For the last month my inbox has been flooded with questions from readers, friends, and colleagues. They’ve all been seeking advice on tools to use for online instruction. Many of the questions are similar in nature so I’ve lumped them into this FAQ post that I hope you find helpful.
How do you make that yellow/ orange circle in your videos?
Screencast-o-matic is the tool that I use to make all of the screencast videos that appear on my YouTube channel. The yellow/ orange circle that highlights my cursor is a default feature of Screencast-o-matic.
Other screencast tools that I recommend are Screencastify (check out the new Screencastify submit feature), Loom, and Flipgrid. Yes, Flipgrid now has a screencasting feature and it’s great because you don’t have to install anything to use it.
How can I collect or distribute pictures and PDFs in Google Classroom?
This one was initially raised by a colleague of mine who wanted to collect pictures from students for his phys ed class. Then I had a bunch of people ask about collecting pictures of student work that was done on paper (mostly math problems, but some topics as well). I made this video to demonstrate how to do that. The short version is that you can have students upload from their phones to Google Classroom directly or via Google Drive.
On a related note, the process for using PDFs is similar. Here’s how that process works.
How should I make video lessons?
The answer to this depends on how much experience you have and how much time you have. If you just want to show your face and talk to your students you could make a quick video with the camera built into your Chromebook, phone, or laptop. Using Flipgrid (tutorials here) would be the next step up from that as you’ll have access to some basic editing tools. Another quick method is to make a screencast over your slides.
You can also make lessons from videos that you find on YouTube by using EDpuzzle. In fact, about half of the lessons I’ve made for my students have been done with EDpuzzle. Here’s how to use EDpuzzle.
Should I use Zoom or Google Meet?
You should follow the guidelines of your school district. My district is letting teachers pick which one they want to use. I’m using Google Meet simply because most of my students already had some familiarity with it and it does what I need for my small classes. If I had larger classes and needed more controls during the meetings, I’d probably use Zoom.
Here’s how to get started with Zoom.
Online PD With Me!
I’ve been hosting professional development webinars for a decade.
- My most popular webinars are available on-demand right here.
- If you prefer live webinars, I am planning to host some more later this month and in May so stay tuned for more information about those soon.
- I’m always available to schedule custom, online PD for your school.
As I shared in a webinar last Thursday I do have some tricks to try to keep up with the flow of email, but I still get behind at times (like this weekend which started with a 24 hour power outage). Please feel free to email me any time and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can.