A/V in our classrooms

This post will give you a rundown of what we currently use for our A/V solution and what we are going to be switching to. I will be using specific names of products (and current prices if I can find them), but that is in no way IT Babble promoting those items. IT Babble receives no ad revenue or any financial compensation for mentioning them. This is just what my school is doing and what works for us. This set up may be complete overkill for some schools or completely not appropriate for others.

If you have questions, leave them in the comments. We moderate all comments so it will post when Tony or myself approve it and then I will respond. Continue reading “A/V in our classrooms”

Newish Zoom Recorders

Just to be clear. I am not talking about Zoom, the video conference tool. I am talking about Zoom, the audio/visual recording hardware company. For long time readers of IT Babble, you may know that I have a sweet spot for Zoom.

I own a Zoom H6 for about 8 years and absolutely love it. The Zoom has never, never failed me in all that time. The build quality is rock solid. If I happened to drop it I certainly wouldn’t worry too much and it can run on a variety of power sources:

  • AA Batteries
  • USB power bank
  • Computer power
  • A plug in brick adapter with a USB input

There is more, in fact I could easily write a whole post just about my H6 and how it is a great podcasting machine, but folks, I am here to bring news of Zoom’s most recent endeavors and how awesome they are. Continue reading “Newish Zoom Recorders”

Royalty Free Images – Where to find them

If you are still using the old “copy and paste” method from random websites to add images to your blog, worksheets or websites then you should stop. It’s probably a violation of copyright but there are better and more legal ways.

People are paying more attention to where photos come from and what they are being used for. Basically, if you have done the old copy and paste you may have committed a copyright violation. đŸ˜¦ You can always try and ask for permission but those requests usually go ignored.

A problem before was where do you find these images? Where can you go to safely and confidently know that you are downloading an image that is safe to use?

You can always sign up for an image repository website like stockphoto.com, gettyimages.com or shutterstock.com. These sites have millions of photos and you can either purchase them individually or sign up for a subscription and just download away, but if you’re a teacher and are just looking for something fun to drop in the corner of a worksheet this seems a little over the top. Not to mention these sites can get expensive fast.

Luckily, there are sites out there that can help you with this little predicament. These sites offer royalty free images that are also free to download and use. As always be sure to check each individual photo for its licenses or restrictions. Some may allow for download and use but won’t let you modify it, some may let you do whatever you want to it but require attribution. At any rate, here are four sites that I like to use. Continue reading “Royalty Free Images – Where to find them”

YouTube – How to make a playlist

This is pretty easy and certainly not a new topic but YouTube does change a bit over time so I thought I would put together this hand dandy little guide (with beautiful pics) to help you out.

Keep in mind you must be logged into YouTube in order to create your own playlists to share with your students or to to keep for your own teaching (or personal enjoyment) needs.

Why make a playlist

If you’re big into lesson/unit planning this is a great way to organize these resources and have them on hand year after year. It’ll save you a bunch of time so you won’t be scrambling around for the last minute. I’ve perused YouTube plenty of times, stumbled across a great video that would assist my class and just dropped it into a playlist and keep on perusing.

Continue reading “YouTube – How to make a playlist”

Mic Tests!

We have some teachers who need to teach from home even though we are teaching in person. So I worked with them and worked out a solution with the devices we currently have on hand. The teachers will want to Zoom in to do their instruction so the students need to see and hear them and the teacher also needs to see and hear the students. Seeing isn’t too difficult with built in webcams but hearing the students is a different problem, so I tested a few mic options. In this test I test the following mics:

You can check out the results in the video below. I read the same description of a book around the room in a normal speaking voice to make sure the test is pretty fair. You can also check out Tony’s post about his Hi-Flex iPad option.

Continue reading “Mic Tests!”

Google Classroom and Multiple Accounts

There are a lot of people out there using the Google Classroom app. We have encouraged our parents to log into the app as their child. That way they can see what their kid sees and have a real understanding of what is happening in the classroom.

A question we have received is “What do I do if I have more than one child?” or “How can I view all of my children’s Google Classroom assignments and materials? These are good questions and while it is pretty easy, it may not be the most obvious thing. Continue reading “Google Classroom and Multiple Accounts”

Zoom issues on a Chromebook

Good day! We, like most of the world, are distance learning. We also use Chromebooks and Zoom. Early on we had reports from our families that they would continually get the wrong Zoom meeting over and over and over again.

After a short and furious investigation we discovered the problem and the fast solution. But first let’s talk about our set up and what had. Our teachers are great and made a schedule for all of their students to follow and embedded the Zoom links in this schedule. Check out the screenshot below to see what I’m talking about.

Pretty great huh? Yep we think so too.

So what if a student accidentally clicks/taps the wrong link. Well a new tab opens that proceeds to open up the Zoom app. Pretty standard actually. Then you see that you’re in the wrong meeting so you try to close the Zoom app by clicking the “X” in the top right hand corner of the window, but that does nothing.

So if you try to click another Zoom link, it will just take you back to that original meeting. So what do you have to do? You need to close the app by moving your mouse down to the shelf and then two fingers tap (or right click if you are using a mouse) and close the app that way.

Once Zoom closes, when you click on the correct Zoom link you will be able to join that meeting!

Adios Adobe Flash

It was announced back in July of 2017. Adobe and all the tech giants all agreed to end Flash by the end of 2020. Guess what? We are at the end of 2020. I wrote about this earlier, but now it is truly the eleventh hour.

Apple has already killed off support for Flash back in September but that still leaves Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge and maybe a few other stragglers, but the short story is, if you use a website that uses Flash – you need to find an alternative right away.

Back in the day the BBC made a bunch of Flash based content. They have archived all of that but it is still accessible if you know where to dig. None of that stuff is going to work after this month. There are still some websites out there (I’m looking at you scholastic.com) that have had nearly three years to convert their content to HTML 5 and are just getting around to it now (if at all).

So what’s the work around?

That’s the bad news – there is no work around. There is not really a process that you can conveniently implement to use that content. It’s just going to be inaccessible.

So plan ahead, find alternatives or make sure that the webmasters have updated it for 2020 and beyond and move on.

How long do I have?

Not long. While I can’t seem to find a specific date, I believe that December 20, 2020 is the date for Chrome users. As for the others, they will stop supporting it by the end of the year for sure. It will not matter what device you have, a Windows computer, an Apple computer, a mobile device, I don’t think there will be much you can do.

I wouldn’t hold my breath for a reprieve for Adobe Flash. Like I wrote earlier, this has been a long time coming and while it was certainly very important for the development of the Internet, it’s time has come.

Word of warning

One thing to keep an eye out for are dubious websites that ask for Adobe Flash access after this date. These websites should just be closed and not trusted. I can see a scam forming where they will take you to another website and try phishing important information from you.

Be cautious out there good reader!

Google Drive vs YouTube – Which to use in distance learning

A number of teachers have been making their own tutorial videos for distance learning. A common question I get is whether or not to store it in Google Drive or to put it on YouTube?

I say YouTube.

The reason why I suggest YouTube over Google Drive is simply the processing times. On YouTube, it will process videos very quickly. With Google Drive can also process videos quickly . . . when it wants to. Sometimes it can take hours to process the same video Google Drive. While it seems like they are both doing the same thing, the YouTube service has way more resources dedicated to this singular process and so it typically goes faster. Continue reading “Google Drive vs YouTube – Which to use in distance learning”

pisgnage.com – Digital signage on the cheap

Schools are looking for ways to better communicate with their community inside the school as well as outside. One way to do this is with digital signage. This can helpful for a bunch of reasons:

  • Sharing the menu for lunch
  • Birthday greetings
  • Local sports news
  • Reminding students of deadlines
  • Reminding students of school activities
  • General news (weather, local, state, national/international news)
  • The joke of the day
  • And much, much more!

The set up isn’t too crazy. You need a screen to display the information on and you need a player to directly connect to the screen that acts as the brains of the operation, but I only wish it was that easy.

Continue reading “pisgnage.com – Digital signage on the cheap”