Monday, April 25, 2022

How to Create an Online Course With ConvertKit

A couple of weeks ago I published a video and blog post about how to create a professional development series in Gmail. The method that I outlined in that post works well if you use Gmail, use Google Forms, and aren't particularly interested in the aesthetics of what you publish. But if you don't use Gmail and or you want to create an email-based course that looks nicer than the standard options in Google Workspace, then ConvertKit could be a good option for you. 

ConvertKit is an email management tool that you can use for free (up to 1,000 contacts in your database) to create and distribute an email-based course. As you'll see in my video that is embedded below, ConvertKit provides great sign-up page templates and tools for sending automatically personalized emails to participants in your course.

Watch this short video to see a demonstration of how to create an online course by using ConvertKit's free plan.

Applications for Education
Using ConvertKit could be a great way to create a series of emails that contain directions on how to use features of new software that your school is implementing over the summer for the next school year. The series might start with the basics and then each subsequent email would build upon that. Each email could contain a written overview, a video overview, and a "do now" practice activity. One of the nice things about ConvertKit is that you can see which recipients have opened your emails and which ones haven't. You can then resend the messages to those who have not opened the messages the first time you sent them.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

More Adobe Spark Alternatives

The Best Adobe Spark Alternative was one of last week's most popular posts here on Free Technology for Teachers. The alternative that I recommended in that post was Adobe Creative Cloud Express which is the new name for Adobe Spark. If you're looking for other alternatives to Adobe Spark for creating audio slideshow videos, here are a few options to consider. 

Before you jump to the list of alternatives, here are some things to consider when you have students create audio slideshow videos. 

Canva offers two ways for students to create audio slideshow videos. The first way is to simply put together a series of slides and then select a soundtrack to play in the background. That process is demonstrated here. The other method is to use Canva's full video editor to add narration an custom timings to an audio slideshow video. That process is demonstrated in this video.

Microsoft Photos

Microsoft Photos includes a video creation tool for making short audio slideshow-style videos. You'll find this by just opening the native photos app in Windows 10. Within the editor there are tools for adding animated effects to still images, insert your existing video clips into a video project, and tools for adding audio to your video. There's also a great option to search for Creative Commons licensed images and insert them directly into your video project. The best part of that feature is that attribution information is automatically added onto the images you choose through the built-in search tool. In this video I provide a demonstration of how to create a video in Microsoft Photos in Windows 10.


Phideo is a relatively new online tool for creating audio slideshow videos. Registration is not required in order to use Phideo. Simply go to the site and upload the images that you want to use in your video. You can rearrange the image sequence after uploading your images. Phideo provides a library of audio tracks that you can use as background music in your videos. Alternatively, you can upload your own audio files (just remember to be mindful of copyright restrictions). All of the Phideo video creation options are demonstrated in my tutorial video about it.

One Simple Tool Streamlined My Appointment Scheduling Process

For as long as it has been available I've used appointment slots in Google Calendar when scheduling meetings with colleagues and or students. That works very well when everyone is in the same Google Workspace domain, but it gets a little quirky when you try to use it with people who are outside of your domain. 

Earlier this month I started to experience the shortcomings of Google Calendar appointment slots when I was scheduling a bunch of meetings with companies who will be announcing new things during the ISTE conference in June. The solution to my problems was to start using Calendly

In Calendly I was able to create a calendar of my meeting availability and let people click on it to book meetings with me. People can book meetings with any email account they want to use. I connected my Zoom account to my Calendly account so that a Zoom meeting is automatically created and scheduled when someone books a meeting. Additionally, I linked Calendly to Google Calendar so that all meetings appear on my Google Calendar as well as in my Calendly calendar. (Calendly can also be used with Outlook and Teams). 

I'm using Calendly's free plan (shocker, I know). There are paid plans that give you more features like the ability to create multiple meeting types, but that would probably just add confusion back into my scheduling process. 

Applications for Education
Appointment slots in Google Calendar is great if you only need to schedule appointments with colleagues and students who are within your Google Workspace domain. But if you need an appointment scheduling tool to use with people who aren't a part of your domain, Calendly is a great tool for that.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Snow, Turtles, and Maps - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the sun is shining, the grass is starting to turn green, and spring feels like it's here to stay. It didn't feel that way a few days ago when we had snow the day after a beautiful Patriots' Day Monday during which I saw turtles sunning themselves for the first time this year. We hope to see some more turtles today when we go for a little hike. I hope that you have something fun to do this weekend too. 

This week I didn't host any new webinars, but I did work on developing some new materials that I'll be sharing as part of professional development workshops and webinars this summer. If you'd like to have me run a workshop or webinar for your school this summer, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at)

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Ten Fun Things for Students to Map
2. It's Patriots' Day! Resources for Learning About the Start of the American Revolution
3. Three Good Tools for Creating Infographics
4. The Best Adobe Spark Alternative
5. Expeditions Pro - Guide Students on Virtual Reality Tours
6. How to Mirror an Android Phone to a PC or Mac
7. How to Record a Google Earth Tour in Your Web Browser

Summer Workshops for Your School!
I'm going back on the road this summer to host professional development workshops in-person! If you'd like to have me come to your school, please get in touch with me soon.

Spring and Summer Webinars
I conduct professional development webinars throughout the year. I'll host a free one-hour webinar for any school or group that purchases ten or more copies of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips.

On-demand Professional Development
Thanks to This Month's Banner Advertisers!
  • Kikori App offers a huge library of SEL activities for all ages. 
  • WriteReader is a great tool for multimedia writing. 
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 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. 
  • 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 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.

New Chrome Web Store Badges Might Help You Pick Better Extensions

Earlier this week Google announced a new badge program for developers who make Chrome extensions. The program is supposed to make it easier for end-users like you and me to identify extensions that have been created by developers who adhere to Google's standards of best practices and whose identities have been verified. 

There are actually two different badges that Google is giving to developers of Chrome extensions. The first is the featured badge. That badge seems to be reserved for developers who adhere to all best practice guidelines including privacy, user experience, and clarity of listing page. The second badge is the established publisher badge. That badge is for developers who have gone through Google's identity verification process. 

It appears that the purpose of these new badges is to make it easier to identify the more or less trustworthy Chrome extensions. That said, the cynic in me now wonders why Google hasn't required identity verification for developers all along.  

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