Monday, May 3, 2021

My Ten Favorite "Hidden" Office 365 Features

Last week my most popular post on Free Technology for Teachers was this one highlighting my favorite features of Google Workspaces that are frequently overlooked. Based on the response to that post and video I decided to do the same thing for Office 365 users. I don't use Office 365 products as much as I do Google Workspaces (that's a result of the schools I've worked in over the years), but I still do have some favorite "hidden" features of Office 365 for teachers and students. 

My favorite “hidden” Office 365 features:
  • Word: Image insert with Pexels add-in.
    • Video insert and playback.
  • PowerPoint: Presenter coach
  • Forms: Open and close dates
  • OneNote: Save articles without annoying advertising pop-ups.
  • OneDrive: Share files with an expiration date and password.
  • Teams: Export Whiteboard Drawings as PNG
  • Excel: Analyze Data
  • Outlook: Schedule sending.
    • Message encryption/ forwarding prevention.
  • Message encryption/ preventing forwarding.
  • To Do: Add multiple steps within a task.

All of those features are demonstrated in this video.


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.

Blackbird Code - Overview and First Impressions from My Students

Last week I published a written overview of a new learn-to-code platform called Blackbird. In short, Blackbird is a platform that is trying to bridge the gap between using block editors like Scratch and making students jump into a full-fledged IDE without any built-in support resources. Blackbird teaches students how to write code (specifically, JavaScript) through a series of short, guided lessons before challenging them with some "workshop projects." Along the way there are plenty of easily accessible help resources for students to use without having to leave the code that they're currently writing. Watch this video that I made for a visual overview of Blackbird.



Initial Impressions from My Students
I have a small group of students taking a Computer Science Principles class with me. In the class there is a mix of freshmen, juniors, and seniors (sophomores are welcome to take the class, I just don't have any this year). Today, I used Blackbird with them for the first time. All of my students thought the first few lessons were "too easy" and they breezed right through them. But by the time they got to the fourth lesson in stage 1, they didn't feel that way. At that point they started to use the "show me" button in Blackbird to get a little help writing their code. All of the students felt like there was a lot of repetition which, as one student pointed out, is a good way to learn the language.

The exception to the above impressions from my students was one junior who had a lot of prior experience writing JavaScript. He ripped through all of the stage 1 lessons very quickly. So quickly, in fact, that I challenged him to watch this video then try to code the Snake game. He accepted and will probably finish by the time class meets again on Thursday.



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

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Zoom, Voice, and April Showers - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where we're hoping for some sunshine after a few rainy days. Either way, I'm going for a long bike ride today as I continue to prepare to ride in the Unbound Gravel 200 in June. I hope that you also have something fun in store for your weekend. 

This week I hosted the third installment of my Teaching History With Technology course and continued to work on preparations for this year's Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. I hope you'll join me for one of the sessions in June, July, or August. Register by June 1st and save $50. 

These were the week's most popular posts:

  1. Ten Google Workspaces Features for Teachers You Might Be Overlooking
  2. How to Use Zoom's New Immersive Views
  3. 7 Interesting Features You Can Add to Google Sites
  4. Build Your First Google Site With the Help of These Tutorials
  5. How to Add Voice Recordings to Google Forms
  6. Tools to Help Students Analyze Their Own Writing
  7. What is Hotlinking? - Why You Should Avoid It
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.

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.