site is a solution. In the video below I demonstrate how you can include Flipgrid topics in the pages of your Google Sites website. 



This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, TodayHeadline, and 711Web. Featured graphic created by Richard Byrne.