Friday, February 17, 2023

An Overview of Microsoft's Search Coach

Last summer Microsoft announced a new Teams product that would be rolling to education users over the coming school year. That product is called Search Coach and it appears to now be widely available to all Microsoft Teams education users

As its name implies, Search Coach in Microsoft Teams provides students with tips to improve their search methods. The tips provided are based on students' search behaviors. 

There's more to Search Coach than just providing search tips to students. Teachers can use Search Coach to get insight into their students' search behaviors. The insights provided to teachers include number of searches attempted, links opened, and search terms used. 

Another notable aspect of Search Coach is the ability to restrict search results according to domain type, file type, and date. Teachers can also enable restrictions on search operators. 

Mike Tholfsen recently published a detailed video overview of all aspects of Search Coach. You can watch his video here or as embedded below. 

Applications for Education
Microsoft currently offers a half-dozen lesson plans that incorporate the use of Search Coach.

I think Search Coach could be a valuable tool for coaching students through the search process. That said, I'm afraid that some people might use it as a tool to simply block students' access to some parts of the Internet without teaching them how to improve their search behaviour. But the same could be said for just about any web filtering tools.

If you're interested in learning even more about search and teaching search there are two resources I recommend. First, Dan Russell's The Joy of Search should be in every school's library of resources for teachers. Second, I offer a self-paced course on search strategies students need to know.

Q&A With Two Ed Tech Guys

Three years ago Rushton Hurley and I started a series of live Q&A webinars titled Two EdTech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. While we've stopped hosting live webinars, we are still answering lots of questions and still sharing cool stuff. Now we're doing that in a recorded format. The first episode of the recorded series is now available to view right here and as embedded below. 

In the episode we tackled questions about ChatGPT and educational games. We also shared a cool thing from our pal Tony Vincent and took a look at "Uber for tractors." You can find all of the resources from all of the episodes of the series right here on Next Vista for Learning

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Three Good Tools for Recording Brainstorming Sessions

Earlier this week on Practical Ed Tech I published an article about using the Nominal Group Technique for classroom brainstorming sessions. What follows is an excerpt from that article. 

Even if you host your NGT brainstorming sessions in person, you’ll want to create a record of the ideas shared by students. Here are some tools that you can use to have students share their ideas with the group and create a record of those ideas. 

Post-it Mobile Apps
The Post-it mobile apps for Android and iOS let you take a picture of physical sticky notes and then sort them on a digital canvas. This is a great tool for those who want to use the traditional paper-based method of having students write notes on paper and then post them to a bulletin board for review by the whole class. 

Padlet is a tool that I’ve been using for more than a decade. It enables you to create a digital bulletin board or cork board to which your students can add digital sticky notes. Their notes can include text, pictures, video, and audio files. If you enable the options for it, you can let your students indicate which notes are their favorites by using little stars and thumbs-up icons. Watch this video for an overview of hosting brainstorming sessions on Padlet.

The whiteboard templates in Canva are intended to be used collaboratively. They can be used for a variety of purposes including hosting brainstorming sessions, designing flowcharts, and making KWL charts. To help you and your collaborators focus on the task at hand, Canva has added a timer option to the whiteboard templates. The timer is found in the bottom, left corner of the templates. You can set the timer of any interval that works for your group. Watch the following video to learn how to use Canva's whiteboard templates.

Writing With Emojis

Yesterday I wrote about Tony Vincent's new page of free Shapegrams. As I mentioned in that post, Tony has always had great ideas for using clever graphics in the classroom. In fact, five years ago Tony Tweeted a slick graphic that convinced me to pay more attention to the clever used of emojis. 

In the graphic seen here Tony created a game in which students have to decipher school terms based on the emojis displayed. If you want to do a similar thing, you could do so in Google Docs, Word, or with Brush Ninja. Tutorials for all three of those options are embedded below. 

How to Add Emojis to Your Word Documents

How to Use Inline Emojis in Google Docs

Make Animated GIFs, Emoji Art, and More with Brush Ninja

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Free Shapegrams from Tony Vincent!

I've known Tony Vincent for at least a dozen years. In all that time he's always had awesome graphics on his website and in his presentations. So when he recently reached out to tell me about his new page of free Shapegrams, I knew I had to share it with all of you. 

Shapegrams are digital drawings creating by using the drawing tools, shapes, and fill tools available in Google Slides and Google Drawings. On his free Shapegrams page Tony offers directions and templates for making a house, a face, an ice cream cone, and a lion. But I noticed that once I started looking into the templates I got more ideas for making neat things with the Shapegrams model. 

Watch this video for an overview of how to use the Shapegrams model to create a house. And if you like Dad Jokes, you're going to love Tony's introduction to the lesson. 

Applications for Education
Students can use the Shapegrams model to create a set of slides to tell a story or to simply serve as the backdrop for a story. If you use the transitions and animations tools in Google Slides, you could make your Shapegrams move as a part of a simple animated story.

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