UPDATE: Google Meets Remote Learning Improvements

Teachers have been scrambling over the last week or so to figure out how to connect with and instruct their students during extended school closures. One of the first questions that many seeked to answer was “How can I do a synchronous video chat or lesson with my students?”

People rushed to test out Google Meet (formerly Google Hangouts), but red flags appeared quickly:

  1. Students were able to mute classmates in the meeting.
  2. Students were able to kick classmates out of the meeting.
  3. Students were able to access the meetings later, without the teacher’s “supervision” to continue chatting (Jake’s note: I’m not sure this is a bad thing.  They do this in our hallways and playgrounds, right?)

Well, Google for Education has reacted swiftly and effectively.  Last night, they released an update to Google Meet for gSuiteEdu users.  This update remedies the 3 issues listed above.

In my tests so far today, #1 and #2 above are already fixedIssue #3, however, still persisted in my test and it looks like it’s because that part of the rollout won’t be quite as swift (the post lists that it may take as long as 2 weeks to roll out to everyone).

Don’t come down to hard on ol’ Google here

I have already seen some “too little, too late” comments on Twitter about this. I do NOT agree with that.

First off, if you switched to Zoom because of this issue with Google Meet, there’s no reason to switch back to Meet.  You’ve got a solution that is working for you.  Just stick with it.  Don’t ask your students to learn a new platform.

Now, if you want to say “You were too late on this, Google!” slow. your. roll. Like every other tech tool that we’re using, Google Meet was not built for synchronous remote video lessons. They could’ve easily said “too bad, That’s not the intended use of Google Meet,” but instead they said “We’ll fix that for you.”

And not only that, but they went from becoming aware of the problem to fixing the problem within 1 week.  1 week!  That’s tremendous.

Not only is that the kind of proactive, growth mindset, seeing a problem and fixing it mentality that we want our tech companies to have, it’s the kind of mentality that we want our teachers and students to have!

Think about that: they tried something out (essentially, a beta, as they call it in the tech world or a pre-assessment as we may call it in education), observed a flaw, listened to feedback and put improvements in place.  In the classroom, we call that formative assessment.  In the landscape of remote learning?  We call that awesome.

#EduDuctTape Episode 39, Part 2: Remote Learning!

In the 2nd part of episode 17 of Season 2, I continue my focus on the use of technology for #RemoteLearning, #HomeLearning or #DistanceLearning in the age of school closures for the coronavirus (covid-19).  Multiple guests share their advice for formatively assessing students in these scenarios. Tools discussed include Quizizz, Zoom, Google Forms, Google Classroom, Screencastify, Edulastic, EdPuzzle, PearDeck, and Formative. Also, my son Cohen joins to show off his comedy chops.

See the Show Notes Here

#EduDuctTape Episode 39, Part 1: Remote Learning!

New Episode graphic. Contains same information from text below, along with the podcast logo.

The 17th episode of Season 2 is the 1st part of a special episode focusing on the use of technology for #RemoteLearning or #DistanceLearning in the age of school closures for the coronavirus (covid-19).  Multiple guests share their advice for using live, synchronous video in these circumstances. We discuss StreamYard, OBS, Zoom, Google Meet, Screencastify and Flipgrid.

See the Show Notes Here

Slides Timer Extension

Two and a half years ago, I made an #EduGIF about adding timers to Google Slides using YouTube Videos and posted it on my site. Well, it’s time to introduce a new option.

Clay Smith is an educator in New York City. He’s also a talented coder. And that coding talent extends to gSuite Add-Ons and Chrome Extensions.  The newest in his repertoire of projects is Slides Timer, an extension that makes certain text placeholders in Google Slides text boxes come to life as timers when in present mode.

As Clay’s site explains, the extension accepts 3 different placeholders:

  • <<5:00->> will count down starting at 5 minutes.
  • <<2:00+>> will count up starting at 2 minutes
  • <<time>> will display the current time in AMPM format

Judging by the feedback form on Clay’s site, I’ll guess that this extension is still a work in progress. There are a few things that I’d change, if I could, but it’s already an awesome option as it is!

Check it out in the #EduGIF below!

Animation shows the use of Clay's Slides Timer Extension in action.
Pausable version of this #EduGIF available here: youtube.com/watch?v=16iqS5cWVZ0

#EduDuctTape Episode 38!

Image shows a picture of Joe and Kristin Merrill, guests on this podcast episode.

In the 16th episode of Season 2, I am joined by Joe & Kristin Merrill, 1st & 4th grade educators & authors of The InterACTIVE Class, to talk about making our classrooms and our students’ learning experiences InterACTIVE.  We discuss Apple Clips, Buncee, Seesaw, BookCreator & Flipgrid. Also, a game of edtech BFF!

See the Show Notes Here

“Interactive Learning is learning that is responsive and relevant, that engages students.”
Graphic created by Matt Meyer @54Mr_Meyer

 

Video by David Allan (@_david_allan)

#EduDuctTape Live Mini 009: Missy Paden

In the 9th mini-episode, 1st-grade teacher Missy Paden and I reflect on the first iteration of the Educational Duct Tape Workshop along with Missy’s goal of using Choice Boards, her experiences with using tech in the primary grades, and her growth and excitement around #edtech in her 18th year in the classroom.

Images shows a picture of Jake & Missy together, along with a title for the episode.Note: For the foreseeable future, mini-episodes, recorded live and on-location at a conference or event, will come out every other Wednesday morning.

Show Notes available here.

 

 

Audio in the Classroom!

This is a sponsored post. All opinions and ideas (unless otherwise cited), however, are my own.

It seems like we are in a renaissance period for audio. Despite the dominance of videos and pictures (hello, TikTok, SnapChat and Instagram…), people are increasingly turning to audio for communication, learning, sharing and entertainment.

Podcast listenership continues to grow (some stats here and here), audio tools like Voxer are becoming increasingly popular for PLNs, educators freaked out when the addition of audio in Google Slides was delayed last spring and, lastly, “podcasting in the classroom” sessions at education conferences are becoming increasingly prevalent.

So, how can you use it in your classroom?  Before we get to that, let’s talk about how to create the audio files.

Audio Recording Options

There are lots of options out there, all of which have pros and cons.  I’ve discussed some on my podcast (here and here) and other educators have shared about options on their blogs (Eric Curts, John Sowash). As long as you identify your goal and think through the pros and cons, you’ll probably have multiple options to choose from.

One thing that I like to consider when selecting a tech tool for a new endeavor is: Do we already use a tool that can also do this effectively? Not only does that reduce the learning curve, but it means that we’re potentially connecting our students’ login and information with 1 less app or website.

If you like that line of thinking, Screencastify may be the option for you when it comes to audio in the classroom!  Did you realize that you could export Screencastify recordings as mp3 audio files? Check it out!

This animation shows the process of recording with Screencastify and then exporting the recording as an audio file.
Pausable version of this #EduGIF available here.

If you’re already using the tool in your classroom for screencasts and other video projects, it might be a great option for you.  This is available in the FREE version of the app.  Your files are limited to 5 minutes in length, but you can record as many videos (or, in this case, audio files) as you’d like.  The paid version provides unlimited video (or audio file) lengths.

21 Uses of Audio in the Classroom!

Continue reading Audio in the Classroom!

#EduDuctTape Live Mini 008: Christina Florence

My 8th mini-episode features an interview with high school science teacher Christina Florence from the #TeachBetter19 Conference in November 2019. Christina shares about her plans to start using Scratch in her Anatomy, Biology, Chemistry and Biology 2 courses to creatively represent scientific concepts.

Image shows a picture of Jake and Christina, the podcast logo and this episode's titleNote: For the foreseeable future, mini-episodes, recorded live and on-location at a conference or event, will come out every other Wednesday morning.

Show Notes available here.

 

 

My Moment? June 1, 2018.

We all have moments where we realize that we just might be able to do something bigger than we ever thought possible.

I’ve had many of those. I want to zero in on a specific set, though.

The first came on May 8, 2018 when Danieta Morgan, then the Deputy Director of Instructional Systems for New Visions for Public Schools, now a K12 Google for Education Program Manager, sent me an email.  I didn’t know Danieta at the time, but I knew New Visions.  I had been using their Google for Education (now known as gSuite for Education) Add-Ons, Extensions and Scripts for years!

Apparently they knew me too, because Danieta was emailing to invite me to speak at their 5th annual New Visions Innovation Throw Down! I was so honored! Danieta told me that the event would be at Google’s New York City headquarters and that they would be willing to have me connect via Google Hangouts to present.

Take a moment to let that sink in. They would be at Google’s New York City Offices.  I would be in Ohio. I could use Google Hangouts to present remotely.

I sent Danieta the obvious response: “The only way that this opportunity could be more exciting as [sic] if it actually involves me going to the Google headquarters! :-)”

Her response? “If you were able to get to NYC, that’s exactly what it would be!! ;-)”

Well, you can guess what came next.  I had to convince my wife that this was a necessary trip.  I had to get permission from my school.

Less than a month later, I was on a plane to New York City.

Remember my first sentence? We all have moments where we realize that we just might be able to do something bigger than we ever thought possible.  June 1st, 2018.  I stepped onto a stage at Google’s NYC offices.

There was a series of talks, each in an Ignite format, which means that I had 5 minutes to cover 20 slides that auto-advanced every 15 seconds.  Yup, I flew to NYC to present for 5 minutes.  And it was worth every minute of it.

I had never done this talk and I haven’t done it since. It was special for this event because it focused on New Vision Cloud Lab’s tools.  But it wasn’t just special for this event.  It was special for me.  Here’s a video of it:

Tech Tools for Connecting with Parents & Families

Education is a team effort. Often, we only think about 2 parts of this team: the educators and the students. But keeping the 3rd part–parents, guardians and/or families–connected and involved can have huge benefits.

Image text reads: 28+ Tools to Build Connections! Tech Tools for Parent, Guardian, or Family Communication or Involvement. #KidsDeserveIt x #EduDuctTape
Picture of the Miller family taken by Lauren Clifford Photography.

I think that most educators would agree that the rankings for “best ways to keep in touch with parents, guardians, or families” are:

      1. face to face communication
      2. phone calls
      3. everything else

But, sometimes, we just don’t have time to do #1 and #2 for all of our students’ families.

Enter #3: technology.

As you probably already know from the Educational Duct Tape podcast, I believe that edtech is at its best when it’s being used as a tool to solve problems, meet goals or address learning standards. So, if we know that it’s important to connect with and involve our kiddos’ families and we know that it’s tough to connect with all of them, how can we leverage technology to support us in this endeavor?

I discussed this with a group of awesome educators recently.

On February 5th, 2020, I had the honor of moderating the #KidsDeserveIt Twitter Chat (all tweets available here).  This chat is based on the book Kids Deserve It by Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome.  In the book, Nesloney & Welcome zero in on a set of steps that educators can take to improve the educational experience for our students. Two of those steps are contacting parents regularly and getting them involved in the classroom.  So I asked the #KidsDeserveIt chatters 2 questions relating to parent, guardian and/or family contact and involvement:

In the book, @mradamwelcome & @techninjatodd explain why we should be contacting parents to praise their kiddos. What tech tool(s) would you use for communicating with parents? #KidsDeserveItAdam & Todd also share about the importance of family interaction and involvement in the learning community. What tech tool(s) can help us to not just communicate with parents/families but to get those families *involved*? #KidsDeserveIt

 

Here are some of the tools that the #KidsDeserveIt Chatters shared about! Continue reading Tech Tools for Connecting with Parents & Families