Sunday, June 12, 2022

Screencasting on Chromebooks - Built-in Tool vs. Third-party Tools

Last week Google introduced a new screencasting tool for Chromebooks. Besides being a built-in part of Chrome OS the screencasting tool has some nice features for teachers and students. Those features include automatic transcription creation and ease of sharing with students and colleagues. So that might make you wonder why you would want to use anything else to create a screencast on your Chromebook. Here's a brief overview of a few tools for creating screencasts on your Chromebook. 

Chrome OS Built-in Recorder
The obvious benefit of using the built-in recorder is that you don't have install any third-party extensions. Additionally, your recordings automatically save to your Google Drive. And because the video is saved in your Google account, it is incredibly easy to share your videos with your students. The best aspect of the built-in Chrome OS screencasting tool is that your video is automatically transcribed for you and your students can have that transcript translated into the language of their choice. 

The shortcomings of the Chrome OS screencast recorder are the limited drawing tools and limited editing tools. It will probably get better in time, but right now it doesn't have nearly as many drawing and editing options as other screencasting tools like Screencastify and Loom. 

Screencastify was one of the first screencasting tools developed specifically for Chromebooks (it should be noted that it can work on any computer running the Chrome web browser). Over the years it has improved in leaps and bounds. Today, Screencastify offers more than just a tool for recording a video of your screen. It offers a complete video editing platform. 

With Screencastify you can record your screen, use a wide variety of drawing and zoom tools, and edit your recordings in your web browser. Recordings can be automatically saved to your Google Drive account, downloaded as MP4 files, and shared to other services including Google Classroom, YouTube, and EDpuzzle. 

The editing tools in Screencastify include cropping, splitting, and merging clips. It also provides tools for blurring faces and objects in your videos. Finally, you can use Screencastify to build must-answer questions into your videos before you share them with your students. 

Loom is a popular screencasting tool partly because they offer a generous list of free features for teachers and because those features work really well. Perhaps my favorite of those features is the ability to record a screencast directly from your Gmail inbox or from anywhere else in your Chrome browser. Loom also offers automatic transcript generation, viewing insights (get notifications when people watch your videos), and a tool for suppressing background noise in your recordings

Like Screencastify, Loom lets you download your recordings and share your videos to variety of places including YouTube. 

Although it's known for it, Flipgrid does offer a convenient screencast recording tool. It doesn't include a capability to draw on the screen while recording, but it is easy to use and easy to share your recordings with your students.  You can also combine a screencast with a simple webcam video or whiteboard video that you make in Flipgrid. If you want to know more about Flipgrid's other uses, take a look at this playlist of videos

How to Embed Full Page Content Into Google Sites

The design options in Google Sites have come a long way in the last decade. In the early days Google Sites had lots of functionality, but little in the way of design options. Today, there are not only lots of great themes and templates, there are also many ways to customize the layout of every page within a website made with Google Sites. Embedding full page content is one design option that was recently added to Google Sites. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to embed full page content into Google Sites. This is a great option for displaying Google Docs, Slides, and videos on a page without displaying the footer or banner header on the page. Watch the video to see how it looks. 

Applications for Education
Even if you use Google Classroom and provide parent access, there is still a good argument to be made for using Google Sites. By creating a classroom website with Google Sites you can have a place where parents can quickly and easily find information like lunch menus, calendars, course information, and materials lists. Having a classroom website is also a good way to share highlights of what's going on in your classroom. For example, you could display an image carousel in Google Sites to display pictures of students' projects or highlights of the school year.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Bicycles, Chrome, and Science - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the sun is shining and it's going to be a nice day for outdoor play. Earlier this week we rode our bikes to a little public field near our house and found a bunch of wild strawberries. My daughters want to go back and look for more strawberries so that's probably what we'll do after breakfast. I hope that you have something equally fun to do this weekend. 

Speaking of bikes, last Friday was World Bicycle Day and my blog post about was the most popular thing that I've published in the last week. That post and others are included below. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Lessons for World Bicycle Day
2. Five Great Chrome Extensions for Teachers
3. A TED-Ed Lesson for Every Element on the Periodic Table
4. Ten Ways to Use Adobe Creative Cloud Express in School
5. Five Fun Science Games for Kids
6. A Lesson About Money for Students Getting Summer Jobs
7. How to Record Screencasts on Chromebooks Without Extensions

Webinars for Your School
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.

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 41,000 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.

45 Canva Tutorials for Teachers and Students

Aside from Google Workspace, Canva is the tool that I've published the most tutorials about on my YouTube channel. In fact, with the publication of my latest video I've now published 45 tutorials about using Canva's many features for making videos, presentations, timelines, posters, greeting cards, worksheets, and many other graphics. This morning I finally put all of those tutorials together in one playlist. 

You can find my new Canva tutorials playlist right here. A handful of highlights from the playlist have been embedded below. 

How to Create a Video With Canva

How to Create an Audio Slideshow Video in Canva

How to Import PowerPoint Slides into Canva

Friday, June 10, 2022

How to Add Narration to Canva Presentations

Earlier this week I published a video titled What's the Best Way to Share Tech Tips With Staff? That video was based on my blog post about newsletters, blogs, and social media for tech coaches. One astute viewer noticed that I used a slightly different format for that video than I usually use. That's because I recorded the entire video in Canva. After I explained that he wanted to know if the same thing could be done without including a webcam view. Yes, you can record a video in Canva without enabling your webcam. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to add narration to a Canva presentation by using the built-in recording tools. 

Applications for Education
Recording voiceover narration for your presentations is easy to do in Canva. It can be a good way to make a short video lesson. I should emphasize short! If you try to make a video longer than about a minute that is just your slides and your voice, you will probably bore your students to tears. So if you're recording for more than a minute, turn on your webcam and include your face in your video lesson.

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