Nearpod’s Newest Feature… Collaborate!

It think the easiest description for it is, imagine Nearpod & Padlet had a child… that child would be Collaborate!

Nearpod announced via a post this week the new feature on their blog.

This is part of their paid features, but you can try it out for a limited time in a free account. Below is a short video on the Activity tool in action as well as an embedded image of the final results (some of the students who tried this had a little fun with it).

Have you tried the new feature? What are your thoughts? I would love to read about your experiences with this interactive feature in the comments below.

Free Web Tools… #EdublogsClub

This post is part of the #EdublogsClub – a group of educators and educational technology enthusiasts that blog around a common theme each week. Simply write a post and share it (via social media w/ #edublogsclub or posting a link as a comment to that topic’s posting on the Edublogger site) to join in, or sign up to receive email reminders of each new prompt. 

Prompt: Write a post about free web tools.
Here are some ideas or topics you may wish to include:

  • Share your absolute favorite free web tool and discuss why

  • Write a ‘how-to’ post on using a free tool

  • Do a review in a category of multiple free web tools – for example, compare 3 web tools for photo editing

  • Discuss any thoughts or experiences you have about free web services

  • Talk about a time when a free service you were using shut down

Since I share about different tools often, the last bullet point jumped out at me.

“Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful extension,
That started as a free tool,
Aboard the Chrome dimension.

The device was a mighty screen capturer,
It snapped and recorded,
All synced to your Google Drive,
In a folder, they hoarded, that’s where they’re all hoarded.

The school year started getting rough,
The tiny tool was tossed,
If you were not prepared,
GIF capturing would be lost, GIF capturing would be lost.”

That’s right folks, I’m talking about SnagIt! A tool which was a go-to for me when creating tutorials/how-to’s for teachers. Whether it was a short recorded screencast, a simple screenshot, or my personal favorite, GIFs; SnagIt would do it all! Then it would sync my captures directly to my Google Drive. I loved it, and when I read the news over the summer that Tech Smith was lessening their available tools (SnagIt extension, Screen Chomp iOS app, etc.) to focus on making a few of their other tools the greatest; I started to hear, “Near, far, wherever you are…” (That’s right, Céline Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’)

Hmmm… tangent here, did I just make two tragic boat references in one blog post, yes I did!

I had to scramble to find replacements. And let me tell you there are a bunch of various ones out there, but nothing all encompassing as my dear departed SnagIt. Here are some of the ones that filled in the gaps:

Screencastify took over for my screen recordings. GifIt! (while only really works on YouTube videos) allows me to create gifs. On a chromebook, the shortcut for taking a screenshot took the place of being able to select the part of the screen I wanted to image capture. Finally, I went out and purchased SnagIt for my Mac. While I still feel like the extension was Rose, “I’ll never let go Dan, I’ll never let go” then thirty seconds later it was gone from the Chrome Web Store (another Titanic reference); my heart has moved on to other tools which hopefully will not sink into the internet abyss!

What’s a tool you loved and lost; how does that old saying go, ‘Its better to have loved and lost, than to not have loved at all’ does that apply to tech tools in education? I would love to read & reply in the comments below.

Photos…#EdublogsClub

This post is part of the #EdublogsClub – a group of educators and educational technology enthusiasts that blog around a common theme each week. Simply write a post and share it (via social media w/ #edublogsclub or posting a link as a comment to that topic’s posting on the Edublogger site) to join in, or sign up to receive email reminders of each new prompt. 

Last year, I read a post from Richard Wells on Star Wars posters for school using LEGOs. Well, new year, new posters, so a new post from him.

With this week’s prompt having to deal with photos, I figured this would be timely. The post I wrote last year, inspired by EduWells, utilized quotes from, then released, “A Force Awakens.” Well, new year, new movie (“Rogue One”), new posters!


I’m going to again propose a challenge for you & your students, have them select a quote from a favorite movie of theirs, then design a ‘poster’ applying that quote to a topic/content area. See how creative they can be!

If you take the challenge, please link to images of the posters in the comments below, I would love to view your or your students’ work.

How Technology Is Preserving Historical Documents For Future Generations

Technology is often associated with futuristic thinking, expanding human knowledge in innovative new ways beyond anything we’ve ever experienced before, but technology is also empowering us to preserve the past as well. Today, technology is helping educators keep history tangible and real for generations of future students because there is a huge difference between learning about history and seeing physical evidence about it.

When, for example, a high school history student reviews the historical facts around the U.S. Declaration of Independence, it’s something of an abstraction. The people and the events of the distant past are merely facts to be memorized for a history exam. However, actually seeing the unique engrossed Declaration of Independence — one of the most cherished documents in the United States — at the National Archives in Washington DC, paints a vivid picture of the events that altered the history of a young nation and changed the world.

Historical Collections

Witnessing actual historical documents can be remarkably inspiring, and, fortunately, not all historical documents are tucked away in museums, libraries, and private collections. Some historical documents for sale are signed by such iconic figures as Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson and are available from the Raab Collection for students of history to enjoy.

Why History Matters

In a HuffingtonPost article about why preserving history matters, Steve Berry, the New York Times bestselling author of The Columbus Affair explains why history still matters in an age when technology is slowly pushing us to become a space-faring species:

“Firsthand, all across the country, I’ve witnessed the incredible treasures preserved within libraries in our schools, public buildings, historical societies, museums, and universities. At the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut, I saw a marginalia written in Twain’s own hand. Inside the rare book room at the Library of Virginia was a book of psalms that arrived here on the Mayflower. In county libraries in rural America were the records of families who settled that land centuries ago, and in Smithsonian were the last remaining books of James Smithson, whose legacy was the founding of the institution itself.”

The Work of Preservation Experts

Libraries and museums face the dilemma of trying to make historical documents available to the public and historians while at the same time making sure that they are preserved for posterity. By keeping them encased where they are visible, they achieve this balance. Helping them with this effort is a  small, dedicated band of researchers who are preserving human records for posterity.

Although most paper documents are digitized, it’s still important to preserve the original—although, of course, working with original documents can be nerve-wracking because the preservation expert can’t afford to make a single error. New advances in technology make it possible to identify the causes of degradation and create solutions to prevent further ruin.

The Science of Preservation

The biggest source of degradation is oxygen, and so documents must be encased in a way that removes oxygen and controls moisture. An encasement will use a thick sheet of glass as the base. This is not ordinary glass, but a non-reflective glass. The encasement is then hermetically sealed and oxygen replaced with argon, an inert gas.

Argon is used to keep the atmospheric pressure. Oxygen has to be removed because it reacts with the atoms in paper and it also speeds up the rate that the ink fades.

The encasement is often monitored with a sensor to notify the museum or library staff if the atmospheric pressure inside an encasement exceeds a safe level for the paper document. The staff will immediately alert their preservation researcher, who then rushes over to vent the excessive pressure. Many priceless documents are preserved in this way, including the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Examining Historical Documents

Besides preserving documents, technology can enhance historical research, often revealing surprising new insights about a historical document. Hyperspectral imaging technology is an invaluable way of examining ancient maps and documents without researchers actually touching the materials.

Just like the telescope and the microscope can enhance human vision to see what used to be invisible, hyperspectral imaging makes it possible for researchers to uncover a wealth of information that was not accessible before. It is now possible to see how, where, and when a document was made by examining the finest elements of ink pigmentation. This enhanced vision sometimes reveals surprising things, too, like a watermark, or, as in the case of the Declaration of Independence. Normally, human vision is restricted to the electromagnetic spectrum that ranges from red to violet, but with hyperspectral imaging makes it now possible to include ultraviolet and infrared light.

Preserving Documents for Posterity

Although documents are made of imperfect materials and degrade over time by fading or tearing, the situation is not as dire as it could be because researchers can now use some amazing technologies to preserve ancient documents for posterity. Technology is also giving us a deeper understanding of hidden text or other clues.

Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this article

About the Author: Jenna B.

Jenna is a freelance writer who got into blogging in college and copywriting upon graduation. Jenna has usually written about topics that mean a lot to her such as health and medicine when applied to family and loved ones. Jenna is an avid runner as long as it’s not a marathon distance jog! She’s on twitter (she still hasn’t fallen in love with and doesn’t use often) @JennaFromDaBlog!

Leveraging Technology in the Classroom

Technology is one of the fastest changing fields in history. Devices, programs, and education methodologies surrounding tech change dramatically from year to year, which can make it challenging to devise a technology integration plan that is safe, cost-effective, and educationally valuable. To do this, it is necessary to first focus on student and device safety, find adaptable ways to integrate technology into the classroom, and consider applications independent of hardware and infrastructure that may benefit students.

Student and Device Safety

Any technological device that is brought into the classroom should be protected from the students and should protect students from outside influences which may be detrimental to the learning process.

Physical and system protection can be provided in the form of iPhone cases, antivirus software, routine operating system and software updates, secure internet connections, surge protectors, and appropriate caring cases. This takes a dedicated IT team for each school district with people available in each school to maintain systems and physical components.

Protecting students from outside influences can be more challenging due to the advanced technological expertise of the current generation of students. However, there are safeguards that can be put into place that will prevent them from accessing particular websites or groups of websites with proper software management.

Classroom Technology

It is almost impossible for any one person to be aware of all the latest technological advances that can be powerfully utilized in a classroom setting. The emergence of affordable 3D printers has revolutionized the way students can interact with every subject. Yet, many teachers are completely overwhelmed with the possibilities and are unsure of how to best use the printers in their own curriculum.

In order to make use of the newest technology, schools may want to consider technology ambassadors or a technology chair for each department or grade level depending on the organizational structure of the school. These are people who can make finding and implementing new technology a priority within their discipline. Using the 3D printers as an example, a history chair may recommend each history teacher have students print replicas of artifacts from specific time periods. Whereas someone who was the head of the 8th grade department may create a thematic unit and make suggestions for how each subject area can utilize the 3d printing capabilities.

Social Media Possibilities

Social media has the advantage of being cloud based, free, and something most students are already using on a regular basis. It is a great way to connect with parents and keep them informed of class projects and progress and to get students more excited and engaged. It also teaches students how to use these networks in a productive, responsible, and safety conscious manner which are skills many are sorely lacking.

Some teachers have found a way to utilize Twitter to encourage students to share their literary habits with a broader audience without sacrificing their privacy. Others create Facebook groups for parents or for specific classes to share online resources and access course material and extras with the documents and video options. Most major social media platforms have the ability to create private groups that are only accessible with an invitation. This helps protect student privacy and keep the content secure.

Technology doesn’t have to be an intimidating roadblock in the path of education. It needs to be embraced on all levels and areas in order to ensure students are fully prepared to maximize the use of technology in their daily lives and for the rest of their educational careers.

Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this article

About the Author: Jenna B.

Jenna is a freelance writer who got into blogging in college and copywriting upon graduation. Jenna has usually written about topics that mean a lot to her such as health and medicine when applied to family and loved ones. Jenna is an avid runner as long as it’s not a marathon distance jog! She’s on twitter (she still hasn’t fallen in love with and doesn’t use often) @JennaFromDaBlog!

NüYü “Panther Pause” Challenge

In my school, we have a program, Performance Reveals Individual Student Magic (P.R.I.S.M.) which is our gifted and talented program. A group of students within the program identified an area affecting students across the country and determined a solution. The problem… stress. The solution… mindfulness. As a means to implement change, they created an in-person as well as a virtual challenge to guide individuals through steps to become more mindful. As stated on their site:

The Panther “Pause” Challenge is a new program we have come up with to teach people of all ages about mindfulness. We’ll be offering things such as resources (books, articles, videos, worksheets, etc.) to teach people about mindfulness, people like you! You can take a free mindfulness course right here, at home.

This course can also be used by teachers to teach students mindfulness strategies in the classroom. Some group activities are prefect for students to try out, and the handouts can be printed out and distributed to students.

Alright, a little orientation. How this works will be as follows: We’ll be providing resources (perhaps in the form of a pdf, slideshow, video, or google form), and then offer a google form, “test” afterwards to make sure you got everything you needed to know from those lessons. We’ll have two tests per week, and each week has two lessons, so the test will be on one lesson. After each test, you will get a digital badge that will be sent to you via email, and once you complete all the tests, you will have received eight badges – two for each week. There are also going to be extra tests about other things, like extra credit!

They reached out to me for the underlined part above. Utilizing the same format as I previously posted about (here & here), we have Google Forms collecting information, sending the information to Google Sheets w/ the FormMule add-on sending out the email templates.

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Have students reached out to you for assistance with a technology task? I would love to read about it in the comments below.