Tuesday, February 1, 2022

How to Add Watermarks to Google Docs

Late last year Google finally added a built-in option for adding watermarks to Google Documents. Unfortunately, that option only allowed you to use images as watermarks and the implementation of those watermarks was a bit clunky. Thankfully, last week Google added a new option for using text as the watermark in Google Documents. 

The new text-based watermark option in Google Docs will let you write things like "draft," "confidential," or anything else and apply it as the watermark to your document. What's also notable about this new option is that the watermark will stay with the document even if you export as  PDF or Word file. 

Watch this short video to see a demonstration of the two ways that you can now add watermarks to Google Documents. 

Applications for Education
My first thought when seeing this update was that special education teachers can now easily put a big "confidential" reminder on documents like IEPs before printing or emailing them to people who need to see them. Speaking of printing, remember that you can disable the option for collaborators to print and or download Google Documents that you share with them.

What is a MAC Address? - Here's a Concise Explanation

PowerCert Animated Videos offer clear and concise explanations of big concepts in computer hardware and networking. I referred to them fairly often when I was teaching an introduction to networking course last year. 

The latest PowerCert video is MAC Address Explained. As the title states, the video explains what a MAC address is, how it's written, where to find it, and its role in networking. The video also does a great job of explaining the key difference between MAC addresses and IP addresses. Finally, a quick explanation of ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) ties the key concepts of the video together. 

Applications for Education
Most readers of this blog will never need to know what MAC address is or how it fits into the networking process. However, it is nice to know and can helpful to know how to locate it if your IT administrator ever asks for it.

If you do teach networking, this video is one to bookmark and perhaps use as a review resource or video-based lesson in a tool like Edpuzzle.

I'll Host Your Next Tech Tuesday

Yesterday afternoon I hosted a webinar just for those who have purchased a copy of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips. Based on the response to that webinar I'll probably do another one like it later this year. Until then, I have a different offer for you. 

If you purchase ten or more copies of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips I'll host a custom, one hour webinar for your school or department within your school. The webinar can be about any of the topics within the book or I can cover some other topics of interest to you and your colleagues. To get started arranging a custom webinar for your school just send me a note at richard (at) byrne.media and we'll get the ball rolling. 

About the eBook:

50 Tech Tuesday Tips was curated from more than 400 editions of The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter 50 Tech Tuesday Tips provides you with ideas for lots of helpful things that you can teach to your colleagues and to students. Throughout the eBook you'll find tutorials and handouts that you can pass along in your school. 

Some of the many things you'll find in 50 Tech Tuesday Tips include:

  • What to do when a web app isn't working as you expect.
  • Building your own search engine.
  • How to create green screen videos.
  • Improving instructional videos. 
  • Streamlining email management.
  • Creating educational games. 
  • DIY app creation.
  • Podcasting tips for teachers and students. 

Get your copy of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips right here!

No, this ebook isn't free but the tools that feature within it is free to use. Creating something like this takes many, many hours but reading it can save you many, many hours. Purchases of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips make it possible for me to create other free resources like The Practical Ed Tech Handbook that I update and give away to thousands of teachers every year.

Monday, January 31, 2022

The Month in Review Featuring the Revival of Some Classics

Good evening from Maine where the sun has set on the month of January. I hope that the first month of the year was a good one for you and that all of your New Year's resolutions are still on track. 

The first month of the year saw the return or revival of some "classic" tools and topics in the world of educational technology. Wordle, something many of us remember as a Web 2.0 tool of the late 2000's, is now a game. ReadWriteThink brought back many of their popular student interactives this month. And QR codes are popular again. Take a look at the list of my most popular posts of the month to learn more about all of those things. 

Thank you to the advertisers that helped keep the lights on this month. If you haven't tried Volley, Lumio, or TinyTap, give them a look and tell them I sent you. 

These were the most popular posts of the month:
1. Read Aloud in Edge and Other Immersive Reader Uses 
10. ReadWriteThink Interactives Now Work Without Flash!

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 DevelopmentOther 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 fifteen 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.

Build Talk or Type Educational Games on TinyTap

Disclosure: TinyTap is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Throughout January I wrote about creating your own educational games with TinyTap’s web-based game creation tool. I’ve covered creating a basic identification game, making your games look good, and making puzzle games. To end the month, I’m going to dive into making a game that doesn’t rely on students tapping objects or dragging objects.

Talk or Type is a TinyTap game format that you can use to create educational games in which students provide input by typing or speaking in response to game prompts. This can be a great way to develop a game that involves cloze activities (AKA fill-in-the-blank), spelling games, and identification games. In fact, I’ll do all three of those things in the game that I’m creating today.

Creating a Talk or Type Game
The first thing that you need to know about creating a Talk or Type game is that in the web-based version of TinyTap’s game creator you can only use the Type mode. The Talk mode is supported on the iPad version. With that caveat out of the way, let’s start creating a game with TinyTap’s web-based game creator.

Like any other TinyTap game, the first step is to choose a topic for the game then build a title slide (watch this video or read this post for an overview of those steps). My game is going to be about woodland animals of North America. In the game I’ll have students spell some words, complete some sentences, and identify some animals.

For the first activity in my game about woodland animals of North America I’m going to have students write a response to the prompt, “what is the plural form of moose?” To create this activity I built a slide that has a picture of a moose on it (that’s easy to do thanks to the built-in image search in TinyTap). After adding the moose picture to the slide I then clicked on “Set Activity” and chose “Talk or Type.” Once I chose the activity type I was able to use the tracing tool to draw a text box next to the moose. It’s in that box that students will type their responses to my prompt.
After drawing the text box I then used the edit button (pencil icon on the tracing tool) to record an audio hint and enter the correct response. Finally, I recorded an audio prompt with my question, “what is the plural form of moose?” It is critically important to add an audio prompt because without it students won’t know what you want them to type. The audio recording tool is found when you click on the options (gear icon) on the Talk or Type editor. That’s where I recorded myself saying, “what is the plural form of moose?” See my screenshot below for clarification on where to find the audio recording tools for hints and prompts.
At this point it is a good idea to preview the game as students would see it. In the preview mode we’ll hear the recorded prompt and see the text box appear. We’ll also be able to enter an answer in the text box. Simply click the play icon to preview any game that you’re editing.
The first activity in my game asked students to simply type a response to my question. In the next activity I’m going to have students fill in the blank in a sentence that I’ve written on a slide. To do that I’ll use the same process as before but instead of drawing a text box next to the moose, I’ll draw a text box in the gap in a sentence that I type. Once the text box was drawn I simply repeated the steps I used in making the previous slide. I found that it was important to choose a font size and spacing that allows you to draw a text box without covering other parts of the sentence. Using the game preview is helpful in making sure the text box doesn’t cover any other parts of the sentence.
For the third activity in my game about woodland creatures of North America I’m going to ask students which of the animals pictured on a slide hibernate in the winter. The identification will be done by typing their answers into a text box at the top of the slide. To make this slide I’ll simply use the same style as my previous slides and utilize the integrated image search to find an image of a bear to go along with the image of the moose. Then I’ll select Talk or Type as my activity and draw a text box. Finally, I’ll record myself asking the question, “which of these animals hibernates in the winter?” Because students might type “bear” or “the bear” I’ll include both of those options in my answer key. That is done by putting a comma between the acceptable correct answers. In this case my answer key is written as bear, the bear. See my screenshot below for clarification.
More Ways to Use Talk or Type Games
In the game that I made today students entered one or two word answers, but you could create a game in which they have to write longer responses. For example, you could create a Jeopardy-style game in which they have to phrase their responses in the form of a question.

You can use TinyTap to create a game in which students simply listen to you say a word and they have to then spell it correctly. That’s easy to do because by default spelling counts in TinyTap Talk or Type games.

Even though I focused on games in which students write words, that doesn’t mean you can’t use TinyTap Talk or Type to create math games. Just take a look at this Christmas math game or this Count and Type game to see how the Talk or Type format can be used to develop fun math games for kids.

Try making a Talk or Type game on TinyTap today. It’s free to get started. And speaking of getting started, I created this new tutorial video to demonstrate everything that’s in this blog post.