Friday, October 22, 2021

Google Adds More Audio and Video Controls to Google Meet

This week Google announced a new feature that will be welcomed by any teacher who regularly uses Google Meet to host online classes. That feature is the ability to selectively mute participant audio and video. For quite a while you've been able to mute all participants and turn off their webcams. The new feature prevents participants from unmuting themselves after you've muted them.

Those who have access to breakout rooms in Google Meet will find that the participant audio and video settings will also apply to breakout rooms. 

It should be noted that if your students are joining from an Android device or iOS device, they will need to be updated to the latest version of the Google Meet apps. If they don't use the updated apps, they won't be able to join your meeting if you have the audio and video locks enabled in your call. 

Applications for Education
I can think of at least a few times in the last 18 months that this new feature would have been helpful to me. I've muted students who wanted to interupt and had them unmute themselves. It then became kind of an annoying game of "mute, unmute" that distracted the class.

Like almost all Google Workspace updates, this one will take a couple of weeks to appear in all users' accounts. 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

An Interactive Land Use Map

WorldCover Viewer is a new interactive land use map produced by the European Space Agency. The map lets visitors see how land is used worldwide and in specific places. Visitors can pan and zoom to see land use for an area or use the statistics explorer tools built into the map to see land use statistics for a country, state, or province. Views of the map and associated data can be downloaded from the WorldCover Viewer. 

The map represents ten categories of land use. Those categories are:

  • Tree Cover
  • Shrubland
  • Grassland
  • Cropland
  • Built-up
  • Bare/ Sparse Vegetation
  • Snow and Ice
  • Permanent Water Bodies
  • Herbaceous wetland
  • Mangroves
  • Moss and Lichen
As you'll see in my video overview of WorldCover Viewer, it include a tool for measuring areas of land use. In my video overview I also demonstrate how to enable different layers on the map. 



Applications for Education
WorldCover Viewer could be a great resource for students to use to learn about how land is used in the area around them and globally. Students might be surprised to learn how much land is or isn't built-up in their home state or province. I can see using WorldCover Viewer as the starting place for student research into environmental challenges and concerns about land use.

H/T to Maps Mania for sharing WorldCover Viewer. 

Reminder - Old Google Sites are Going Away!

After five years of warnings, Google is finally ending support for the old version of Google Sites on December 1st. If you've been clinging to the hope that Google wouldn't force you to transition to the current version of Google Sites, it's time to give up that hope and convert your old site to the current version of Google Sites. Otherwise, on December 1st you'll no longer be able to edit your site or do anything else with it. 

In the following video I demonstrate how to convert your old Google Sites websites to the current version. Fortunately, the process is very simple and quick. Just head to sites.google.com then click on "classic sites manager" in the left margin of the page. Then on the next screen you can select the site(s) that you want to convert. Once you've clicked "convert" Google will handle the rest. If you're not sure which version of Google Sites you are using, watch my video to learn how you can quickly tell which version you're using. 

On a related note, I have a complete playlist of Google Sites tutorials right here. The best video to get started is this one that walks you through everything you need to know to create your first website with Google Sites.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The United Nations Explained for Kids

A couple of weeks ago I discovered CBC Kids News and I shared a great video that explains what the word indigenous means when referring to people. This afternoon I browsed through CBC Kids News again and found a nice animated video that explains the United Nations to kids

United Nations Explained is a short video designed to help elementary school students understand the basics of what the United Nations is, it's purpose, how it functions, and what it says about kids. Watch the video right here or as embedded below. 



Applications for Education
The video is good on its own as an explanation and introduction to the United Nations. You could have students answer some basic questions about the U.N. after watching the video. But I'd prefer to have students write down lists of questions that the video raised in their minds while they were watching. Questions like, "what if the countries don't get along?" and "what happens if they break the rules?" could lead to some great classroom conversations and lessons.

Samsung Solve for Tomorrow - Timeline Extended

On Tuesday I published a blog post about Samsung's Solve for Tomorrow contest that is now open for entries. This afternoon it was brought to my attention that Samsung has extended the judging period for initial entries. Initial entries are still due by November 8th (it only takes a few minutes to enter) but the state winners will now be selected in early December instead of on November 18th as I wrote yesterday. 

I should point out that everything else that I wrote about Samsung's Solve for Tomorrow contest is still correct. State winners will receive one Samsung Video Kit (approximate retail value $2,600) and a $6,500 prize package to be redeemed through DonorsChoose. National finalists win $50,000 in classroom technology prizes and the overall winner receives $100,000 in classroom technology prizes.

The contest is open to sixth through twelfth grade public school students and teachers in the United States. You can learn more and enter here.

Disclosure: Samsung Solve for Tomorrow is an advertiser on my blog.