Saturday, March 19, 2022

Chrome, Cookies, and Canva - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where a steady rain is washing away the last of snow that is in my yard. We're heading into the time of year in Maine that is affectionately referred to as mud season. It's going to be a good day for catching up on some indoor projects and perhaps making some more cookies with my daughters. We had a great time decorating and eating some on St. Patrick's Day and I believe we still have a bit of dough in freezer. Whatever the weather where you live, I hope you do something fun this weekend!

This week I announced a new Practical Ed Tech webinar that will be held next Tuesday. It's all about how to create and sell your own digital products. If you've been thinking about doing this yourself, you don't want to miss this webinar in which I'll share the lessons I've learned from doing it for the last decade. Learn more and register here!

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Five Chrome Settings You Need to Know
2. Readlee - Know How Your Students Read Online Assignments
3. ICYMI - Two EdTech Guys Take Questions - Webinar Recording
4. My Five Favorite Canva Features
5. An Interactive Map of Surnames in Ireland
6. Watch Me Unravel an Email Scam
7. Why You're Seeing More of My Face

Thank you for your support!
Your registrations in Practical Ed Tech courses and purchases of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips help me keep Free Technology for Teachers going. Purchase ten or more copies of my ebook and I'll host a free one-hour webinar for your school or organization. 

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 40,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fifteen years. 
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This post originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include Icons Daily and Daily Dose. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

A Lesson About Gas

Whenever I fill up my car's gas tank I'm thankful that I don't have a car that requires high octane gasoline. What is high octane gasoline anyway? Is is really significantly better than regular unleaded gasoline? And why is gasoline "unleaded?" Those questions and more are answered in this relatively new Reactions video

Applications for Education
Over the years I've had lots of students who were aspiring mechanics. One that I had last year was always moaning about how his car could only run on high octane gasoline and that it was so expensive. A video like this one could help those students understand how gasoline is actually produced and how the octane rating is measured.

On a related note, here are some good tools for annotating videos.

Friday, March 18, 2022

A Short Overview of the Wayback Machine

In yesterday's blog post about unraveling an email scam I mentioned that I used the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine as a part of that process. The Wayback Machine is a useful tool for finding out what a website looked like a given point in time over the last 25 years. 

The Wayback Machine can be useful in attempting to verify the citation of a webpage in an academic work. As is demonstrated in my video embedded below, you can use the Wayback Machine to see how a website looked and read the text of pages as they were originally published.

On of the ways I've used the Wayback Machine in history classes is to have look at how major news websites reported on significant events in late 20th Century and early 21st Century. Not only does the Wayback Machine show you the text, it may also show you images that may have since been removed. 

You can seen an overview of how the Wayback Machine works by watching this short video that I recorded a handful of years ago.

What Happened in 2008? - A Crash Course in Economics

In researching for Wednesday's post about inflation I ran across one of my old posts about Crash Course Economics. Within that thirty-six part course there is a video all about the 2008 financial crisis caused by the collapse of the housing market

How it Happened - The 2008 Financial Crisis: Crash Course Economics #12 does a great job of explaining what a mortgage is and why banks will sell mortgages to other banks. From there the lesson progresses to explain what mortgage-backed securities are and why they became popular investments in the mid 2000's. Critically, the video explains why mortgage-backed securities became riskier as the requirements to get mortgages became less stringent. 

After teaching what caused the 2008 Financial Crisis the video goes on to explain what the government did to bail out some banks and attempt to stabilize the economy. The video also explains some of the regulations and laws that have been passed since 2008 to try to prevent a repeat of the conditions that created the financial crisis in 2008. 

Applications for Education
The 2008 financial crisis is a historical event (recent historical event) in the minds of current high school students. Some of them may have heard their parents reference it. This video does a solid job of explaining what caused it and what changed because of it. After watching the video I might assign some of these articles from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis for my students to read to learn more about factors contributing to the crisis. 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Watch Me Unravel an Email Scam

As you know, I am a huge advocate for teaching students and teachers to respect copyright. To that end I always advocate for using your own media or media that is in the public domain whenever possible. So when an email with the subject line "DMCA Copyright Infringement Notice" landed in my inbox this morning, I immediately opened it. It turned out to be the second attempt by the same person to scam/ threaten me into linking to a website. 

I outlined the basics of a similar scam a couple of years ago. In short, the person emails you to say that you are using an image in violation of their copyright or that of someone they represent (in this case the person was claiming to be an attorney). They then say that you have to link to a particular website within seven days or they will pursue some kind of legal action. 

I was in a particularly bad mood this morning when I received this email so I decided to fight fire with fire. I did a little research on the person who claimed to be an attorney and then told her to get lost! If you're interested in the whole process that I went through, here's the video I made to explain it

In the video you'll see me do the following:

  • Identify the fairly obvious red flags in the email.
  • Show the original image as found here on Pixabay. 
  • Conduct an email trace (this video shows you all the steps). 
  • Uncover that the "law firm" doesn't actually exist. 
  • Discover that the "attorney" probably isn't even a real person. 
  • Conduct a WHOIS look up. 
  • Use the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to view changes in a website.

Applications for Education
If you maintain a website for your classroom, school, or extracurricular club, this is a scam that you might land in your inbox one day. I see it a few times a year and usually just trash the email without a second thought. Today, I was in a particularly grumpy mood and decided to try to turn this scam into a lesson. 

Resources on Copyright