Anchor – I am worried :(

In February of 2018 I wrote a review for Anchor. Anchor is a website and mobile app that will let you create and publish your very own podcast! I had a lot of very nice things to say about and you can read my review here. I did warn that this free service would not last and it could very easily disappear though I hoped this would not be the case.

Today, I was reading The Verge and saw this article title Podcast Wars: $100 Million Startup Luminary Launches Tuesday Without Reply All or The Daily by Ashley Carman. The article discusses how big companies are moving quickly to try to create and monetize their very own podcasting network and you guessed it – Anchor was purchased by one of these big tech companies – Spotify to be precise.
You can read Anchor’s announcement here.

So what’s the big deal?

My worry is that these companies are going to try to monetize podcasts, find out that people will just not subscribe or pay for many of these podcasts and then the whole thing will start to collapse. Then these companies will do what companies do when they want to cut their loses. They will start closing down development, departments, lay people off or transfer them to another department and then bye-bye Anchor 😦

I don’t think that Anchor being a casualty of the podcast war and going away is too crazy. In fact it seems very likely.

Unfortunately, this seems to be the path that Anchor is heading. If you use Anchor – keep using Anchor. Don’t stop but I would start looking for alternatives. I would also keep an eye on any Anchor news. Subscribe to their blog and read any news concerning this podcast war is also a good idea. I doubt that they will shutter or close anytime soon, but having to find a new service for your educational units is always a pain.

The bottom line is that Anchor is not going away … yet.

Posted in Patrick Cauley, Podcast | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Episode 164 – Angry High Schooler

Tony and Patrick after a long and much deserved Spring Break. This episode promises to be another classic as Tony and Patrick talk about some upcoming Windows news, some great advice about STEM/STEAM skills and even a bit of comic book movies and Game of Thrones. Check out the talking points below and as always subscribe to us on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.

  1. Spring break stories
    1. iPad apocalypse
  2. Windows Lite
    1. https://www.windowscentral.com/microsofts-windows-lite-project-gets-new-codename by Zac Bowden – Windows Central
    2. Its own Chromebook like device
    3. Very early reports – unsure if this will ever happen
    4. Thoughts?
  3. Steam/Stem Core Skills by Tony DePrato
    1. https://itbabble.com/2019/03/19/steam-stem-core-skills/
    2. Appropriate skills for grade levels
  4. Self Checkout with a Chromebook! By Patrick Cauley
    1. https://itbabble.com/2019/03/25/self-checkout-with-a-chromebook/
    2. Reasons to do this?
    3. Cost?
    4. Implementation?
  5. Make your own flashcards with Google Sheets by Patrick Cauley
    1. https://itbabble.com/2019/04/12/make-your-own-flashcards-in-google-sheets/
    2. Flippity – https://flippity.net/
    3. Versatile for many different tasks
  6. Tony and Patrick discuss movies/Game of Thrones

Download this episode here

https://itbabble.podomatic.com/enclosure/2019-04-15T16_44_26-07_00.mp3″
Posted in Podcast | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Make your own flashcards in Google Sheets

OK – to be fair, you need Google Sheets and the Flippity add on, but still, this is pretty handy, easy to do and works really – really well. I’ve seen a couple of articles about this on the web but I’m going to go a little deeper and walk you through from start to finish.

In this example, we will be doing some language learning though I can think of this being used for math problems and vocabulary as well and much, much more. So let’s get started.

Google Translate in Sheets

The first thing we need to do is open Google Sheets and get ready for some magic! We will be translating words from English to Spanish. I will be using specific words and not phrases. As we all know translating longer pieces of text can sometimes lead to unexpected results 🙂

As you can see, I have 10 English words about the Spring season. I could look these up, but I will let Google Translate do it for me.

In cell B2 I will type this formula which will translate it from English to Spanish automatically.

=googletranslate(A2, “en”, “es”)

  • So let’s break this down. =googletranslate will let Google Sheets know that it needs to use Google Translate – pretty straight forward. Don’t forget the comma!
  • A2 tells Google Sheet where the word is that needs to translated.
  • “en” (yes you need the quotations) lets it know what language the original language is.
  • “es” (again don’t forget those quotes) let’s it know what it needs to translate it to. (ES = Spanish by the way)

So this is what it will look like.

Now all we need to is move your mouse to the bottom right hand corner of cell B2 (it should turn into a + sign) then click and drag down like in the GIF below.

BOOM!

Google Sheets (any spreadsheet program really) understands the pattern and automatically replicates the googletranslate formula all the way down properly changing the cells as needed.

Now we are ready to turn this into interactive flashcards

Flippity Add-on

The next thing we need to do is get the Flippity add-on. To do this open a blank Google Sheet and then click on Add-ons from the menu bar. Then select Get Add-ons.

A new window will pop up and from here search for and add Flippity to Google Sheets. You only need to do this once. After you’ve added it, every new Google Sheet you open will have the ability to utilize the Flippity add-on if you want it to.

To activate the Flippity add-on, click on Add-ons and select Flippity and select Pick a Template.

The template you will want to chose is, surprise – surprise, Flashcards. Go ahead and click Use.

Flippity will do some magic and then create a new worksheet with whole bunch of info that you do NOT want.

Do not be alarmed. This is merely an example of how and where to put your data. So go ahead delete all of their information and copy and paste your data. Your data will be on another sheet (probably called Sheet 1 like mine). You can find this at the bottom of the page.

You may also notice that you can customize the flashcard color and the text color. This is not necessary but a nice touch. Here is my finished flashcard spreadsheet.

The Flashcards!

To get to the flashcards, click on Add-ons, select Flippity and then select Flippity.net URL.

A pop up will appear with a web address. You can click that and it will take you to your very own custom made flashcards!

You can also check out my flashcards and get your Spanish learning on!

https://www.flippity.net/fc.asp?k=1OZQDpvkTNQYPHRGmplqIxI88WnGxgmHAC3kswYPPcL4

Helpful tips and parting thoughts

You can do this on Quizlet, but I find the translation part much faster with Google Sheets and with the URL you can easily share out your flashcards with multiple people and there is no need for an additional account (though you can sign into Quizlet with your Google ID) tp sign into.

All in all – this took me around 5 minutes to make and I think you can make this as large or as small as you would like – have fun with it! It could be a good activity for a class or a group of students to help study and quiz one another.

Flippity can also make some other cool things like a Jeopardy so be sure to explore and see what else you can do with Google Sheets and Flippity.

When it comes to Google Sheets, small mistakes in the formula can lead to big errors so it is always good to double check the translation and make sure that it is indeed correct.

Posted in Google Apps, Instructional Technology, Patrick Cauley, tutorial | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Self Checkout with a Chromebook!

I know I’m not the first (not even close!) to do this but I figured it would be a good post anyway. We now have a self-checkout station in our library, so our students can check out books on their own. This post will show how we set it up and implemented it, which was easier than I originally thought it would be.

Hardware & Requirements

OK, let’s talk about what we used to make this happen.

Chromebook

We decided to use a Chromebook because it is pretty cheap, doesn’t take up a bunch of space and is portable. Also, it is very easy to manage.

Barcode Scanner

We also gave the Chromebook its own scanner. This was a little more expensive than I thought and we made sure it had a base that it could sit in so students didn’t have to pick it up. Also, we want one that is a little heavy duty so it will last. Think of this as an investment. You can certainly find bar code scanners for much, much less but I firmly believe you get what you pay for here. This one in the picture is $150 USD.

Labels

We also used a label printer to print off student barcodes. We used a Brother label maker with its P-Touch software. This software lets us point it to a spreadsheet so we can design a simple template with tags in it and then print merge out all the labels for a grade level or school in one go.

This is a newer model than what we use but the labels in the end should be the same.

Here is a sample of what one of our student labels looks like.

Library Sticks

We use these are sticks to affix a label to that will have a student’s name and patron number as a barcode. We use some plastic heavier duty sticks instead of paint sticks thought paint sticks would probably work just as well. I do know these are more expensive than paint sticks but they’re already colorful, don’t break easily and won’t give any kids splinters.

I’m not sure what ours are called but I’ll find out later and update the post with that info soon.

Destiny

So our library (like many others) uses Follett Destiny to manage our collection; however, I believe that if you used another database that this could still work for you providing that it is web based like Destiny is. Even if it is run locally on your own network – there may be a place for a local user to log in and checkout books through a web browser. If so, then you could possibly set this up provided you would be able to create or modify roles in that system.

Self-Checkout Access Levels and User

In order for this to work we had to create a user in Destiny that can “check out” books. What we don’t want though is for that user to be able to forgive fines, remove books from the collection and basically bring upon an apocalypse.

Lucky for us, Destiny has lots of options and I’ll show you how we made this user.

First, you need to log in as an administrator in Destiny. Then go to Back Office. From here select Access Levels. Here we can create the role and then we will create the user.

When you are at the Access Levels screen go ahead and click on Add Access Level.

From here make sure you do the following:

  • Give it a memorable name
  • Change the Automatic log out to 240 minutes (this is the max time before the system logs the user out)
  • Change the Reset Circulation time to 120 seconds (or whatever you feel is appropriate)
  • Make sure the Collection Role is Student
  • Make sure the only access is Check out library materials

Then click Save.

Now we will stay on the Back Office page and but switch from Access Levels to Manage Patrons. Click on the Add New Patron button.

This will create a new patron or user. You need to fill in the information circled in the picture:

  • Last name
  • First name
  • Username
  • Password
  • Barcode number
  • Access Level (make sure you select the one you just made)

Putting it together

On the Chromebook, we navigated to Destiny and had the librarian log in as our Sample Student. You should see that there are no options to search, check in or do anything else on Destiny except checkout books – perfect!

Now that all the hardware, access level and user are in in place here is what it looks like. I apologize for the mess, this was taken on a Friday afternoon before Spring Break – so a lot of students had returned books.

On Chrome, I zoomed into 150% so it is a little easier for anyone to see what has been checked out.

How it works

Here is how it all works together. A student has their library stick with their barcode printed on it. They pick out the book(s) they want and bring it to the self-checkout station. They scan their library stick which will bring up their account. Then they scan their books one at a time.

When they finish, they then use the trackpad on the Chromebook to click the Reset button. This resets the system and gets it ready for the next student to checkout.

If the system is inactive for 120 seconds it will automatically reset itself and after 240 minutes it will need to be re-logged in.

Details to know

We just set this up but have already had first graders use it and it went pretty well. If a student checks out too many books the system will require for an administrator to put in their username and password to accept it. If not, it will not check out that final book(s) they want.

Putting the self-checkout screen in full screen mode is also highly recommended. This will hide the address bar, bookmarks and any other tabs that may be open.

That reset button is the only real sticky point I can see. Signage is one time tutorial with the students is highly recommended but I figure after one (maybe two visits) students will be good to go. We tried it yesterday with first grade students and didn’t have too many problems!

There should be a librarian, teacher or aid nearby most times just in case.

Posted in Helpful Tips | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

STEAM/STEM Core Skills

 

By: Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

 

Developing STEM and STEAM programs (Science Technology Engineering/Art Mathematics) is very exciting, but I have noticed recently there is a lack of cohesive standards to measure progress.

Like many people, I am working on building a set of standards. Some are customized, and some are licensed.

In my research, and through various networking engagements, I have settled on a set of core skills that need to be incorporated throughout the STEAM environment. The standards are being built around these skills.

I have found more engagement among students if the skills are presented first. The skills tend to fuel the desire for hands on work. I also want students to not focus on grades and common rubric models. I want them to focus on creating and going through the design process.

These skills have been developed by the MIT FabLab Program. The FabLab has been operating for well over a decade, and many FabLab partners have developed programs for younger students as well.

The overall philosophy is to learn the skills at every level, but increase the difficulty and complexity within the projects as students gain experience.

The List

DIGITAL FABRICATION PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES
COMPUTER-AIDED DESIGN, MANUFACTURING, AND MODELING
COMPUTER-CONTROLLED CUTTING / Drawing
ELECTRONICS DESIGN AND PRODUCTION
COMPUTER-CONTROLLED MACHINING
EMBEDDED PROGRAMMING
3D MOLDING AND CASTING
COLLABORATIVE TECHNICAL DEVELOPMENT AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT
3D SCANNING AND PRINTING
SENSORS, ACTUATORS, AND DISPLAYS
INTERFACE AND APPLICATION PROGRAMMING
EMBEDDED NETWORKING AND COMMUNICATIONS
MACHINE DESIGN
DIGITAL FABRICATION APPLICATIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
INVENTION, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, AND BUSINESS MODELS
DIGITAL FABRICATION PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

Looking at this list, it might seem impossible to imagine a Grade 3 or even Grade 8 students accomplishing these in a meaningful way. I would argue that all are achievable at least at the planning and design thinking stage. Most of these are achievable with the correct level or equipment and/or some creative outsourcing.

Read More @: http://blog.tieonline.com/steam-stem-core-skills/

Posted in TIEONLINE | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Episode 163 – Momo is Stupid

Tony and Patrick are back for another outstanding episode. Tony’s travel tips, why Momo is just stupid and all the other talking points are below. You can subscribe to us on iTunes (please do) or your favorite podcasting app. 

  1. Tony’s travel tips
    1. Carry ons – you know the size!
    2. Fast Food on domestic flights – terrible smell
    3. Headphones all the time – Bumbling bumblers
  2. Linking Google Slides by Patrick Cauley
    1. https://itbabble.com/2019/02/22/linking-google-slides/
    2. Works with charts and graphs from Sheets
    3. https://support.google.com/docs/answer/7009814?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en
  3. HoloLens 2
    1. For industry more than education or consumer
    2. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/hololens/hardware
  4. Momo challenge
    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Momo_Challenge
    2. Streisand effect – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect
    3. Why do schools feel they need to take action on these known hoaxes?
      1. Slenderman – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slender_Man
      2. 2016 Clown sightings – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_clown_sightings
    4. Do a little research before acting
    5. Watch out for real scams such as phishing emails and fake calls

You can download the episode HERE!

Posted in Podcast | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Linking Google Slides

I had teacher walk into the IT office with a good question. She wanted to make a slideshow about a topic and have each student in her room create one slide to add to the slideshow. Here is what you need to know.

  • She is using Google Slides
  • This is 4th Grade
  • She didn’t want students modifying or messing around with other slides
  • 4th grades don’t always make “wise” choices

OK – now you are caught up and messing around here is what we stumbled upon. I don’t think this is a new feature but it was one that I was not aware of. Before we get to the solution here is what first sprung into our minds.

One Slideshow

She would have one slideshow on her Google account and she would share it with one or two at a time and then once their slide was done, she would take away their permissions and assign new students. Or she could just let them work on a computer that is signed into her account under her supervision as they directly added it with no sharing at all.

Obviously this is extremely cumbersome and not very manageable unless you were dealing with 4–6 students, so this would not work

Loads of slideshows and some manual labor

Each student would make their own and then they would share it with her. She would then cue up a bunch of different slide shows to show or she would re-create the slides on her own slideshow.

Again, lots of work and not very practical. I can hear you, the good reader, screaming at the screen now about copy and pasting.

The best solution

So the teacher make one slideshow to rule them all. Then each student makes their own and shares it with her. She will then copy and paste the slide(s) necessary from the student slideshow to the teacher slideshow. So check out the overly simplistic screenshots below.

Teacher Slideshow
Student #1 Slideshow
Student #2 Slideshow

So, what our teacher needs to do is copy the slide from the thumbnail view. Click the thumbnail and then copy it (ctrl+c or cmd+c or right click and select copy). Then once it is copied go to the teacher slideshow and paste it in the thumbnail area. When you do this, you will see an option to link the slide or not to link the slide.

I went ahead and chose to link the slides. When I do this this little icon shows up on that particular slide on the teacher slideshow.

Now here is why this is cool. Let’s say Student #1 decides to add a little more info. Maybe a picture in this case.

Student #1 Picture

Now let’s check back with the teacher’s slideshow and see what has changed.

As you can see – very little has changed, but when you look at Student #1’s slide you will see that it says UPDATE near the top right hand corner.

Update

So when the teacher clicks it the slide will update with the latest changes. Very, very cool.

Updated!

Now, let’s say a fourth grader shares this with their “best” friend who decides it would be hilarious to replace the computer picture with a funny picture and then the teacher hits update. All the teacher needs to do is hit Undo (ctrl+z or cmd+z or hit the Undo button) and the latest changes will be undone. Simple as that.

So, if you’re ever in this situation of making a single slideshow based and want the class to contribute then give this a go. It seems to work very well.

Posted in Google Apps | Tagged | 1 Comment

Episode 162 – CAPTCHAS Suck!

Tony and Patrick are back with another great episode. The talking points are below but know this CAPTCHAs suck

  1. Tony’s holiday
  2. Finally – displays are moving in the right direction by Patrick
    1. https://itbabble.com/2019/01/29/finally-displays-are-moving-in-the-right-direction/
    2. Not overthinking it
  3. CAPTCHAS suck
    1. BUSES! FRICKING BUSES!!
    2. Filling in an online form for an event at school
    3. CAPTCHAS – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAPTCHA
  4. Report Cards – Hell on Earth? Or Really Helpful Documents?
    1. Long format unnecessary?
    2. Standards vs Grades

You can download the podcast HERE

Posted in Podcast | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Finally – displays are moving in the right direction

I’m not a fan of interactive whiteboards. My opinions on interactive whiteboards have not changed. Basically I felt that it forced teachers to change how they taught in order to use the technology. I always felt that a teacher should use it as a way to enhance how they teach not force them to change.

Then I saw the Google Jamboard and thought YES! This is something that gets out of your way and lets you work. Then I used the Google Jamboard and it felt like a dream that was interrupted with a fire alarm going off next to your ear. It is a good idea but not quite finished. That on top of its ridiculous price and tiny display made it less realistic for just about anybody – regardless of budget.

Despite this I still felt hopeful. I felt that finally we getting into an interactive panel that lets teachers mirror their display, allow for annotations and white-boarding and do all this fairly fluidly without tapping the board a hundred times just to get to a map of the world (I’m looking at you Promethean).

Last week I attended a demo of a new display hitting the US market in early Spring. I won’t divulge the company or the model of the display because I’m not here to shill for them. The demo had two representatives from the company. A regional sales rep (that you would expect) and then a representative from the development team. This person apparently helps to oversee the software and the hardware implementation and how the two work with each other. This is not something you see. He was there to gather feedback and to take it back to the team. Apparently at an early demo, someone had asked for a way that the interactive display could support multiple accounts. Within 8 months they had that feature and pushed it out to older boards as a firmware update. Impressive

Attending the demo with me was a science teacher, an IT director for a larger public school system, an IT director for a division of a university and an administrator of an engineering firm. A Pretty diverse group all in all. Each had their own budgets and needs and that came out in the questioning.

The physical screen

The screen itself was quite similar to what you see on the market right now. 60–80+ inches, 4K, can be mounted on a trolley or mounted to a wall and are quite sturdy. It also has a stripped down version of Android and has lots of inputs to connect your device or another peripheral. Pretty standard features really.

In fact, the reps both said that many of the panels are all made at the same factory and then the individual companies wrap their own case, add their own software to help make their “product” stand out. So when if you’re deciding what screen your school should buy based on its appearance good luck.

Using it

Then we got to what the screen can do. Basically you can connect your computer to the screen and mirror your display or extend it and then quickly annotate on it with just a quick gesture touch on the screen. You can then save that as a screenshot or you can actually record a video of what is happening while you are working.

Thank goodness it is simple.

You can sign in to your Google Drive or your Office 365 account and so when you (a teacher) sign into the board, your cloud storage is right there at your fingertip.

Thank goodness that is simple.

You can easily bring up a whiteboard to collaborate on and you can use your finger or a passive pen (a pen without a battery) to write and multiple people can write at the same time. Again the whiteboard can be saved or recorded as people work on in.

Nice and simple.

Android messiness

As I mentioned before the board runs a stripped down Android OS. The problem with this is that there is no Google Play store meaning that you cannot easily download and install apps of your choice. You side-load an app into the board but there is not guarantee that the app will run or run properly. The representatives commented that this panel cannot run Google Play Services (no specific reason was given) because they do not meet some Google requirements. If you know what this may be please let me know in the comments.

This can limit the functionality of the board and certainly can cause issues when trying to expand its functionality. Also this is not the most intuitive or easy process for most teachers to undertake and then there are no guarantees that these apps will not crash or cause problems with the OS which may cause issues with the basic functioning of the board itself.

Wrapping up

Basic usability has come a long way from the Promethean and SmartBoards of 2010 and that is a very good thing. Now that there are a lot more companies offering a variety of options from the uber expensive Microsoft Hub to the more affordable lesser known brands such as ViewSonic.

Now these items are far more expensive than projectors but their portability, meaningful interactive features and longevity make it an appealing option for schools. We are looking at one to use in our library which will give more flexibility when dealing with a single class, small group or a large group.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Episode 161 – It’s a HOAX!

Tony and Patrick are back! We talk about snow and other important topics and there is the first ever Story Time with Uncle Tony and it is a good one! Check out the talking points below and as always please subscribe to us on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.

  1. Virtual Reality – I am hopeful for its future by Patrick Cauley
    1. https://itbabble.com/2019/01/10/virtual-reality-i-am-hopeful-for-its-future/
    2. PSVR – https://www.playstation.com/en-us/explore/playstation-vr/
  2. Story Time with Uncle Tony
    1. Facebook copy and paste text to see posts from old friends
    2. Afraid to copy and paste
    3. Tony retyped it in TextEdit – instead of copy and paste
    4. Facebook linking these accounts due to same content (hypothesis)
  3. Consumer Electronics Show 2019
    1. Samsung’s MicroLED – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MicroLED
    2. LG rollable TV  – https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2018/12/17/18145866/lg-rollable-tv-ces-2019-commercial-sale
    3. New laptops
      1. LG Gram
      2. Cheaper Chromebooks
      3. Lenovo Laptops
      4. Apple Airplay on most TV’s

Download this episode HERE!

Posted in facebook | Tagged , | Leave a comment