Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Five Things to Check When a Website or Web App Doesn't Work as You Expected

I regularly field emails from readers who are experiencing problems with web tools not working as they expected. Here's my short check list of things that you should check when a website doesn't work as you expected it to work. Nine times out of ten, one of these things fixes the problem. 

1. Is your browser updated? This isn't as common as it used to be, but in some instances of a site not working properly the cause can be traced to using an outdated version of a web browser. If you're using an older version of a browser, not only will some sites not work correctly, you are also opening yourself up to more potential security threats.

2. Do you have cookies enabled? Many websites require cookies in order to offer you the best possible experience.

3. Are you using a pop-up blocker? It is not uncommon for a website to use a pop-up window for account log-ins. If the pop-up is blocked, you won't be able to log-in.

4. Have you allowed camera and or microphone access? If you're trying to use a web-based video or audio editing tool, you'll need to make sure your camera and microphone are accessible. 

5. Have you checked your spam folder? If you sent a help request to the help desk/ site administrators, they may have replied and had their messages flagged by your spam filter. I've experienced this more than once when using a school district email address.

Here's my video overview of things to check when a website or web app isn't working as you expect it to. 



Last, but not least, in the words of The IT Crowd, "have you tried turning it off and on again?" Or logging out and logging back in? It's amazing how often that can fix a problem.



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 and WayBetterSite. Featured graphic created by Richard Byrne using Canva. 

Expeditions Pro - A Replacement for Google's VR Tour Creator

Sadly, at the end of June Google is closing the doors on Tour Creator. I'm bummed about it because it is one of my favorite creation tools. Fortunately, there are some companies working on making alternatives to Google's Tour Creator. One of those companies is Expeditions Pro

Expeditions Pro is still in beta but I got to try it out earlier today. My initial impression of it is that it will be an excellent replacement for Tour Creator once all of the quirks are worked out. 

When I first signed into my beta Expeditions Pro account I was struck by the similarity to Tour Creator's user interface. The process of creating a VR tour in Expeditions Pro is very similar to that of Tour Creator. You simply choose a cover image, title your tour, then start to add scenes. Adding scenes is much like adding slides to a slideshow except that instead of adding standard images you upload 180 or 360 degree panoramic images. 

Expeditions Pro supports the use of zip files that are created when you use Google Takeout to download your Tour Creator files. In fact, I'd recommend doing that before Google shutters Tour Creator at the end of the month. (Here's a video about how to use Google Takeout). 

Applications for Education
Once Expeditions Pro leaves beta and becomes available to the general public, I think that it will be a great alternative to Google's Tour Creator. Students will be able to use it to create their virtual reality tours about local history, about books, about geography, about geology, and many other interesting topics.

I'm hoping that Expeditions Pro is available to the general public in time for the next school year because I'm excited to see what teachers and students will make with it.

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 and WayBetterSite. 

Less Than Two Weeks to Go!

The first session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp is less than two weeks away! If you haven't registered for the session of your choice, you can do so up until the day before it starts. While the early-bird discount has passed, you can still get group discounts. 

There is a June session, a July session, and an August session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. In all three sessions we'll cover ten key topics over the course of ten live webinars (recordings will also be available). 

These are the topics for the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp:
  • Teaching Search Strategies & Digital Citizenship
  • Video Projects for Every Classroom
  • Classroom Podcasting 101
  • Building Digital Portfolios
  • Fun Formative Assessment Methods
  • Using AR & VR in Your Classroom
  • Making Virtual Tours
  • Easy Ways to Make Your Own Apps
  • Simple and Fun Makerspaces Projects
  • Blending Technology Into Outdoor Lessons

Register online or email me to register your group of five or more. 


Frequently Asked Questions
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.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Five Features of Canva Presentations You Might be Overlooking

Canva has become my go-to presentation design tool over the last few years. Even when I know that I'm going to end up giving my live presentations from PowerPoint or Google Slides, I still use Canva to design the presentation. In the last year Canva has added features that make it a serious rival to PowerPoint and Google Slides. In this short video I highlight my favorite "hidden" features of Canva that you might be overlooking. 

The features shown in the video are:

  • Polling an audience
  • Creating MP4 files
  • Publishing slides as a website
  • Collaborating on designs
  • Recording narrated presentations



Many more features of Canva are highlighted in this playlist of Canva tutorials. Some of the features in that playlist include creating timelines, design certificates, making greeting cards, and publishing comic strips.

How Tall Can a LEGO Tower Get? - Life's Biggest Questions

While getting caught up on my reading in Feedly this morning I came across a new comic from The Oatmeal. The comic addresses the question, "how tall can a LEGO tower get?" (It's a copyright-protected work so you'll have to view it on The Oatmeal website). The comic is based on a 2012 BBC article titled How Tall Can a LEGO Tower Get? The comic and the article prompted me to turn to YouTube for videos about building giant LEGO towers. YouTube did not disappoint me in my search for videos that explain the math and physics highlighted in the BBC's article and The Oatmeal's comic. 

Last fall a YouTube channel titled Life's Biggest Questions tackled the question of "how tall can a LEGO tower get?" The video explains the math that was used by researchers at The Open University to figure how tall a LEGO tower would get before the blocks collapsed under their own weight. Of course, the mathematical answer assumes that the tower wouldn't topple over before reaching it's maximum height. So you then have to consider the overall stability of the structure instead of just weight-bearing capability of the structure. Watch the video to learn more, it's quite enjoyable. 



Applications for Education
The question of "how tall can a LEGO tower get?" is a fun prompt for diving into discussions about math and physics. Before showing students the video or the article mentioned above, I'd have them make guesses as to the answer then write out lists of the variables that they can think of that would influence how tall the tower could get. Then after they watch the video I'd have a little classroom contest to see who can build the tallest tower with the LEGOs available in my classroom.

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 and WayBetterSite. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.