Exploring Educational Technology and Instructional Design

Google Classroom Updates

Google continues its track record of frequent, meaningful, and significant updates to it’s Google Apps for Education suite. This particular update to Google Classroom comes just in time for the new school year to begin and includes some frequently requested features.

  • Teachers and administrators can invite guardians to sign up for email summaries to keep up with their students. Guardians can choose how often to get a summary—daily or weekly—and can unsubscribe at any time. Summaries include a student’s missing or upcoming work as well as new announcements and questions posted by teachers in the class stream.
  • Teachers can organize the class stream by adding topics to posts. Teachers and students can filter the stream by topic.
  • Teachers and students can preview materials attached to assignments or posts.
  • On mobile devices, teachers and students can now draw on, highlight, and write notes on documents and PDFs in the Classroom mobile app.

Check out all the details in this Google for Education blog post.


Clean Up YouTube

Have you ever shown a YouTube video in class, or shared one as part of a homework assignment?  If so, I'm sure you've experienced the frustration of the rampant ads, excessive options, and lists of related videos, some of which have titles or content that is not appropriate for an educational setting.  Well, there are a handful of ways to deal with this issue.  You could download the video using a tool like KeepVid, but then you would have to upload it to Google Drive and share it with a link, which can be time consuming, clunky, and result in slow loading times.

Here's a better solution: ViewPure

  1. ViewPure is a website that will strip all of the distracting and potentially inappropriate content away from a YouTube video. Here's how it works...
  2. Go to YouTube, locate the video you want to share and copy the entire URL.
  3. Go to www.viewpure.com and paste the video URL in the box.
  4. Tap on "Purify" and ViewPure will do it's thing.
  5. You will then be brought to a clean white page with very little content except for your video.
  6. Copy the URL of this page and share it with your students for distraction viewing, or simply save the link to share during class.


The Kid Should See This

As an experienced secondary science teacher, I understand the importance of powerful visuals for both engaging students, and helping them to craft a deep and enduring understanding of complex concepts. Video has always been an indispensable tool used by educators to communicate ideas, and now, with resources like YouTube, where more than 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute, it is more accessible than ever. Sifting through that massive stockpile of footage for just the right clip to capture a concept can seem a nearly impossible task. Fortunately, more and more tools are being developed to help educators find just the right content for the right situation. One of my favorites is a site called "The Kid Should See This."

This site houses an ever growing collection (currently more than 2,400) of free, streaming videos that were “not-made-for-kids, but perfect for them.” Topics focus around STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) disciplines, however there is certainly content that could be utilized in any class. Each video is hand-picked by curator Rion Nakaya and his two kids, and is accompanied by a brief description. Driven by "wonder, enthusiasm, and “wow!” moments," the videos on The Kid Should See This will help to engage your students, and get them excited about learning.