Saturday, January 1, 2022

Buffalo, Sledding, and The Best of 2021 - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where we had a great week off. My daughters and I did some sledding and played with new toys. I read a great book titled American Buffalo and started reading a second one, Where the Deer and the Antelope Play. I also had some time to work on a couple of projects that I hope to unveil in January. All in all, it was a pretty good week. I hope that you had a great week as well. 

Before jumping to this week's list of the most popular posts I need to say thank you again to everyone who supported Free Technology for Teachers throughout 2021. I couldn't keep this going without you! Thank you. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Best of 2021 - Interactive Checklists in Google Docs
2. Best of 2021 - Three Good Options for Annotating PDFs
3. Best of 2021 - 27 Videos That Can Help Students Improve Their Writing
4. Best of 2021 - How to Make Chrome Run Faster
5. Best of 2021 - Five Helpful PowerPoint Features You Might Be Overlooking
6. Best of 2021 - Fling the Teacher!
7. How to Modify & Share Canva Templates

Thank you for your support!
Your registrations in Practical Ed Tech courses (listed below) and purchases of my ebook help me keep Free Technology for Teachers going.

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 39,000 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. 
  • 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 and WayBetterSite. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

How to Blur Backgrounds in Flipgrid Videos

One of my favorite new things in 2021 was Flipgrid's addition of a background blurring tool. With this feature enabled everything behind you is heavily blurred when you're recording a video in Flipgrid. A related feature is the option to use virtual backgrounds in Flipgrid. The virtual background can be an image that you choose from Flipgrid's built-in image library or it can be an image that you upload from your computer. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to blur backgrounds in Flipgrid videos. 



Applications for Education
Blurring the background is a good way for students to protect the privacy of themselves and others when recording a video at home or in any other place away from your classroom.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Chrome, Canva, and Code - The Month in Review

Good evening from Maine where it is not only the end of the month, it's the end of the year! Here's to a better year in 2022! 

In December I released a new ebook titled 50 Tech Tuesday Tips. I created it with busy tech coaches and media specialists in mind. You can get a copy of it right here. In December I also hosted my annual Best of the Web webinar. The recording of that webinar can be seen here. I have ideas for more webinars and ebooks in 2022 so stay tuned for announcements about those. 

These were the month's most popular posts:
1. Google's Favorite Chrome Extensions of the Year
2. How to Modify & Share Canva Templates
3. Classroomscreen - Timers, Names, and Noise Meters
4. The Easiest Way to Add Narration to Google Slides
5. A New Way to Add Students to Flipgrid
6. Six Reasons to Try Tract for Remote & Hybrid Learning
7. Blackbird Code Offers Two New Self-paced Coding Lessons
8. How to Use Google Keep as a Comment Bank
9. A Platypus in My House! Fun and Learning Through Augmented Reality
10. 21 Activities and Lessons That Have a Winter Theme

Thank you for your support!
Your registrations in Practical Ed Tech courses (listed below) and purchases of my ebook help me keep Free Technology for Teachers going.

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 39,000 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. 
  • 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 and WayBetterSite. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

The Science of Fireworks

Today is New Year's Eve and while there aren't any fireworks displays planned for my little town, the nearby ski resort will have a little display. Fortunately, the display is planned early in the evening so my kids and I can see it without staying up past our bedtime. 

This is the first year that my kids will see fireworks in the winter.
If your kids are old enough to watch a fireworks display, they might have questions about how fireworks work. I know that my oldest daughter will definitely be curious about how they work. To refresh my memory I'm rewatching the following videos from NPR's SkunkBear, National Geographic, and Reactions to learn about the science of fireworks.





Thursday, December 30, 2021

Best of 2021 - See What's Behind Bitly and TinyURL Without Clicking

As I do every year, I'm taking this week as a break from publishing new blog posts and will be republishing some of the most popular posts of the year. Here's one from April.

Bitly is a handy URL shortener that I've used for many years. As a registered user I can create custom, shortened URLs that people can actually spell. I use these whenever I need to share a link to a Canva or Google Slides presentation because the default URLs provided by those services are always long and incoherent. 

Unfortunately, not all Bitly users are using them for good reasons. Some people use them to hide nefarious links. Fortunately, there is an easy way to quickly determine what's behind a Bitly URL without actually clicking on the link. The trick is to simply add a "+" to the end of any Bitly URL. When you add the "+" the URL will redirect to Bitly instead of to whatever the original URL was. That will then show you the Bitly page on which the shortened URL is hosted and will show you what the original link was. 

You can try this trick with a URL that I recently shortened. Bit.ly/THWTAPRIL will lead you directly to a copy of the slides that I used in my recent Intro to Teaching History With Technology webinar. Bit.ly/THWTAPRIL+ will lead you to the Bitly page where you can see my original presentation URL and see when I created the shortened URL. 

Watch this short video to see how you can use the "+" trick to find out what's hidden behind a Bitly link. 



If you want to try this with a TinyURL, tinyurl.com/emkns9a8 will lead you to the page for the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp, but adding a “+” at the end of that TinyURL will take you to the page where you can see the original link without clicking on it.

Here's a video overview of how to see what's behind a TinyURL without actually clicking on the link.



Applications for Education
Building good digital citizenship and cyber safety skills is something that all of us should be helping our students do. Showing them little tips like this one to avoid clicking on suspicious links is one of the ways that we can help our students build their digital citizenship and cyber safety skills.


This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission.