Tuesday, April 26, 2022

A New PowerPoint Recording Option

For a couple of years now I've been using and recommending Canva's presentation recording tool because it has a built-in teleprompter. That feature lets you record your video while viewing your speaker notes, but the speaker notes don't appear in the final recording. The latest version of PowerPoint now includes that same capability. 

Mike Tholfsen recently published this new video in which he demonstrates how to use the updated built-in recording tool in PowerPoint. In the video you'll see him demonstrate how to use the teleprompter mode when recording a video in PowerPoint. In the video he also demonstrates how to blur backgrounds when recording. Finally, make sure you watch to the end of the video to learn how to export the video and how to make quick edits to your recording. 

The new features that Mike demonstrated in the video are currently available to Office 365 Insiders. If you're not an Insider, you'll have to join me in waiting for these features to appear in PowerPoint. In the meantime, you can use the current version of PowerPoint's recording tool as well as a handful of other helpful but often overlooked PowerPoint features.

Five Videos to Build a Google Forms Course

Yesterday I published a blog post about creating an online course with ConvertKit. A couple of weeks ago I published a blog post about building a professional development course and distributing it via Gmail. In those posts I gave the example of distributing a series of tutorial videos about topics like using Google Forms. If you want to try either of the methods mentioned in those blog posts to create a little PD series for your staff, here are five videos about Google Forms that you could use in that series. 

To build a course with these videos you'd just need to add some descriptions and a "do now" practice activity to follow each video. 

How to Require Complete Sentences in Google Forms

Monday, April 25, 2022

Three Great Ways to Create Online Exit Ticket Activities

This morning I received a question from a reader of my Practical Ed Tech Newsletter. She wanted to know what I would suggest as an alternative to Google Forms and Google Classroom for conducting exit ticket activities in her biology class. I quickly replied with three options that I really like. 

The first option that came to my mind was Ziplet. Formative was the second option that I thought of. And the third option was a PowerPoint add-in called ClassPoint. All three of those free tools are demonstrated in this new video

Learn more about Ziplet, Formative, and ClassPoint in the following blog posts:

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.